She is the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Alice of Battenberg born in Windsor Castle and later married to Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark. She was born deaf as a congenital disease, yet she was able to communicate and learned French, German, English, and Greek. After being married for a while, her husband, in addition to showing notorious frivolity and to ensure a stable relationship with her lover, conspired with psychiatrists, first with Thomas Ross and then with Sigmund Freud, who admitted her to a Swiss institution under the diagnosis of suffering. of schizophrenia as a result of “sexual frustrations” for which radiation was applied to the ovaries and other compulsive treatments.
After repeated attempts to escape, she achieved the task and being a devotee of the Orthodox Church, she dedicated herself to the constitution of a congregation of nuns – the Christian Brotherhood of Martha and Mary – and hid Jews persecuted by the Nazis in her home. Finally her son the Prince of Edinburgh took her with him to live in Buckingham Palace where he died years later.
This devastating case reveals once again the reason of the psychiatrist Thomas Szasz who argues that from the point of view of pathology a disease translates into a lesion of tissues, cells or bodies but ideas and behaviors cannot be sick That is why in his many books the myth of mental illness stands out, which does not ignore possible chemical problems in the brain, in neurotransmitters and synapses.
The latter, among others, is developed by the philosopher of science Karl Popper in a work co-authored with the Nobel laureate in neurophysiology John Eccles who emphasize the difference between the purely cerebral and the mind or the psyche, a book that bears the suggestive title of He I and your brain. Szasz warns of the dangers of arbitrary hospitalizations based on discrepancies with the lifestyle of alleged patients.
In order to illustrate what was said in the context of the unjust and heartless suffering of Alicia de Battenberg, it is appropriate to review some points of Freud’s theories about what I have written before but given the resonance of the death of the Prince of Edinburgh it is pertinent to review what was said in the context of the painful life of his mother.
Undoubtedly, like what happens with practically all renowned authors, Freud has made contributions that have been useful for various purposes, for example, his concern that people who repress in the subconscious facts and images that they consider inconvenient can assume the problems and put them on the conscious level. He was also the one who initiated the method of association of ideas, resorting to per analogiam even for the interpretation of dreams, departing from a strict exegesis and entering a kind of dream hermeneutics and the events of life in general.
But these two examples are controversial since there are those who argue that many times the so-called repression constitutes a defense mechanism to avoid greater damage and that it is only constructive that problems arise if they can effectively be solved and not simply by the mere fact of bringing them to light. . In turn, there are those who argue that the analogical interpretation of various events leads to tortuous and wrong conclusions when, indeed, a direct interpretation (or, if you like, literal) leads to a better understanding of what is analyzed.
It is very difficult to judge a writer in toto, and the greater the number of his works, naturally the greater the difficulty. To express an opinion on an author, it is generally referred to what is considered to be the central axis of his contribution. In any case, the task is not always easy since in some cases aspects considered positive and negative are intermingled in the contributions.
In the case of Sigmund Freud, it seems pertinent to quote some of his thoughts to arrive at rigorous conclusions. For example in Civilization problems he maintains that, in the human being, “the principle of an original and, so to speak, natural faculty, capable of distinguishing good from evil, must be discarded.”
Furthermore, in Totem and taboo writes that “the prohibitions dictated by the customs and morals to which we obey, have in their essential features a certain affinity with the primitive taboo” and, in the same book, he affirms that the denial of incestuous relationships constitutes “the most mutilation bloody, perhaps, that has been imposed at all times on the erotic life of the human being.
This goes for morals and customs, but it also goes against the very sense of freedom, for example, in its Introduction to psychoanalysis where it refers to “the illusion of such a thing as psychic freedom (…) that is unscientific and must surrender to the demand of determinism whose rule extends over mental life.”
In the words of CS Lewis, this perspective, which would turn the human being into mere machines, would mean “the abolition of man”, a position – Freud’s – that adheres to the philosophical materialism or physical determinism so criticized also by the aforementioned Popper and Eccles and before that, by the Nobel Prize in Physics Max Planck in Where is science going?
In the epilogue to the third volume of his Law, legislation and freedom Nobel laureate in economics Friedrich Hayek writes: “I believe that humanity will regard our era as one of superstitions basically connected with the names of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud.”
Hans Eyseneck points out in Decline and fall of the Freudian empire that “what is true in Freud is not new and what is new is not true.” Richard LaPierre reaches the same conclusion in Freudian ethics and Ronald Dabiez in his voluminous treatise The psychoanalytic method and Freudian doctrine, He points out that the ideas that Freud does not share are considered neuroses, which opens the door to dangerous persecution under the cloak of “treatment.”
For example, Dabiez explains that “Freud’s attitude towards religious beliefs has evolved in the sense of an increasingly accentuated hostility, at least due to the frequency of its manifestations, since, for Freud, the fundamental equality of religion obsessive neurosis has been found since 1907 ».
Also Henry Hazlitt concludes in The Foundations of Morality that, according to Freud, “society” must necessarily finance the irresponsibility of permissive homes and schools and that “the criminal is ‘sick’ and, therefore, should not be punished” and that “compliance with moral norms only leads to neurosis”.
Among the 673 pages of one of Richard Webster’s works titled Why Freud Was Wrong, We read that «Freud was convinced that the mind could and should be described as if it were part of a physical apparatus (…) Freud did not make any intellectual discovery of substance (…), his habits of thought and his attitude towards scientific investigation are far of any responsible method of study ». Of this book James Liberman writes in the Journal of the History of Medicine that “as far as I know, it is the best treatment of the subject both in content and style.”
On the other hand, Lecomte du Noüy highlights in Human Destiny: «From top to bottom in the whole scale, all animals, without exception, are slaves of their physiological functions and of their hormones and endoctrinal secretions», but, with man, « a new discontinuity appears in nature, as deep as that between inert matter and organized life. It means the birth of consciousness and freedom (…) Freedom is not only a privilege, it is a test. No human institution has the right to deprive man of it. ‘ The result of that test depends on each one of us and not determinisms of the Viennese professor of yore that would be outside the realm of what is properly human.
What has been said is not at all a refutation of psychoanalysis in general nor is it intended to deny valuable aids from psychology in order to understand the possible problems of some people and psychiatry that aims to solve distortions for which Freud was largely a pioneer, From which, as has been said, it does not follow that its conclusions in much of the matter addressed are pertinent or exempt from contradictions and inconvenient derivations such as those indicated in this summary.
In any case, the life of Alicia de Battenberg became a hymn to goodness and perseverance and a major embarrassment for respectful spirits of the fact that each of the people are unique and unrepeatable manifestations in the history of mankind. that must be strictly respected if they do not infringe the rights of third parties.