Compromise Formations: Current Directions in Psychoanalytic Criticism

By Vera J. Camden | Go to book overview

A Brainy Afterword

Norman N. Holland

I feel quite superfluous at this juncture. Our book, like the conference from which it sprang, has been a rich one, full of ferment and excitement, to which I can add little. Freud invented psychoanalytic literary criticism ninety years before our conference, and we can see in a collection like this the great energy with which we still combine psychoanalytic psychology with the study of literature.

Our discipline's present seems large, but its future is immense. Perhaps the most useful thing I can do in this afterword is look around the corner at what I think that unknown tomorrow will bring. I want to tell you some things about the brain, because I think that's where the future of psychoanalysis and psychology lies. It is also where I've been writing recently, and it gives me a chance to plug my last two books, The I (1985), which tries to open up this new territory, and The Brain of Robert Frost (1988), which goes still further along the same lines.

The brain is where Freud began in his pre-psychoanalytic days. Today, we have a new science of the brain, and we literature-and‐ psychology people can find two things in this new knowledge: a confirmation of some psychoanalytic ideas and new directions for our enterprise.

For example, consider one of the axioms of psychoanalytic theory from almost its earliest days. As Milton put it in Paradise Regained, "The childhood shows the man, / As morning shows the day." Psychoanalytic metapsychology calls this the "developmental" or the "genetic" hypothesis: the experiences of infancy determine the character

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