As a student of psychoanalytic psychology, I feel I’m in a good position to respond to this post that I found problematical.
1) Freud was located in a particular place at a particular time. Freud began his clinical work with Breuer by treating hysterics (Freud was revolutionary in suggesting that both men and women can be hysterical) who were developing inexplicable physical symptoms. Freud posited that sexual repression often led to somatic symptoms, which was the mind’s way to negotiate various conflicts. For example, some folks developed glove anesthesia (a physically impossible syndrome) which Freud traced back to the repression of masturbation by blocking the physical ability for self-stimulation. One of Freud’s greatest feminist contributions was normalizing and encouraging female sexuality, believing that society’s repression of female sexuality contributed to pathology
2) It’s a great simplification to claim that Freud blamed all societal problems on sexual repression. Freud claimed that both life and death drives demanded proper drive expression; hence, both aggression and sexuality are integral parts of what it means to be human. Humans must find appropriate, constructive outlets to sublimate these drive derivatives (wishes).
3) I don’t think there’s any legitimate connection between the sexual revolution and Freud’s theory of human sexuality. In fact, most US analysts were way too reactionary and homophobic when it came to sexuality.
4) I think you’re caricaturing the notion of sexual repression. Both sexual repression and compulsive, indiscriminate sexual expression can be pathological. Freud argued that we have to find adaptive ways to express our sexuality but he never held up promiscuity as some sort of ethical mandate. Even Lacan’s maxim ‘not to give ground relative to one’s desire’ should not be read some sexual prescription.
5) I agree that Sullivan’s explanation of Catholic priests is inadequate. However, are you really going to defend Catholic priests by claiming that they’re equally likely to be pedophiles as general civilians? I’m sure we’d all like to think that Catholic priests should have a higher ethical code than the folks in the general population. What’s unforgivable with the Catholic Church is not simply the fact of childhood sexual abuse but the systemic attempt to cover up the abuse.
6) I don’t know what you would accept as legitimate scientific evidence because I think you’ve already decided that Freudian psychology is somehow part of the humanities. I find this to be a really misinformed view that is more reflective of an introduction to psychology course than the state of academic psychoanalytic psychology. First, you might check out the abundant evidence that psychodynamic psychotherapy is very efficacious. Second, you should check out developments in neuropsychoanalysis to examine the neurological evidence of the psychoanalytic theory of mind. Third, sexual repression is part of many disorders. It is more evident in certain diagnoses such as: OCD, some eating disorders and personality disorders (e.g. histrionic).
7) “It’s a way of justifying the lack of moral integrity and, indeed, the moral disintegration required to act on most every sexual whim, a way of rationalising away the extreme level of selfishness and self-regard implicit in a promiscuous lifestyle.” Honestly, I have no idea how you’re justifying this claim. Claiming that repression can lead to pathology does not advocate promiscuity (notice I’m not necessarily agreeing with you that promiscuity is sinful) nor does it somehow scapegoat religious people.
8) “If the complete lack of clarity and scientific basis weren’t enough, Christians should reject the idea that sexual repression is a unhealthy, futile and dangerous thing. Why? Because it is an anti-Christian myth.” First, just because something is anti-Christian doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Second, mental health is about balance. I’ve definitely seen Christians whose sexual repression led to bizarre and unhealthy sexual practices because of their overly punitive superego and repressive background.
9) Read Althaus-Reid’s Indecent Theology if you want to see a liberation theologian tackling sexual ethics in a progressive, feminist manner.