As I read about Freud and his influence on the Viennese artists of the early 1900s, I can’t help but wonder if there’s something of a paradox at work. Freud encouraged people to look deeply inside themselves, to peel back the layers of their unconscious, to seek out their neurosis. But did he, I wonder, thus create a generation of psychologically dysfunctional people? After all, anyone who looks hard enough at themselves is going to find some psychological deficit that could cause them anxiety. By encouraging people to look deeply into themselves, did Freud doom them to inner torment?
The way I figure it, there’s two big psychological approaches to life. One is Freud’s idea of deep self analysis, of obsession with the self. The other is a general attitude of “Move along, I’m not all that important – God/Peace/the Universe is. Nothing to see here.” One is adorning the ego, the other is ignoring it. Pretty much everyone is stuck somewhere between the two philosophies. But did Freud (and those he influenced) tip the balance towards ego adornment for awhile, causing an uptick in psychological distress?