Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

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Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (born March 28, 1941 as Jeffrey Lloyd Masson; place of birth: Chicago, Illinois), an American residing in New Zealand, is an iconoclastic former psychoanalyst as well as the author of a number of books on a wide range of subjects.

Final Analysis[edit]

Final Analysis: The Making and Unmaking of A Psychoanalyst, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1990, ISBN 0-201-52368-X.[edit]
  • To me, looking at other people in terms of what is wrong with them —these gradations of disturbance— was and is distasteful. Always implicit in the doctor's view is, of course, how much more "healthy" you are than they. And this is almost never the case
    • (page 94).
  • Ferenczi was considered paranoid for believing his women patients; the men's confessions were not even discussed. Ernest Jones, the powerful English analyst who had been Ferenczi's analysand, now took up the cudgel against him in deadly seriousness. Jones let it be known after Ferenczi's death in 1933 (he died a few months after the quarrel with Freud) that he was really a homicidal maniac. While I was in London working in the Jones archives I discovered what this really meant: Jones believed that to disagree with Freud (the father) was tantamount to patricide (father murder). And so, because Ferenczi believed that children were sexually abused and Freud did not, Ferenczi was branded by Jones as a homicidal maniac, and this piece of scurrilous interpretation stuck
    • (page 152).
  • Somewhat to my surprise, I was accepted for membership in the society [the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Society]. I was looking forward to giving my inaugural paper, "The Navel of Neurosis: Trauma, Memory and Denial," the one I had written with my wife, Terri, and which Schiffer [Masson's analyst] had claimed as his
    • (page 136).
  • Because I was so eager to believe I was being helped by a talented, ethical, benevolent, and intelligent man, I sought evidence for this wherever I could. Anything less than this was too dreadful to contemplate (page 40).
  • I was thrilled. I loved the idea of opening everything up, of making old and secret documents available to anybody who wished to see them
    • (page 183).
  • Almost all analysts in America are physicians and psychiatrists, and the medical profession is layered into a strict hierarchy. Every psychiatrist in a hospital is chief of some service, or head of some department (page 145).
  • After returning to Berkeley, I was called by the New York Times. They had heard about the paper and the response to it and wanted to send a reporter to Berkeley to talk to me about the issues surrounding it. Ralph Blumenthal came to Berkeley, spent a few days talking with me, left and wrote a sober and intelligent account, sketchy and somewhat popular, but basically correct. I was completely unprepared for the storm it was to provoke within psychoanalytic circles. To this day I am not entirely certain what it was in the article that so infuriated the analytic community. But there can be no doubt about the severity of the anger, even rage, directed at me. The two-part article was published in the "Science" section of the Times on two successive Tuesdays, August 14, and August 21,1981. I happened to be in England when the first part came out. Anna Freud had seen it and called me. "I am surprised at all the phone calls I have been receiving. I can't see anything so terrible in this article." I was relieved. (page 193)
  • "Every day I get many calls, from all over the world about how awful you are. How awful this article is. How bad it all is for psychoanalysis (quoting Eissler, page 193).
  • Eissler's rage knew no bounds. He did not like being harrassed by other analysts. "Just today Masud Khan called me from London and asked me to dismiss you from the Archives. The board members, all of them, or at least most of them, are asking for the same." (page 194)
  • But Eissler also knew how the very people making the complaints and demanding my dismissal for what was, after all, a disagreement about the history of psychoanalysis, were guilty of extraordinary breaches of ethical conduct. (page 194)
  • Khan told me: "Nobody wants to say anything publicly because I know too much about all of them. If we were all to be honest with each other, that would be the end of British psychoanalysis." (pages 194, 195)
  • In my experience, psychoanalysis demanded loyalty that could not be questioned, the blind acceptance of unexamined "wisdom". It is characteristic of religious orders to seek obedience without scepticism, but it spells the death of intellectual enquiry. All variants of "because I say so," or because the Koran says so, or the Bible says so, or the Upanishads say so, or Freud says so, or Marx says so, are simply different means of stifling intellectual dissent. In the end they cannot satisfy the inquisitive mind or still the doubts that naturally arise when such a mind is confronted with authoritative statements about human behavior. (pages 209, 210)

Nazism and psychoanalysis[edit]

From a discussion with Sigmund Freud’s daughter:

“Terri is Jewish, she survived the Warsaw Ghetto, and I am also Jewish, and both of us have been immersed in holocaust literature. We are puzzled why so little has been written about the holocaust in psychoanalysis”.
“I am puzzled by your puzzlement”, she replied immediately. “Why should psychoanalysts in particular write about the war?”
“Because so many Jewish analysts are refugees from Nazism”.
“But that has nothing to do with psychoanalysis”.
“But doesn’t trauma play a central role in analytic theory?” Anna Freud shrugged her shoulders, apparently dismissing my concerns as uninteresting. I was deeply disappointed. Anna Freud was Jewish [...].
I tried again.
“I know that your father never wrote anything about the Nazis, but he must have talked to you about it. What did he say?”
She simply shrugged her shoulders, and sat silently. I could not tell if she meant that he had told her nothing, or if she did not intend to tell me anything (pages 154f).

Talking with Anna Freud[edit]

About motivation[edit]
While working at Anna Freud's house, I found an unpublished letter in which he [Freud] told Fliess, less than two weeks after he gave the paper [The Aetiology of Hysteria], "I am as isolated as you could wish me to be: the word has been given out to abandon me, and a void is forming around me." Both the immediate response to the paper, and the subsequent response were ones that Freud had not anticipated: his colleagues thought he was crazy to believe his women patients. This was bound to have a disastrous impact on a young physician with a growing family, eager to open a neurological/psychiatric clinical practice. Where were his referrals to come from, if his colleagues thought he was completely daft? I made this point to Anna Freud.
"Do you believe", I said, "that this could have had anything to do with his later abandonment of the theory?"
"No." She was adamant.
"But tell me, Miss Freud, why did you omit this passage from your published edition of the letters?"
"Because it makes my father sound so paranoid," was her response.
"But if it was the truth, then he was not paranoid, he was simply perceptive.
    • (pages 175, 176)
About Eissler and Masson and her father[edit]
  • I called Anna Freud in London to tell her what was about to happen. It was a strange, honest conversation.
"Miss Freud, I am sure you have heard that Dr. Eissler is going to fire me from the Archives."
"Yes. And I disagree with him. I did not like that second article in the New York Times. And I think you are wrong in your views. But I do not see why you should be so severely punished for holding them. On one point, however, I feel that I was deceived by Dr. Eissler. He never told me that you were going to live in my house. My understanding was that you were to be in charge of the library and of the research, but not actually live in the house." I never did find out why Eissler never explained this to Anna Freud. Perhaps he was being discreet, not wanting to bring up the matter of her death, or perhaps he knew she would not like the idea of my living in the house. Of course, as things turned out, I never did live in the Freud house.
"Did the idea of my living in your house upset you?"
"Frankly, yes it did."
"Because my father would not have wanted it."
"You mean he would not have liked me?"
"I am not saying that. But he would not have wanted somebody like you living in the house. He would have wanted somebody quiet, modest, unobtrusive. You would have been everywhere, searching for everything, going through boxes, drawers, closets, bringing people in, opening things up. My father would not have wanted this." She was right.
    • (pages 196, 197)
  • By the way, your wife's intelligence is not natural. In fact, I find it disgusting. Because I know what it is really all about. And so does every other normal woman. Normal women don't want to be with your wife. They can't stand her. And you know why? Because they can tell you that she is using her brain like a penis. Her mind is so developed because she is so filled with penis envy. She is so desperate for a penis that she has created one in her head. Her brain. Her huge brain is nothing but a substitute for her desire for a huge penis. Your wife has a cock for a brain, Masson, and you're getting fucked." He chortled in delight.
  • I suspected from the way he said this that he believed it. It was a combination of the worst of analytic theory (penis envy) and the worst of his own personal prejudices against women. He said it with such passionate self-righteousness, that I knew I was helpless against him. It could never become the subject of a rational discussion.
    • (pages 75, 76)
  • I liked the idea of representing nobody but myself. No affiliation, no ties, no loyalties.
  • I still yearned then, and probably even more so earlier, for a strong, masculine person on whom I could pattern myself. Somebody I could admire, and imitate, and become close to and learn from. I had sought this, always, in my teachers, and my search had always ended in disappointment. I was attracted emotionally to a position that I could only despise intellectually.

External links[edit]

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