Tag Archives: psychoanalysis

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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New HoP: Sandor Rado on Bisexuality, Psych and Social Engineering in 20th c. America, & Behavior Therapy in France

Sandor Rado

The August 2017 issue of History of Psychology is now available. Articles in this issue discuss psychoanalyst Sandor Rado’s influential views on bisexuality, American attitudes toward psychology, technology, and social engineering in the 20th century, and the difficult reception of behavior therapy in France. Full details below.

“Sandor Rado, American psychoanalysis, and the question of bisexuality,” by Tontonoz, Matthew. Abstract:

The Hungarian-born physician and psychoanalyst Sandor Rado (1890–1972), who practiced for most of his career in the United States, played a central role in shaping American psychoanalysts’ views toward homosexuality. Historians have pointed to Rado’s rejection of Freud’s notion of constitutional bisexuality as the key theoretical maneuver that both pathologized homosexuality and inspired an optimistic approach to its treatment. Yet scholarly analysis of the arguments that Rado made for his rejection of bisexuality is lacking. This article seeks to provide that analysis, by carefully reviewing and evaluating Rado’s arguments by the standards of his own day. Because one of Rado’s main arguments is that bisexuality is an outdated concept according to modern biology, I consider what contemporary biologists had to say on the topic. The work of behavioral endocrinologist Frank Beach (1911–1988) is important in this context and receives significant attention here. Rado ultimately distanced himself from Beach’s behavioral endocrinology, appealing instead to evolutionary discourse to buttress his claim that homosexuality is pathological. This tactic allowed him to refashion psychoanalysis into a moralistic discipline, one with closer ties to a medical school.

“B. F. Skinner and technology’s nation: Technocracy, social engineering, and the good life in 20th-century America,” by Rutherford, Alexandra. Abstract: Continue reading New HoP: Sandor Rado on Bisexuality, Psych and Social Engineering in 20th c. America, & Behavior Therapy in France

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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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UCL/BPS Talk: Ernst Falzeder “How Jung became the first President of the International Psychoanalytical Association”

Ernst Falzeder

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 5th, Ernst Falzeder will be speaking on “The next talk in How Jung became the first President of the International Psychoanalytical Association.” Full details follow below.

Monday 5th June
Dr Ernst Falzeder (UCL) ‘How Jung Became the First President of the International Psychoanalytical Association’

It shocked Freud’s closest followers at the time that he wanted, in 1910, a Swiss gentile to become lifetime president of a new international organization of psychoanalysts. This talk sketches the background and repercussions of this “coup.”

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

Time: 18:00-19:30

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

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New HoP: Neurohistory, Titchener at Oxford, & Debating the New History of Psych

Edward Bradford Titchener

The May 2017 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Articles in this issue explore neurohistory, the influence of Titchener’s Oxford years on his thought, and gender and psychoanalysis in 1940s Britain. The issue also features a special section devoted to “Debating the New History of Psychology.” Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Historiography, affect, and the neurosciences,” by Larry S. McGrath. Abstract:

Recent historiography has put to rest debates over whether to address the neurosciences. The question is how? In this article, I stage a dialogue between neurohistory and the history of the emotions. My primary goal is to survey these two clusters and clarify their conceptual commitments. Both center on the role of affect in embodied subjectivity; but their accounts widely diverge. Whereas neurohistorians tend to treat affects as automatic bodily processes, historians of the emotions generally emphasize that affects are meaningful and volitional activities. This divergence entails contrasting understandings of selfhood, embodiment, and historical change. More importantly, I argue, it reflects a broader realm of disputes within the neurosciences. The divisions among methodologies and commitments testify to the importance of historians’ selection of evidence as well as the critical perspectives they can bring to scientific debates. The neurosciences do not offer readymade theories. Secondarily, I take stock of the shared limitations of neurohistory and the history of the emotions. Both conceptualize the biological bases of affection as a universal ground for historical inquiry. By reexamining this transhistorical approach to neuroscientific evidence, I suggest that historiography might widen the horizon of interdisciplinary scholarship beyond the present options.

“From classicism and idealism to scientific naturalism: Titchener’s Oxford years and their impact upon his early intellectual development,” by Saulo de Freitas Araujo and Cintia Fernandes Marcellos. Abstract: Continue reading New HoP: Neurohistory, Titchener at Oxford, & Debating the New History of Psych

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HHS Special Issue: Psychotherapy in Historical Perspective

Sarah Marks

The April 2017 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. Guest edited by Sarah Marks, this special issue explores “Psychotherapy in Historical Perspective.” Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Psychotherapy in historical perspective,” by Sarah Marks. Abstract:

This article will briefly explore some of the ways in which the past has been used as a means to talk about psychotherapy as a practice and as a profession, its impact on individuals and society, and the ethical debates at stake. It will show how, despite the multiple and competing claims about psychotherapy’s history and its meanings, historians themselves have, to a large degree, not attended to the intellectual and cultural development of many therapeutic approaches. This absence has the potential consequence of implying that therapies have emerged as value-free techniques, outside of a social, economic and political context. The relative neglect of psychotherapy, by contrast with the attention historians have paid to other professions, particularly psychiatry, has also underplayed its societal impact. This article will foreground some of the instances where psychotherapy has become an object of emerging historical interest, including the new research that forms the substance of this special issue of History of the Human Sciences.

“The action of the imagination: Daniel Hack Tuke and late Victorian psycho-therapeutics,” by Sarah Chaney. Abstract:

Histories of dynamic psychotherapy in the late 19th century have focused on practitioners in continental Europe, and interest in psychological therapies within British asylum psychiatry has been largely overlooked. Yet Daniel Hack Tuke (1827–95) is acknowledged as one of the earliest authors to use the term ‘psycho-therapeutics’, including a chapter on the topic in his 1872 volume, Illustrations of the Influence of the Mind upon the Body in Health and Disease. But what did Tuke mean by this concept, and what impact did his ideas have on the practice of asylum psychiatry? At present, there is little consensus on this topic. Through in-depth examination of what psycho-therapeutics meant to Tuke, this article argues that late-19th-century asylum psychiatry cannot be easily separated into somatic and psychological strands. Tuke’s understanding of psycho-therapeutics was extremely broad, encompassing the entire field of medical practice (not only psychiatry). The universal force that he adopted to explain psychological therapies, ‘the Imagination’, was purported to show the power of the mind over the body, implying that techniques like hypnotism and suggestion might have an effect on any kind of symptom or illness. Acknowledging this aspect of Tuke’s work, I conclude, can help us better understand late-19th-century psychiatry – and medicine more generally – by acknowledging the lack of distinction between psychological and somatic in ‘psychological’ therapies.

“‘Subordination, authority, psychotherapy’: Psychotherapy and politics in inter-war Vienna,” by David Freis. Abstract: Continue reading HHS Special Issue: Psychotherapy in Historical Perspective

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New From HHS: Susan Isaacs’ Progressive Education, Information Overload, & More

Alejandro Lipschütz

The February 2017 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online and includes a number of articles that may be of interest to AHP’s readers. Articles in this issue tackle: the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Chilean physiologist Alejandro Lipschütz, information overload in postwar America, Frédéric LePlay and scientific observation, the Susan Isaacs’ interwar work on progressive education and psychanalysis, and the patient-analyst relationship in psychoanalysis and telepathy-like experiences. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Sigmund Freud and Alejandro Lipschütz: Psychoanalysis and biology between Europe and Chile,” by Silvana Vetö and Marcelo Sánchez. The abstract reads,

This article deals with the relationship between the creator of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, and the Latvian-born Chilean professor of physiology – and endocrinologist and anthropologist – Alejandro (or Alexander) Lipschütz. Up till now, the historiography of psychoanalysis in Chile has ignored the existence of this relationship, that is to say, the fact that there exists an interesting exchange of correspondence as well as references to Lipschütz in some important works published by Freud and in Freud’s correspondence with the Hungarian psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi. There are also references to works on psychoanalysis carried out by Lipschütz in Chile. The Freud–Lipschütz relationship allows us to examine two interesting topics in contemporary historiographical approaches to psychoanalysis. First, it permits us to reflect on the connections that Freud and Ferenczi sought to establish between psychoanalysis and biology (endocrinology in particular) as a strategy to address criticism of the scientific foundations of psychoanalysis and, therefore, to help legitimize psychoanalysis in the field of science. Second, the relationship between Freud, working in a culturally influential city such as Vienna, and Lipschütz, working in a ‘peripheral’ country such as Chile, paves the way to reflect on the consequences of a history of psychoanalysis written from the perspective of the ‘margins’. This is a history that focuses not on regions where early industrialization and modernization processes, along with an important academic and scientific tradition, help explain the interest in and reception of psychoanalysis, but on regions where different sets of conditions have to be examined to explain appropriation and dissemination processes.

“The nature of the glut: Information overload in postwar America,” by Nick Levine. The abstract reads, Continue reading New From HHS: Susan Isaacs’ Progressive Education, Information Overload, & More

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UCL/BPS Talk Dec 12: Arthur Eaton “History Telling: Writing a Biography of Psychohistory”

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 autumn seminar series. On Monday December 12th Arthur Eaton (left) will be speaking on “History telling: writing a biography of psychohistory.” Full details follow below.

Monday 12 December 2016

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

Time: 18:00-19:30

Speaker: Arthur Eaton (UCL)

Seminar title: History telling: A biography pf psychohistory

In June 1976 the American Psychiatric Association published a document entitled The Psychiatrist as Psychohistorian. In that report, a committee investigated the dangers – including the threat to United States national security – of a phenomenon called psychohistory. What is psychohistory? Why is it relatively unknown today? In this presentation, I will explore these questions and argue that psychohistory is best conceived of as an interdiscipline – born out of the marriage between two ‘parent’ disciplines: psychoanalysis and history. I will discuss the ‘rise and fall’ of the psychohistorical movement, highlight the conceptual difficulties of a hybrid discipline, and speak about my own search for psychohistory.

 

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NYT Review: ‘Labyrinths,’ Emma and Carl Jung’s Complex Marriage

The New York Times has reviewed a recent book exploring the marriage of Emma and Carl Jung: Labyrinths by Catrine Clay. In her review Jennifer Senior notes,

“Labyrinths” was well received when published in England this summer. Yet throughout the first half of the book, no matter how much I squinted, I could not discern why. The subject is rich, definitely, and Jungian analysis has a groovy, woo-woo sort of appeal. But Ms. Clay’s sourcing is thin. She devotes pages of filler to the glorious architecture of Middle Europe — sounding uncomfortably close to the sales pitch for a Viking River Cruise — and to the menu at the Jungs’ wedding, and to the wares of the Bahnhofstrasse, and to the costume of the day.

It all seems a clumsy attempt at trompe l’oeil, to give the illusion of depth. My l’oeil wasn’t tromped.
….
Perhaps most striking is how remarkably adaptable Emma was — and how familiar her predicament still feels. Any semi-sentient observer of American politics has a pretty good idea of what it’s like for a smart woman to bind her fortune to a charismatic man with a wandering eye, a fellow who creates a gravitational warp so pronounced that all objects go rolling in his direction.

And Emma, too, followed in her husband’s footsteps, which at the time made her a true pioneer. Eventually, at Carl’s urging, Emma underwent her own analysis. She became an analyst once their five children were grown. She lectured; she traveled with Carl to conferences; she wrote a book about the symbolism of the Holy Grail.

The full review can be read online here.

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