In my first post on this topic I sort of rambled and made my opinions known on how Sigmund Freud has had a bad reputation in the United States. I will be taking quotes from the book that I mentioned in my first post, “Freud and Man’s Soul”, by Bruno Bettelheim and discussing a bit more in depth about Freud’s contribution to the spiritual world. Most people do not associate psychology with spirituality. Psychology is associated with soft sciences and human behavior, whereas spirituality is more about the unseen and unknown. The two, when mixed together, create an awesome opportunity for self-improvement and pave the way for true human connection.
When most people think of Freud they don’t normally associate him with spirituality or journeys of the soul, however that’s exactly how Freud started his theories. In fact, if you were to read Freud’s works in German you would see that he refers to the human soul throughout his writing. He argued that for humans to be truly happy we must go on an in-depth journey of self discovery; this journey, as he warns us, will be difficult and time consuming. He wrote about how important it is for humans to address the darkest thoughts and moments in their lives in order to grow from them. Many people are unable to do this because it is incredibly emotional and sometimes very upsetting. But his idea was that if we can get to know ourselves, without any bias, then we open ourselves up to understanding others, which in the long run will connect us.
Bettelheim states in his book, “Language is all-important in Freud’s work; it is the supreme instrument of his craft. His use of the German language was not only masterly but often poetic – he nearly always expressed himself with true eloquence.”.
I’ve considered learning German just so that I could read his works from this perspective, but I feel that I would not be able to learn it well enough to read it the way Bettelheim did. Perhaps Freud’s love for writing and self-expression is partly what draws me to him. He was a master of language and expression through the written word. I’ve been a writer since I could hold a crayon. I find a magnificent beauty in putting words onto paper and expressing a thought. Even Albert Einstein commended Freud and even admired his achievement as a writer (psychoanalysis aside). Sadly, when Freud’s writings were translated into English it was done with haste. If the translators could not come up with a word in English that perfectly translated from German they would fill in the blanks with medical terminology.
Freud’s attempt to encourage humans to explore the depths of their soul, and not turn away from even the darkest and most unforgiving parts of that soul, was an attempt to help people live better lives. He truly believed that if we start to tear these things apart and really look at them from every angle that we will start to identify subconscious reasoning behind our most intimate beliefs and actions. This exploration helps us identify the things we think, say and do that were taught to us or exposed to us early on and then help decide for ourselves which of these things contributes to us being the best person we can be. He often connects our soul to the Earth and it’s a beautiful reminder that we are all connected and that we all share the same struggles. This realization can lead us to a life filled with more love and less fear.
Please stay tuned as this will be an ongoing series in my blog. If you wish to learn more about the connection between psychology and spirituality, then you will be treated with ideas to help bridge that connection as we move through the series.
As always, thank you for reading!