While not a disciple of Freud in any way, I am nevertheless intrigued by some of his observations, however dated they may be in the 21st century. In “Civilization and Its Discontents”, Freud posits, “everything past is preserved (in the mind) “on condition that the organ…has remained intact and that its tissues have not been damaged by trauma or inflammation” (which must include dementia and related maladies).
It is hard to argue against that assumption given the very real occurrences of remembering details of an event, even an innocuous one, decades after the experience. What Freud does not treat at all in his work is the lack of memories and how that poverty affects people in later life. For our purposes here, we will only be concerned with American sons and what happens to them when they have no cache of fatherly memories to guide them as they grow.
The book, actually a very long essay made up of Freudian observations, amounts to a commentary on the culture of Freud’s world “from a psychoanalytic perspective.” One would expect Freud to read like any academic tome, confusing in its esotericism, therefore difficult and boring, and in this case, one would not be disappointed. But Freud occasionally comes down to earth, writing simple credos from his personal reserve anyone can understand and appreciate even eighty-four years later.
Many have a view of Freud as a detached observer, a thinker, a cold scientist with a proclivity for studying, describing and ascribing all human psychological issues to sexual anxieties, inadequacies and resultant deviances, but that view is almost entirely wrong. Freud was a quite normal family man for the most part, someone who certainly understood the importance of being a parent. This is evidenced by one statement from “Civilization and Its Discontents” which makes it difficult to think of him in any other way. “I can’t think of any need in childhood,” he wrote, “as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”
Freud was of course incorporating emotional, moral and physical protection into his declaration. If he is right, a boy who lacks a father’s protection goes through his formative years with a deficit he may never overcome in adulthood. And if the lack of a father’s protection is generational, indeed systemic, then the outcome can only be disaster for the entire society. The principle of use and disuse comes into play as generation after generation of males are starved of what Freud considered the most important aspect of parent-child relations. Sooner or later, not having a father around to perform his protective duties becomes the norm, but on a level incompatible with the reality of what are fundamental, perhaps instinctive needs to protect and be protected. Once it is “normal” to be a boy without a father, it becomes acceptable until now, under the auspices of a secular liberal progressivism, it is preferred.
What happens to boys who grow up without the protection of a father? Freud didn’t say it exactly, but I would suggest they grow up in fear and their response to that fear is either to strike out or become subservient to it. In both cases living with that kind of fear is intolerable, made the more so when the fearful have no understanding of what it is they are living with. They don’t know it is fear. On the contrary, they grow up thinking it is a shrewd caution, being street smart if you will, which makes the worst behavior justifiable. Bill O’Reilly recently labeled the phenomena among black youth especially, “cynicism”, and he may be at least somewhat correct.
It will come as no surprise then that gangs take the place of fathers. There is not only protection in membership, but authority, a requirement for discipline in the most perverted sense. It is also why prison is pretty much just another, sometimes inevitable avenue in life wherein structure plays the part of a father in protective mode. Joining the military is often the best alternative for young, fatherless men for the same reasons.
But gangs, prison and the military are only bandages on a problem in America that is the direct result of liberal secular progressivism. Freud would be appalled to see destruction of the nuclear family as justification for a political agenda.
We have a disintegrating culture because it is steeped in a political movement which thrives on immorality becoming so pervasive it metamorphoses into amorality which by its nature criminalizes moral judgment. Liberal secular progressivism’s goal is total amorality such that the difference between what we know to be right and wrong becomes so blurred we cannot make the case either way. It is why libertarianism in its purest form is equally pernicious.
Progressives, especially their fanatical feminist wing, rail violently at the notion men are essential to the proper workings of society. But they know it to be true which enrages them since no matter what they do, that particular truth cannot be eradicated from the American psyche. What they can do however is something they have been very successful at, making men appear to be superfluous. The elevation of the single mother to some kind of sainthood obfuscates the fact that she got there through bad decisions and a total disregard for the consequences. Thus her motherhood skills do not align with her instincts since to admit her children are products of little more than lust diminishes their value commensurately. Fathers are more to blame as they deposit their seed then walk away without a “smidgen” of regard for the child or children born into a slavery from which there is no escape.
What every honest thinking person, including Sigmund Freud understood then and understands now is that children without a father’s protection necessarily grow in fear and will project that fear onto their offspring by being as absent from their lives as previous generations of fathers were thus perpetuating the downward spiral for their descendants until society breaks down entirely.
In 2011 I published a small book entitled, “A Father’s Guide To Raising Conservative Gentlemen: And Saving America At The Same Time.” In it I warned of the coming calamity of fatherless sons and suggested an all-out effort to change the existing paradigm. I wrote of society’s need to begin instructing the sons of America on the necessity for becoming gentlemen, that is, good, decent men of substance. I set down four principles of gentility on which fathers or anyone having influence over boys could rely and expand upon: Respect, Responsibility, Righteousness and Resolve. For it is through instilling those precepts into the body of memories with which a boy grows can he develop into a man of honor.
Freud may have been an atheist, for that I pity him, but through all his writings, lectures and discussions, it is clear he understood a principle of faith in God, that a man’s value is determined by his spirit’s exultation as a function of a boy’s trust in his father’s protection. If nothing else, fathers, protect your sons.
 Strachey, James, (Ed.). (1961). Sigmund Freud – Civilization and Its Discontents. New York, London: W. W. Norton & Company.