Psychoanalysis does not present itself to itself as a form of depravity, but on a medical model, as a movement towards understanding & liberation. It usually comes across as virtuous and humourless. However, if we reject its claim to put us uniquely in touch with truth, we look differently on what it offers its devotees. Even we expose it as based on pure illusion, that does not destroy its interest, though we would be unlikely to want to undergo the treatment.
Phrases like the prostitution of friendship have been applied to it. Nietzsche condemns ‘introspection’, or ‘navel gazing’ as ‘a degenerate form of the psychologist’s genius’ (Will to Power §426), that suggests Pascal. Pschyoanalysis is more reminiscent of Baudelaire, offering enjoyment of perverse emotions, combined with all the pride of secret knowledge. It has been pointed out that Freud developed his ideas in the age of Beardsley, when art and literature were pervaded by perverse erotic symbolism, especially in Vienna. Salvador Dali, himself saturated in Nietzsche as a young man, used psychoanalysis for his own brand of decadent affirmation, restoring the humour and scrapping the morality.
Orthodox psychoanalysis is still very moralistic. Although it uncovers all the grossest selfishness, which it claims to underlie all our actions, it regards this as a force itself opposed to society & the individual. It considers restraint to be very necessary, though it ‘liberates’ the most anti social instincts.
For Nietzsche, the mind is not self destructive except among decadent people. However there is a challenge presented by these pessimistic ideas. It is a demoralising suggestion, something to be refuted, that greater happiness lies with error.
Nietzsche promises a pleasure that will be in no way less than that offered by the negative and decadent ideas he attacks. He desires to account for and harness what is exciting in them, without yielding to the sickness. He is clear about what is to be avoided. As he writes in Twilight p 34. ‘To have to combat one’s instincts, that is the formula for decadence: as long as life is ascending, happiness & instinct are one.
He is referring to Socrates, of whom he wrote a few lines previously:- p32- ‘His case was after all only the extreme case, only the most obvious instance of what had at that time begun to be the universal exigency: that no one was any longer master of himself, that the instincts were becoming mutually antagonistic.