A friend recently accused fiction writers of being perverts. She went on to explain that she was using the word “pervert” in the sense that Sigmund Freud would be comfortable with, as in “polymorphous perversity,” a Freudian coinage. The Viennese wizard apparently maintained that children acquire sexual gratification outside the normal channels. Writers, my friend continued, are merely grown-up children finding sexual satisfaction through verbal channels. The banter between us was light and witty, but I could discern behind her humor the glint of a sober assertion.
I didn’t make this rejoinder, but I should have. Freud wasn’t a scientist, as Karl Popper pointed out, gleefully, decades ago. Popper was a thorn in the scientific community’s flesh. His standard for scientific validity was any so-called scientific claim must be able to be disproven. If the claim is impossible to locate within the gun site of empirical reason, it isn’t science. As I understand it, nothing Freud ever said falls within these lines. My friend apparently considered the citation of the exalted psychiatrist’s name sufficient to put all opposition to rest.