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The claim: Sigmund Freud said, 'A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity'
A meme that has proliferated on internet pages for those who oppose gun control uses a quote supposedly from Sigmund Freud to ironically contradict those who say that "real men don't need guns."
On April 2, Gun Junkies posted the meme on Facebook, gaining roughly 1,000 reactions and 800 shares. Similar posts surfaced on Funny Conservative, Rotten Potato Media, and License2carrry Firearm Training.
In the meme, a poster shows a silhouette of a pistol, pointed in the direction of a white-haired man in sunglasses who stands next to the poster. Below the photo, Freud, the Austrian neurologist and "father of psychoanalysis," is quoted as saying, "A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity."
"This quote is particularly popular among opponents of gun control, but there is no evidence Freud ever said it," the museum stated on its blog. "It is unlikely to be authentic, given that one of the basic tenets of psychoanalysis is that symbols don’t have fixed meanings."
In other words, something like a fear of weapons would mean different things in different people.
It seems the quote originated instead as a paraphrase from the 1990 essay "Guns, Murder, and the Constitution" by lawyer and gun-rights activist Don B. Kates Jr. Kates uses Freud to argue against the idea that "weapons are phallic symbols representing male dominance and masculine power." Contrary to some who claim that men who own firearms have low self-esteem and hang-ups about their sexuality, he states, Freud says it is actually those who fear weapons that have emotional issues.
"Freud associates retarded sexual and emotional development not with gun ownership, but with fear and loathing of weapons," he wrote.
However, this is not an accurate characterization of Freud's views. Kates refers to a passage in the 1958 book "Dreams in Folklore" by Freud, which reads:
"The representation of the penis as a weapon, cutting knife, dagger etc., is familiar to us from the anxiety dreams of abstinent women in particular and also lies at the root of numerous phobias in neurotic people."
Rather than associating fear of weapons with sexual immaturity, Freud states that women afraid of sex often associate the penis with weapons.
The magazine LGBTQ Nation writes in depth about the history behind gun rights activists appropriation of this misquote in a piece from 2017.
The administrator of Gun Junkies told USA TODAY he took the meme from another Facebook post and that he views it, and the quote, as a joke.
"The part that makes it funny is how over the top it is," he said.
Our rating: False
We rate this post FALSE, based on our research. The quote, "A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity" does not appear in Sigmund Freud's works or public statements, according to the Freud Museum.
Our fact-check sources :
Freud Museum London, April 30, 2019, "10 Quotes Wrongly Attributed to Sigmund Freud"
Don B. Kates, Jr., 1990, "Guns, Murder, and the Constitution"
Freud Quotes blog, Dec. 2015, "Where did Freud say, 'A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity'?"
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: 'Fear of weapons' quote misattributed to Sigmund Freud