In Impious Fidelity, Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg
investigates the legacy of Anna Freud at the intersection between
psychoanalysis as a mode of thinking and theorizing and its
existence as a political entity. Stewart-Steinberg argues that
because Anna Freud inherited and guided her father's psychoanalytic
project as an institution, analysis of her thought is
critical to our understanding of the relationship between the
psychoanalytic and the political. This is particularly the case
given that many psychoanalysts and historians of psychiatry charge
that Anna Freud's emphasis on defending the supremacy of the ego
against unconscious drives betrayed her father's work.
Are the unconscious and the psychoanalytic project itself at
odds with the stable ego deemed necessary to a democratic politics?
Hannah Arendt famously (and influentially) argued that they are.
But Stewart-Steinberg maintains that Anna Freud's critics
(particularly disciples of Melanie Klein) have simplified her
thought and misconstrued her legacy. Stewart-Steinberg looks at
Anna Freud's work with wartime orphans, seeing that they developed
subjectivity not by vertical (through the father) but by lateral,
social ties. This led Anna Freud to revise her father's emphasis on
Oedipal sexuality and to posit a revision of psychoanalysis that
renders it compatible with democratic theory and practice.
Stewart-Steinberg gives us an Anna Freud who "betrays" the father
even as she protects his legacy and continues his work in a new
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