Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001544, Tue, 10 Dec 1996 16:41:26 -0800

Re: Feyman & VN: Kindred spirits? (fwd)
EDITOR'S NOTE. In reference to Chet R Haag's <crh@photon.com> allusion
to the Scientific American article, I was surprized to find it almost
equally benign on all of the modes of treatment in a field where
malignancy is rampant.
Tom Bolt writes:
> I just came across the following passages in James Gleick's GENIUS: THE
> Feyman on psychiatry (223): "Witch doctor. Baloney. Faker. Feyman held an
> extreme view of psychiatry. His mind was his bailiwick and he preferred
> to think himself in control. [...] He preferred to stress the
> unscientific hocus-pocus of that enterprise (conveniently shifting
> terminology, lack of reproducible experiments..."

This is the first time I have responded to this interesting and
enjoyable conversation on VN. The comparison of VN to Richard Feynman
has special meaning to me. Having been educated in quantum physics, and
a literature fan, I greatly admire the clarity, humor and style both
men's writing (although in person may have found both rather irascible
Both men's views on psychiatry are well documented and equally as
strong, but for very different reasons. One of VN's objection was the
incorrect application of Feudian analysis to literary imagery. For
example, the Feudian analysis of Gogol's nose imagery as a sexual organ
completely missed the Russian cultural humor of nose jokes. Feynman's
objection to Feudian analysis is that is is not based in science. The
most recent issue of Scientific American has an interesting artical
comparing the "success rates" of psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, and drug
therapies. Not only do these techniques continue to lack reproducible
experimentation, they generaly lack any credible objective experiments
to begin with.


Chet Haag
Photon Research Associates, Inc.
San Diego, CA