Fanon: Interesting theories, potential over-simplifications?

While it is impossible to deny that Fanon brings up some compelling points about the impacts of cultural assimilation, I find myself inclined to disagree with some of his generalizing statements. Firstly, when Fanon states that, “a normal Negro child, having grown up in a normal Negro family, will become abnormal on the slightest contact of the white world”, I find myself questioning this statement. This makes a lot of sense in the context of a Negro child being raised by negro parents and then being taken away from them into a white family, but for him to basically imply that it is difficult if not impossible for all Negroes to fully function and thrive in a white-based society because of their collective unconscious is contradictory to human nature itself: things change, and we adapt.

It would have been unthinkably jarring to have been alive during the time in history when the assimilation of black culture was taking place, but I firmly believe that, centuries later, black culture within a “white” society is thriving. While many of the wounds of the time are still fresh and racism still sadly exists, to say that blackness is associated with wrongness is a claim that would only apply to an uneducated population. Much is constantly being done and proven to remove any stigmas and negative stereotypes surrounding “blackness”.

However, where I suddenly become intrigued with Fanon was with his idea of race as having more to do with image than biology or culture. I didn’t fully understand this concept until Jon Beasley-Murrey’s lecture today, but now, it makes a surprising amount of sense to me. If you think about it, race is nothing more than skin pigmentation colouring with increase of paleness from darkness based off of distance from the equator. Think of our modern society today, there are Canadians of all skin colours who identify themselves the same. I am glad this concept was brought up as I hope to one day need not discuss and focus so much on race for in the end, we are all humans and the colour of your skin won’t matter when the aliens invade us. 😉

Freud: Science and Psychology

Last seminar, a heated discussion arose about the nature of psychology, and whether or not it is in fact a science. I called it a pseudo-science, much to the insult of several of my classmates. After many interesting discussions and argumentative statements, the class ended and many felt unconvinced. I also retracted my initial statement, saying that it may have been too harsh. Now, armed with the power of the internet and the dictionary, I will re-state, in a more eloquent manner, my original statement.

“Psychology is NOT an empirical science”. There, I said it.

Empirical science is the branch of science that uses empirical evidence or data. This is defined as: a source of knowledge based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.

In other words, this is the type of science where you repeat the same mind-numbing experiment 1000’s of times and record every detail, trying to find a consistency that you can call a law by proving that it happens every time. So, now let us return to psychology, and how that is in no way applicable to this criteria. As I am not particularly knowledgeable in the field of psychology, I will apply this statement to Freud and why I disagree with some of what he says.

I think that Freud uses overreaching generalizations and conjectures to understand the human mind. For example, when he states on Page 21 that Dora’s disgusted reaction to Herr K’s unwanted advances was uncharacteristically abnormal and that she should have responded with sexual excitement is completely absurd. By saying this, he is generalizing that every person is sexual in the same way, at the same age, and is attracted to the same things.

Another instance where I disagree with Freud is in his analysis of Dora’s dreams, particularly her dreams of fire. Saying that Dora’s dreaming of fire is akin to bedwetting and sexuality seems to me like a gross conjecture with evidence solely found in Freud’s mind. Once again let us return to the definition of empirical. One can clearly see that Freud is not using any repeatable or provable evidence in his analysis of Dora’s dreams and that, as Christina Hendricks stated in her lecture: “each of Freud’s dream analyses are unique”, there is no way he can apply the same symbols to different patients. That raises a bit of a red flag for me, as how can he be so sure of something which has so many variables IE, the human dream state.

However, I did find Dora overall very fascinating, whether or not it was unethical for him to publish it. I believe that this was a good introduction to psychology for me, because, even through some of Freud’s theories are flawed, he is touching upon some truly valuable, and essential topics towards better understanding the human condition.

P.S. I promise this is the last late blog post from me! 🙂