Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

American writer and activist

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (born March 28, 1941 as Jeffrey Lloyd Masson) is an American author. Masson is best known for his conclusions about Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis. In his The Assault on Truth (1984), Masson argues that Freud may have abandoned his seduction theory because he feared that granting the truth of his female patients' claims (that they had been sexually abused) would hinder the acceptance of his psychoanalytic methods. Masson is a vegan and has written about animal rights. Most of his books since 1997 are about animals.

Quotes edit

Final Analysis (1990) edit

Final Analysis: The Making and Unmaking of A Psychoanalyst (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1990. ISBN 0-201-52368-X
  • To me, looking at other people in terms of what is wrong with them —these gradations of disturbance— was and is distasteful. Always implicit in the doctor's view is, of course, how much more "healthy" you are than they. And this is almost never the case.
    • p. 94
  • Ferenczi was considered paranoid for believing his women patients; the men's confessions were not even discussed. Ernest Jones, the powerful English analyst who had been Ferenczi's analysand, now took up the cudgel against him in deadly seriousness. Jones let it be known after Ferenczi's death in 1933 (he died a few months after the quarrel with Freud) that he was really a homicidal maniac. While I was in London working in the Jones archives I discovered what this really meant: Jones believed that to disagree with Freud (the father) was tantamount to patricide (father murder). And so, because Ferenczi believed that children were sexually abused and Freud did not, Ferenczi was branded by Jones as a homicidal maniac, and this piece of scurrilous interpretation stuck.
    • p. 152
  • Somewhat to my surprise, I was accepted for membership in the society [the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Society]. I was looking forward to giving my inaugural paper, "The Navel of Neurosis: Trauma, Memory and Denial," the one I had written with my wife, Terri, and which Schiffer [Masson's analyst] had claimed as his.
    • p. 136
  • Because I was so eager to believe I was being helped by a talented, ethical, benevolent, and intelligent man, I sought evidence for this wherever I could. Anything less than this was too dreadful to contemplate.
    • p. 40
  • I was thrilled. I loved the idea of opening everything up, of making old and secret documents available to anybody who wished to see them.
    • p. 183
  • Almost all analysts in America are physicians and psychiatrists, and the medical profession is layered into a strict hierarchy. Every psychiatrist in a hospital is chief of some service, or head of some department.
    • p. 145
  • After returning to Berkeley, I was called by the New York Times. They had heard about the paper and the response to it and wanted to send a reporter to Berkeley to talk to me about the issues surrounding it. Ralph Blumenthal came to Berkeley, spent a few days talking with me, left and wrote a sober and intelligent account, sketchy and somewhat popular, but basically correct. I was completely unprepared for the storm it was to provoke within psychoanalytic circles. To this day I am not entirely certain what it was in the article that so infuriated the analytic community. But there can be no doubt about the severity of the anger, even rage, directed at me. The two-part article was published in the "Science" section of the Times on two successive Tuesdays, August 14, and August 21,1981. I happened to be in England when the first part came out. Anna Freud had seen it and called me. "I am surprised at all the phone calls I have been receiving. I can't see anything so terrible in this article." I was relieved.
    • p. 193
  • "Every day I get many calls, from all over the world about how awful you are. How awful this article is. How bad it all is for psychoanalysis."
    • quoting Eissler, p. 193
  • Eissler's rage knew no bounds. He did not like being harrassed by other analysts. "Just today Masud Khan called me from London and asked me to dismiss you from the Archives. The board members, all of them, or at least most of them, are asking for the same."
    • p. 194
  • But Eissler also knew how the very people making the complaints and demanding my dismissal for what was, after all, a disagreement about the history of psychoanalysis, were guilty of extraordinary breaches of ethical conduct.
    • p. 194
  • Khan told me: "Nobody wants to say anything publicly because I know too much about all of them. If we were all to be honest with each other, that would be the end of British psychoanalysis."
    • pp. 194-195
  • In my experience, psychoanalysis demanded loyalty that could not be questioned, the blind acceptance of unexamined "wisdom". It is characteristic of religious orders to seek obedience without scepticism, but it spells the death of intellectual enquiry. All variants of "because I say so," or because the Koran says so, or the Bible says so, or the Upanishads say so, or Freud says so, or Marx says so, are simply different means of stifling intellectual dissent. In the end they cannot satisfy the inquisitive mind or still the doubts that naturally arise when such a mind is confronted with authoritative statements about human behavior.
    • pp. 209-210
  • [From a discussion with Sigmund Freud’s daughter]
“Terri is Jewish, she survived the Warsaw Ghetto, and I am also Jewish, and both of us have been immersed in holocaust literature. We are puzzled why so little has been written about the holocaust in psychoanalysis”.
“I am puzzled by your puzzlement”, she replied immediately. “Why should psychoanalysts in particular write about the war?”
“Because so many Jewish analysts are refugees from Nazism”.
“But that has nothing to do with psychoanalysis”.
“But doesn’t trauma play a central role in analytic theory?” Anna Freud shrugged her shoulders, apparently dismissing my concerns as uninteresting. I was deeply disappointed. Anna Freud was Jewish [...].
I tried again.
“I know that your father never wrote anything about the Nazis, but he must have talked to you about it. What did he say?”
She simply shrugged her shoulders, and sat silently. I could not tell if she meant that he had told her nothing, or if she did not intend to tell me anything.
  • pp. 154f
  • While working at Anna Freud's house, I found an unpublished letter in which he [Freud] told Fliess, less than two weeks after he gave the paper [The Aetiology of Hysteria], "I am as isolated as you could wish me to be: the word has been given out to abandon me, and a void is forming around me." Both the immediate response to the paper, and the subsequent response were ones that Freud had not anticipated: his colleagues thought he was crazy to believe his women patients. This was bound to have a disastrous impact on a young physician with a growing family, eager to open a neurological/psychiatric clinical practice. Where were his referrals to come from, if his colleagues thought he was completely daft? I made this point to Anna Freud.
"Do you believe", I said, "that this could have had anything to do with his later abandonment of the theory?"
"No." She was adamant.
"But tell me, Miss Freud, why did you omit this passage from your published edition of the letters?"
"Because it makes my father sound so paranoid," was her response.
"But if it was the truth, then he was not paranoid, he was simply perceptive."
  • pp. 175-176
  • I called Anna Freud in London to tell her what was about to happen. It was a strange, honest conversation.
"Miss Freud, I am sure you have heard that Dr. Eissler is going to fire me from the Archives."
"Yes. And I disagree with him. I did not like that second article in the New York Times. And I think you are wrong in your views. But I do not see why you should be so severely punished for holding them. On one point, however, I feel that I was deceived by Dr. Eissler. He never told me that you were going to live in my house. My understanding was that you were to be in charge of the library and of the research, but not actually live in the house." I never did find out why Eissler never explained this to Anna Freud. Perhaps he was being discreet, not wanting to bring up the matter of her death, or perhaps he knew she would not like the idea of my living in the house. Of course, as things turned out, I never did live in the Freud house.
"Did the idea of my living in your house upset you?"
"Frankly, yes it did."
"Because my father would not have wanted it."
"You mean he would not have liked me?"
"I am not saying that. But he would not have wanted somebody like you living in the house. He would have wanted somebody quiet, modest, unobtrusive. You would have been everywhere, searching for everything, going through boxes, drawers, closets, bringing people in, opening things up. My father would not have wanted this." She was right.
  • pp. 196-197
  • By the way, your wife's intelligence is not natural. In fact, I find it disgusting. Because I know what it is really all about. And so does every other normal woman. Normal women don't want to be with your wife. They can't stand her. And you know why? Because they can tell you that she is using her brain like a penis. Her mind is so developed because she is so filled with penis envy. She is so desperate for a penis that she has created one in her head. Her brain. Her huge brain is nothing but a substitute for her desire for a huge penis. Your wife has a cock for a brain, Masson, and you're getting fucked." He chortled in delight. I suspected from the way he said this that he believed it. It was a combination of the worst of analytic theory (penis envy) and the worst of his own personal prejudices against women. He said it with such passionate self-righteousness, that I knew I was helpless against him. It could never become the subject of a rational discussion.
    • pp. 75-76
  • I liked the idea of representing nobody but myself. No affiliation, no ties, no loyalties.
  • I still yearned then, and probably even more so earlier, for a strong, masculine person on whom I could pattern myself. Somebody I could admire, and imitate, and become close to and learn from. I had sought this, always, in my teachers, and my search had always ended in disappointment. I was attracted emotionally to a position that I could only despise intellectually.

When Elephants Weep (1994) edit

When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (London: Vintage, 1996. ISBN 0-09-947891-9. On Google Books.
  • Animals cry. At least, they vocalise pain or distress, and perhaps call for help. Most people believe, therefore, that animals can be unhappy and also that they have such feelings as happiness, anger and fear. But there is a tremendous gap between the common sense viewpoint and that of official science on this subject. The ordinary layperson readily believes that his dog, her eat, their parrot or horse, feels. They not only believe it but have constant evidence of it before their eyes. All of us have extraordinary stories of animals we know well. Yet, by dint of rigorous training and great efforts of the mind, most modern scientists — especially those who study the behaviour of animals — have succeeded in becoming almost blind to these matters.
    • Preface, p. 11
  • The professional and financial interest in continuing animal experimentation helps to explain at least some resistance to the notion that animals have a complex emotional life and are capable of experiencing the higher emotions, such as love, compassion, altruism, disappointment and nostalgia. To acknowledge such a possibility implies certain moral obligations. If chimpanzees can experience loneliness and mental anguish, it becomes more wrong to use them for experiments in which they are isolated and anticipate daily pain.
    • Preface, p. 15
  • It is often said that if slaughterhouses were made of glass, most people would be vegetarians. If the general public knew what went on inside animal experimentation laboratories, they would be abolished. However, the parallel is not exact. Slaughterhouses are invisible because the public wants them that way. Everyone knows what goes on inside them; they simply do not want to be confronted with it. Most people do not know what goes on with animal experimentation. Slaughterhouses allow visits. Laboratories where animal experiments are performed are secretive. Perhaps those who conduct the experiments know they would be stopped if what they do were known even by other scientists. Perhaps they are ashamed.
    • Conclusion, pp. 216-217
  • Rats and mice are not generally regarded as pets, but as pests; they have few defenders. Yet the pain a rat or a mouse feels is every bit as real as that of any pet. In laboratories, they suffer, as anybody who has heard them moan, cry, whimper and even scream knows. The experimenters dissimulate about this by insisting that they are merely vocalising. Descartes lives on.
    • Conclusion, p. 217

The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats (2002) edit

The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats: A Journey Into the Feline Heart (New York: Ballantine Books, 2002. ISBN 0-345-44882-0. On Google Books.
  • Cats are contented with their lot, with or without our approval. They have less need of us than we would like. It would flatter us to think that cats cannot survive without us, that they need us emotionally as well as materially, whereas in fact they probably do not need us in either sphere. This wounds our vanity. We need cats to need us. It unnerves us that they do not. However, if they do not need us, they nonetheless seem to love us.
    • Ch. 1
  • Cats do not give us too many chances. Abuse a cat's trust twice and you could be history, for cats are much less forgiving than dogs and will often lose their trust in you should you behave badly. A dog gives you infinite slack; not so a cat.
    • Ch. 2
  • Humans are great lovers of consistency, and it annoys us that cats have different rules. Even if a cat is willing to give up her life for you, that does not mean that she is willing to change her mind at your request.
    • Ch. 2
  • There is rarely an exception: once a cat makes up her mind to do something, your pleadings matter not at all. A dog, in the same circumstances, no matter how urgently he needs to do something, will change his mind if you insist. He is made for compromise, for self-sacrifice, for thinking about how you feel. Not cats.
    • Ch. 2
  • The idea, to a cat, that somebody else owns him is ludicrous.
    • Ch. 2
  • The cat does not merely experience contentment, he exudes it. You cannot be in the presence of a contented cat and not have some of that contentment rub off on you. Which surely is a good part of the reason we love cats so.
    • Ch. 3
  • Unlike a human smile, purring cannot be, as far as anyone knows, faked.
    • Ch. 3
  • Many people feel more complete with a cat in their life, and I would not be surprised if cats felt the same way about us. I know that if I disappeared from the lives of my five cats, they would not be as happy as before. I know, because they wait for me to go on walks along the beach, though they could perfectly well go on their own. When I am with them, they react in such a strong way, gamboling, racing ahead of me, and then flopping down in my path, that it is obvious they derive great pleasure from my company. I find it hard to believe, though, that they could possibly enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs. This is not surprising: we domesticated cats for our benefit. While they get something from it, we probably got the better deal.
    • Ch. 3

The Pig Who Sang to the Moon (2003) edit

The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals (New York: Ballantine Books, 2004. ISBN 0-345-45282-8. On Google Books.
  • There are many people who have undergone great suffering who seem to possess knowledge of the deepest recesses of human emotion unavailable to the rest of us. They may want to impart it, but we often cannot hear. Strangely enough, farm animals strike me in the same way.
    • Preface, p. ix
  • [About pigs] … of all animals their flesh most resembles human flesh, which is somewhat disconcerting when you consider that more than 40 percent of all meat raised in the world is pork.
    • Ch. 1, p. 21
  • Those who live with pigs often speak of them as we normally speak of dogs—intelligent, loyal, and above all, affectionate. Each one, I am continually reminded by people who know them, is a complete individual, like no other pig.
    • Ch. 1, p. 52
  • I didn't even know that chickens could fly, and suddenly one was landing on me. It happened when I was visiting a farm sanctuary. If I had been younger I would have asked my parents if I could take her home, please! After all, she chose me. Never mind that she chose everybody; she was a particularly friendly chicken. She made soft, strange cooing sounds and nestled into my arms like a happy kitten. … In fact she was an ordinary chicken, but simply one who had no reason to believe that people were after her. This is how chickens and humans would relate to one another if one was not exploited and the other doing the exploiting. Very much like cats and dogs. They just wait for the chance.
    • Ch. 2, p. 57
  • Perhaps if we had realized they are birds, with all the wonderful characteristics of birds, we would have paid closer attention to the ways in which chickens can enchant us. Take dust-bathing, for example. We call it a bath because the chicken finds a small indentation of dry earth and then proceeds to immerse herself in it as into a warm bath. The earth cleans her feathers. The first time I saw a chicken taking a dust bath, stretching out one iridescent wing and holding it up to the sunshine, then settling into the warmth of the afternoon only to fly effortlessly to a tree to roost in the evening, I was astonished.
    • Ch. 2, p. 59
  • Many years ago, when I was merely a vegetarian, I met the great Cesar Chavez, and he said to me: "If you are interested in preventing animal suffering, the first thing you should give up is eggs and milk, because the animals who produce those foods lead the most unhappy lives. You would do better to eat meat and stop eating eggs and dairy products." I was shocked, since I had no intention of eating meat but had never thought of giving up eggs or dairy products. But when I looked into it I realized he was right, and now, years later, after I have studied the matter up close, I know for certain that he was completely correct about the cruel treatment of the animals raised for such products. The advantages of a vegan diet are enormous for our health, for the environment, for the animals themselves.
    • Conclusion, p. 226

Raising the Peaceable Kingdom (2005) edit

Raising the Peaceable Kingdom: What Animals Can Teach Us about the Social Origins of Tolerance and Friendship (Untreed Reads, 2012). On Google Books.
  • This book is about a simple, benign experiment, or perhaps we should call it an inquiry, to learn what are the essential ingredients in interspecies friendships and even love. The basic idea was to raise together a kitten, a puppy, a bunny, a chick, and a baby rat in close circumstances to see if they would all get along and even become good friends.
    • Introduction
  • First, the eight rules of tolerance: 1. Stay out of the way. 2. Don't pick a fight. 3. If challenged, walk away. 4. Avoid eye contact. 5. If your enemy is diurnal, learn to be nocturnal. 6. Vice versa. 7. Possess nothing the other wants. 8. Draw the line at hurting kids: I will fight to the death.
    After tolerance is achieved comes play. Here are the nine rules of play: 1. Know when to quit. 2. Learn how to handicap. 3. Learn what frightens the other (cat claws). 4. Don't let it get to you. It's just a game; you mustn't take it seriously (cats have trouble with this one—escalation is always a risk in cat games). 5. Don't eat your playmate. 6. Pay attention to the signals on the other side—for instance, “enough” and “quit.” 7. Don't suddenly change the rules. 8. Don't be a sore loser. 9. Remember: It's only a game.
    And if play succeeds, we can move on to the eight rules of friendship: 1. Learn the rules of your opposite number. 2. Recognize that danger is no longer relevant. 3. Take your time. 4. One step at a time. 5. Apologize often by learning the other's words, gestures, sounds, or postures for “I'm sorry.” 6. Acknowledge mistakes. 7. Make the offer of friendship more than once. 8. Express curiosity about what the other is like.
    • Ch. 5
  • Perhaps it is possible for humans to change directions, to look at animals not as competitors or as yet another race to colonize, but as models for achieving something that has eluded humans for their entire evolutionary history. If animals can learn to live with other species in peace, and sometimes even in friendship, is it not possible that observing this extraordinary ability may yet act as a catalyst for us? Is it not possible that harmony among nations need be not a mere fantasy, but something we can learn from observing the achievements of these so-called lesser species? All that is lacking are the will and the humility.
    • Epilogue

The Face on Your Plate (2009) edit

The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food (New York: Norton & Company, 2009. ISBN 978-0-393-06595-4. On Google Books.
  • I do not find it surprising that the Jains, the Buddhists, and the Hindus have all taken seriously the lives of others. The ability to imagine ourselves into the minds and bodies of “others”—whether humans we term different from us (Down syndrome children; Alzheimer sufferers; the so-called mentally ill) or the animals we use for our food—is of central importance because the failure to do so is precisely what led to the horrors of Auschwitz. So, when people ask, Have you nothing more important to think about? the answer is: There is nothing more important to think about than the heart of empathy, which in the final analysis is nothing other than the ability to love. Becoming a vegan is simply one manifestation of that love.
    • Introduction, pp. 27-28
  • When I talk to farmers about how they treat the animals on their farms, I come up against a strange fact: while the general public and most research scientists all acknowledge that farm animals suffer, the farmers responsible for them have a tendency to deny it.
    • Ch. 2, p. 64
  • No cow gives milk unless she gets pregnant and gives birth to a calf. (I remember one dairy farmer I visited insisting that the cow would be in pain unless she was milked; true, but only because she had just given birth to a calf who was no longer present.) The milk is meant for the calf. … But our greed is greater than any reasonable person could expect: we do not allow the calf even the small amount he or she would normally take in a day. We want it all. So the calf is separated from the cow immediately upon birth. The industry says this must happen instantaneously, for otherwise there is a risk—no, it is a certainty—that the two will bond. In fact, they have already bonded, just as much as would a human mother with her baby. The strong bond is inborn in all mammals. The terrible sound one hears on any dairy farm after a cow has given birth is the call of a lost calf, calling her mother, and the mother answering in desperation. If that is not suffering, I don't know the meaning of the word.
    • Ch. 2, pp. 79-80
  • When the underlying reality is particularly unpleasant, we minimize—numbing ourselves to the actual extent of the real story. We say, “Things can't possibly be as bad as people tell us,” because we don't want them to be that bad. This is a form of magical thinking, a way of shutting our eyes. Surely if things were that bad, somebody would do something about it. Withdrawal can take the form of removing our interest (another horror story about furry pets, yawn, yawn); or our wandering attention (understandably, since we are besieged by other equally pressing images of horror). Of course this reaction can be genuine: not everyone need become an activist in the cause to end animal suffering. And becoming a vegetarian may seem like going too far. In fact, it is not such a difficult step and could be legitimately seen as the very best form of activism.
    • Ch. 4, p. 161

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