History, has been, and will continue to be, an important part of society. Frederick Jackson Turner once said, Each age tries to form its own conception of the past. Each age writes the history of the past anew with references to the conditions uppermost in its own times. (New) Today our culture views some events as significant and others that have impacted society just as much, oftentimes do not receive as much credit. The Discourse on Language, by Michel Foucault, encompasses reasons our society tends to exclude certain issues. Among these oppositions are the principles of reason and madness.
During the middle ages the mad mans words were either considered null and void or were taken as words implying hidden truth or meaning revealing things that the wise could not retrieve. (Foucault 217) As Society has progressed our ability to accept advise from the mad has increased yet, the release of information is frequently controlled. Foucault states, We have only to bear all this in mind to suspect that the old division is just as active as ever. (Foucault 217) Thus society still fosters a mild prejudice towards the insane but are conversely developing ways to accept the convoluted truths stated through madmen. The life and work of Sigmund Freud is a perfect example of this principle. Due to his peculiar ways many people were indifferent to his theories during his lifetime.
Freud stated ideas and opinions, which many other scholars were too timid to bring to the publics attention, one example being his constant psychoanalytic obsession with sex. Freuds theories were interpreted as direct incitements to surrendering all restraint, to reverting to a state of primitive license and savagery, yet, he continued to introduce beneficial writing and ideas into the scientific community. (Jones 299) His psychoanalytic theory, which explains personality and mental disorders through the unconscious determination of behavior, shed a new light on psychologists view of observation. However, with the use of his daughter as a subject, and his addiction to cocaine, the scientific community, at that time, often rejected his theories. At a German Neurologists and Psychiatrists meeting one scientist, speaking of Freuds theories stated, This is not a topic for discussion at a scientific meeting; it is a matter for the police. (Jones 299) Even though Freuds peers reputed him, his work was extremely prophetic. Freud successfully created a new approach to thought after dealing with constant criticism from others.
Sigmund Freud developed psychodynamic theories on personality. He believed that there are three elements to our personality. The first is the ID, the second is the ego, and the third is the superego. He believed that each element keeps the others in check; therefore if all elements are well balanced the person had a healthy personality. Freud also developed a theory in which he believed our ...
It only took society a few years to understand the importance of a man whom society learned to reject at first. Although Freud was repudiated by much of the scientific community because he was considered scandalous, his work will live forever. Edgar Allen Poe contributed immense amounts of genius work to the literary field but was often times considered unimportant because of his bad reputation. His father, publishers, and universities because of his disheveled, dishonest, and idiosyncratic tendencies oftentimes rejected Poe. Due to Poes obsession with the grotesque, society during his time tended to push him to the side. With the aid of his psychological stories, critics have proclaimed him necrophilic, dipsomanic, paranoid, impotent, neurotic, oversexed, a habitual taker of drugs, until all that is left in the public eye is an unstable creature sitting gloomily in a dim room, the raven over the door, the bottle on the table, the opium in the pipe, scribbling mad verses (Bittner 9).
However, in all of Poes work he uses ingenious genre and techniques that we honor as genius today. In The Fall of the House of Usher, Poe uses the scenery to correspond to the events that are going on in the house. Poes style of writing was very in depth. He chose themes such as reincarnation, perversity, and retribution, which in the end made him unpopular among literary critics. Yet, it is not what you say but how you say it. Despite the fact that Poe was considered mad, his work has been and will continue to be admired and studied by many people.
Thomas More's Utopia and Aldus Huxley's Brave New World, are novels about societies that differ from our own. Though the two authors have chosen different approaches to create an alternate society, both books have similarities which represent the visions of men who were moved to great indignation by the societies in which they lived. Both novels have transcended contemporary problems in society, ...
Dealing with the repercussions of indifference has proved to be one of the most trifling actions society, has ever taken on. People like Edgar Allen Poe and Sigmund Freud have proven society wrong in showing that they can think intellectually with out being normal. Had people like these not come along, would societys mindset be the same as it is today? It is these types of people that will eventually calm the impressions society makes on madness. In order to change, society must be willing to accept and overlook these differences so that we may gain a new outlook toward life. In history we can track the steps society has taken towards change and use them to form a new approach. Only we can be responsible for society and the advancements it makes in the future.
Bibliography: Works Cited Bittner, William. Poe: A Biography. London: Eleck Books, 1962. Foucault, Michel. The Archaeology of Knowledge. Trans.
A.M. Sheridan Smith. New York: Pantheon Books: 1972. Jones, Ernest. The Life and Works of Sigmund Freud. Abr.
ed. Lionel Trilling. Steven Marcus. New York: Basic Books, Inc: 1961. New Perspectives on the West. 1996. Public Broadcasting System. 9 October 2000.