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April 22, 2007

Freud Quote

"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity."

I first came across this quote attributed to Sigmund Freud over 10 years ago, and was reminded of it this morning when Glenn Reynolds mentioned it :

April 21, 2007

HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED: A look at the 1957 Far Rockaway High School Rifle Team. It's certainly a sign of how New York has changed, and not for the better.

Meanwhile, in 2007 Yale is banning fake weapons on stage. And to think that universities hold themselves out as bastions of critical thinking where people can make fine distinctions . . . .

As Sigmund Freud said: "A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity."

Or intellectual maturity, anyway. It's certainly evidence for Robert Epstein's thesis.

UPDATE: Perhaps the Yale cast should show up in this apparel.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Eugene Volokh: "Do Yale students have a hard time telling theater from reality? Are they so emotionally fragile that they would be traumatized by seeing a realistic sword on stage?"

I think that's the Yale administrators. It's all about the unwillingness to face reality and its consequences.

MORE: Reader Ryan Robinson notes something fishy at Wikiquote:

Just wanted to point this out…

At some point since you posted the Sigmund Freud quote “A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity?, somebody went on to wikiquote.org and edited the page. They have that quote now marked as “Misattributed?. Whoever edited the page says that they searched Google Print, but apparently they neglected to note that the version they searched is NOT the complete text of Freud’s work. Perhaps someone with access to a library can confirm or deny that quote.

Interesting how quickly the wikiquote page was modified… Also interesting that they *speculatively* attribute the quote to an opponent of gun control.

This is why wikis suck. That quote has been there for years -- then I link it and it vanishes. I think the quote's real -- at least I've seen it elsewhere before. But either the quote was bogus when I linked it -- which means that wikiquote sucks -- or the quote was real and has been deleted/marked as misattributed for political reasons -- which means that wikiquote sucks. And there's no obvious indication that it's changed since I cited it. Which means that wikiquote sucks.

If that quote is false, then the problem just isn't with wikiquote, but people believing what they want to believe.

In "Guns and Public Health: Epidemic of Violence or Pandemic of Propaganda?" (1995), Don Kates and his co-authors wrote:

Anti-gun health advocates seem blind or unconcerned about the danger that their emotions may preclude rational evaluation of gun ownership. Psychiatrist Emmanuel Tanay, who admits that he loathes guns to the point of being unable to look upon or touch them with equanimity, asserts that gun ownership betokens sexual immaturity or neuroticism.[49] As evidence of this, Dr. Tanay asserts that gun owners actually "handle ... with obvious pleasure" these horrid objects which so repulse him, that collectors "look after" their collections, and that owners "clean, polish and pamper" their guns.[50] "The owner's overvaluation of his gun's worth is an indication of its libidinal value to him."[51]

Further, Dr. Tanay invokes Freud's purported view of the sexual significance of firearms in the interpretation of dreams.[52] Invoking Freud is particularly ironic because Freud's comments were not directed at gun ownership. Insofar as Freud addressed the matter at all, he seems to have equated fear and loathing of guns with sexual immaturity and neuroticism.[53] We are emphatically not endorsing Freud's view as either applicable to Dr. Tanay or explanatory of his views. Our concern is with the effect fear and loathing of guns has on the intellect, not on the libido. The effect on Dr. Tanay is that he cannot recognize how gun collectors' tastes might differ from his own or how they might comprehend passages from Freud; in fact, he is unable to read them without imposing a meaning almost opposite of what they actually say.

Kates citation was Sigmund Freud & D. E. Oppenheim, Dreams in Folklore 33 (1958).

I spent a few days going through several libraries, due to a bet I had with somebody about Freud's position. I don't think I ever found a copy of Dreams in Folklore. However, I did go through A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis, another book often cited as the source of that quote. I didn't find any reference to a "fear of weapons" in General Introduction.

Even a discussion about that quote on TheHighRoad.org, a firearms related forum site, didn't produce any definitive answer.

I have no idea what Freud's position on weapons was, nor do I really care (besides, Fred is much more interesting). But until I find a primary source, or somebody I trust verifies it, I'll have to file it away as bogus gun-control quote.

Maybe the attention given to the supposed-Freud quote by Instapundit will finally settle this matter once and for all.

UPDATE (evening of April 23): And it has.

I never imagined that the ramblings of a week I wasted 9 years ago would get a link from the Blogfather himself. You can read his findings at http://instapundit.com/archives2/004388.php .

The bad news is I owe somebody $100.

Posted by Robert Racansky on April 22, 2007 at 1:37 PM