In Brave New World, how does Aldous Huxley use Freud's psychoanalystic theory?

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mrs-campbell's profile pic

mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Part of Freud's psychoanalytic theories focus on the fixation that children have with their parents, and how many of our deepest psychological disturbances and disorders stem from the anxiety and unhealthiness of parental-children relationships.  Freud seemed to assert that much of one's unhappiness and neurotic tendencies can be tied back to an unhealthy dependency and reliance upon parental figures.  So, in "Brave New World," Huxley completely takes out the parental factor by removing any concept of mother or father from children's lives.  Their entire society runs without the concept of our traditional nuclear family unit.  As Mustapha Mond puts it, the people

"are plagued with no mothers or fathers; they've got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about."

As a result, they don't have the jealousies, passions, fights, and psychological unrest that normally, as Freud asserts, comes with those ties.  The society that exists in this book is devoid not only of close familial ties, but of all close, intimate, emotional attachments.  People hook up but don't talk deeply or commit.  People have lots of fun playing games but never make lasting ties.  Their world is filled with the now and the fun, not with the profound or the deep.  And, as a result, they are seemingly "happy,"--a drug-induced, manufactured, genetically produced "happiness."

I hope that those thoughts help; good luck!

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teachersage | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In the novel, Mond explains that: 

"Our Freud had been the first to reveal the appalling dangers of family life. The world was full of fathers—was therefore full of misery; full of mothers—therefore of every kind of perversion from sadism to chastity..."

In response to Freud's theories, this society has abolished the family on the grounds of it being psychologically unhealthy. People are born in a lab via test tube mixing of egg and sperm, children are raised in groups according to age and caste in dormitory environments, and nobody marries.

This novel is satiric, and Huxley uses this form of Freudiansim run amok to parody Freud's theories and Freud's critique of the traditional nuclear family. We are meant to laugh at the idea that chastity is a form of perversion and to laugh at the embarrassment that characters experience at the idea of being or having mothers or fathers. The very word mother or father can make people blush, while they at the same time regularly attend group orgies without a second thought. Huxley suggests that the modern world (i.e., his world of the 1930s) is too quick to use theories like Freud's to abandon the kind of deep emotional ties that give life meaning and fullness.