Authority and the Father
The “authoritarian personality” is a social psychological construct derived from early psychoanalytic theories of attachment to (and conflict with) the father. To begin with, note that Freud’s own attitude toward paternal authority was profoundly ambiguous. In 1910, Freud attributed Leonardo da Vinci’s astonishing precocity to the fact that he had “escaped being intimidated by his father in earliest childhood,” implying that the routine exercise of paternal authority leads to the suppression of free and unfettered intellectual development in children and, later on, in adults. Without saying so in so many words, Freud’s tribute to Leonardo suggested that childhood and adolescent rebellion against paternal authority is essentially an emancipatory process.
However, 3 years later, in Totem andTaboo, Freud linked rebellion against paternal authority to an intractable ambivalence rooted in our phylogenetic inheritance, which presumably underlies the “collective...
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