Monday, March 15, 2010

Dequincy and Freud

I found one of Dequincey's passages regarding the pains of opium to highly resemble Freud even though "Confessions" was published around 50 years before Freud's ideas were to become popular. Dequincey claims that opium brings back the memories of the past: "there is no such thing as forgetting possible to the mind; a thousand accidents may, and will interpose a veil between our present consciousness and the secret inscriptions on the mind...the inscription remains forever". As most of the class probably knows, Freud holds that many memories are repressed into the subconscious where they can be ignored by the individual. However, they are not forgotten, and Freud believes that "talk-therapy," which is an oration of the patient's stream of consciousness, will reveal past memories and problems. Dequincey believes that opium can enlighten memories of the past in a similar fashion, through dreams, also hearkening back to Freudian psychoanalyst theories. This brings up the interesting role of drugs as an escape mechanism from either societal or psychological ills. Different drugs are used to achieve different ends, but, ultimately, do they accomplish anything (even if they are prescribed)? Do they simply mask the problem, or do they solve it (mainly referring to psychological agents)? Dequincey uses opium to cope with some physical ailments as well as his grief over the death of Wordsworth's daughter, but by the end of the passage, Dequincey calls upon opium eaters to forsake the drug and ultimately cope with their problems alone. This seems to imply that drugs cannot solve a problem, and, for Dequincey, looking to the past only generates more nightmares and problems. I think this is an interesting predecessor of Freud because it doesn't seem to predict or pave the way for his theory.

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