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Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

Do Dogs Dream of a Canine Oedipus? Some questions for Sigmund Frued and pseudo analysts everywhere

(Author's note - a shorter version of this blog was one of the first articles in "Cic Saor " but was missed by most people because of the switch in address during the first week in the life of "Cic Saor")

Now that 2006 is upon us, Austria is preparing large scale celebrations to commemorate the birth of Sigmund Freud on the 6th of May 1856. Freud was actually born in Moravia which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire but his family moved to Vienna when he was still a young child. It is this blogger's view that Freud's huge influence on western society has been primarily a negative one. Freud and his subsequent disciples have overstressed, pun intended, the importance of the subconscious and bear some of the responsibility for the rampant individualism and self centred approach to living that we can see all around us today. In short, Freud has been instrumental in undermining age old collective solidarity and support structures which were especially prevalent in Celtic and aboriginal societies. One example of this is the deaf ear and lack of respect that society shows to older people - the very constituency which provided most support and advice in ancient societies. The wisdom of the old has been replaced by television evangelists and soothsayers and radio sound bites not fit for a dog.



Do Dogs Dream of a Canine Oedipus?

In Greek mythology, Oedipus was the son of Jocasta and Laius. Laius was the king of Thebes who was killed by his own son Oedipus who then married his own mother. Oedipus did all this unwittingly and then put out his own eyes when discovering what he had done. If all that was not bad enough, Oedipus and his story, redolent with sexual guilt and jealousy, was then adopted many many lunar cycles later as a corner stone of western European psychoanalysis. I have it on good authority from a dead relative who met Oedipus on the way up the heavenly stairs to a party, (they are all having a good time now and Oedipus doesn’t need a white stick anymore) that he is more upset about the damage Sigmund Freud and his acolytes have done in his name than the carnage inflicted on his Mam and Dad all those centuries ago.

Now my heavenly relative and informant who talks to me a lot, trócaire Dé ar a hanam, got me thinking as you can imagine. For she used to have a black dog (called King) and King would lie in front of the coal fire and not move until his belly began to roast. I would always watched transfixed for the moment just before he moved as the tufts of hair on his belly would start to smoke and then he would give out a yelp and run out to the permanent cool of the scullery. Fascinating you say, but what has Oedipus…? Yes I know. The point is that once settled under the sink in the scullery and the cooling steam rising from his legs, King would invariably start to dream. All children love watching dogs dream, their legs go round and round like a demented wound up toy, and they whimper and yap to themselves until they realise that they have not been fed for at least an hour and jump up with a start. Now, the Oedipus complex so beloved of psychoanalysts, where a male child’s alleged phallic identification with his father conflicts with his sexual desire for his mother, is supposed to be played out in our subsequent life in our social relationships with others and in our dreams. If this is true, does this mean that our King was dreaming incestuously about his mother? And if not why not?

I think we’ve been sold a total bum steer where dreams are concerned and you wouldn’t blame Oedipus for getting upset about it. Freud’s analysis of dreams were all language based yet King and all the other dogs I’ve met in my life have never spoken one word to me. Also because of Freud and his cohorts, we have become inured to the idea that dreams only ever look backward, yet up until very recently dreams were things of prophesy. Dream as tairngreacht or tuar (prophesy) and foretelling are especially strong in Celtic cultures. A tuar trócaire, for example is an augury of mercy. Then there is the collective dream. We as a people can have a dream of a new dawn, a dream for our language for example which can be precisely expressed and acted upon by a large number of people at the same time. Finally, Freudian psychoanalyst, as far as I am aware, never take into account the social and contemporary surroundings of their patients. Many of Sigmund Freud’s own patients for example were middle class German Jews and it would have been amazing of they had not been dreaming about their private parts and assorted limbs falling off, as the Nazi party grew from strength to strength after 1933 in the run up to Kristallnacht in 1938.

(The academic and philosopher George Steiner raised some of these arguments against Freud in his book "No Passion Spent")

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