Tag Archives: Freud

On the Couch: A Repressed History of the Analytic Couch from Plato to Freud

AHP readers may be interested in a new book exploring the history of the psychoanalytic couch. On the Couch: A Repressed History of the Analytic Couch from Plato to Freud by Nathan Kravis is now available from MIT Press. (The volume was also recently reviewed in the Los Angeles Review of Books.) As the publisher describes,

The peculiar arrangement of the psychoanalyst’s office for an analytic session seems inexplicable. The analyst sits in a chair out of sight while the patient lies on a couch facing away. It has been this way since Freud, although, as Nathan Kravis points out in On the Couch, this practice is grounded more in the cultural history of reclining posture than in empirical research. Kravis, himself a practicing psychoanalyst, shows that the tradition of recumbent speech wasn’t dreamed up by Freud but can be traced back to ancient Greece, where guests reclined on couches at the symposion (a gathering for upper-class males to discuss philosophy and drink wine), and to the Roman convivium (a banquet at which men and women reclined together). From bed to bench to settee to chaise-longue to sofa: Kravis tells how the couch became an icon of self-knowledge and self-reflection as well as a site for pleasure, privacy, transgression, and healing.

Kravis draws on sources that range from ancient funerary monuments to furniture history to early photography, as well as histories of medicine, fashion, and interior decoration, and he deploys an astonishing array of images—of paintings, monuments, sculpture, photographs, illustrations, New Yorker cartoons, and advertisements.

Kravis deftly shows that, despite the ambivalence of today’s psychoanalysts—some of whom regard it as “infantilizing”—the couch continues to be the emblem of a narrative of self-discovery. Recumbent speech represents the affirmation in the presence of another of having a mind of one’s own.

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Psychoanalysis and History Special Issue: John Forrester

The August 2017 issue of Psychoanalysis and History is a special issue devoted to John Forrester (left). Articles explore the significance of Forrester’s work to the History and Philosophy of Science, Forrester’s efforts to translate Lacan’s work into English, as well as review articles on Forrester’s seminal works Freud in Cambridge and Thinking in Cases. Full details follow below.

“Editorial,” by Matt ffytche and Andreas Mayer. No abstract.

“Why Does Psychoanalysis Matter to History and Philosophy of Science? On the Ramifications of Forrester’s Axiom,” by Andreas Mayer. No abstract.

“John Forrester and Lacan,” by Darian Leader. No abstract.

“The Irredeemable Debt: On the English Translation of Lacan’s First Two Public Seminars,” by Dany Nobus. Abstract:

Drawing on archival sources and personal recollections, this essay reconstructs the troubled history of the first robust attempt at making the works of the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan newly available to an anglophone readership, after his death in 1981. It details how the project was initiated by John Forrester as part of a large-scale initiative to generate translations of both Lacan’s own texts and seminars, and various books written in the Lacanian tradition. If, almost seven years after it was conceived, Forrester’s project only resulted in the publication of English translations of Lacan’s first two public seminars, the essay demonstrates that this was not owing to disagreements over the quality of Forrester’s work, but because of two consecutive sources of resistance. External resistance from publishers first led to the initial project being reduced to the translation of two seminars, whereas internal resistance from Lacan’s son-in-law Jacques-Alain Miller to Forrester’s vision of presenting the seminars with a full scholarly apparatus subsequently brought about delays in its execution.

“Foucault, Power-Knowledge and the Individual,” by John Forrester. No abstract.

“Colleagues, Correspondents and the Institution: Or: Is a Psychoanalysis Without Institutions Possible?,” by John Forrester. No abstract.

Review Articles

“John Forrester and Laura Cameron, Freud in Cambridge,” by Maud Ellmann. No abstract.

“John Forrester, Thinking in Cases,” by Bonnie Evans. No abstract.

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June 19th UCL/BPS Talk: “Excavating an English Psycho-Analyst: James Strachey’s Papers and Work 1909-1945”

James Strachey, 1910. Painting by Duncan Grant.

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next talk in its summer seminar series. On Monday June 19th Dee McQuillan will be speaking on “Excavating an English Psycho-Analyst: James Strachey‘s Papers and Work 1909-1945.” Full details below.

Monday 19th June

Dee McQuillan (UCL), “Excavating an English Psycho-Analyst: James Strachey’s Papers and Work 1909-1945”

To what extent can studying a psychologist’s private life and personality contribute to the understanding of their work? In sharp contrast to his contemporaries, such as Edward Glover, John Rickman or Joan Riviere, James Strachey left an enormous quantity of manuscripts, mostly in the form of personal letters. While Strachey was not an avid writer in his own right — Ernest Jones complained about his lack of productivity — excavating the wealth of personal paperwork that he left presents an ideal opportunity to explore this question.

Tickets/registration: https://strachey.eventbrite.co.uk

Location:
SELCS Common Room (G24)
Foster Court
Malet Place
University College London

Time: 18:00-19:30

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New Fiction: Skinner’s Quests

A new novel, by Richard Gilbert, offers of fictionalized account of what might have happened had B.F. Skinner and Sigmund Freud met. Skinner’s Quests is described as follows:

Two of the best known psychologists of the twentieth century, B.F. Skinner and Sigmund Freud, never met. What if they had met? What if, as well, the young B.F. Skinner had discussed matters of mutual interest with Ludwig Wittgenstein, the century’s best known and most eccentric philosopher, also living in England in 1939?

Skinner’s Quests, a novel of ideas and relationships, describes a fictional trip to England by Skinner in May and June 1939. He traveled from his home in Minneapolis to London and Cambridge via Montreal and Glasgow. He returned via Lisbon and New York.

Skinner had two quests. Both were conceived by philosopher and political activist Bertrand Russell, then at the University of Chicago. Both were to do with Russell’s former student Ludwig Wittgenstein – already the 20th century’s preeminent philosopher.

One quest was to correct what Russell regarded as Wittgenstein’s futile flirtation with behaviorism. (Russell had misunderstood Skinner’s position.)

The other quest, in collaboration with the White House, was to exploit Wittgenstein’s association with Adolf Hitler. The two were born a few days apart and were at high school together. Moreover, in 1939 Wittgenstein was involved with the German government, negotiating exemptions for his family from the Nuremburg (Race) Laws. He was also pally with the Soviet government.

Skinner had little interest in Wittgenstein. He welcomed the trip – over the strong objections of his wife – for a chance to meet Sigmund Freud, who was dying in London. Skinner was an admirer of Freud’s writings, even though he disagreed with much of what the founder of psychoanalysis had to say. Skinner met Freud, and Freud’s daughter Anna. In Cambridge, Skinner met Alan Turing as well as Wittgenstein. This was just after Turing had devised the modern computer and before he become a key figure in British cryptanalysis.

During the odyssey, Skinner met with other real and several fictional characters. Some of his encounters were romantic. Some were merely social. Some had a sinister edge that reflected the time of his travels, made during one of modern history’s most fraught periods.

Skinner’s odyssey had mixed success. He had little apparent impact on Wittgenstein, but he clarified his own thinking about several matters and provided information of possible value to the White House. Early in his odyssey, Skinner had visions of being the Darwin of the twentieth century, doing for psychology what Darwin had done for biology in the nineteenth century. Freud cautioned Skinner that his disregard for free will could become associated with totalitarianism. Skinner let the matter rest, at least for the moment.

The book will appeal to readers interested in some or all of these topics: psychology, philosophy, language, evolution, transportation in the 1930s, and the politics of North America and Europe just before the Second World War.

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UCL/BPS Talks Feb 29 & Mar 7: Science of Religion & Freud’s Analysis of Haizmann

Johann Christoph Haizmann’s votive painting

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next two talks in their 2016 seminar series. Full details follow below.

Monday 29 February 2016
Matei Iagher (UCL), “Psychology and the quest for a science of religion in the late 19th and early 20th centuries”

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, a new intellectual discipline emerged in academic departments in the United States and Western Europe: the psychology of religion. Championed by figures like William James, Théodore Flournoy, Pierre Janet, and later C.G. Jung, the psychology of religion claimed to offer a novel science of religion, based on an equally new revalorization of individual religious experience. The psychology of religion drew on the affective definition of religion propounded by Friedrich Schleiermacher in the earlier part of the nineteenth century and placed itself in continuity (and sometimes in opposition) with projects to found a science of religion, which were drawn up by scholars like Max Müller or C. P. Tiele in the Victorian period. This paper will offer a brief overview of some of the key points of the psychology of religion, as it was practiced in the United States, France and Switzerland, and will place the movement within the context of wider debates about the nature and function of the science(s) of religion(s) at the turn of the century.

Monday 7 March 2016
Dr David Lederer (Maynooth University, Ireland/Queen Mary University of London), “‘A demonological neurosis’? Psychiatry, psychoanalysis and demonic possession in Freud’s analysis of Haizmann” Continue reading UCL/BPS Talks Feb 29 & Mar 7: Science of Religion & Freud’s Analysis of Haizmann

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July 18th Workshop, Psychoanalytic Filiations: Mapping The Psychoanalytic Movement

UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines is hosting a one-day workshop on how to write the history of the psychoanalytic movement. The workshop, which marks the publication of Ernst Falzeder’s book, ‘Psychoanalytic Filiations: Mapping the Psychoanalytic Movement’, will be held from 2-6pm on July 18th, 2015 at UCL. Full details follow below.

Written over a span of nearly a quarter century, the “red thread” running through the book is its focus on the network of psychoanalytic “filiations” (who analysed whom), and how crucial concepts of depth psychology were developed before the background of those intense relationships: for example, Freud’s technical recommendations, the therapeutic use of countertransference and the view of the psychoanalytic situation as a social, interactive process, the introduction of the anal phase, the birth of the object-relations-model as opposed to the drive-model in psychoanalysis, or the psychotherapeutic treatment of psychoses. Several chapters deal with key figures in that history, such as Sándor Ferenczi, Karl Abraham, Eugen Bleuler, Otto Rank, and C. G. Jung, their respective relationships to each other and to Freud, and the consequences that their collaboration, as well as conflicts, with him had for the further development of psychoanalysis up to the present day. Other chapters give an overview on the publications of Freud’s texts and on unpublished documents (the “unknown Freud”), the editorial policy of the publications of Freud’s letters.

Discussants:

Dr. Ernst Falzeder (UCL)
Dr. Shaul Bar-Heim (Birkbeck College)
Arthur Eaton (UCL)
Prof. Brett Kahr (Roehampton University)
Dr. Matt ffytche (University of Essex)
Dr. Sarah Marks (University of Cambridge)
Dee McQuillan (UCL)
Dr. Richard Skues (London Metropolitan University)
Chair: Prof. Sonu Shamdasani (UCL).

Cost: £20, UCL staff and students: free.

Register online here.

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History of Psych on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4 is starting a new series on the history of psychology Monday. It is hosted by Martin Sixsmith and it is called “In Search of Ourselves: A History of Psychology and the Mind.” I don’t know anything else yet, except that you will be able to download it here.

Update: The series will include the following 5 episodes – Jacy Young.

High Anxieties
Duration: 15 minutes
First broadcast: Monday 21 April 2014

Psychology is as old as the human race. People have always sought to understand what makes us think, feel and act the way we do.

In Episode 1, Martin examines the government’s plan for a national ‘happiness index’ and traces our search for ourselves back to the ancients.

The term ‘psychology’ was first used in about 1600 and means, literally, ‘study of the soul’. But it was only in the late 19th century that psychology emerged as a separate science. Today it draws on the intellectual legacy of philosophy, physiology and, increasingly, neurobiology and social science.

The author and broadcaster Martin Sixsmith retrained as a psychologist in the last decade, following careers as a BBC correspondent and government adviser. Martin’s experience both studying applied psychology and as a recipient of therapy reflects the growing acceptance of psychological counselling in Britain and the lessening of the stigma attached to mental illness. There has been a growth of interest in the therapeutic aspects of psychology, but many of us still have a frustratingly incomplete knowledge of its history, techniques and broader applications.

This series taps into a defining aspect of modern existence and addresses the widespread desire to know more, charting the path from today’s democratisation of psychological care back to early beliefs, the birth of modern experimental psychology, the related ‘psy professions’ – psychiatry and psychotherapy – and the splits and controversies of the 20th century.

The Freudian Age
Duration: 15 minutes
First broadcast: Tuesday 22 April 2014

In Episode 2, Martin traces a line from current government interest in ‘talking cures’ back to the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, visiting Freud’s private apartments and also Europe’s oldest mental asylum, the Narrenturm – literally, the Tower of Fools – in Vienna.

It’s All about Sex
Duration: 15 minutes
First broadcast: Wednesday 23 April 2014

Freud’s development of a new psychological science, psychoanalysis, provoked controversy because of his focus on sexuality.

In episode 3, Martin examines Freud’s legacy, with audio archive of his one-time colleague then rival Carl Gustav Jung, his daughter Anna Freud and a new interview with Christopher Hampton, author of the play ‘The Talking Cure’.

Pavlov’s Bell
Duration: 15 minutes
First broadcast: Thursday 24 April 2014

Starting with the ‘conditioned reflex’ that the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov famously identified while studying dogs, Martin explores the development of a significant alternative to the Freudian way of thinking, ‘behaviourism’ – including recordings of the controversial American psychologist BF Skinner and an interview with his daughter Deborah, who as a child was the subject of her father’s close scientific observations.

Talking Cures?
Duration: 15 minutes

Martin considers some of the therapies that combined the psychoanalytic principles of Freud and Jung with the behaviour modifying techniques of the mid-Twentieth Century’s other significant psychological movement ‘behaviourism’.

With reference to the ‘Gloria’ tapes that featured the same patient being treated by three different ‘talking cures’ – Albert Ellis’s Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy, Fritz Perls’s Gestalt Therapy and Carl Rogers’s Person Centred Therapy.

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New Issue! History of the Human Sciences

A new issue of History of the Human Sciences has just been released online. Included in this issue are articles on the history of Female Sexual Dyfunction as a diagnostic category, Freud’s social theory, the role of the brain in dementia, and more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Contested psychiatric ontology and feminist critique: ‘Female Sexual Dysfunction’ and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual,” by Katherine Angel (above left). The abstract reads,

In this article I discuss the emergence of Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) within American psychiatry and beyond in the postwar period, setting out what I believe to be important and suggestive questions neglected in existing scholarship. Tracing the nomenclature within successive editions of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), I consider the reification of the term ‘FSD’, and the activism and scholarship that the rise of the category has occasioned. I suggest that analysis of FSD benefits from scrutiny of a wider range of sources (especially since the popular and scientific cross-pollinate). I explore the multiplicity of FSD that emerges when one examines this wider range, but I also underscore a reinscribing of anxieties about psychogenic aetiologies. I then argue that what makes the FSD case additionally interesting, over and above other conditions with a contested status, is the historically complex relationship between psychiatry and feminism that is at work in contemporary debates. I suggest that existing literature on FSD has not yet posed some of the most important and salient questions at stake in writing about women’s sexual problems in this period, and can only do this when the relationship between ‘second-wave’ feminism, ‘post-feminism’, psychiatry and psychoanalysis becomes part of the terrain to be analysed, rather than the medium through which analysis is conducted. Continue reading New Issue! History of the Human Sciences

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New Book: After Freud Left

A new edited collection on the history of Freud in the United States, and the development of psychoanalysis in the country following his 1909 visit to Clark University, has just been released. After Freud Left: A Century of Psychoanalysis in America is edited by John Burnham and includes chapters from a number of prominent historians of psychoanalysis. The book is described as follows and includes the following chapters,

From August 29 to September 21, 1909, Sigmund Freud visited the United States, where he gave five lectures at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. This volume brings together a stunning gallery of leading historians of psychoanalysis and of American culture to consider the broad history of psychoanalysis in America and to reflect on what has happened to Freud’s legacy in the United States in the century since his visit.

There has been a flood of recent scholarship on Freud’s life and on the European and world history of psychoanalysis, but historians have produced relatively little on the proliferation of psychoanalytic thinking in the United States, where Freud’s work had monumental intellectual and social impact. The essays in After Freud Left provide readers with insights and perspectives to help them understand the uniqueness of Americans’ psychoanalytic thinking, as well as the forms in which the legacy of Freud remains active in the United States in the twenty-first century. After Freud Left will be essential reading for anyone interested in twentieth-century American history, general intellectual and cultural history, and psychology and psychiatry.

Contents:

Introduction

Part I: 1909 to the 1940s: Freud and the Psychoanalytic Movement Cross the Atlantic

Introduction to Part I: Transnationalizing

Sonu Shamdasani
Psychotherapy, 1909: Notes on a Vintage Continue reading New Book: After Freud Left

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The Idea of Censorship in Freud’s Psychoanalysis

The June 2012 issue of the British Journal for the History of Science is now online. A special issue on the topic of scientific secrecy, the issue includes a piece on Sigmund Freud that may be of interest to AHP readers. In “Blacked-Out Spaces: Freud, Censorship and the Re-Territorialization of Mind,” historian of science Peter Galison discusses the idea of censorship within Freud’s work. The abstract reads,

Freud’s analogies were legion: hydraulic pipes, military recruitment, magic writing pads. These and some three hundred others took features of the mind and bound them to far-off scenes – the id only very partially resembles an uncontrollable horse, as Freud took pains to note. But there was one relation between psychic and public act that Freud did not delimit in this way: censorship, the process that checked memories and dreams on their way to the conscious. (Freud dubbed the relation between internal and external censorship a ‘parallel’ rather than a limited analogy.) At first, Freud likened this suppression to the blacking out of texts at the Russian frontier. During the First World War, he suffered, and spoke of suffering under, Viennese postal and newspaper censorship – Freud was forced to leave his envelopes unsealed, and to recode or delete content. Over and over, he registered the power of both internal and public censorship in shared form: distortion, anticipatory deletion, softenings, even revision to hide suppression. Political censorship left its mark as the conflict reshaped his view of the psyche into a society on a war footing, with homunculus-like border guards sifting messages as they made their way – or did not – across a topography of mind.

Also included within this issue is a review of Fernando Vidal‘s interesting recent history of psychology, The Science of the Soul: The Early Modern Origins of Psychology.

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