Bob Godfrey: What’s Going On Right Now? Sex, Race, Politics, And Power (12)—Freud

In this session, Bob Godfrey turns his attention to the effect that Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) had upon the West. Until the early 1970s the psychiatric and psychological establishment recognized homosexuality as a mental illness or a disorder. In the late 1950s, Dr Martin Luther King wrote that homosexuality was an illness and it was entirely uncontroversial. Now we are in the midst of the third sexual revolution in the Modern period. Today a Lutheran Bishop in Finland is on trial for taking the traditional and biblical approach to homosexuality. How could that be? Sigmund Freud is an important part of the story. This talk is part of a series he has been giving at the Escondido United Reformed Church adult Sunday School.

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One comment

  1. While I appreciate what Dr. Godfrey has to say about Freud and his focus on the individual in opposition to the theories of Darwin and Marx, who focused on biological and economical movements, I’m not quite sure that I agree with his quick dismissal of B.F. Skinner who he claims wanted to turn humans into automatons.

    In his final work, “Beyond Freedom and Dignity,” Skinner promotes the idea that humans are flawed in the ways that they are due to environmental and developmental reasons, i.e. poor upbringing to due dis-functional families and loose moral behaviors and that the “freedom” of the individual “self” and human “dignity” that allows people to determine who and what they are sit at the root of contemporary culture’s ills. While Skinner may have gone a bit too far in suggesting that people can only be made to develop in a manner that benefits society as a whole if they are confined and raised in a regimented environment where a child’s each and every action may be controlled through reward and punishment training, what is it that we have nowadays where each and every thought of a child is allowed and encouraged to emerge according to some post-modern socio-cultural idea of “self” that may determine his/her sexual orientation, race, class, etc. based on what he/she “feels” his/her/they “true self” actually is? Perhaps if Skinner and his ideas would have been given more thoughtful consideration several decades ago we might all be facing a better future. Of course, come to think about it, his ideas along those lines never stood a chance in the face of the growing concept of “you can’t tell me what to do!” during the 60’s and beyond. And the Lord knows I’ve run into plenty of that kind of thinking over the past few decades.

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