Central to Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis is the notion that the real cause of anxiety and trauma lies in the unconscious. For Freud, sexual desire is an essential quality of the unconscious to which all forms of experience are linked. Freud was more interested in constructing a theory of sexuality than in evaluating actual sexual behavior. His sexually rich unconscious is both a theory of sexuality and a theory of the mind. This chapter illustrates how Freudian sexual and mental theory came to occupy a central position in culture as well as psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychotherapy over the century. It looks at Western historical alternatives and recent criticisms on the influence of Freudian thought within cultural theory. It also examines how the personal and social liberation implicit in Freudian theory became an obsession in the West in general and in France and the United States in particular. Finally, the chapter comments on the debate on Freudian sexual theory in early twentieth-century Russia and the Soviet Union in relation to China.
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