Karl Kraus and the Soul-Doctors

Karl Kraus and the Soul-Doctors is a book that contains the English translations of the writings of the social critic Karl Kraus (1872 – 1936). Kraus was opposed to the biological reductionism of man by Freud and the psychoanalysts. He referred to them as the psycho-anals. The book consists of selected texts of Kraus translated by another witty social critic, Thomas Szasz. It was re-published in 1990 under the title, Anti-Freud (amazon link or free on archive.org).

Kraus had some funny one-liners. He exposed Freud and the psychoanalysts as creating a pseudo-religious cult, not uncovering the inner workings of the unconscious. Kraus’ sharp tongue offers critical insights into the depravity of psychoanalysis. But Kraus was not just a critic of psychoanalysis, he was also an insightful social critic.

Below are a few selected quotes from the book.

Aphorisms of Karl Kraus

Psychoanalysis & Psychology

Psychology is the most powerful religion: it turns doubt into bliss. As weakness engenders not humility but arrogance, this new doctrine enjoys great earthly success and lords over all other creeds and cults.

The old science denied the sexuality of adults. The new one claims that the infant feels lust during defecation. The old view was better: it could at least be contradicted by the parties concerned.

God made man out of dust. The analyst reduces him to it.

Psychoanalysis is the occupation of lewd and lascivious rationalists who attribute everything in the world, except what they themselves do, to repressed sexuality.

Journalism

The press stand in approximately the same relation to life as reading tea leaves stands to metaphysics.

Journalists write because they have nothing to say, and claim to have something to say because they write.

The prostitute resembles the journalist in that neither is expected to experience any feeling; but she differs from him in being able to experience feelings.

Education

Education is a crutch with which the foolish attack the wise to prove they are not idiots.

Sex education: the method, justified by appeals to hygiene, by which we prevent young people from satisfying their own curiosities.

Democracy

When there were no such things as human rights, the exceptional individual had them. It was called aristocracy, and was considered to be inhuman. So democracy was created. How? By taking human rights away from the exceptional individual, thus making everyone equal.

Democracy: the opportunity to be everyone’s slave.

Masturbation

Intercourse with a woman is sometimes a satisfactory substitute for masturbation. But it takes a lot of imagination to make it work.

Marriage

Matrimony: the union of meanness and martyrdom.

Since the law prohibits the keeping of wild animals and I get no enjoyment from pets, I prefer to remain unmarried.

Feminism

As long as there is a women’s rights movement, men should at least regard themselves as duty-bound to discontinue chivalry. Nowadays one can’t even take a chance and offer a woman a seat on a streetcar, for one can never be sure that one won’t be insulting her and abridging her right to an equal share of the inconveniences of life. On the other hand, one ought to get into the habit of being chivalrous and accommodating toward the feminists in every way.

Sex

If children were forbidden to blow their noses, adults would surely blush when having a need to do so.

Insights into erotic life belong to art, not to education. But sometimes these insights have to be spelled out for the illiterates. And it is mainly a matter of convincing the illiterates, for they are the ones who write the penal code.

He who lives without inhibition is a pig. He who overcomes it is an artist.

Miscellaneous

The devil is an optimist if he thinks he can make people worse than they are.

He who gladly does without the praise of the crowd will not miss the opportunity of becoming his own fan.

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