Secret Intelligence Service
Seminar Notes (II)
Conversations Room 15 and New Mind War
Basically (very), stereotypes are generalisations regarding a group of people whereby one attributes a defined set of characteristics to this group. These classifications can be positive or negative, such as when various nationalities are stereotyped as friendly or unfriendly. The purpose of stereotypes is to assist in knowing how to interact with others. Each classification has associations, scripts and so on that one uses to interpret what they are saying, decide if they are good or bad, and choose how to respond to them, or not respond.
Freud: ‘Monograph for Psychiatry and Neurology’in 1901, before appearing in book form in 1904. It would receive twelve foreign translations during Freud’s lifetime, as well as numerous new German editions, with fresh material being added in almost every one. James Strachey objected that ‘Almost the whole of the basic explanations and theories were already present in the earliest edition…the wealth of new examples interrupts and even confuses the mainstream of the underlying argument’. However, in such a popular and theory-light text, the sheer wealth of examples helped make Freud’s point for him in an accessible way.
A new English-language translation by Anthea Bell was published in 2003.
This is how Freud introduces his book: During the year 1898 I published a short essay on the Psychic Mechanism of Forgetfulness. I shall now repeat its contents and take it as a starting-point for further discussion. I have there undertaken a psychologic analysis of a common case of temporary forgetfulness of proper names, and from a pregnant example of my own observation I have reached the conclusion that this frequent and practically unimportant occurrence of a failure of a psychic function – of memory – admits an explanation which goes beyond the customary utilisation of this phenomenon.
Freud believed that various deviations from the stereotypes of everyday conduct -seemingly unintended reservation, forgetting words, random movements and actions – are a manifestation of unconscious thoughts and impulses. Explaining ‘wrong actions’ with the help of psychoanalysis, just as the interpretation of dreams, can be effectively used for diagnosis and therapy.
Considering the numerous cases of such deviations, he concludes that the boundary between the normal and abnormal human psyche is unstable and that we are all a bit neurotic. Such symptoms are able to disrupt eating, sexual relations, regular work, and communication with others.
This is the conclusion Freud makes at the end of the book: The unconscious, at all events, knows no time limit. The most important as well as the most peculiar character of psychic fixation consists in the fact that all impressions are on the one hand retained in the same form as they were received, and also in the forms that they have assumed in their further development. This state of affairs cannot be elucidated by any comparison from any other sphere. By virtue of this theory every former state of the memory content may thus be restored, even though all original relations have long been replaced by newer ones.
Humans are born with unfocused sexual libidinal drives, and therefore argued that homosexuality might be a deviation from this. Nevertheless, he also felt that certain deeply rooted forms of homosexuality were difficult or impossible to change.
On homosexuality; written between 1905, when Freud published Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, and 1922, when he published ‘Certain Neurotic Mechanisms in Jealousy, Paranoia, and Homosexuality.’ Freud believed that all humans are bisexual, by which he primarily meant that everyone incorporates aspects of both sexes, and that everyone is sexually attracted to both sexes. In his view, this was true anatomically and therefore also mentally and psychologically.
Heterosexuality and homosexuality both developed from this original bisexual disposition. As one of the causes of homosexuality Freud mentions the distressing heterosexual experience: ‘Those cases are of particular interest in which the libido changes over to an inverted sexual object after a distressing experience with a normal one.
Freud appears to have been undecided whether or not homosexuality was pathological, expressing different views on this issue at different times and places in his work. Freud frequently called homosexuality an ‘inversion’, something which in his view was distinct from the necessarily pathological perversions, and suggested that several distinct kinds might exist, cautioning that his conclusions about it were based on a small and not necessarily representative sample of patients. Freud derived much of his information on homosexuality from psychiatrists and sexologists such as Richard von Krafft-Ebing and Magnus Hirschfeld, and was also influenced by Eugen Steinach, a Viennese endocrinologist who transplanted testicles from straight men into gay men in attempts to change their sexual orientation. Freud stated that Steinach’s research had ‘thrown a strong light on the organic determinants of homoeroticism’, but cautioned that it was premature to expect that the operations he performed would make possible a therapy that could be generally applied. In his view, such transplant operations would be effective in changing sexual orientation only in cases in which homosexuality was strongly associated with physical characteristics typical of the opposite sex, and probably no similar therapy could be applied to lesbianism.
In fact Steinach’s method was doomed to failure because the immune systems of his patients rejected the transplanted glands, and was eventually exposed as ineffective and often harmful.
On Lesbians Freud’s main discussion of female homosexuality was the 1920 paper ‘The Psychogenesis of a Case of Homosexuality in a Woman,’ which described his analysis of a young woman who had entered therapy because her parents were concerned that she was a lesbian. Her father hoped that psychoanalysis would cure her lesbianism, but in Freud’s view, the prognosis was unfavourable because of the circumstances under which the woman entered therapy, and because the homosexuality was not an illness or neurotic conflict. Freud wrote that changing homosexuality was difficult and therefore possible only under unusually favourable conditions, observing that ‘in general to undertake to convert a fully developed homosexual into a heterosexual does not offer much more prospect of success than the reverse.’ Success meant making heterosexual feeling possible rather than eliminating homosexual feelings.
Views on attempts to change homosexuality :
Freud believed that homosexuals could seldom be convinced that sex with someone of the opposite sex would provide them with the same pleasure they derived from sex with someone of the same sex. Patients often had only superficial reasons to want to become heterosexual, pursuing treatment due to social disapproval, which was not a strong enough motive for change. Some patients might have no real desire to become heterosexual, seeking treatment only so that they could convince themselves that they had done everything possible to change, leaving them free to return to homosexuality afterwards. Freud, therefore, told the parents only that he was prepared to study their daughter to determine what effects therapy might have. Freud concluded that he was probably dealing with a case of biologically innate homosexuality, and eventually broke off the treatment because of what he saw as his patient’s hostility to men.1935 letter:
In 1935, Freud wrote to a mother who had asked him to treat her son’s homosexuality, a letter that would later become famous:
I gather from your letter that your son is a homosexual. I am most impressed by the fact that you do not mention this term yourself in your information about him. May I question you why you avoid it? Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation; it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be a variation of the sexual function, produced by a certain arrest of sexual development. Many highly respectable individuals of ancient and modern times have been homosexuals, several of the greatest men among them. (Plato, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, etc). It is a great injustice to persecute homosexuality as a crime – and a cruelty, too. If you do not believe me, read the books of Havelock Ellis.
By asking me if I can help [your son], you mean, I suppose, if I can abolish homosexuality and make normal heterosexuality take its place. The answer is, in a general way we cannot promise to achieve it. In a certain number of cases we succeed in developing the blighted germs of heterosexual tendencies, which are present in every homosexual; in the majority of cases it is no more possible. It is a question of the quality and the age of the individual. The result of treatment cannot be predicted.
What analysis can do for your son runs in a direction of a different kind. If he is unhappy, neurotic, torn by conflicts, inhibited in his social life, analysis may bring him harmony, peace of mind, full efficiency, whether he remains homosexual or gets changed.
Notes upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis
The case study was published in 1909 in Germany. Freud saw the Rat Man patient for some six months, despite later claiming the treatment lasted about a year. He considered the treatment a success.
The patient presented with obsessional thoughts and with behaviours that he felt compelled to carry out, which had been precipitated by the loss/replacement of his pince-nez, and the problem of paying for them, combined with the impact of a story he heard from a fellow officer about a torture wherein rats would eat their way into the anal cavity of the victim. The patient then felt a compulsion to imagine that this fate was befalling two people dear to him, specifically his father and his fiancée. The irrational nature of this obsession is revealed by the fact that the man had the greatest regard for his fiancée and that his revered father had actually been dead for some years. Freud theorised that these obsessive ideas and similar thoughts were produced by conflicts consisting of the combination of loving and aggressive impulses relating to the people concerned – what Eugen Bleuler would later term ambivalence.
The Rat Man also often defended himself against his own thoughts. He had had a secret thought that he wished his father would die so he could inherit all of his money, and become rich enough to marry, before shaming himself by fantasising that his father would die and leave him nothing. The patient even goes so far as to fantasise about marrying Freud’s daughter, believing (Freud writes) that ‘the only reason I was so kind and incredibly patient with him was that I wanted to have him for a son-in-law’ – a matter linked in the transference to his conflicts between his mother’s wish for him to marry rich like his father, and his fiancée’s poverty. In addition, the symptoms were believed to keep the patient from needing to make difficult decisions in his current life, and to ward off the anxiety that would be involved in experiencing the angry and aggressive impulses directly. The patient’s older sister and father had died, and these losses were considered, along with his suicidal thoughts and his tendency, to form part of the tissue of phantasies, verbal associations and symbolic meanings in which he was trapped. Freud believed that they had their origin in the Rat Man’s sexual experiences of infancy, in particular harsh punishment for childhood masturbation, and the vicissitudes of sexual curiosity.
In the theoretical second part of the case study, Freud elaborates on such defence mechanisms as rationalisation, doubt, undoing and displacement.
In a later footnote, Freud laments that although ‘the patient’s mental health was restored to him by the analysis…like so many young men of value and promise, he perished in the Great War’.
Doublespeak is language that deliberately obscures, disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms (e.g., ‘downsizing’ for layoffs, ‘servicing the target’ for bombing), in which case it is primarily meant to make the truth sound more palatable. It may also refer to intentional ambiguity in language or to actual inversions of meaning (for example, naming a state of war peace). In such cases, doublespeak disguises the nature of the truth.
Doublespeak is most closely associated with political language.
Parallels have also been drawn between Doublespeak and George Orwell’s classic essay Politics and the English Language, which discusses the distortion of language for political purposes. Edward S. Herman, political economist and media analyst, has highlighted some examples of doublespeak and doublethink in modern society Herman describes in his book, Beyond Hypocrisy the principal characteristics of doublespeak:
What is really important in the world of doublespeak is the ability to lie, whether knowingly or unconsciously, and to get away with it; and the ability to use lies and choose and shape facts selectively, blocking out those that don’t fit an agenda or programme.
In his essay ‘Politics and the English Language’, George Orwell observes that political language serves to distort and obfuscate reality. Orwell’s description of political speech is extremely similar to the contemporary definition of doublespeak;
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible.Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness, the great enemy of clear language is insincerity. Where there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms.
Due to the inherently deceptive nature of doublespeak as well as its prominent use in politics, doublespeak has been linked to the sociological perspective known as conflict theories. Conflict theories detract from ideas of society being naturally in harmony, instead placing emphasis on political and material inequality as its structural features. Antonio Gramsci’s concepts on cultural hegemony, in particular, suggest that the culture and values of the economic elite – the bourgeoisie – become indoctrinated as ‘common sense’ to the working-class, allowing for the maintenance of the status quo through misplaced belief. Being himself one of the leaders of the Communist Party of Italy, his theories had, in turn, been strongly influenced by the German social thinker Karl Marx, and have their ideological roots grounded in Marxist theory of false consciousness and capitalist exploitation.
Noam Chomsky noted in their book that Orwellian Doublespeak is an important component of the manipulation of the English language in American media,through a process called ‘dichotomisation’; a component of media propaganda involving ‘deeply embedded double standards in the reporting of news’. For example, the use of state funds by the poor and financially needy is commonly referred to as ‘social welfare’ or ‘handouts’, which the ‘coddled’ poor ‘take advantage of’. These terms, however, do not apply to other beneficiaries of government spending such as tax incentives and military spending. Examples of the structural nature of the use of Doublespeak have been made by modern scholars. Noam Chomsky argues in Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media that people in modern society consist of decision-makers and social participants who have to be made to agree. According to Chomsky, the media and public relations industry actively shape public opinion, working to present messages in line with their economic agenda for the purposes of controlling of the ‘public mind’. Contrary to the popular belief that indoctrination is inconsistent with democracy, Chomsky goes so far as to argue that ‘it’s the essence of democracy. ‘The point is that in a … totalitarian state, it doesn’t much matter what people think because … you can control what they do. But when the state loses the bludgeon, when you can’t control people by force and when the voice of the people can be heard, … you have to control what people think. And the standard way to do this is to resort to what in more honest days used to be called propaganda.
Manufacture of consent
Creation of necessary illusions
In politics Doublespeak is often used to avoid answering questions or to avoid the public’s questions without directly stating that the specific politician is ignoring or rephrasing the question.
Main focus: Doublespeak
Doublespeak is often used by politicians for the advancement of their agenda. The Doublespeak Award is an ironic tribute to public speakers who have perpetuated language that is grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing, or self-centreed. It has been issued by the National Council of Teachers of English since 1974. The recipients of the Doublespeak Award are usually politicians, national administration or departments. An example of this is the US Department of Defence, which won the award three times in 1991, 1993, and 2001 respectively. For the 1991 award, the US Department of Defence ‘swept the first six places in the Doublespeak top ten’ for using euphemisms like ‘servicing the target’ (bombing) and ‘force packages’ (warplanes). Among the other phrases in contention were ‘difficult exercise in labour relations’, meaning a strike, and ‘meaningful downturn in aggregate output,’ an attempt to avoid saying the word ‘recession’.
A double entendre is a figure of speech or a particular way of wording that is devised to be understood in either of two ways, having a double meaning. Typically one of the meanings is obvious, given the context whereas the other may require more thought. The innuendo may convey a message that would be socially awkward, sexually suggestive or offensive to state directly (the Oxford English Dictionary describes a double entendre as being used to ‘convey an indelicate meaning’, whilst Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines it as ‘a word or phrase that may be understood in two different ways, one of which is often sexual’).
A double entendre may exploit puns to convey the second meaning.
Double entendres generally rely on multiple meanings of words, or different interpretations of the same primary meaning. They often exploit ambiguity and may be used to introduce it deliberately in a text. Sometimes a homophone (i.e., another word which sounds the same) can be used as a pun. When three or more meanings have been constructed, this is known as a ‘triple entendre.’
A person who is unfamiliar with the hidden or alternative meaning of a sentence may fail to detect its innuendos, aside from observing that others find it humorous for no apparent reason. Perhaps because it is not offensive to those who do not recognise it, innuendo is often used in sitcoms and other comedy where the audience may enjoy the humour while being oblivious to its secondary meaning.
A triple entendre is a phrase that can be understood in any of three ways, such as in the back cover of the 1981 Rush album Moving Pictures which shows a moving company carrying paintings out of a building while people are shown being emotionally moved and a film crew makes a ‘moving picture’ of the whole scene. In Homer’s The Odyssey, when Odysseus is captured by the Cyclops Polyphemus, he tells the Cyclops that his name is Oudeis (ουδεις – no-one). When Odysseus attacks the Cyclops later that night and stabs him in the eye, the Cyclops runs out of his cave, yelling to the other cyclopes that ‘No-one has hurt me’, which leads the other cyclopes to take no action, allowing Odysseus and his men to escape.Some of the earliest double entendres are found in the Exeter Book, or Codex exoniensis, at Exeter Cathedral in England. The book was copied around 975 AD. In addition to the various poems and stories found in the book, there are also numerous riddles. The Anglo-Saxons did not reveal the answers to the riddles, but they have been answered by scholars over the years. Some riddles were double-entendres, such as Riddle 25 (“I am a wondrous creature: to women a thing of joyful expectation, to close-lying companions serviceable. I harm no city-dweller excepting my slayer alone. My stem is erect and tall – I stand up in bed – and whiskery somewhere down below. Sometimes a countryman’s quite comely daughter will venture, bumptious girl, to get a grip on me. She assaults my red self and seizes my head and clenches me in a cramped place. She will soon feel the effect of her encounter with me, this curl-locked woman who squeezes me. Her eye will be wet.’) which suggests the answer ‘a penis’ but has the correct answer ‘an onion’.
Examples of sexual innuendo and double-entendre occur in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (14th century), in which the Wife of Bath’s Tale is laden with double entendres. The most famous of these may be her use of the word ‘queynte’ to describe both domestic duties (from the homonym ‘quaint’) and genitalia (‘queynte’ being the root of ‘cunt’, a vulgar English word for vagina.)
Double entendres are popular in modern movies, as a way to conceal adult humour in a work aimed at general audiences. The James Bond films are rife with such humour. For example, in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), when Bond is disturbed bythe telephone while in bed with a Danish girl, he explains to Moneypenny that he is busy ‘brushing up on a little Danish’. Moneypenny responds by pointing out that 007 was known as ‘a cunning linguist’; a play on the word ‘cunnilingus’.
Secret Intelligence Service
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Seminar Notes (II) MMXIX
Secret Intelligence Service
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