London, South Kensington
13 November 2008
SHAW, George Bernard (1856-1950). Autograph letter signed ('G.B.S.') to Barbara Low, Great Southern Hotel, Parknasilla-on-Sea, on headed paper, 17 September 1917, 2½ pages, 8vo, envelope. Provenance: Property from the Spiro Family.
A vigorous statement against psychoanalysis, to which Shaw would much prefer 'a genuine psychology founded on authentic and candid autobiographies of the imagination as distinguished from dull and irrelevant autobiographies of accidental relations to places and periods and historical incidents'; this new psychology, he adds, will no doubt have an unimportant pornographic element, as 'it is necessary to make a propaganda of sexual licence, and to keep up a whole art of aphrodisiac suggestion and stimulation in theatres and picture galleries in order to prevent the race relapsing into the condition of the neuter working bee'. Above all, though, Shaw sees a need to address the 'formidable action-compelling sides of the imagination: the melodramatic complexes, the political complexes, the sporting complexes, the philosophic complexes ... What I object to in Freud is his pre-occupation with the sex complexes in their most babyish form, and his ridiculous reduction of all the other complexes ... to sex complexes.'
The British psychoanalyst Barbara Low (1877-1955) was active in the Fabian Society, which she joined, along with Shaw soon after its formation. She was a founding member of the British Psycho-Analytical Society and in 1920 published Psycho-Analysis; A Brief Account of the Freudian Theory.
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