Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001546, Wed, 11 Dec 1996 10:10:17 -0800

Freud in Russia (fwd)
EDITOR's NOTE. Galya Diment <galya@u.washington.edu> is the author of
many articles on VN and of a forthcoming study on Nabokov and Marc
Szeftel, VN's Cornell colleague, and a model for Professor Pnin.
An article today on the front page of the NY Times talks about the revival
of "Freudianism" in Russia (a somewhat scary mix for Russian women, the
first manifestations of which, according to the author, Alessandra
Stanley, is that male psychoanalysts tell their female patients that their
dreams mean they want to have sexual relationships with their shrinks,
and, when upon hearing that women become upset, diagnose them as
"hysterical Doras.") The article also discusses Russia's history with
Freudianism which can be further useful in one's understanding of
Nabokov's aversion to Freud as well as of his tendency to lump Freud with
the likes of Marx and Lenin.

Many of us who remember more recent history of Freud having been banned in
Russia tend to forget his popularity in the 1920s but Nabokov was
obviously very well aware that the Bolsheviks at first embraced Freud's
teachings as something that could be useful for their own political and
ideological ends.

>From the article:

"Psychoanalysis had a rich history among the Russian intelligentsia before
and immediately after the revolution of 1917. The first translation of
Freud's writings was into Russian.... The Bolsheviks at first embraced
psychoanalysis as an antidote to bourgeois thinking. Theirs was the first
government to recognize psychoanalysis officially as a science and awarded
its practitioners state funds. In 1926 the Soviet Government allowed the
creation of the first psychoanalytic kindergarten for neurotic children,
in Moscow. Stalin's son was reportedly a pupil.

'The Russian psychoanalysts were seeking a way to make Marx and Freud
compatible,' said Martin Miller, a historian at Duke University who is
writing a book about the psychoanalytic movement in Russia. 'They wanted
to create a collective psychology.' Mr. Miller noted that Freud, who wrote
with some asperity about the Communist state in works like CIVILIZATION
AND ITS DISCONTENTS, was keenly interested in the Russian psychoanalytic
movement after the revolution and corresponded with some of the leading
Soviet psychoanalysts."

Galya Diment