George Walford: Oedipus, Come Home

OEDIPUS, ALL IS FORGIVEN; COME HOME – MOTHER.
OVER MY DEAD BODY – FATHER.

Following the classical pattern of rebellion against the father-figure some of the more enterprising people with serious interest in psycho-analysis are questioning the bases of Freud’s work. When starting on psycho-analysis Freud found a surprisingly high number of his female patients claiming to have been sexually assaulted by their fathers in early childhood. He decided not to take this at face value but to regard it as a fantasy arising from childhood sexuality. It is now being suggested that he made this decision not on good scientific grounds but from unworthy motives. Other aspects of his work are also being called into question in ways that, if established, would invalidate some at least of his theories.

The issue is a specialised one best left for the specialists to decide, but there is one side of it which must interest anybody concerned with rational discussion of social affairs. The attempt is being made to disprove some of Freud’s theories. What then becomes of the charge, so long and so widely accepted, that those theories were so formulated that they could not be disproved?

from Ideological Commentary 12, August 1984.