Freud and the Nobel trauma

September 30, 2017 by Gaël Branchereau
Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, seen here in London in 1938, knew he would never be awarded a Nobel science prize
Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, seen here in London in 1938, knew he would never be awarded a Nobel science prize

Sigmund Freud, a man of letters or the mind? Neither, according to the Nobel committees, which not only gave the father of psychoanalysis the cold shoulder but even criticised his work.

Nominated for the Nobel Medicine Prize for the first time in 1915 by US neurologist William Alanson White, Freud went on to be nominated for a Nobel a total of 13 times until 1938, one year before his death in London.

Freud's name was put forward 12 times for a Medicine Prize and once for a Literature Prize.

In 1937, no fewer than 14 prominent scientists, including several Nobel laureates, backed the nomination of the Austrian doctor, who liked to compare himself to Copernicus and Darwin.

But their support was in vain.

Very early on, Freud "understood that he could never win a Nobel science . Psychoanalysis was already under attack as not being a science. He was hurt," Elisabeth Roudinesco, the author of the biography "Freud, In his Time and Ours", told AFP.

In 1929, professor Henry Marcus of the Karolinska Institute, home to the Nobel medicine committee, cruelly summed up the scientific community's mistrust of Freud's doctrine:

"Freud's entire psychoanalytic theory, as it appears to us today, is largely based on a hypothesis", with no scientific proof that a neurosis can be traced back to the existence of a childhood sexual trauma—if a trauma even existed, he wrote in a document unearthed by Swedish academic Nils Wiklund in 2006.

Roudinesco agreed: "His critics were right about the Oedipus complex, because he had become dogmatic about that."

But one cannot write off Freud's entire body of work, she said, noting his important contributions to the study of the soul.

Sigmund Freud won the prestigious Goethe Prize in 1930

Before Freud, "all psychiatrists regarded the hysterical woman as a madwoman, the masturbating child as a pervert and the homosexual as a degenerate," she said.

'Very good literary style'

Faced with the Nobel science committees' lack of interest in him, Freud's close friend and translator Princess Marie Bonaparte of France tried to round up support for a Nobel Literature Prize instead, when he was in his 70s and was suffering from jaw cancer.

Romain Rolland, the French novelist who won the Nobel Literature Prize in 1915, was well-placed to nominate Freud—with whom he had corresponded but who had not written a single line of fiction.

On January 20, 1936, Rolland wrote to the Swedish Academy to propose Freud's name.

In the letter—which is kept in the Academy's archives—Roland sought to pre-empt any prejudice its members may have against Freud.

"I know that at first glance the illustrious scientist may seem more suited for a medicine prize," he wrote.

"But his great works ... have paved the way for a new analysis of emotional and intellectual life; and, in the past 30 years, literature has been profoundly influenced."

Rolland neglected to mention that Freud had won the prestigious Goethe Prize in 1930.

Per Hallstrom, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy at the time, did not mince his words about Freud's nomination:

Albert Einstein, who won the Nobel Physics Prize in 1921, said he admired the work of Sigmund Freud but refused to endorse his nomination for the Medicine Prize

"When it comes to the presentation of his theories, it is easy to note the acuity, the fluidity and the clarity of his dialectic. He unquestionably also has a very good and natural literary style," he wrote, before adding hastily: "Apart perhaps from the actual 'The Interpretation of Dreams' on which his entire doctrine is based."

Freud, he concluded, "should not be awarded any poet laurels, no matter how poetic he has been as a scientist".

End of discussion.

No endorsement from Einstein

Eighty years later, Odd Zsiedrich, the Academy's administrative director, is a bit more diplomatic:

"The competition was very stiff" in 1936, he said of a year in which American playwright Eugene O'Neill got the nod.

Albert Einstein, who won the Physics Prize in 1921, refused to endorse Freud's nomination for the Medicine Prize in 1928.

"About the truth content of Freud's teachings, I cannot come to a conviction for myself, much less make a judgement that would be an authorisation to others," Einstein wrote, according to historian John Forrester.

Five years later, Einstein and Freud went on to publish "Why War?" a series of letters between them discussing peace, violence and human nature.

In May 1939, after reading Freud's last book "Moses and Monotheism", the man behind the theory of relativity gave him an ambiguous compliment:

"I quite especially admire your achievements, as I do with all your writings," he wrote before adding: "From the literary point of view."

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6 comments

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julianpenrod
1 / 5 (3) Sep 30, 2017
Among other things, Freud did not analyze the soul.
Certainly, many if not most madwomen behave in hysterical manners. But, face it, this article is saying that behaving hysterically is, then, to be taken as part of the normal suite of behaviors for everyday women. How many men would have been called "misogynist", "sexist" or "anti feminist" if they said that?
There may not be an actual proclivity to masturbation at a very early age, and, also, if a child masturbates very often, even to the point of not making friends, they are a pervert.
And the sex deviances, including homosexuality, "transgenderism", "bigenderism", transvestitism, are all abnormal.
As for "science", consider, among other things, all psychology is based on models of the personality that come only from case histories, records of deranged individuals.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Oct 01, 2017
Among other things, Freud did not analyze the soul
"Napoleon, liking to embarrass people, asked Laplace if it was true that there was no mention of the solar system's Creator (ie God) in his opus magus. Laplace, on this occasion at least, was not obsequious and replied, "I had no need of that hypothesis.""

-re the article

"Before Freud, "all psychiatrists regarded the hysterical woman as a madwoman, the masturbating child as a pervert and the homosexual as a degenerate," she said."

- BECAUSE, society was geared at the time to maximize growth for the purpose of colonizing and building large armies. Women were relegated to making babies. Masturbation, gaydom, and all other forms of non-procreative sex which served to limit growth, were therefore vilified. And of course religion was the traditional vehicle.

Science took a backseat to the exigencies of sociopolitics.
Cont>
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Oct 01, 2017
Its the same reason that the tabula rasa nonsense was promoted after the wars; at that point demographic quotas had been reached and the emphasis was then switched to quality over quantity.

Women were once again allowed their biological right to choose. As they have much more invested in a pregnancy than a man does, the right to choose for them means the ability to select the best possible donor for each and every baby they might want to bear.

And it also means the right to refrain from having children as they aged and the process became increasingly dangerous.

Before the wars homosexuality and masturbation were crimes of sick minds, because god and religion said they were. After the wars the world had become full and god no longer had a say in reproductive mores, except in places like Islamabad and calcutta where it continued to encourage overgrowth, and feed off the unfortunate results.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Oct 01, 2017
As for "science", consider, among other things, all psychology is based on models of the personality that come only from case histories, records of deranged individuals
-whereas religion would tell you it stems from original sin.

Hey Julian I was listening to the Jesus channel on the radio yesterday and the preacher was saying that the dinosaurs suffered incredible pain from injuries and broken bones, because of SIN.

That's some science there eh? bwahaahaaa dinosaurs ahahaaaaaa

People who try to sell that sort of incredible bullshit in public under the auspices of god ought to be arrested just like poor Alan Turing and Oscar Wilde.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Oct 01, 2017
"And the sauropod shall lay down with the theropod" Isaiah 11:6
http://www.colleg...e-easter

Bwahaaahaaaaaaa
knowphiself
not rated yet Oct 02, 2017
axiomatic dogmatism

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