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Reply To: The Child of Symbolic Disguise,” with Norland Téllez, Ph.D.”

#74587

Hi Stephen!

Sorry I’m a little late to the party. It’s true, I was just getting through a bout with Omicron—another of the mythic beings that are quite real out there—but I am now feeling much better, with all severe symptoms gone, and able to integrate back into world. So I am quite happy to be able to join you, once again, in the mythic dimension of the week: the Child of Symbolic Disguise.

Yes, you’re right: the concept of modernity has gone through several metastases in academic circles and we have more technical labels with which to describe the different unfolding moments of our modernity down to the present moment. Rather than the post-post, for my part, I prefer the term trans-modernity, which has been used in contemporary movements of decolonizing aesthetics or “Postcolonial Studies.” It describes a mode of consciousness traversing through the unfolding centuries of our industrial technological society.

As for the status of psychoanalysis today, yes, there is a popular association with psychotherapy, psychotherapists, slips of tongue, Oedipal complexes, libido, sexuality, etc… The films Alfred Hitchcock and Woody Allen were also influential in shaping the popular conception of psychoanalysis. And as you mention, it was all the rave when Campbell was writing.
If you look today at the status of psychoanalysis (ψΑ) in academic circles, on the other hand, you will find the opposite: ψΑ is discussed more in courses on philosophy and literature than in actual scientific psychology or psychotherapy, the latter being dominated by the import of the brain sciences.

So ψΑ has long given up the claim of being an objective science or scientific therapy and has happily become part of the history of philosophy, critical theory, and literature. We might remember that greatest award Freud won was the Goethe Prize in 1930 for his contribution to German literary culture. So it’s quite natural today to see psychoanalysis as being part of that school of critical thought that Paul Ricour called “The Hermeneutics of Suspicion” where Freud is joined to Nietzsche and Karl Marx.

The philosophical form of psychoanalysis became really evident with Lacan who did a kind of “re-visioning” of Freud’s work on its own structuralist and “post-structuralist” foundations quite apart from alleged claims to positive science. Lacan understood the contradiction of claiming that a method of dialectical negativity can be used as some kind of positive science. And psychotherapy has traditionally been built on the conception of ψΑ as a positive science. And yes, we still have special schools of psychotherapy that base themselves on Freudian and Jungian models, as we know. But I’m happy to report to you and our readers that psychoanalysis continues to thrive in departments of continental philosophy and critical theory in all the top universities.

So this is why I don’t think that the lack of experience with actual psychotherapy is in no way a contradiction. For just like Freud and Jung, Campbell recognized the far broader cultural and philosophical implications of depth-psychological perspectives on myth and human existence. We could even say that Campbell’s disinterest in the positivized psychotherapeutic reduction of psychoanalytic thought demonstrates Campbell’s greatness, his being truly ahead of his times.