I was very pleased with this weeks reading assignment of Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, for besides my love of English, I adore Psychology.
I have been learning Freud from a psychological perspective since some time in grade 11, when I first began taking psychology courses. I have studied his theories, and his findings, and have made my own opinions on whether he was credible or not.
That is the main problem with Freud: within modern psychological circles, he has been much discredited. So I was quite worried about how the Arts One students would react to reading Freud. Would they see him as a genius? As a madman? Forming an opinion on him based solely off Dora can be dangerous. You may feel he is only one or the other. I, however, have always seen him as both. He has his merits, but he also has his faults.
A modern day Freud approach is rare. A Psychoanalyst is an MD with 2 years residency, as well as a chosen specilization. It is seen as being an inefficient method of treatment, as it requires patients to come in multiple times a week for years. A modern subfield of Psychology called a D. lay analyst has been formed. They are non-MD’s with training in psychoanalysis, and I swear my Psych 101 prof cringed when speaking of them.
Although Freud’s methods are a thing of the past, many of his ideas are still widely researched and discussed. The Id, Superego, and Ego are still taught in psychology classes all over, but they do not occur in this novel.
The subject of dream analysis in this case study is quite fascinating. Many psychologists are split on the subject of the significance of dreams. Some say there is no basis, no substance, behind our dreams. Others still believe there is something important to be learned from them, though you rarely hear of Freud’s beliefs in our unconscious desires being shown there.
Knowing all of this information, it was hard to read Dora with an unbiased viewpoint. Most of the time while reading, I just felt sad. Sad about Dora’s life, but also about the treatment she was receiving. I find Freud to be very self-serving, often relating Dora’s sexual desires to himself. He also believes most of her trauma to be caused by her avoiding the advances of Frau K.’s husband, when really it was the advances themselves that caused her to fear.
It is just overall frustrating reading this novel, when I can see so many faults in his logic. Sure, on some far stretching limb some of his ideas on where Dora’s issues lie may be connected. But that does not make them the real reasons, nor does it help her case at all.
Really, this novel should be called The Tragedy of Dora, as not only was she wronged by the treatment she recovered (although one may argue Freud had good intentions), she was also wronged in the writing of this novel. Patient-client confidentiality anyone?!
Very nice reflection here. I agree that if this is the main introduction one has to Freud’s views, one will likely come away thinking he’s not worth reading at all. Perhaps we should think about that for future reading of Freud, since this one can turn people off so much! But at the same time, it does give a decent picture of what an analysis might look like, which some of his other works don’t (because they’re basically a discussion of his theories based on various analytical findings, and we don’t get to see an analysis unfold like we do here). I also agree that this might better be called a “tragedy.”
Thanks for the comment Christina! I completely forgot to reply!
We discussed many of these ideas in class, so hopefully the class received a much clearer picture of Freud that simply what a quick reading of Dora offers.