On Freud (dr. craig)


Dr. Erik Craig named “Civilization and Its Discontents” as his personal favorite of all of Freud’s books. For a good summary on Freud’s work with dreams, Dr. Craig suggested that we read “On Dreams”, and told us that Chapter 2 in the “Interpretation of Dreams” contains the specimen dream most written about. Dr. Craig also noted that Freud worked with gifted and powerful women, and his papers on technique are exceptional. He asked us to read “Freud Out of Freud” to see through to the essence of what Freud is saying.

We are striving for freedom and have a fear of disclosure at the same time (Dr. Craig calls this ‘expression’ and ‘being’). We seek to know, and not know, to feel and not feel, to disclose and not disclose and this is our fundamental ambivalence. Our resistance is about allowing something to come out into the open while, at the same time, not wanting it to.

Dr. Craig said that pornographic imagination is 90% of jokes (in reference to…what?). He strove to remind us that  not everything we read, and I interpret that to mean in the Depth Psychology program, is of equal importance. He also said, in contra-distinction to Freud, that not all dreams are wish fulfillments, for example, replication dreams of clients who have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Dr. Craig noted that Freud pushed his theory (or pushed experiences to fit into his own theory) and made many ‘loopy arguments’ to help explain what fell outside of his theory, saying that Freud made up explanations that were not at all based upon empirical observations. (You can read this as well in “A Most Dangerous Method” by J. Kerr). Unlike Tao therapists, the practice that Dr. Craig is inclined towards, who always go back to experience and away from theory.

To continue, Dr. Craig said that human beings have infinite capacity for taking the meaning of depth psychology, and the unconscious, for granted. He said that both Freud and Jung acknowledged that the unconscious is a myth.  That comment deserves to be unpacked! I think he means in the sense that no-one ever fully uncovers the contents of the unconscious, and he proceeded to name four characteristics of it as 1) hidden-ness, 2) repetition, 3)contradiction, and 4) the double relation that we have to ourselves, i.e. ambivalence.

What is EPOCHE? It means to suspend belief [through bracketing our assumptions and treating them as not-facts, or at least not-relevant facts].  This is a very important concept in our work as depth psychologists and more will be said on this in later articles. For now, we can look at depth (going deep) and psyche (into the soul, into what is hidden) using ology words (images) thereby forming psychic symbols instead of acting on impulses.

Here is a list of possible definitions by students:

Disclosure of Psyche

Letting the Soul Emerge

Study of the Language of the Unconscious

Conversation [between the manifest person and something more]

Getting to Know the Real Me

Bridging to Collective Unconscious

Working with Images

Being Engaged in the  Moment

Plumbing the Hidden (body/emotion)

Discoving what it means to be Human


What it is about being hidden and human – at the same time

What is that essence, unique to depth psychology, that makes it different form other kinds of psychology? Please answer this question and say it in a way that remains true to human experience. It is the essence of You and what it feels like to be human.

What is ERLEBNIS? Lived experience. It involves emotion, not intellect; it’s in the blood. Think about d.p. in this way…that blood runs through it. Creepy way to say it (sounds like vampirism) but it’s also very interesting. He says to “get out of your brain with real linguistic sophistication, not just intellectual elitism.”

The question was asked if therapists turn the power over to their patients, and he answered that even in shamanism there is a desire for dependence on an outside person for help, although a non-interfering presence is best, which he says requires wu-wei as its foundational principle.

“The body lacks language and is trying to get through to us through images – that is how our body communicates to us…from the underworld…through affect.”

“We move away in order to come back…we vacate in order to come home renewed.” Take a vacation from consciousness, he seems to be saying.

“Deep in the present includes the past and the future.”  The future is determinative of the present more than is the past. “The present is what is not yet past, and not yet to be, and then it is gone as if it does not exist and yet we live in it.”

According to Freud, the “unconscious is groundless and opens into nothing.”

How do we embody depth psychology? Referring to the past, it is reflected by the things we repeat that we would rather not. Referring to the future, it is things we cannot bring about that we would like.

In our dissertation we need to come to terms with depth psychology “non-theoretically”, not just repeating theory as it was presented to us. We will write a scholarly document and still let it be pithy, earthy, using living language (living words that are also theoretically sound.) Freud did it this way. Jung did not (but then Jung was not a writer of literature in the way Freud was).

Dr. Craig went on to say that depth psychology was named in a journal article by Bleuler, and that Jung used the term only 12 times (seven times in a single article)…and Freud used the term only 13 times in his writings. On February 27, 1912 Jung used the term in a letter to Freud, and on February 29th, 1912 Freud used the term in a letter to Jung. It was in Jung’s psychology that it got to be known as depth psychology although he never claimed exclusive use of it.

Freud is the founder! Depth psychology is not descriptive psychiatry, it is not just concerned with manifest content. D.p. contrasted with the descriptive psychiatry of Freud’s time because d.p. does more to understand symptoms, therefore it is the study of mental processes not directly discernible.

What does UNCONSCIOUS mean? Unawareness. The first issue is the quality of awareness. Freud used the word ATTENTION occasionally. Also, what are its parameters? If you draw a horizontal line and label the space above it “conscious” and the space below it “unconscious” you will see that awareness wavers, floats, or ascends/descends between the two, for example the specific mother being above the line and the archetype of the mother below the line. M-A … the specific mother and the archetypal mother. An individual container versus the abyss. The mystery of human existence has something to do with the world and something to do with our mind.  And it is very important for us to know the difference between FACTS and INTERPRETATIONS.

The unconscious brought Freud and Jung to their knees! Freud never defined Psyche. Jung only described Psyche.  We might experience it, but do not talk about it. It may be on a sensate level, but we cannot language it although it may be acting upon a person in unperceived fashion.

Poetry directly accesses the unconscious, does it not? I remind myself that I need to incorporate the writing of poetry into the study of d.p. otherwise this is pointless.

“Consciousness is a phenomenon of language” according to Skinner. The behaviorists got that much but don’t know how to understand the Unconscious.

To be continued… 

When I read Jose Brunner on ‘Freud and the Politics of Psychoanalysis’ I become tearful.  This is the one book that did more to help me fall in love with Freud than any other reading assigned in the course at Pacifica.  The book helped my understanding of Freud since my present inclination was to read Freud open mindedly, which is the only way to read him if you are in a depth psychology program.  The reason being as I breathe in deeply and feel my soul, I realize with fear and excitement the great intelligence it is possible to have, to claim, to possess at the same time I have thoughts of how society cannot welcome bright and intelligent women, “minorities”, and “poor” people.  I have fought my whole life to “keep it unknown”, that is, my grasp of ideas and concepts.  It seems the masculine, in actuality my real father & “the patriarchy” has to push feminine intelligence down until we learn to do this to ourselves. Out of fear of pain, punishment, lack of positive regard or love and Freud knew this, he understood it.