chapter  5
The Manipulative Power of Reason
Pages 10

In his well-known essay “A Difficulty on the Path of Psychoanalysis” (1917), Sigmund Freud presents his three “blows to human narcissism” 1 that shocked humanity’s conscious existence. Freud’s proposal “. . . describe[s] how the universal narcissism of men, their self-love, has up to the present suffered three severe blows from the research of science.” 2 The first blow emanated from the cosmological observation-the Copernican heliocentric 3 revolution in the sixteenth century. This discovery broke humanity’s naïve sense-perception of its centrality based on the assumed central position of the earth in the universe, which inclined the individual to regard himself as the “lord of the world.” The second blow proceeded from biological research, which Freud saw as resulting from Darwin’s theory of evolution. That revelation of science shattered humanity’s imagined supremacy over the whole of creation by proving its development from the animal kingdom. The third and the “most wounding” reversal arose out of psychological medicine, whereby psychoanalysis revealed that humans are not the master of their psyche. Investigation into the subconscious, the id and the ego peeled away the layers of human behavior governed by the mind and feelings of supremacy.