03 November 2010

Freud and His Discontents

I mentioned once before that I took AP psychology in high school and thought that some of the things I learned aligned with eternal truths. Here's one example:

Have you ever thought that your dreams come from "unguarded thinking" of your subconscious brain? Sigmund Freud's ideas have become ingrained into modern thought, but this particular theory holds water. Elder Richard G. Scott said that "some bad thoughts come by themselves." This suggests a relationship between the wandering bad thoughts and Mosiah 3:19:

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

In this case, the unguarded thinking coincides with the natural man and tends to delight in sin. This is why, in the next chapter (Mosiah 4:30), King Benjamin explains,

But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.

We are not to indulge in the disgusting excesses of the natural man, Freud's unconscious, which is one reason that we must learn to control and purify our thoughts.

Of course, many of Freud's theories do not strike me as eternal truths. Let's take the example of the Freudian slip, often a supposed manifestation of repressed sexuality. If I slipped and called my roommate "mom" by accident, does that mean it's been too long since I had a boyfriend? Hmmm . . . nope! I think it means that I just got off the phone with my mom.

I also disagree this statement from Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents:

The two processes of individual and of cultural development must stand in hostile opposition to each other and mutually dispute the ground.

In fact, the progression of individuals within a culture furthers the development of the culture as a whole! In terms of Tibetans in the digital age, several of them have progressed in online social networking to the point that we've become cyberspace friends. I'm not God's gift to Tibetans, but I care about them, read about them, plan to visit them, and hope to publish research about their unique culture. Their personal progression has enabled cross-cultural communication, which is crucial to cultural development in this age of global correspondence. I suppose I have a more optimistic outlook than Freud does--I think that individuals can develop alongside their culture.

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