For those who would say that Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory is pseudoscientific, outdated, cocaine-influenced and bizarre, I would like to take a moment of your time to expand upon his use-value for the contemporary Williams student.
Freud can tell us a thing or two about the present fixation with feces, omnipresent in student conversations, newspaper headlines and biohazard e-mail warnings in recent weeks. Regarding this passion for poop, WWFD? (What Would Freud Do, or say, if he were here?)
Well, Freud tells us that our feelings of pleasure emerge through a set of psychosexual phases. At about two years of age, one matures from an oral to an anal fixation, shifting from the infant’s focus on the mother’s bosom to the toddler’s newfound ability: control over the movements of the anal sphincter.
Freud tells us that anal fixations result from too much punishment in the process of toilet training, and can result in one of two extremes in the process of character formation: retention and expulsion. When one lacks the libidinal gratification of anal pleasure, this can make the individual extremely organized. Is it perhaps that, in his or her anal-retentive adherence to work, the Williams student finds release from this oppressive perfectionism in anal-expulsive behaviors, which tends to be careless and, let it be said, a bit sloppy?
Are we a student culture held under libidinal constraint, much more deep-reaching than the threat of reduced card access to buildings? Over-worked and excessively stimulated, where are our outlets for the expression of healthy eroticism, of pleasure, bound as we are within the limits of efficiency, of balancing academics with athletics and extra-curricular activities, of long-term goals, in short, chained to the Freudian Reality Principle? Could conscious attention to healthier, less bio-hazardous pleasures increase our well being, excrementally?
Rather than cleaning kits, perhaps it’s time for us to get familiar with Freudian psychoanalysis.
Lauren Guilmette ’08