Official Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute and Weekly Webzine Site
Since 1996 ~ Over 10,000 Web Pages in Archive
Volume 1338
The ERBzine Forum Series
David A. Adams
David Nkima Adams
David Adams' series of ERBzine articles
Chattering from the Shoulder with Nkima
are featured at: ERBzine 0396
R. E. Prindle

Ron Prindle's series of ERBzine articles:
ERB On the Road to Salvation, etc.
start at ERBzine 1328
Some Comments on a Series of Articles by R.E. Prindle
by David A. Adams

Psychological readings of literary texts can be a legitimate form of literary criticism. However, R.E. Prindleís readings of Edgar Rice Burroughs in his recent series of articles are beset with a number of serious flaws.

1. Prindle attempts to build a psychological profile of ERB by close readings of some his so called Non-Series works alone. These works may at first glance be those to most readily reveal Burroughsí mind because they are outside the more well-known fantasy writings. However, it is erroneous to conclude that Burroughs "wrote his mind," so to speak, exclusively in these real world works such as the Mucker novels and Marcia of the Doorstep. a more accurate reading comes from looking at all of ERBís works. Indeed, more of Burroughs is revealed in the Barsoom and Tarzan Series than in his few minor works.

2. Prindleís use of psychological terms is often so confusing that he is difficult to follow. By his own admission he has based his readings upon a personal set of terms that seem at times to come from a combination of both Freud and Jung. Basically, as I understand him, he seems to revise Freud and confuse the general usage of Jung. At times I can follow his arguments, yet his strange combinations can dissolve his line of thought into what I read as meaningless jargon.

3. Prindleís main thesis centers around a childhood trauma concerning a bully named John. He claims that this event drives "the basic plot of ERBís novels." It is certainly a bold assertion and one that is interesting to follow. However, a single trauma theory is most likely too limiting when considering a lifetime of writing.

4. Prindle writes that "Each (of ERBís) book(s) is variation after variation on this single (Bully John) theme. He also finds this "fixation" not to be "formulaic." If it is indeed not, then what is it? Here Prindle seems to want his cake and to eat it too.

5. I see ERBís writing as a revelation of his conscious and unconscious mind -- as is the writing of everyone. However, ERB was not a "psychological" novelist in the strict sense. That is, ERB did not feature deep psychological conflicts and their resolutions in his novels. His heroes and heroines stand in a rather black and white universe with a fundamental opposition of good and evil. 

Burroughs did not know that his writing was revelatory of his own unconscious mind. Prindle writes that ERB "was able to enter an amnesiac state" while writing (due to an early blow to his head and attending trauma). Rather than having to deal with this untenable paradox, I would rather say that his writing was revelatory of his unconscious mind although he was unaware of this fact.

6. Prindle begins his series of articles with a reading of ERBís early comic fantasy, Minidoka, but skips to The Outlaw of Torn, and The Mucker as though the intervening works were unimportant in the continuation of ERBís psychological development as a writer. This, to me, is the major flaw in his thesis. ERBís major works are treated as unexplained gaps rather than essential points of understanding this psychological profile.

7. Prindle IS interesting, and his readings are valuable once they have been cleaned-up, so to speak, of his confusing personal jargon.

8. Prindle uses Christian terms such as "salvation," "exorcised," and Ďredemption" mixed in with psychological terms, which also make his arguments confusing.

9. Prindleís assertions that the Ego is an anatomical fact needs much more explanation. It seems completely erroneous to me.

10. Prindle sees the psychological trauma with the John the Bully as stronger than the totally "reassuring image" of his father. He sees this trauma as singularly opposing a well-developed childís Ego rather than reinforcing a previous neurosis. It may, however, be possible that the Bully John and his father are psychologically joined (which would be a more typical Freudian reading). He talks about an opposing clown and a hero figure in this dual relationship which needs much more explanation. (I find these examples to totally incomprehensible.)

11. In part Ib, Prindle writes that in Outlaw of Torn ERB has freed his subconscious and integrated his personality, yet is still "conflicted" by his Animus and Anima. This is not a definition of an integrated personality, rather it is its opposite!

12. Prindle claims that the Bully John was not only in "the dominant position" of his Animus (Ego) but also the "substance of his Anima." This is unlikely unless ERB was a homosexual, for which there is no evidence. ERB had a problem integrating his Anima (the feminine side of his personality). This is indeed a theme in all of his writing -- a life-long struggle which he never resolved. However, his psychological profile was probably typical of American males at the time.

13. Prindle claims that ERBís Anima figures are always Anglo. This is often true of his heroines, his positive anima figures. Yet his negative anima figures are dark with dark hair and psychologically dark personalities: La of Opar for example. 

14. There is much about the Mucker that Prindle struggles with that could be answered by a reading of Jack Londonís Martin Eden, the book ERB was "rewriting."

15. Prindle ignores the great anima figures of Dejah Thoris and Jane, leaping from Mucker I to Mucker II as though these novels explain everything about ERBís anima. This view is completely untenable by any standards of psychological or literary criticism.

16. Prindle calls aspects of the anima (various women in his writing) as a "dual personality" in the writer. These characters may reflect unconscious aspects, even conflicts, but are hardly a split in his personality. 

17. Prindle sees ERBís writing as the "working out of his psychosis." He may have been neurotic, but ERB certainly was not psychotic.

18. Prindle writes that ERB "is a psychologist of note although without the systematization of Freud." Rather I would say, ERBís works reveal an interesting psychology which can be explained and interpreted using various methods. Prindle also, quite amazingly, says that "method and system are all that Freud has to offer" and "for the rest he is blowing smoke." Well, Freudís method and system provided psychoanalysis a structure to work with and prepared the foundation of ground-breaking investigations into the human mind. "Blowing smoke?" Perhaps if one looks at Freudís insistence on childhood sexual trauma as being the basis of all neurosis. Yet, this single trauma theory is very close to Prindleís own on the Bully John. The emasculation ERB undergoes in Prindleís theory is a variation on the Oedipus complex of Freud.

19. Prindleís rather esoteric "vision of mind" link with ERB himself is at least suspect as a reason for the corretness of his reading. He leaves a lot to be explained about this "hypnoid state," which he only mentions in passing.

20. The female in male clothing in Oakdale Affair probably owes as much to an historical comic opera device as it does to hidden psychological motives. It was common in vaudeville comic routines as well. However, his treatment of this image is consistent with his thesis. My main objection is still the great positive anima figures (female characters) ERB developed early in his writing career. Prindle says that ERB did not even make an attempt at integrating his anima between 1917 and 1924, whereas this was a constant theme of his writing.

In Conclusion:

I must say that I find Prindleís readings to be fascinating and even quite valuable in stretches. There is a lot of thought and effort in his writing, although I have trouble following his confusing, odd use of psychological terms. I look forward to reading more and commend him for taking the time to investigate ERBís writing. I felt compelled to comment at length (although not exhaustively) on these first three pieces because I found enough in them to be interesting. This is certainly not a personal attack on Prindle, but only commentary upon some of what I see as loose threads in his arguments

11-4-04 ~ 12:25am

A Response to David Adams' Comments
by R. E. Prindle 

     I must say I am flattered by the close attention with which you read 'Waiting For A Train' and the first two parts of 'Only A Hobo.'

     Although the two are not a series.  'Hobo' was written a couple years ago before Barrett published his letter concerning the true location of Burroughs being bashed on the head. 'Train' was written about six months ago after determining that the assault actually took place in Toronto.  The full text of the letters as published by Hillman will change my position somewhat also.

     You've raised so many points I don't know where to plunge in first.  You object that my psychological terminology was confusing because you associate salvation, redemption and exorcise with Christianity.  Let me say that what I consider myself to be doing is studying the history of human consciousness, so that I don't necessarily compartmentalize times and places. Christianity evolved at a certain point in the history of consciousness where it remained central for many centuries.  We have now moved into a scientific consciousness but the thought processes remain pretty much the same.  So, psychological terms like exorcise are still valid although the context has shifted a little.

     First, let's ask what Depth psychology hopes to do.  Eliminate fixations, which is to say in earlier psychological terms exorcise the demons that have possessed the patient for quite literally possession is what has occurred.

     Possession or in modern terms 'psychosis' has been the eternal problem of psychology.  One has demons in one's head or in other words one suffers from a psychosis. One has psychotic behavior.  Not necessarily criminal but psychotic.

     As it seems that one is possessed by demons, for a couple thousand years Freud's predecessors used an auger to bore a hole in the skull to let the demons out.  Unsightly and unefficacious. 

    Lest one laugh at the procedure bear in mind that enlightened moderns as late as the sixties pushed a wire up the conduits over the eyes to perform a pre-frontal lobotomy.  They severed the frontal lobe from the brain.  So, that's progress for you.

     In Medieval times a psychosis was known as 'possession' just like in the good old days.  They tried to exorcise the demons by the will of God.  If you've seen 'The Devils of Loudon' you've seen how men interpret the will of God.

     I think you'll agree that Freud's methods are a definite improvement.  Thus when John the Bully interjected his persona on ERB's Animus he took 'possession' as a 'demon.'  The use of Depth psychology 'exorcises' that 'demon' by bringing the 'psychosis' or 'possession' into the light of the patient's understanding where it is dissipated losing the ability to control the behavior of the person.

     The problem has always been the same; the methods of treatment have changed a little over the millennia.

     Thus the psychological terms 'possession,' 'exorcise' and 'psychosis.'' I use the terms 'psychosis and 'psychotic behavior' in the sense that one cannot consciously control one's behavior but act from compulsion.  That was ERB's case.  He was not psychologically a free agent.

     I should make the physical basis of the anima and Animus clear.  If one adheres to Jung and Freud's words then what they both noticed was that there seemed to be a female presence in the male.  This is true, a physical fact which affect the male's psychology.  Jung, who hadn't the physiology we do now, picked up the female presence as the Anima in the male, giving an Animus to the female.  This is half right in either case.  Actually the male and female have one of each.  Left hemisphere of the brain for the Animus; right hemisphere for the Anima.  As I'll show this creates an interesting physiological problem.

     In all my reading, no one seems to pay much attention to the manner in which the human corpus is constructed. 

     At some previous time, as the ancients, or some of them, understood there was an organism which contained all four sexual chromosomes: XXXy,  The y made these organisms all male in character because the y chromosome determines maleness.  When sex evolved the chromosomes were divided so that the female received an XX and the male an Xy, hence la difference.

     In sex an egg and a sperm join to form a zygote or new organism.  As the female is XX she can only contribute an X to the new organism.  The female X contributes the left side of the body.  Thus one has the feminine aspect of the male which is his X chromosome.

     The sperm can be either an X or y, hence the male determines the sex of the child.

     The ovum having no motion is passive; the sperm having the power of motion is active.  In order to have motion one must have consciousness thus it should be no surprise that the right spermatic side of the body is stronger and more active than the left ovate side.

     Now, we're all familiar with the double helix of DNA.  The ovum and the sperm literally contribute dissimilar halves of the body to the new organism.  That's why we have two of everything except the central organs which are joined and seamed.  This is from head to gonads.

     Dominant and recessive genes make sure that the halves meld into a homogeneous looking individual but the two sides are often only approximate matches.  In my own case the left side of my face is slightly different from the right.

     Now, the brain has two lobes while the spinal cord is seamed.  There are right and left dorsal and ventral horns.  The gonads are connected to the spinal cords and thence to the brain so all three parts function as one unit.

     All right.  However the nerves cross over at the brain stem so that the left side of the body is represented by the right lobe of the brain while right side of the body is represented by the left side of the brain.

     Thus, and this is interesting, the spermatic right side of the body directs the activity of the ovate brain lobe while the weaker and more passive ovate left side controls the spermatic lobe of the brain.  Interesting, what?  What effect does that have on the organism? 

 Now, the left side, right spinal cord and right gonad form the Animus while the right lobe, left spinal cord and left gonad form the Anima.  This is the same in both men and women but women have XX lacking the y.

     I maintain that the Animus and Anima re anchored or terminated in the gonads while being free as they cross over at the brain stem into the cerebral cortex.

     The Animus represents the Ego or 'person.'  As the active partner it dominates the Anima unless reconciled to it.

     Both are naked at birth but are clothed by aspects of the personas of those the infant and child come into contact with.  Thus, originally the child's Anima is clothed by his mother, The Animus takes on the likeness of the father.  This can and usually does change as the person comes into contact with other people later in life.

     A fixation, or possession, occurs when the Animus is presented with a Challenge for which it lacks an adequate Response.  The system 'crashes' as it were, with the fixation encysted in the subconscious somewhat like a virus in a computer.  The intity no longer functions as it should.

     Thus John the Bully gave ERB his central childhood fixation which made Burroughs behavior compusive according to a program of cowardice.  John suggested to ERB in his terrorized or hypnoid state of mind.  In fact John 'hypnotized' ERB and gave him a post-hypnotic suggestion that he was a coward.  ERB's subsequent life fighting to overcome this suggestion.  Thus one has the fearless John Carter and Tarzan.

R. E. Prindle
November 6, 2004

Hi Ron,

About ERB's awareness of the use of archetypes:  I view ERB the way Jung did H. Rider Haggard.  (One can only regret that Jung had not read Burroughs!)  The best source of Jung's literary comments are in his "The Spirit in Man, Art, and Literature" in the Bollingen Series, especially the essays "On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry" and "Psychology and Literature."

I read ERB as Jung's "non-psychological novel" type.  He writes: "Such a tale is constructed against a background of unspoken psychological assumptions and the more unconscious the author is of them, the more this background reveals itself in unalloyed purity to the discerning eye." 

That is:  ERB is actually as rich as, or even richer in psychological material than the so called "psychological novel."

Jung tries to uphold the essential literary value of these works, rather than just treating them as case studies.  "We should do well, I think, to bear clearly in mind the full consequences of this reduction of art to personal factors, and see where it leads.  The truth is that it deflects our attention from the psychology of the work of art and focuses it on the psychology of the artist.  The latter present a problem that cannot be denied, but the work of art exists in its own right and cannot be got rid of by changing it into a personal complex."

OK.  Well and good.  Keep a balance here. 

One might say that ERB was not completely aware of the own depths in his writing.  What writer is? 

His great archetypal novel, Tarzan of the Apes, and he had a tiger by the tail.  He knew he had something big only later. 

To actually know what was going on in ERB's mind as he wrote is of course impossible.  I do agree with your 'amnesiac" explanation to the degree that it could have been a trigger to the almost halluciniatory state ERB seems to have written in.  He could dictate his stories like seeing a dream or a vision, and like telling a dream, it did not seem to require much revision. 

ERB was tapping his unconscious all the time in his writing, and to a deeper level than he himself knew.  Perhaps saying, "He was unaware of this, or did not know what he was doing" is too strong.  He knew he was diving into his imagination -- deep waters -- but what he brought up is more than he knew, and more than what is commonly read upon the surface.

Have you read Julian Jaynes?  Hummm.   Just read his book last week.  I think there is a lot there that connects with Jungian archetypes, but he never mentions Jung at all.

Nice to talk to you.  You know, our e-mails might be interesting to ERB fans.



Do you know of my work at Tangor's site? This should be the URL for "Dear Sigmund"

I wrote this piece some time ago.  It was first suggested by a friend who works with the mentally ill.  As I told him about Tarzan's case, he jokingly suggested that Tarzan only thought that Jane had been abducted time and again, while in reality she was sitting in the next room.


<His great archetypal novel, Tarzan Of The Apes, and he had a tiger by the tail..>

     That's just it, David, he did know he had a tiger by the tail and he even made a big joke of it.

     The same of it is that he was corrected about the fact that there were no tigers in Africa.  He had to chage his stance which unblanced his story.  Originally, I believe, tigers would have been the villains while lions would have been the good guys.  He had to change directions a little when he was laughed to scorn because tigers weren't African.

     Hence at the end of his career in 'I Am A Barbarian' you have this monstrous tiger frozen in a dreamscape standing over him. I suppose he could have proven that tigers were taken to Rome.

     In the magazine version of 'Tarzan Of The Apes' it is a tiger that attempts to break into Jane's cabin which Tarzan seizes by the tail,  You can hear Burroughs laughing at his joke.

     In the book version he was compelled to revert to a lion so the episode is only terrifying rather than that and humorous.

     I have to believe that he was psychologically aware in the context of the knowledge of his time.  He more or less says in 'Tarzan Of  The Apes' when he mentions the conscious and subconscious minds.

     Always bear in mind the blow to his head in Toronto which appears to be a proven fact now.  This was obviously a life affecting situation.

     I'll get back to you on Jung later.

     Jaynes' 'Bicameral Mind' is interesting but suspect.  His notion that Homer spoke of  'wind dark sea' because color vision hadn't evolved yet is laughable.  Jaynes should have thought out his evolution better.

     I don't like to recommend books because everyone reads them differently but you might find R.B. Onians' 'The Origins Of European Thought'  of value.  It's much more interesting than the title sounds.

  Best regards,


Freudian Psychology Updated To Modern Physics
Ronald E. Prindle

     That astute Burroughsian  David Adams informs me that he finds my ideas on psychology puzzling.  This is not to be wondered at since in no place in my essays published in the BB or on ERBzine are those ideas elucidated.

     Since I have been asked I will take this opportunity to explain myself.  David appears to be a Jungian rather than a Freudian.  I have wrestled with the conflict between Jung and Freud and have come to this conclusion.  I find Freud's ideas repellent, not wanting to dwell on excretion, castration and related topics.  Unfortunately those topics, however one disguises their discussion , are at the center of the human psyche.  I have reluctantly entered the Freudian fold.  Freud had the basics plotted but as an innovator he necessarily had a loose grip on the details while being denied access to modern discoveries in physiology.  Thus my approach is a modification of Freudian theory with merely a tip of the hat to Jung, and that for his studies on the evolution of human consciousness.  No small contribution.

     I also very reluctantly came to the conclusion that C.G. Jung while an astute psychologist is also a mystic with slight scientific foundation.  As much as I love mystics with their wonderful flights of fancy one cannot take them too seriously.  Unfortunately for me Jung has fallen into that class.  Not that he isn't worth reading or studying for his learning in the evolution of consciousness.

     Next David wonders at my use of what he considers religious terms such as possession, salvation, redemption, exorcism and the like.  I consider these valid historical psychological terms.

     What is know as possession for instance is the basis of psychological malaise no matter what its degree of intensity.  In Freudian terms possession is the same as fixation.  That is what possession is, a fixation caused by a second party.  A person becomes fixated by a confrontation, a series of repeated suggestions or some other fixating event.  That fixation then possesses the psyche controlling one's actions.  To free oneself  of the fixation one must retrieve the suggestion and eliminate it or in other words, exorcise it.  In that case a psychoanalyst serves as an exorcist.

     Historically possession by 'demons' who compel an otherwise decent person to do acts against his will has been the central psychological problem.

     In stone age times the exorcist took an augur to drill a hole in the patient's skull to let the 'demon' out.  This sort of exorcism was about as effective as the twentieth century idea of the frontal lobotomy in which a wire is inserted through the eye ducts and wiggled around until the prefrontal lobe is separated from the brain.  Who was the medical genius who thought  that one up?

     Possession is a perplexing problem.  In the Middle Ages as David rightly notes in a society dominated by the Semito-Roman Catholic Church ecclesiastics functioned as 'psychologists.'  They were no more successful than their stone age counterparts.

     Beginning with Mesmer in pre-Revolutionary France mankind made the difficult break with the past edging toward an understanding of the psyche.  Compared with the past things began to move forward rapidly.  Thus between 1900-20 Freud outlined a basic true understanding of possession or fixation with a working understanding of how to exorcise or eliminate the fixation.  He hadn't worked out the origin of the fixation but he had a good fundamental idea of how they functioned.  As an exorcist his record of success was about equal to his predecessor with the augur. 

     I don't know that Freud's work with excretion was fruitful but he got on the right track with his notion of castration.  The problem with Freud is that he didn't follow through on his primary clues.  He lived long enough after discovering them to do it.

     Somewhere along the way I thought that all those patients couldn't be wrong; the fear of castration must be real.

     I then extended the notion of castration to the broader idea of Emasculation connecting it to the physiology of the human organism.

     Fabulous work has been done in physiology since Freud and Jung's time.  Let me now recapitulate my understanding of the physiology that leads to the expression of the phenomena of the psyche.  Once again I have reluctantly become a pure materialist.  The phenomenon of psyche can only arise from the material physiology of the organism.  No matter what others may feel there can be no such thing as the spirit.  Body and spirit do not exist as a duality.  What one feels as a spirit is the result of the physical reality.

     In the course of evolution there was a time before sex evolved.  Amoeba who multiply by division are an example.  In the human there are four sex chromosomes, XXXy.  At one time all were contained in a predecessor organism.  Since that organism had a y chromosome the organism was necessarily male in character.  Thus as our ancient predecessors divined at one time all organisms were male.  In crude biblical terms the female was created from the rib of the male.

     When sexual reproduction evolved the four chromosomes were divided.  As there were three Xs and only one y the XX became female and the Xy male.  Therefore the sexes are neither equal nor the same.  The two have different functions.  One is not inferior to the other but different; they must function in a complementary manner or as close as can be gotten.

     The reproductive agents are the ovum and the sperm.  The ovum which the female provides is always an X chromosome, hence female in character.  This is the source of the male's 'feminine' side.  The sperm which the male provides can be either X or y.  If X combines with X the new organism is female, if y male.  But the spermate chromosome is always dominant.

     The ovum or egg is passive; the sperm is active.  These characteristics are not coincidental but vital.  Released in the female the sperm, one of millions, must find its way to the ovum and penetrate it which fertilizes it.  Thus the sperm and ovum replicate the sexual act of the mature organism, or vice versa, actually.

     The ovum and sperm each have twenty-three chromosomes bearing very different genetic information which has to be reconciled into one homogeneous organism.  Not being a small task the millions of genes each serve a miniscule role in organizing the new entity.  Not surprisingly such a delicate procedure results in a twenty per cent failure rate.  Nature isn't all that precise.

     The genetic material is carried in a strand of DNA.  The two strands unite into a double helix with connectors joining the two.  Thus the ovum contributes one side of the body which is weaker and less active or more passive than the sperm which forms the more active and stronger right side of the body.

     As each side has its own complete set of organs the new organism like the parents has arms, legs, gonads, kidneys, lungs, brain lobes, etc.  The middle organs which must function as a unit such as the spinal cord, stomach, heart, excretory organs etc. are joined and seamed to form one exemplar.

     Thus the body is formed of two distinct, dissimilar halves.  Through dominant and recessive genes the two sides are made similar although with varying degrees of success.  They are not identical.  The ovate side is always weaker and more passive.  The two halves then must be united in such a way that they function as one unit.  The left side of my face, for instance, is slightly different than the right.

     Now, the ovate lobe of the brain on the left side should be somewhat inferior to the right lobe.  Probably this might cause a problem so something, I think, strange happens.  The spermatic nerve fibers passing up the right side of the spinal cord cross over at the brain stem to activate the ovate lobe of the brain and vice versa.  Thus the spermatic side of the body activates the ovate lobe of the brain making it the active half of the brain while the spermatic half of the brain becomes more passive and complementary.

Just as the left eye activates the right side of the brain and vice versa to fixate the location of an item accurately so the stronger side activating the weaker lobe must balance the organism. 

     The cerebrum, brain stem and spinal cord form one integrated unit including the nerves that run from the end of the spine to the gonads, so that the Central Nervous System properly includes the gonads.  Anchored in the gonads the ovate and spermatic cords cross over at the brain stem to form the Anima and Animus.  I don't know how to explain it other than to say that they are loose ends.  In horned cattle perhaps the horns perform that function of termination points which is why certain ancient gods are depicted as having horns. 

     Both Freud and Jung recognized the presence of the two strands but identified them improperly.  Without giving the Ego or Animus its proper status Jung picked up the ovate lobe as a female presence he called the Anima in the Male and confusedly the Animus in the female.  Although XX the female still has a passive ovate X and an active spermatic X so that both the female and male have both an Anima and Animus.

     Nor does this mean as Freud supposed that people are bisexual.

     One's identity then is the manner in which the Anima and Animus are clothed or configured.  If one knew none other than one's mother and father then one's Anima and Animus would be clothed by one's parents.  One's identity would be very close to theirs.  However other influences can find a place on the two to form a composite identity.  These influences can be benign or malignant.  For instance a favorite teacher might find a place as a benign identity, which would still be a form of possession or fixation.  Conversely a malignant influence might fixate one the other or both.

     This happened to Burroughs when he was Challenged by John the Bully.

     The ability to handle a Challenge is important.  Had he been a couple years older with the tools to Respond properly to the situation his Reaction would not have been so disastrous.  I know that the medical psychiatrists do not like the idea of psyche bi\being of the narrow materialist school therefore believing everything can be explained in purely materialist terms which can be treated with surgery or drugs.

     I will give you an example of a psychosomatic reaction which the MDs said was purely physiological although they couldn't explain how.  I suffered from a severe central childhood fixation from the age of 7 to about 44.  One of the psychosomatic affects was a blockage of the sinuses.  My own crisis occurred about the age of 44.  I was, of course, unable to reach the fixation to that time although I had been working on it since the age of 22 until the crisis occurred.  Up to that time I had been prescribed chlorprimeton, an anti-histamine, which does in fact medically alleviate the post-nasal drip until one becomes acclimated to the drug.  I was forced to discontinue what had in fact become ineffective when horrific side effects began to appear.  The blockage became unbearable with both nostril completely stopped. up. I was in the embarrassing situation where I was forced to breathe exclusively through my mouth.

     The medical solution was to ream out my nostrils which I was advised would be extremely painful and bloody not mention very costly.  I shrank from this extreme remedy preferring to suffer.

      But then at age 42-44 I resolved my central childhood fixation.  In other words, the possession was exorcised.  The affects connected to that fixation, I had a lot of psychosomatic reactions, disappeared as they must when the Suggestion that created the hysterical reaction is revealed and understood.  One of the affects that resolved itself was my blocked sinuses.  I was taken completely by surprise never dreaming that it wasn't purely physical.  From that moment I was able to breathe unimpeded through both nostrils.  That remains my condition to this present moment.

     In the face of this evidence the physiologists still refuse to believe that I had a psychological affect.  They say that the physiological problem just resolved itself 'naturally' although none of them can say how.

     I will explain in a moment how the physiological affect is created by the psyche.

     The physiologists have done a good job at locating the specific areas of the brain that control perception, cogitation and action.  I have tried to show where the identity or Ego comes in which is affected by external events to control internal responses.

     When one is fixated there is an emotional reaction which may or will affect the functioning of the organism's brain.  Broca's area and Wernicke's area of the brain control speech and language.  If Broca's area is damaged or lesioned then the ability to speak is impaired.  As one affect when is fixated a response or 'inferiority complex may be created so that the emotions create a type of artificial lesion that interferes with Broca's area so that a victim may stutter, stammer, speak in disconnected or incompleted sentences.

      I suffered from a stammer and disconnected or incompleted sentences.

     This is a psychosomatic or physical reaction that is at the same time mental.  Although the MDs with their damnable drugs might find one to override a stutter or stammer nevertheless the proper way to heal it is through psychoanalysis.

     Until I learn conclusively otherwise I believe that 'medical' problems like epilepsy and schizophrenia are psychosomatic reactions that can only be treated successfullyby psychoanalysis.  Drugs are only a temporary solution.

     Operations on the brain such as severing the corpus colosum to cure epilepsy are in the same class as boring a hole in the skull to let demons out.

      If I am not being too presumptuous I will now offer an explanation of how the fixation is entered on the Anima and Animus which leads to psychosomatic effects such as schizophrenia and other psychoses.

     I consider any fixation a psychotic reaction or psychosis whether mild or severe.  Along with the psychiatric crowd I consider the concept of neuroses superfluous.

     The answer has been known for over a hundred fifty years but not properly appreciated.

     To say that external events do not affect the emotions would be a statement that not even MDs or narrow materialists would make.  While there can be no psychical reactions that do not arise from the material basis of the organism there are nevertheless psychotic reactions independent of the material organism.

     I have already shown the material basis of the Anima and Animus.  Even though these may arise from the material organism they take on characteristics supra-organism.  As the directors of the organism they are the reactors to external stimuli.  Freudian psychology tacitly recognizes this which is what makes Depth psychology valid even though applications of the psychology have been faulty.

     Freudian Depth psychology is the culmination of the psychological research from Anton Mesmer to Freud.  Let me recapitulate that history.  The basis of psychical trauma is Suggestion coupled with an hysterical reaction.

     Dr. Anton Mesmer was the modern discoverer of hypnotism.  Just prior to the French Revolution he discovered a role for what he called Animal Magnetism.  He discovered that certain cures could be effected when patients were placed in a hypnotic state.  He made the mistake of believing the operator was the important element of the process rather than the suggestion.  Hence as a 'healer' he was discredited as a charlatan falling from grace.

     However the validity of the process of Animal Magnetism or Mesmerism as it now came to be called was recognized by quick witted people who realized that the trance was inherent in the subject not a quality of the operator.

     C. 1840 a Scottish doctor, James Braid, gave the process the name of hypnotism by which it has been known since.  At the same time it was discovered that a hypnotic trance could be used as an anaesthetic in surgery by suggesting to the patient that they would feel no pain.

     The next step or two occurred in France.  One at the Salpetriere Hospital in Paris, the other by a physician a little farther East at Nancy.

     Jean Martin Charcot working with hysteria at the Salpetriere learned that hysterical symptoms could be replicated through hypnotism.  He doesn't appear to have understood the role of Suggestion.

     Ambrose Auguste Liebeault working in Nancy used hypnotism couple with Suggestion in his practice.  His reputation grew to the point where a man named Hippolyte Bernheim decided to expose him as a fraud or charlatan perhaps thinking back to Anton Mesmer.  Instead he was convinced remaining to develop a greater reputation than his mentor.

     Bernheim quickly understood that hysteria was a reaction and not a cause.  Before the reaction was the Suggestion.  There he captured the true nature of mental illness.  However he didn't have a valid method of deleting the Suggestion that caused the reaction.  He attempted to use counter-suggestion.  But he had uncovered the method of inducing the fixation.  The method of possession was explained but not understood.

     Now, present at both the Salpetriere and Nancy was a man by the name of Sigmund Freud.  He was a great admirer of both Charcot and Bernheim translating their works into German.

     Freud was working with a fellow Viennese physician by the name of Joseph Breuer.  Breuer also was treating hysterics with hypnosis.  He discovered that if one allowed patients to talk around and bout their fixations which were caused by Suggestion that if they brought their circumstances surrounding the Suggestion to light that that exorcised the fixation negating the Suggestion.  The symptoms of that specific Suggestion disappeared never to return.

     Combining these influences coupled with being a poor hypnotist, so we are told, Freud learned that it wasn't even necessary to hypnotize a patient.  If you could get them to talk around their fixation if the Suggestion were revealed the result was the same.  He called this process psychoanalysis.

     He had discovered how to uncover and eliminate the Suggestion but he hadn't figured out how the Suggestion entered the brain.

     For some reason physicians reject psychoanalysis as mumbo-jumbo but psychoanalysis and the materialists explanations of the organism mesh which you will realize if you think about it for moment.  Thus frugs cannot be effective in resolving mental problmes even if the physiological reactions can be traced and my even interfere in a harmful way.  At best they are a useful anaesthetic.

     Let me now illustrate the process in the case of the American writer, Edgar Rice Burroughs.  I could do this using myself as a subject but let's take another party.

     During the first eight or nine years of his life Burroughs was placidly going about his young life.  Then in the third or fourth grade he encountered a young tough who thoroughly terrorized him causing him to run crying down the street followed by derisive taunts of cowardice by the bully.

     From this point on Burroughs was traumatized having his identity or self-image reconfigured.

     The hypnotic state was induced by the terror of the bully lowering the mental defenses of Burroughs leaving him open to Suggestion the same as hypnosis.  The Suggestion was that he was a coward.  This was proven to him by the fact that he was running away.  Thus we have Suggestion coupled with a psychotic reaction of hysteria.  Prior to this time one assumes that young Burroughs Animus was clothed by positive images of his father or possibly of his father and older brothers while his Anima was probably clothed by his mother.

     The fixation of his hypnotism and post-hypnotic Suggestion was one of both Emasculation and declassing.  As a result of acting the coward in his own estimation, he validated the Suggestion, he suffered emasculation or what Freud would call Castration.  As a result of his Emasculation he adopted characteristics of his Emasculator.  He associated himself in his mind with hoodlum toughs, or in Freudian terms licked the boot of the oppressor.

     The clothing of his Animus or its configuration was changed.  He suffered what Freud would call a splitting of the Ego.  His Animus was now shared by an image of the Bully in a dominant position while his father was placed in a subordinate position.  The two images would fight each other in Burroughs' mind preventing his being one or the other causing him to do silly things while condemning him to failure.

     The effect on his Anima was even more startling.  The female nature of the Anima was replaced by a male in female dress.  Burroughs perhaps subconsciously interpreted the incident as a Fate of a male nature because of the bully which completely obliterated the image of his mother.  This would cause him severe problems in later life.

     Burroughs himself seems to have understood the nature of the psychological problem.  In his writing career he would in a Freudian manner talk around his fixation eliminating it in his first three novels.

     The more or equally serious problem of the configuration of his Anima and Animus would be worked on throughout his career although partially resolved by 1916-17.

     I hope the above discussion will reconcile the differences between the physiologists and the psychoanalysts.  It is clear that psychology can only be explained as a result of the material organization of the organism.  There can be no existence apart from the physical reality.

     The physical reality itself creates through its functions and emotions the basis of mind.  The physical realities of the Animus and Anima coupled with the necessity of perception and will create the conditions for Suggestion and Reaction or Challenge and Response through hypnotism..

     The ability to analyze the Suggestion or Challenge will determine whether the Reaction or Response will be affirmative or negative.  Naturally when young the means to analyze the Challenge and reject the Suggestion will be less probable than when older.  Had the same Challenge been presented to Burroughs when he was twelve and capable of dealing with it he would undoubtedly have come through unscathed.

     It is time for the physiologists and psychoanalysts to reconcile their differences realizing that body and psyche go together as one physical unit.  No More Drugs.

Further Thoughts on the Prindlean Hypothesis
by David Adams

Prindle and I have sent many words and ideas back and forth, which in itself is a happy situation. I donít think it matters whether we ever see things eye to eye.

Prindleís theories about ERBís psychology and how it may have affected his fiction has been well-explained in his recent essay "Freudian Psychology Updated To Modern Physics" although I would rather he had written Modern Physiology as being the more accurate word to describe his arguments.

One objection remains with me: the fact that Prindle seems to by saying that his hypothesis must be the case rather than something that may possibly be true. While locating ERB "fixation" upon the Bully John is very plausible and quite attractive in that it "explains" many of the actions of his fictional characters, it does not follow that it was necessarily true of his psychology. [Freud would have placed this primal scene (the cause of neurosis) much earlier in life, but this does not mean that Prindle is mistaken.]

There are many personal undercurrents going on with Prindleís literary criticism which are directly related to his personal ideas about psychology. I think it would be difficult to unravel them all; indeed it is unnecessary to do this since the question is: Is the Prindlean Hypothesis plausible in relation to ERB and His works?

I am not sure that I completely understand Prindleís "updates" of Freud because I do not know enough about physiology to check on the accuracy of his descriptions. It seems to me that he is trying to locate and describe the Anima and Animus as physical manifestations or "realities" within the human body. This seems to be like trying to locate the soul or spirit, which he writes "does not exist." Jung also at times wrote about these archetypes as though they were autonomous beings (although not physical things). This might be what Prindle and others have called Jungís "mystical" tendencies. 

I donít doubt that Prindle is absolutely convinced that his theories are correct since he argues from experiencing a similar situation in his own life which came to a happy resolution. One might argue that if the cure comes about, the theory of why it came about must be true as well.

A book I found helpful in dealing with these questions is Wittgenstein Reads Freud: The Myth of the Unconscious by Jacques Bouveresse, Princeton University Press, 1995. 

"The science (of psycho-analysis) that is supposed to allow this metapsychological retranscription of the paranoid systematizings and speculations of philosophy in terms of oppositions and conflicts originating in the unconscious is, in fact, a new mythology without knowing it. The psychology of the unconscious considered as the theory of a new field opened to scientific inquiry by the psychoanalyst is itself nothing more than a speculative construction of the same kind, one that employs the same procedures as those myths whose true nature and illusory, infantile character it claims to reveal." (Bouveresse, 19).

December 2, 2004

A Few Comments on Prindle-3b
from His "Only A Hobo"
by David Adams
Ref: ERBzine 1334
Only A Hobo / The Big Rock Candy Mountain
Edgar Rice Burroughs On The Road To Salvation
by R. E. Prindle
Part 3b: On Auto Pilot In The Ozone II

The more I read Prindleís literary criticism of ERBís works the more I think that he draws the wrong conclusions from his interesting yet often extravagant psychological musings. It is difficult to find The Oakdale Affair to be "the most important of all Burroughsís novels," no matter how I follow his line of reasoning.

Prindle says that he has "little affection" for the first four Tarzan novels, which are actually full of the most fundamental material that would bolster his own psychological theories. He claims that Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar is the first truly psychologically potent Tarzan novel. And yet, Tarzan of the Apes recapitulates the classic Oedipus story and provides a fictional account of Freudís primal horde story from Totem and Taboo, which he proposed to explain the origins of religion and society. The Return of Tarzan introduces ERBís greatest anima figure, La of Opar, and there are so many examples that I wish that Prindle would take another look at this strong end of ERBís Tarzan writing. I would agree with him that the later Tarzan novels do tower in that they are filled with possibilities for psychological interpretation, yet discounting the first four as weaker ones in this respect seems wrong-headed to me. 

As I read Prindleís theories, I find them based upon the idea that ERB was dealing with his own psychological problems in a more concrete way when he wrote his more mainstream novels. However, one cannot dismiss the idea that he was dealing with these problems in his fantasy writing as well -- perhaps even more so. It might be useful to read A Princess of Mars as a mainstream novel and read Girl from Hollywood as sheer fantasy just to get the idea that ERB was always writing a particular kind of fiction rather than exorcising his personal demons in certain novels.

The longer I study the works of ERB the more I realize that the things I "find" in his writing are often more about my own vision of the world rather than the authorís. This is not to say that ERBís writing is not a useful gateway into realms of personal fantasy which may lead to a greater understanding of oneís own personality. Iím just saying that ERBís gigantic map of people, places, and things can be read in many different ways, none of them necessarily right or wrong unless one insists that his reading is THE only correct one.

I rather like the Bully John idea to explain why so many of ERBís characters react to threatening situations with a sudden punch to the jaw. Yet, this theory, it seems to me, cannot bear the entire weight of such a variety of inventiveness found in Burroughs. 

Prindle has written an extremely interesting work, which I hope will be read and commented on by many ERB fans. Yet, at times I feel that many things have been rushed to judgment rather than carefully thought out. His extravagant statements while provocative and may attract readers often do not give one a great deal of confidence in the validity of the good points in his theories. That is to say, I find myself reading around some things to get to others. 

The strength of Prindleís articles has to do more with putting ERBís writing into an historical and social framework rather than his psychological musings. The interest is in his putting the mainstream novels to the front page rather than the famous series. He sees Marcia of the Doorstep as an extremely important novel, one of "amazing analysis of the anima and Animusí rather than a backwater effort unpublished in his lifetime.

Prindle writes that Jung and Freud might have made greater contributions to the field of psychology had they read ERB, who had "broken new ground unrealized by the great schools of psychology in Vienna and Geneva." One might think this view just slightly over the top. Jung did comment a good deal on H. Rider Haggardís fiction, citing "She" as an example of an anima archetype. It would be interesting to know what Jung might have said about Burroughs, had he read his work, but I hardly think it would have changed his views of human psychology to any degree.

I realize that it seems that I keep attacking Prindle without cause, but by this time in December, Hillman is projecting a forum for our e-mails back and forth. Iím just trying to keep up my end of the bargain, so to speak, as a gadfly. I really have no ax to grind with Ron. I have found his work to be extremely interesting because it forces one to rethink the entire Burroughsian vision. I do hope that a few others will jump on the bandwagon in the future with this or other topics. 

December 3, 2004 


Ron: To be left in the forum dialogue?
E-mail response from R. E. Prindle on December 3, 2004

Well, David, things are warming up now.  Looks like some in depth stuff.  This may take a couple weeks for me to digest and organize a reply.  I don't want to be snap or leave myself open to misinterpretation so my replies will probably develop slowly.

If you have any other criticisms fire away so that I can organize them into one bundle.

You sent me scurrying to the computer yesterday to research Wittgenstein and Bouveresse.  Of course, I knew who Wittgenstein was but since I have an aversion to philosophers and philosophy I don't bother with them unless they're historically relevant to my work.  Bouveresse was a new name.  His objection to the 'unconscious' of Freud is quite valid.  But by 1996 I would have though he would have it thought out better than that.  Bill has a couple pieces he might publish.  One, 'Something Of Value' goes into my understanding of Freud's meaning of the 'unconscious' in some depth.  The other is relevant.

For myself, I reject both Freud's notion of the unconscious as well as Jung's unconscious and collective unconscious.  Along with ERB I accept only a subconscious and conscious.  Since I integrated my personality which is to say consciousness I have a little trouble relating to the subconscious as I used to.  I don't feel it the same way anymore.  The intensity of my dreams has diminished to the point where I no longer have those terrifying incomprehensible childhood dreams.

It is my purpose to find solutions so yes indeed what I propose is intended as a universal panacea applicable in all cases.  I have checked things out carefully so I am unafraid that except for the adjustment of a few detail everything should work out.  By the way thanks for pointing out my slip in using Physics which I meant Physiology.  I'll do the same for you.

Your statement that 'I realize that  it seems that I keep attacking Prindle without cause' is interesting but not to worry.  If your objections are based on things which I must obviously have not made clear then their must be other readers who feel the same way.  My goal, which I once fatuously thought was within reach, is absolute clarity.  I now think it will be some time before I attain that objective.

As I say, give me a little time to digest and egest.  I just committed a Freudian slip, David, I first wrote ejest.  I guess I'm enjoying this.


Thursday, December 30, 2004
        This is a rather belated reply to yours of 12/3/04 but I have been busy.  I only bought this computer, my first, in July of '04 so I was somewhat taken back by the massiveness of Hillman's Erbzine.  Here is a huge mass of material with which I wasn't familiar which includes a great many of your own essays and columns.  I am rapidly acquiring a deeper understanding of the background of ERB's novels from you both.
     And secondly, a pleasant surprise, a long lost uncle saw my essays in the Erbzine.  Runs in the family I guess, but as he too is a Tarzanophile he sent me fifteen odd copies of old Burroughs Bulletins which he no longer needs as he is about to cross the bar into the open sea.  Bless him from top to bottom and I hope I am found by other Tarzanophile uncles.  Nevertheless the issues have been a mass of new material.
     One of the copies I received was #24 Fall 1995 concerning the Oakdale Affair.  Perhaps you have forgotten but in that essay you began:  'It may come as a surprise that anyone could possibly think of calling the novelette, The Oakdale Affair, a major  (my italics) work of such a prolific author....
     It doesn't come as a surprise to me Dave; where did I go wrong?  Is saying 'the most important of all Burroughs' novels' too extravagant?   Not to worry, we're almost in agreement and I intend to rewrite an essay on the novel explaining why it is much better than heretofore thought while being very important, the fulcrum shall we say, to the Corpus.  Perhaps within a couple months.  The trouble is any detailed explication is longer than the work itself.
     As to the Russian Quartet it isn't that I undervalue the novels it's that I like them less than the balance of the Canon.  In the Quartet it is precisely because ERB is hashing out his troubled years to 1900 that makes them too earthbound.  The 'Son Of Tarzan' was a sort of dead end leaving the series no place to go.
     Then in 'Jewels Of Opar' Burroughs moves the setting into an even more fantastic vision of the world which seems to owe something to your favorites (and mine) Oz and L. Frank Baum. In my designation I call these novels from 'Jewels' to 'Lost Empire' the Jungles Idylls.  Then one gets Political Undertones when ERB is slugging it out with the Reds, capped with the Final Four.
     Bill has my Four Crucial Years In The Life Of Edgar Rice Burroughs slated to begin in the January 7th issue.  I think you will find a more detailed reference to at least 'Tarzan Of The Apes' and 'The Return Of Tarzan in them.
     Apart from Tarzan I do like the realistic novels of Burroughs best.  'Marcia' sort of weak as a novel but is relevant within Burroughs psychological framework.  Even though not a great novel ERB has this peculiar way of working through a story that makes them more interesting than they should be.
     Besides 'Out There Somewhere', 'Bridge And The Kid' and 'The Efficiency Expert' have a charm that is difficult to capture this side of 'Tom Sawyer' and 'Penrod.'  Sawyer isn't a particularly good novel but the telling puts it over.  As period pieces these stories of ERB's are priceless; as historical artefacts they are very valuable.
     'The Girl From Faris's' has its drawbacks but the 'The Girl From Hollywood' is an excellent story from any point of view.  Unique is probably too strong a word for the Westerns but having read my share of the rest during my cowboy reveries of the fifties I found these two to be equal to the best I read or better.  The same goes for the two Apache novels.
     All this stuff has been meanly underrated.  Every writer has his style and methods making comparisons odious, as they say, but 'Bridge And The Kid' is just very nicely done. In the hands of Henry James, for instance, the novel would have been seven hundred pages and not half as good.
     Hillman has published my Tales Of Space And Time which gives a full explanation of the John the Bully incident which I hope makes that issue understandable.
     Bill has also published my own view of psychology 'Freudian Psychology Updated To Modern Physiology', printer error on that one, thanks for pointing it out, which lays out my thinking there.  All I can do is answer specific objections on that one.
     I hope you enjoyed 'Men Like Gods' and 'The Magic Shop' which are two of my favorites.
     So, David, I'm enjoying catching up on the Erbzine back pages and getting more familiar with your efforts.  I hope soon to make a contribution in support of your and Broadhurst's thesis on the influence of Esoterica on Burroughs' writing.  You guys are right, of course, you know that.

                                 Happy New Year and a wealth of inspiration, Ron

The Directory to the many 
David Adams articles in ERBzine is found at:

R. E. Prindle welcomes your comments at:

Meet R. E. Prindle
and Follow the Navigation Chart for the 
Entire Series of Articles
Visit the Prindle Forum and join in on the discussions.
Differing viewpoints are welcome.
The views expressed by Mr. Prindle in his series of articles 
are not necessarily those held by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.

Visit our thousands of other sites at:
ERB Text, ERB Images and Tarzan® are ©Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All Original Work ©1996-2004/2010 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners
No part of this web site may be reproduced without permission from the respective owners.