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A Non-Oedipal Psychoanalysis?

A Non-Oedipal Psychoanalysis?: A Clinical Anthropology of Hysteria in the Works of Freud and Lacan

Philippe Van Haute
Tomas Geyskens
Volume: 11
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 180
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  • Book Info
    A Non-Oedipal Psychoanalysis?
    Book Description:

    The different psychopathologic syndromes show in an exaggerated and caricatural manner the basic structures of human existence. These structures not only characterize psychopathology, but they also determine the highest forms of culture. This is the credo of Freud's anthropology. This anthropology implies that humans are beings of the in-between. The human being is essentially tied up between pathology and culture, and 'normativity' cannot be defined in a theoretically convincing manner. The authors of this book call this Freudian anthropology a patho-analysis of existence or a clinical anthropology. This anthropology gives a new meaning to the Nietzschean dictum that the human being is a ‘sick animal'. Freud, and later Lacan, first developed this anthropological insight in relation to hysteria (in its relation to literature). This patho-analytic perspective progressively disappears in Freud's texts after 1905. This book reveals the crucial moments of that development. In doing so, it shows clearly not only that Freud introduced the Oedipus complex much later than is usually assumed, but also that the theory of the Oedipus complex is irreconcilable with the project of a clinical anthropology. The authors not only examine the philosophical meaning of this thesis in the work of Freud. They also examine its avatars in the texts of Jacques Lacan and show how this project of a patho-analysis of existence inevitably obliges us to formulate a non-oedipal psychoanalytic anthropology.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-059-6
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-6)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-9)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 10-10)
  4. Introduction A Clinical Anthropology of Hysteria Hysteria as a Philosophical Problem
    (pp. 11-24)

    Hysteria is characterised by convulsive attacks, mysterious pains in various parts of the body, an inexplicable loss of functions (speech, for instance) and conversion symptoms: corporal symptoms such as paralysis for which no clear organic cause can be found. This syndrome was already known to the Greeks. As the name ‘hysteria’ indicates, they linked this syndrome with the ‘agility of the uterus’. The Greeks viewed hysteria as a typically female problem: the uterus travels throughout the whole body, and in this way constantly causes different symptoms in different locations (globus hystericus, pains in various parts of the body and so...

  5. Chapter 1 Between Trauma and Disposition The Specific Aetiology of Hysteria in Freud’s Early Works
    (pp. 25-44)

    In hisAn Autobiographical Studyof 1925 Freud sketches the story of the early years of psychoanalysis. In this historical and autobiographical work, he relates how in 1897 he was forced to abandon the seduction theory and how this led him to position the Oedipus complex as central to the aetiology of neurosis. That is to say, Freud discovered that the testimonies of his patients about how they were seduced as children by perverse adults were not memories of real events but disguised expressions of Oedipal phantasies: “When (…) I was at last obliged to recognize that these scenes of...

  6. Chapter 2 Dora Symptom, Trauma and Phantasy in Freud’s Analysis of Dora
    (pp. 45-60)

    At the beginning of 1901 Freud writesDream and Hysteria, the case history of Dora, which he only publishes in 1905 asFragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria(1905a). He writes this study to show that, far from being merely an interesting pastime for people bored during the morning hours, dream interpretation can be applied in the treatment of hysteria (Freud 1905a, 114). For this reason the case history of Dora is particularly suited to providing an understanding of Freud’s thought on hysteria between the publication ofThe Interpretation of Dreams(1900) andThree Essays on the...

  7. Chapter 3 From Day-dream to Novel On Hysterical Phantasy and Literary Fiction
    (pp. 61-72)

    The hysterical disposition need not necessarily be expressed in hysterical attacks, conversion symptoms (such as in Dora’s case) and other kinds of ‘psychotic states’¹. In fact, the pathological form of expression is but one possible fate of libidinal forces that form the hysterical disposition. The same sexual constitution can also manifest itself “in a fashion that is acceptable to the majority”, for example inliteraryactivities.² At different moments in his work, Freud points to the fact that “striking and far-reaching points of agreement” exist between hysteria and literature (Freud 1913a, 73, 1919, 261). When Freud speaks of ‘literature’ in...

  8. Chapter 4 The Indifference of a Healthy Lesbian Bisexuality versus the Oedipus Complex
    (pp. 73-86)

    After Dora, women disappear from Freud’s oeuvre for a while. From 1909 his work is concerned with boys and men such as little Hans (1909c), the Rat Man (1909a), Leonardo (1910), Schreber (1911) and the Wolf Man (1918 [1914]). At the same time, Freud’s clinical interests move from hysteria to obsessional neurosis and paranoia. The theme of bisexuality also fades into the background. It is in this changed clinical context that Freud develops a completely new theory in which the Oedipus complex stands central and all other forms of psychopathology are understood as failed attempts at warding off the Oedipal...

  9. Chapter 5 Lacan’s Structuralist Rereading of Dora
    (pp. 87-108)

    Dora’s case study also plays a decisive role in Lacanian theory. From the beginning of the fifties onwards, Lacan often returns to Dora, rereading this case study in light of his own ever-changing views.¹ During the fifties Lacan remains heavily indebted to the Oedipal perspective that he, nevertheless, reinterprets in light of Lévi-Strauss’ structural anthropology. Hence Lacan’s view of hysteria in general and of Dora’s case in particular is not a carbon copy of Freud’s later work on hysteria and that of the post-Freudian tradition. For this reason a study of works hailing from this period highlights the limitations of...

  10. Chapter 6 Lacan and the Homosexual Young Woman: between Pathology and Poetry?
    (pp. 109-120)

    We discussed Freud’sPsychogenesis of a Case of Homosexuality in a Womanextensively in chapter four. We brought this case study into dialogue withFragment of the Analysis of a Case of Hysteriabecause Freud, yet again, questions the primacy of the Oedipus complex in his work on female homosexuality in favour of a theory of dispositional bisexuality. Lacan links these two studies as well. In fact, Lacan points out that the problematic of a homosexual libido plays a central role in both cases and he tries to explain both cases in terms of the vicissitudes of the female Oedipus...

  11. Chapter 7 Beyond Oedipus?
    (pp. 121-136)

    Freud tries time and again to convince Dora she is in love with Herr K. Again and again Freud attempts to orient Dora’s problems in a heterosexual matrix. Despite his theory of constitutional bisexuality, Freud constantly falls prey to preconceived and almost unshakeable prejudices on the nature of human desire and the ways in which this desire is supposed to develop. Women are destined for men, and in cases where this is not immediately clear, therapy serves to instil this understandingin extremis. Dora’s responses to Freud’s attempts are lukewarm, and she terminates her therapy prematurely as a result. In...

  12. Chapter 8 Return to Freud? Lacan’s Pathoanalysis of Hysteria
    (pp. 137-152)

    InThree Essays on the Theory of SexualityFreud shows that human sexuality is, in essence, disordered. No genital normalisation is reached at the end of successful development, one in which a ‘mature’ – in other words asymmetricaland completelycomplementary– ‘genital love’ becomes possible between the sexes. Such a ‘genital love’ would, at least in principle, bring about a total integration of the sensual and tender streams that characterise the sexual lives of the (preferably heterosexual) partners involved.¹ In contradistinction to this idealised image, Freud establishes a range of erotogenic zones that do not participate in a...

  13. Conclusion The Project of a Psychoanalytical Anthropology in Freud and Lacan
    (pp. 153-166)

    The classical philosophical approach to Freud’s work misses its true originality. The philosophical importance of Freudian psychoanalysis lies not in the fact that the unconscious is central to Freud’s thinking or that he views human existence from the angle of sexuality. The originality of Freud lies not even in the fact that he wants to study sexuality primarily in terms of its pathological variations. The true novelty of Freud’s pathoanalytical study of sexuality lies in the fact that the various sexual pathologies are thought of as merely exaggerations of common human tendencies. In this instance hysteria guides Freud’s way. The...

  14. References
    (pp. 167-174)
  15. Index
    (pp. 175-180)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 181-184)