The most beautiful struggle

I came across this quote from Sigmund Freud and have been thinking about it for days:

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”


Gonna need to ponder that one a while longer

Of course this made me think of the cancer “journey.” At first blush, my instinct was to think, “If Freud said it, it must be true.” I’ve always equated Freud with absolutes, and if the granddaddy of psychotherapy believes it, so do I. Nothing like putting blind faith in a long-dead, much-maligned, and perhaps slightly insane Austrian guy, right?

I’m still on the fence about whether the “years of struggle” will become the most beautiful. I’m inclined to think not, but am reserving judgment.

My blind faith in all things Freud did get me to thinking, though, so I consulted the all-mighty Google to learn a little more about him. On a side note, I laughed out loud at one of the hits that turned up in my search of Freud: “Why Men Pull Away — 10 Ugly Mistakes Women Make That Ruin Their Chance at Relationships” by What in the world would Freud think of that??

Back to Freud.

Born in 1856 to poor Jewish parents in Pribor, Czechoslovakia, Freud was an outstanding student and graduated with honors. He originally planned to study philosophy but was drawn to med school after reading Goethe’s poem, “Hymn to Nature.” I shudder to think how different our world would be if Freud had not read that poem and gone on to study neurology and, more importantly, anesthesia. Freud was instrumental in using cocaine as an anesthesia, and while many patients died and providers became addicted, the way was paved for modern medicine to employ drugs during surgery. As one who has endured multiple procedures, with perhaps more to come, I’m grateful to Freud for his pioneering spirit. A world without Versed is one in which I do not wish to live.

Freud has many famous quotes, besides the one about the struggle being fondly remembered. This one caught my eye: “Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy.” Anytime a psychiatrist talks about crazy dreams, I’ll listen. You know there’s a great story waiting to happen.

And this: “I have found little that is ‘good’ about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all. That is something that you cannot say aloud, or perhaps even think.”

Whoa. So the master of psychoanalysis, the guru of getting inside your head, thought that most people are trash. That is heavy stuff. Makes me rethink my instinct to believe all things Freud to be true. And makes me think that perhaps he was wrong about the years of struggle seeming the most beautiful. While there are many things to be gained from a struggle, and I myself have indeed learned a lot from my cancer “journey,” I think I would have been just fine without it, Dr Freud, thankyouverymuch.

5 Comments on “The most beautiful struggle”

  1. Glad you changed your mind on Freud…

  2. David Benbow says:

    I’m not buying it. I think about the struggles I’ve had and they only help me to realize that the REST of my life is the most beautiful.

  3. I, too, am glad you changed your mind about Freud. I’ve never been fond of most of his quotes. But now I am really against his over-psychoanalyzing insights.

  4. I REALLY needed something to make me smile this morning. One sentence in-I thought, NO way is she going down the “it was a gift past” ….. when you do the retrospective thing. I do recall something about his own addiction to cocaine and how bad it was….. if I had the head for it, I’d go check that, but I’m in a “no can do” mode today. Instead, I’ll say, “maybe I just dreamed that whole cocaine thing….”

    Beautiful years….. the only thing beautiful that has come out of these years are the relationships I have forged with beautiful people. Like You.


  5. Sara B says:

    So glad you weren’t going to try to convince me that cancer was a gift to my life. Nope, I’ll never buy that one. I could have lived a perfectly beautiful, fulfilling, and special life without cancer. My struggle hasn’t been particularly beautiful. Maddening, exhausting, painful–definitely. NOT beautiful.

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