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Sexuality and Psychoanalysis

Sexuality and Psychoanalysis: Philosophical Criticisms

Jens De Vleminck
Eran Dorfman
Volume: 10
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Sexuality and Psychoanalysis
    Book Description:

    The relationship between sexuality and psychoanalysis can be described in terms of an old and stormy love affair. The same can be said about the relationship between psychoanalysis and philosophy. It is precisely this fascinating ‘love triangle' that the present volume of essays aims to explore. A diverse group of philosophers and psychoanalysts reflected on the concept of sexuality in Freudo-Lacanian psychoanalysis. The result is a stimulating collection of essays where the role of sexuality in psychoanalysis is scrutinized from a philosophical point of view. This volume does more than merely offer an alternative psychoanalytic account of sexuality. It also develops a wide range of philosophical reflections on sexuality as conceptualized by Freudo-Lacanian psychoanalysis, and in this way initiates a dialogue between the two concurrent disciplines.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-038-1
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Acknowledgements and Abbreviations
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. Sexuality, Psychoanalysis, and Philosophy An Introduction
    (pp. 9-18)
    Jens De Vleminck

    At the end of the nineteenth century, sexology emerged as a new sub-discipline within the biomedical sciences. The works of the first generation of sexologists, including richard von krafft-Ebing, Albert Moll, and Albert von Schrencknotzing, were a major source of inspiration for the “young” Sigmund Freud (Ellenberger, 1970; Sulloway, 1979). Although these sexologists certainly did inspire him, however, Freud went beyond the then prevailing sexological approach. Rather than limiting himself to the anatomy and physiology of the sexual apparatus, he explicitly tackled the issue of the place of sexuality in human life as such. This is most evident in his...

  5. Section I Sexuality and Metaphysics

    • What is Frightening about Sexual Pleasure? Introducing Lacan’s Jouissance into Freudian Psychoanalysis via Plato and Aristotle
      (pp. 21-34)
      Paul Moyaert

      We know that sexual pleasure is exciting. But Freud ascertains that, for some people, excitement does not add to the pleasure. in fact, they find the excitement of arousal so oppressive that they cannot enjoy sex. This is a curious finding. For how can sexual pleasure be rendered joyless by fear of excitement? Pleasure is something that has preoccupied Western philosophers since ancient times, and without much exaggeration one could say that the innumerable answers to the question “What is pleasure?” are variations on the two standard answers provided by Plato in thePhilebusand by Aristotle inThe Nicomachean...

    • Sextimacy Freud, Mortality, and a Reconsideration of the Role of Sexuality in Psychoanalysis
      (pp. 35-60)
      Adrian Johnston

      In many fields, often the most naïve and straightforward of questions pertaining to basic concepts is capable of causing a great deal of upset. Ask a roomful of theoretical physicists to agree upon a definition of so central an idea as “matter”, or confront philosophers with such topics as “knowledge”, “reality” or “truth”, and problems are bound to arise. This, too, is the case with psychoanalysis. Despite Freud’s numerous extensive discussions of the role of sexuality in mental life, there is no immediately apparent Freudian response to the query, “Why is sexuality inherently traumatic?” Of course, Freud repeatedly insists that...

    • Death, Libido, and Negative Ontology in the Theory of Drives
      (pp. 61-82)
      Vladimir Safatle

      “I have an ontology – why not? – just as everyone has one, naive or elaborated”. This is a sentence that cannot go unnoticed, especially being stated by a psychoanalyst. Both the fact that Jacques Lacan admits to having an ontology, as everyone apparently would, and the fact that he admits it in an absolutely natural way (“why not” have one?), pose many questions. For instance: why relate considerations of an ontological character to a praxis that seems quite attached to the particularity of the clinical case, as psychoanalysis does? Why should we search for some kind of relation between ontology and...

    • Love of Truth, True Love, and the Truth about Love
      (pp. 83-96)
      Ruth Ronen

      “[O]nly those who have had the courage to work through lacan’s antiphilosophy without faltering deserve to be called ‘contemporary philosophers’” (Badiou, 2006, p. 121). Here, Alain Badiou refers to Lacan as an antiphilosopher due to his radical interpretation of the notion of truth, the truth philosophers love.

      If Lacan is an anti-philosopher, does this mean that psychoanalysis is disengaged from the philosophical commitment to truth? Does Lacan not love truth? is it the idea thattruthcan be loved, or is it the way philosophers love their truth that Lacan objects to? As Badiou shows, it is nottruththat...

    • Derrida and Lacan An Impossible Friendship?
      (pp. 97-118)
      Charles Shepherdson

      In the world today, it is difficult not to begin with a concern about allegiances, friends and enemies, discursive camps and their borders, in short, with a concern about the regimes and territories of truth. And for this context, we are concerned above all with the territories of “psychoanalysis” and “philosophy”, as well as the chance, or better, the contingency (I underscore this word) of the encounter between them, and the discursive transformations that allow us to pass from one to another: from one to another, which is to say (a) respecting their borders, their differences, their disciplinary specificity (which...

  6. Section II Sexuality in Practice

    • The Sexual Animal and the Primal Scene
      (pp. 121-138)
      Elissa Marder

      Although Freud’s most famous and most notoriously difficult case historyFrom the History of an Infantile Neurosishas received extensive commentary, there is one important question that has attracted surprisingly little attention up until now. in this case, best known by its evocative hybrid nameWolf Man, animals populate virtually every page, but very little has been said about the status of the animal as such.¹ Indeed, it may be almost impossible to speak about the animal “as such”, precisely because the many animals and animal figures in the case operate at so many different and mutually exclusive levels of...

    • Between Disposition, Trauma, and History How Oedipal was Dora?
      (pp. 139-154)
      Philippe Van Haute and Tomas Geyskens

      In contradistinction to what has often been said (Kris, 1986; Anzieu, 1988; Masson, 1992; Borch-Jacobsen & Shamdasani, 2006), the abandonment of the seduction theory by Freud in 1897 (“I don’t believe in my ‘neurotica’ anymore”) did not mean that, thenceforth, he thought that the traumas his patients told him about were nothing but oedipally motivated fantasies.¹ Nor does it imply that trauma no longer played a significant role in Freud’s theory of pathogenesis. it merely means that Freud gave up his belief in theetiologicalsignificance of trauma for pathology. From then on, this role was fulfilled, instead, by a...

  7. Section III Sexuality and Politics

    • Foucault versus Freud On Sexuality and the Unconscious
      (pp. 157-170)
      Eran Dorfman

      One of the main difficulties faced by Foucault’s readers is how to understand the practical implications of his descriptions. Are we all trapped in a web of power and forces that leave us helpless? Are we doomed to passively follow paths anonymously charted for us? Can we not actively resist? and if we can, how?

      A good place to start answering these questions is Foucault’s first volume ofThe History of Sexualityin which he elaborates his critique of Freudian psychoanalysis. in this paper, I will follow Foucault’s claim that psychoanalysis blindly pushes forth and enforces the discourse of sexuality....

    • The Psyche and the Social Judith Butler’s Politicizing of Psychoanalytical Theory
      (pp. 171-182)
      Veronica Vasterling

      Since its inception, the theories and concepts of psychoanalysis have been used to analyze and clarify political phenomena and, conversely, political perspectives have been applied critically to psychoanalytical theories and practices. Feminism’s interest in psychoanalytical theory is part of this long history of reciprocal engagements between psychoanalysis and politics. Ever since the publication of Juliet Mitchell’s landmark bookPsychoanalysis and Feminismin 1974, there has been a steady appropriation and politically inspired transformation of psychoanalytical theories and concepts by feminist and gender theorists. One of the most influential recent sources of this feminist appropriation and transformation of psychoanalysis is the...

    • Foucault, Lacan, and the Question of Technique
      (pp. 183-196)
      Cecilia Sjöholm

      As is well known, Michel Foucault was a stern critic of psychoanalysis. In the final chapter ofLa volonté de savoir, he situates the practice of psychoanalysis between the technologies of bio-power and the disciplining of the body that marked modernity. In Foucault’s writing, it was precisely the conjunction of these two phenomena that had such catastrophic consequences for the twentieth century. Although well aware that psychoanalysis was consciously resisting fascism, Foucault saw psychoanalysis as using the same strategy as the technologies of bio-power: targeting the family in order to control the population. Through its focus on the Law of...

  8. Section IV Sexuality and Aesthetics

    • Between Signifier and Jouissance Lacan with Teresa
      (pp. 199-214)
      Ari Hirvonen

      “it’s like for Saint Teresa – you need but to go to Rome and see the statue by Bernini to immediately understand she’s coming [qu’elle jouit]. There’s no doubt about it” (Lacan, 1975, pp. 70/76).¹ With these words, Jacques Lacan introduced Saint Teresa inSeminar XX: Encore, held on 20 February 1973.

      The statue Lacan refers to is Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s marble baroque statueL’estasi di Santa Teresaon display in the Cornaro Chapel of the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria. The Venetian Cardinal Federico Cornaro had commissioned the transformation of the left transept of the Church into a sepulchral...

    • Painting as Hysteria Deleuze on Bacon
      (pp. 215-230)
      Tomas Geyskens

      Great clinicians are artists. When the French psychiatrist Lasègue first isolated and defined exhibitionism in 1877, he did not begin his article with a description of cases of manifest exhibitionism, but, rather, with a story about a man who followed a woman in the streets each day. in order to introduce a new syndrome, it seems necessary to write a short story first and only then to describe cases of manifest pathology (Deleuze, 2004, p. 275). During a discussion in the Wednesday Circle, Freud, too, argued that case studies are pointless if they are merely objective reports of what has...

  9. Epilogue Sexuality and the Quarrel between Philosophy and Psychoanalysis
    (pp. 231-236)
    Eran Dorfman

    Who’s afraid of psychoanalysis? More than a century after the publication of Freud’sThe Interpretation of DreamsandThree Essays on Sexuality, the answer still seems to be: philosophers.

    Why is it so? Although psychoanalysis was founded by Freud as a scientific and rational theory, its investigation has always focused on the irrational aspects of human life, whether their name was “the unconscious”, “sexuality”, “drives”, etc. This paradoxical meeting point of the rational and the irrational marks the difference between psychoanalysis and philosophy. and yet, if we look at it more closely, we will find that philosophy, too, is a...

  10. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 237-240)