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Freud’s Concept of Sexual Repression

Prof. Ivan Rojas, M.D.
In my last article I dealt with the Freudian conception of human sexuality development, particularly in the child’s sexual evolution, the so-called “infantile sexuality.” Freud imagines that the child “falls in love” with his own mother, who nourishes him with her milk.

The consequences of these conclusions were devastating for future studies of Psychology and Pedagogy and also for the ensemble of Catholic Morals.

The pillar that sustained the momentous Sexual Revolution that occurred in the 20th century was upheld in great part by Freud’s theories.

Today, I will address Freud’s concept of “sexual repression.”

A perverted notion of repression

Freud saw in human sexuality the origin of modern man's mental problems. As a matter of fact, he “sexualized” mental illnesses, principally neuroses. For him all types of neuroses would be caused by sexual repression.

homnos

Freud’s concepts sustain today's homo movement

From this theory came the absurd notion that a man or woman who maintained chastity of state – sexual abstinence before marriage – would be fated to be psychologically sick! These are serious and weighty statements that form one of the main pillars of Psychoanalysis.

Freud addressed this topic in various works and articles, principally in his article ‘Civilized’ Sexual Morality and Modern Nervousness (1908). In it he affirmed that the “sexual repression caused by a morality that restricts sex to marriage and procreation is the source of neurotic illnesses.” This is certainly one of the texts where Freud openly criticizes Catholic Morals on sexuality and denounces the supposed psychological problems it could cause.

It is clear that Freud simplified the Catholic view of sexuality, since the Church does not affirm that couples can have sex only for procreation, but rather that they must be open to procreation.

On this important matter, I recommend the study of the Encyclicals Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae of Pope Leo XIII, Casti connubii of Pope Pius XI, the Allocutions “Già per la Terza Volta” and “Fra le Innumerevoli” of Pope Pius XII. These works clarify how sexual relations should be in a Catholic family.

mary joseph

The chaste marriage of Joseph & Mary would lead to repression & mental illness, according to Freud

Also in his study Three Essays on a Theory of Sexuality, written in 1905, three years before his ‘Civilized’ Sexual Morality, Freud criticized sexual repression and its supposed consequences for the emotional lives of men and women.

With these two works, he contributed powerfully to create a world view that would define the concepts and behaviors of the modern man, with the permissive moral consequences that we witness around us.

It is curious to notice that in this matter Freud's ideas were contradictory. Yes, in the beginning he affirmed that sexual repression was the cause of the psychological problems of mankind. However, from the 1930s on – with the publication of his book Civilization and Its Discontents, – he was admitting that “sexual repression is necessary to create and maintain an organized civilization.”

In this work Freud seems frightened by the decay of Western Civilization he was witnessing around him and the advent of totalitarian regimes, both in Russia and the increasing Nazi danger in Germany. But this is a topic for another occasion.

How did his concepts of “sexual repression” pave the way for all sorts of sexual liberties and permissiveness that led to the sad situation of our madly liberal 21st century?

The great illusion

Since the early decades of the 20th century, when Psychoanalysis began to be praised and accepted, many persons erroneously started to think that sexual liberation would be an effective remedy for all the psychological-emotional illnesses of mankind.

hippies

The ‘60s Cultural Revolution releases youth from all ‘sexual repressions’

Psychoanalysts and disciples of Freud began to practice in various nations of the Old World, each one echoing in their writing Freud's ideas on the “evil” of sexual repression and dreaming about a society free of neuroses and traumas achieved by sexual liberty.

After so many tragedies and deceptions in this field, today not even the most “orthodox” Freudian disciple still believes in this cure by sexual liberation per se.

From the middle of the 20th century on, the doors opened to a great liberty in this matter with the movements of free love, homosexuality and many others; but in no way did the world become better. In truth, it became much worst with the decadence of Civilization, the decay of moral and educational values, and an increase of violence, divorce and family disputes, among so many other social evils.

For a historian or a serious scholar, the touted sexual liberation clearly did not bring any of the expected benefits predicted by Freud and other psychoanalysts. Thus, Freud's theory on the “benefits” that sexual liberty would bring failed vehemently.

reich

Reich saw the Church as an obstacle to freeing man from ‘unnatural’ inhibitions

Some of his disciples attempted to unite Freudian doctrine with the Socialist and Communist Revolution. This was the sad case of William Reich, one of the second generation of Austrian analysts after Freud. Reich thought that all the evils of the world originated from sexual repression.

Reich, a Freudian enthusiast, served as a physician in World War I. After the war ended, he entered the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association, but ended by being expelled from it by Freud himself, who accused him of using psychoanalysis for political goals.

Indeed, Reich had become an advocate of Communism. In 1925, visiting Moscow he elaborated a theory that united sexual liberty and Socialism.

Jokes about Freud

Today Freud’s theories are the object of endless jokes

Although a Jew, Reich was a furious enemy of religion, which he accused of being “a world orchestration to repress sexuality.” He affirmed that “every Saturday and Sunday the enemies of sexual liberty meet in the churches and synagogues to repress sexuality.”

In 1957, Reich died in a psychiatric hospital in Pennsylvania with a diagnosis of parafrenia, a mental illness of a psychotic nature similar to schizophrenia.

Scientifically speaking, I believe I can affirm that today almost no knowledgeable psychiatrist or psychologist believes or accepts the simplistic theories of Freud. In matters concerning the human mind, things are always more complex than presented by one-dimensional theories.

Nonetheless, socially speaking, the whole Sexual Revolution in habits and customs achieved success based on Freud's sexual liberation.

The events of the second-half of the ‘60s – such as the Hippie Movement in the United States followed by the youth rebellion in the French universities, principally in Sorbonne in May 1968 – had a great influence on today's sexual morality.

Here is, indeed, an extremely important educational question that Catholic parents and educators have the duty to face.

To be continued

Posted September 6, 2019


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