As a child I used to laugh at my auntie Rose for talking to herself. She was completely unaffected by my mockery, maintaining that talking to oneself yielded the best answers. Later, when I encountered the concept of active reading, I thought of her. It seemed to me that one straightforward way of interrogating academic texts was to have a conversation with myself about the ideas encountered. This is something I really enjoy. Before I approach the reading, I like to focus my thoughts by forming some questions based on what I already know. I play devil’s advocate, trying to pick holes in established arguments and asking myself whether evidence cited in support or against of a particular viewpoint really does its job.
In this spirit, I have extracted some points from my earlier freewrite, and noted down my immediate responses. I’ll try and use my reading to answer the questions raised, and to formulate new ones. And of course, feel free to chip in with others. Here are my thoughts so far:
Freud thought that our personality was largely determined by what was going on in our unconscious. Did Freud really say this? Do I think it’s true or false, and to what extent?
Ego, id and superego. What does each of these supposedly do? Is there anything else to Freud’s model of personality? Can modern techniques such as functional neuroimaging give any support or rebuttal?
Dream. Yes, dreams are cited as evidence for a dynamic unconscious. What did Freud say was the role of dreams? Is this reasonable?
A lot of what he said was based on the study of very dysfunctional people living in an uptight society at quite a weird time in history. This contributes more power to the critics of Freud who call his theory unscientific. Is it a valid criticism?
we stretch the biological model to fart. Ho hum. Nice Freudian slip there. Of course it should say, ‘too far’. I’m not sure what I’m really saying here. Perhaps it’s something about the anatomical feel of Freud’s model here. It feels to me like morbid anatomy and not a living, healthy system. Maybe I want to know if other ways of seeing this, eg. artificial intelligence, can give us any insights.
So, to the library.