ANXIOUS ENCOUNTERS AND FORCES OF FEAR

Call for papers, spring symposium in the Paris Psychoanalytical Society (SPP),
(21 rue Daviel – 75013 Paris)
March 31st-April 2nd 2017

Speakers include:
PINA ANTINUCCI (Psychoanalyst, British Psychoanalytical Society) – Encountering the Uncanny
JIM GRABOWSKI (Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, Institute for Clinical Social Work) – Department of Abuse and Neglect: A Confusion of the Tongues in Chicago Child Welfare
SCOTT GRAYBOW (Psychotherapist, adjunct professor, Metropolitan College of New York) – Fearing the News: On the Role of Fear in the Social Character of American, White, Working Class Males

Asserting that the first situational phobias of children are those of darkness and solitude, Freud wrote; “While I was in the next room, I heard a child who was afraid of the dark call out: ‘Do speak to me, Auntie! I’m frightened!’ ‘Why, what good would that do? You can’t see me.’ To this the child replied: ‘If someone speaks, it gets lighter.’ Thus a longing felt in the dark is transformed into a fear of the dark” (1916-1917 [1915-1917], 407). The reason why a child is frightened of a strange face, he reflected, is his adjustment to the sight of a familiar and beloved figure – that of his mother. “It is his disappointment and longing that are transformed into anxiety” – having become unemployable, his libido is discharged as anxiety (407). In 1920, Freud declared that fright, fear and anxiety can be clearly distinguished in their relation to danger. While fear requires a definite object, anxiety is a state of expecting or preparing for danger, though the danger may be unknown, and fright emphasizes the factor of surprise, occurring when someone has run into danger without being prepared for it (1920g). He later abandoned this distinction in favour of describing automatic anxiety and anxiety as a signal, with a felt situation of helplessness at its core, whether the danger is internal or external; “the essence and meaning of a danger-situation […] consists in the subject’s estimation of his own strength compared to the magnitude of the danger and in his admission of helplessness in the face of it – physical helplessness if the danger is real and psychical helplessness if the danger is instinctual” (1926d [1925], 137). Anxiety consists both in the expectation of a trauma and a repetition of it in a mitigated form. “A danger-situation is a recognized, remembered, expected situation of helplessness. Anxiety is the original reaction to helplessness in the trauma and is reproduced later on in the danger-situation as a signal for help. The ego, which experienced the trauma passively, now repeats it actively in a weakened version, in the hope of being able itself to direct its course. It is certain that children behave in this fashion towards every distressing impression they receive, by reproducing it in their play” (166-167). The latter observation may lead to questions of how fear is handled culturally, depicted, denied, displaced, nourished, detested or enjoyed.

The political theorist who most famously draws on fear as a reason and foundation for submitting to political organization is Thomas Hobbes (1651), who referred to our fear of being killed by each other and declared that the sovereign’s role is to safeguard the subjects’ right to life. As Corey Robin points out (2004, 53), Montesquieu too, though less explicitly, turned to fear as a foundation for politics, the fear of despotism authorizing his liberal state where mediating institutions keep each other in check so as to avoid a too large concentration of power. Interestingly, the idea of a negative ground for human association recurs in Menzies Lyth (1960) and in Elliot Jaques, “one of the primary cohesive elements […] is that of defence against psychotic anxiety” (1955, 497).

“Upon this a question arises”, wrote Machiavelli (1515), “whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved”, since “men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails”. Descriptively and normatively, views differ as to whether fear is needed as a civilizing factor. Perhaps most strongly against its employment was Winnicott, stating that “moral education follows naturally on the arrival of morality in the child by the natural developmental processes that good care facilitates” (1965, 100). In present day politics fear is most notably evoked in connection with the figures of foreigners, Muslims and terrorists, sometimes combined into one. Terror might be thought of as recreation of terror, as a staging of revenge, or as merging with a higher purpose (Nosek, Erlich 2003). Fear, in Ahmed’s words, “is named in the very naming of terrorism; terrorists are immediately identified as agents of extreme fear, that is, those who seek to make others afraid (2014, 72) Thus “We can recall the repetition of stereotypes about the black man in the encounter described by Frantz Fanon: this repetition works by generating the other as the object of fear, a fear which is then taken on by the other, as its own (75-76). This is to evoke the theme of who fears who, who is posited as fear-invoking, and of how, in defending against fear we may create more fear, solidifying a shared fantasy into a social reality.

The topic of transformations of affects, how fear or anxiety may arise as a result of sexual desire or aggression, or in turn be changed into other affects such as guilt or hate, may lead to questions of how fear relate to sexuality in sexism and homophobia. To Winnicott, fear of WOMAN (in both men and women) is rooted in early dependence upon one’s mother, not remembered or acknowledged, “responsible for the immense amount of cruelty to women”, and he hypothesised that “One of the roots of the need to be a dictator can be a compulsion to deal with this fear of woman by encompassing her and acting for her” (1965, 252, 253). To Chodorow, “Masculinity defines itself as not-femininity and not-mother, in a way that femininity is not cast primarily as not-masculinity or not-father” (2003, 103). Furthermore: “Masculinity is not being a boy-child in relation to adult father” and “The worst male violence may occur when fantasies of humiliation by men (The man-boy dichotomy) become linked with fears of feminization and loss of selfhood (the male-female dichotomy)” (99) – and split-off qualities are attacked in the other who is seen as their representative. We might also refer to Kristeva’s thoughts on how “I expel myself, I spit myself out, I abject myself within the same motion through which “I” claim to establish myself (1982, 3). In reflecting on internalized homophobia as potentially applicable to anyone, Moss describes the original source of anxiety as the idea that a particular homoerotic impulse is dangerous. When it becomes externalized the idea is projected and reconfigured into a perception: “One thinks danger alone, but one sees it in company. The plural voice sees danger and hates its carrier. The idiosyncratic singular voice thinks danger and aims, alone, to avert it. The difference between the plural and singular voices is the difference between what seems like knowledge and what seems like feeling” (2003, 204).

We invite proposals for papers that explore conscious and unconscious fear and its social and political vicissitudes.

This is an interdisciplinary conference – we invite theoretical contributions and historical, literary or clinical case studies on these and related themes from philosophers, sociologists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, group analysts, literary theorists, historians, anthropologists, and others. Perspectives from different psychoanalytic schools will be most welcome. We promote discussion among the presenters and participants, for the symposium series creates a space where representatives of different perspectives come together, engage with one another’s contributions and participate in a community of thought. Therefore, attendance to the whole symposium is obligatory. Due to the nature of the forum audio recording is not permitted.

Presentations are expected to take half an hour. Another 20 minutes is set aside for discussion. There is a 10 min break in between each paper. Please send an abstract of 200 to 300 words, attached in a word-document, to moc.liamgnull@scitilop.sisylanaohcysp by October 5th 2016. We will respond by, and present a preliminary programme on October 15th 2016. If you would like to sign up to participate without presenting a paper, please contact us after this date.

This is a relatively small symposium where active participation is encouraged and an enjoyable social atmosphere is sought. A participation fee, which includes a shared dinner with wine, of € 299 before November 15th 2016 – € 377 between November 15th 2016 and January 15th 2017 – € 455 after January 15th, is to be paid before the symposium. Fees must be paid via Picatic (Picatic fees are not included in the price). Your place is only confirmed once we have received your registration including payment is completed. Additional information will be given after your abstract has been accepted or after the programme has been finalized.

We would like to thank the Paris Psychoanalytical Society (SPP).

Unfortunately, we are unable to offer travel grants or other forms of financial assistance for this event, though we will be able to assist you in finding affordable accommodation after November 15th 2016. Please contact us if you wish to make a donation towards the conference. We thank all donors in advance!

NB: Please make sure you read the Guide for abstracts thoroughly: http://www.psa-pol.org/?page_id=363

Non-exclusive list of some relevant literature

Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E. Levinson, D. J., Sanford, R. N, (1950). The Authoritarian Personality. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Adorno, T. W. (1967). “Education After Auschwitz” in Critical Models. Interventions and Catchwords. New York: Columbia University Press.

Ahmed, S. (2014). The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Second Edition. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Alford, C. F. (1997). What Evil Means to Us. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.

Auestad, L. ed. (2012). Psychoanalysis and Politics. Exclusion and the Politics of Representation. London: Karnac.

Auestad, L. ed. (2014). Nationalism and the Body Politic. Psychoanalysis and the Rise of Ethnocentrism and Xenophobia. London: Karnac.

Chodorow, N. (2003). “Hate, humiliation, and masculinity” in S. Varvin/V. Volkan eds. Violence or Dialogue? Psychoanalytic Insights on Terror and Terrorism. London: International Psychoanalytical Association.

Erlich, S. (2003). “Reflections on the terrorist mind” in S. Varvin/V. Volkan eds. Violence or Dialogue? Psychoanalytic Insights on Terror and Terrorism. London: International Psychoanalytical Association.

Freud, S. (1916-1917 [1915-1917]). Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (Part III). SE, vol. XVI, 241-463.

Freud, S. (1920g). Beyond the Pleasure Principle. SE, vol. XVIII, 1-64.

Freud, S. (1921c). Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego. SE, vol. XVIII, 65-144.

Freud, S. (1926d [1925]). Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety. SE, vol. XX, 75-176.

Hobbes, T. (1651). Leviathan. https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hobbes/thomas/h68l/index.html

Jaques, E. (1955). “Social Systems as a defence against Persecutory and Depressive Anxiety” in M. Klein, P. Heimann and R. Money-Kyrle eds. New Directions in Psycho-Analysis. London: Tavistock.

Kristeva, J. (1982). Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. New York: Columbia University Press.

Machiavelli, N. (1515). The Prince. Translated by W. K. Marriott, 1908. http://www.constitution.org/mac/prince00.htm

Menzies Lyth, I. (1960). “Social Systems as a Defense Against Anxiety: An Empirical Study of the Nursing Service of a General Hospital” in E. Trist and H. Murray eds. The Social Engagement of Social Science Vol. 1. London: Free Association Books, 1990.

Moss, D. (2003). “Internalized Homophobia in Men: Wanting in the First Person Singular, Hating in the First Person Plural” in D. Moss ed. Hating in the First Person Plural. Psychoanalytic Essays on Racism, Homophobia, Misogyny, and Terror. New York: Other Press.

Nosek, L. (2003). “Terror in everyday life: revisiting Mr Kurtz” in S. Varvin/V. Volkan eds. Violence or Dialogue? Psychoanalytic Insights on Terror and Terrorism. London: International Psychoanalytical Association.

Robin, C. (2004). Fear: The History of a Political Idea. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Winnicott, D.W. (1965). The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment: Studies in the Theory of Emotional Development. The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 64:1-276. London: The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis.

SOLIDARITY AND ALIENATION: SOCIAL STRUCTURES OF HOPE AND DESPAIR

Call for papers, spring symposium in Vienna May 6th-8th 2016

Questions of what founds and undermines solidarity appear central today. Psychoanalysis, however, may be said to have addressed the notion of solidarity only marginally. In ‘Civilization and its Discontents’ Freud asserts that “human life in common is only made possible when a majority comes together which is stronger than any separate individual and which remains united against all separate individuals” and posits this togetherness as the “decisive step of civilization” (Freud, 1930, 94 – 95). In this sense, there is scope for further enquiry into solidarity as the core of civilization and its motivations.

To Kropotkin (1998), mutual aid within a species is an important factor in the evolution of social institutions. Solidarity is essential to mutual aid; supportive activity towards other people does not result from the expectation of reward, but rather from instinctive feelings of solidarity.

Hoelzl (2004) raises the problem of the particularity of solidarity; Aristotle’s ethics understood friendship in terms of a network among male Aristocrats within the polis. Since, however, only Aristocratic and wealthy men were eligible for a friendship that constituted the social bond of the community, the politics of friendship was elitist and linked to personal wealth. The shift from solidarity among friends to solidarity with strangers summarizes the problem of universal solidarity and identifies a problematic source in the history of the concept. This raises the question of whether or to what extent solidarity is restricted to identification based on similarity, and to what extent it can go beyond perceived similarity.

Jürgen Habermas describes solidarity as standing in for one another. While Habermas’ discourse-ethics examines successful interactions of understanding, Axel Honneth’s critical social theory also takes negative practices of misrecognition into account. Solidarity is seen as one form or pattern of recognition, with law and love as two other forms. Humiliation and insulting acts are seen as the negative counterpart to solidarity. Habermas’s theory of communicative action and Honneth’s social theory of recognition share the Hegelian assumption of recognition as reciprocal. Because of the asymmetrical relationship between the master and the slave, an asymmetrical act of solidarity is understood as a deficient mode of reciprocal solidarity. Asymmetrical acts of solidarity establish the master-slave relationship and therefore bondage. In contrast, Hoelzl (2004) asserts that further to recognition, the individual must be willing to occupy the position of sacrificial victim given that solidarity, in its most radical form, may mean giving one’s life for the other. Questions may be raised, in this sense, on the nature, dynamics and stakes of solidarity and solidary acts. How far can acts of solidarity be unilateral? What do they presuppose in terms of mutuality, individual investments and social relationships? Further, what distinguishes solidarity from related emotions such as empathy, compassion, pity and love?

We may, furthermore, ask what constitutes the opposite of solidarity. Amongst several conceivable opposing poles such as egoism, disengagement or radical individuality, alienation is arguably at the core of its decline. Consensual definitions posit alienation as separateness and estrangement of the subject from the other, the social group and social institutions leading into a meaningless, inauthentic existence (Skelton, 2006). Questions can be raised as to whether alienation indeed undermines solidarity or constitutes its negative condition of possibility.

Since the Industrial Revolution, technology and capitalism are said to have a causal relation with alienation, as Gerlach (2009) states paraphrasing Marx, “when the life [the subject] has given to the object sets itself against him as an alien and hostile force.” Alienation is thus characterised by the universal extension of “saleability” – the transformation of everything into commodity – the conversion of human beings into “things” to appear as commodities on the market – the “reification” of human relations – and by the fragmentation of the social body into “isolated individuals” who pursue their own limited, particularistic aims, making a virtue out of their selfishness in a cult of privacy (Mészáros, 1970).

Paul Verhaege’s contemporary diagnosis links alienation today with an increase in systems of monitoring and measurement and an ethic of competition where effectiveness is postulated as the highest aim:  “Only the best – that is, the most productive – are to be rewarded, so a measuring system is devised. Quality criteria are then imposed by the powers that be, fairly soon followed by a rigid top-down approach to quality that stifles individual initiative. Autonomy and individual control vanish, to be replaced by quantitative evaluations, performative interviews, and audits. From then on, things go from bad to worse. Deprived of a say over their own work, employees become less committed (‘They don’t listen anyway’), and their sense of responsibility diminishes (‘As long as I do things by the book, they can’t touch me’). […] This harmful trend is destroying work ethos and, in the long run, communal ethos as well” (Verhaege 169-170). Thus competition undermines solidarity and external measurement systems renders the product of one’s labour unrecognizable and alien.

Fromm (1955), describes the alienated subject as being “out of touch with himself as he is out of touch with any other person”, leading into different social visible forms of alienation such as over-conformity and non-commitment. Primitive anxieties and forms of attachment are said to pre-date alienation if understood as an individual or social schizoid phenomenon (Lerner, 1985). Different philosophical schools, furthermore, relate alienation to dialectical recognition and estrangement (Hegel 1807; Marx, Engels, 1846); absurdity of meaninglessness and nihilism (Sartre, 1938), loss of connection with God (Kierkegaard, 1849) and third-personal relationships to the I and the other (Heidegger, 1927; Buber, 1923). A thread can be found from Rousseau’s ideas on alienation from nature to psychoanalytic conceptualisations, and parallels could be drawn with Winnicott’s (1965) concepts of the true and the false self, though ‘false self’ formations are not linked with an account of social structures. We might refer to Menzies Lyth’s descriptions of a ‘forced introjection of a social defence system’ that ‘relied heavily on violent splitting’ to ask what forms of splitting (not necessarily always negative) are socially required of people today and about their consequences for our sense of solidarity and alienation. For Durkheim (1897), anomie is common when society has undergone significant changes in its economic fortunes, whether for better or for worse, and when there is a major discrepancy between the ideology and values commonly professed and what is achievable in one’s everyday life.

Lynd (1961) suggests that alienation understood as separation may have beneficent as well as terrifying aspects. Regarding the former, the myth motif of the wandering prophet “is the precondition for the discovery of that which is newer and older and more real than the parochial customs of the village” (170), versions of which can be found in Anna Karenina, Bread and Wine, and Doctor Zhivago. “The true prophet”, argues Lynd, “goes into the unexplored wilderness and […] returns to be a leader and life-giver to his people” (170), alienation being the precondition of this experience. Going beyond the settlement “and setting one’s face toward the more enduring, universal realities, involves conflict with many accepted social forms” (170). In this sense, questions can be raised on the hopeful potential of alienation itself and its potential to unsettle social establishments.

We invite contributions on these and related questions.

This is an interdisciplinary conference – we invite theoretical contributions and historical, literary or clinical case studies on these and related themes from philosophers, sociologists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, group analysts, literary theorists, historians, anthropologists, and others. Perspectives from different psychoanalytic schools will be most welcome. We promote discussion among the presenters and participants, for the symposium series creates a space where representatives of different perspectives come together, engage with one another’s contributions and participate in a community of thought. Therefore, attendance to the whole symposium is obligatory. Due to the nature of the forum audio recording is not permitted.

Presentations are expected to take half an hour. Another 20 minutes is set aside for discussion. There is a 10 min break in between each paper. Please send an abstract of 200 to 300 words, attached in a word-document, to moc.liamgnull@scitilop.sisylanaohcysp by December 5th 2015. We will respond by, and present a preliminary programme on December 15th 2015. If you would like to sign up to participate without presenting a paper, please contact us after this date.

This is a relatively small symposium where active participation is encouraged and an enjoyable social atmosphere is sought. A participation fee, which includes two shared dinners, of £180 (or €254) before January 15th 2016 – £230 (or €325) between January 15th and March 15th 2016 – £280 (or €396) after March 15th, is to be paid before the symposium. Fees must be paid via Eventbrite (Eventbrite fees are not included in the price). Your place is only confirmed once we have received your registration including payment is completed. Additional information will be given after your abstract has been accepted or after the programme has been finalized.

Unfortunately, we are unable to offer travel grants or other forms of financial assistance for this event, though we will be able to assist you in finding affordable accommodation after January 15th 2016. Please contact us if you wish to make a donation towards the conference. We thank all donors in advance!

NB: Please make sure you read the Guide for abstracts thoroughly: http://www.psa-pol.org/?page_id=363

Non-exclusive list of relevant literature

Auestad, L. ed. 2012. Psychoanalysis and Politics. Exclusion and the Politics of Representation. London: Karnac.

Auestad, L. ed. (2013) Nationalism and the Body Politic. Psychoanalysis and the Rise of Ethnocentrism and Xenophobia. London: Karnac.

Auestad, L. 2011. Splitting, attachment and instrumental rationality. A re-view of Menzies Lyth’s social criticism. Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society 16, 394-410.

Buber, M. 1923. I and Thou. Trans. Walter Kaufman 1970. New York: Touchstone.

Chernomas, R. 2007. Containing Anxieties in Institutions or Creating Anxiety in Institutions: A Critique of the Menzies Lyth Hypothesis. Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society 12, 369-384.

Durkheim, Emile 1897, 1951. Suicide: a study in sociology. The Free Press.

Ecker, B.J. 1961. Alienation and the Group Analytic Process. Am. J. Psychoanal., 21:273-276.

Freud, S. 1930. Civilization and its Discontents. SE Vol. XXI (1927-1931): The Future of an Illusion, Civilization and its Discontents, and Other Works: 57-146

Fromm, E. The Sane Society. New York: Rinehart, 1955

Gerlach, A. 2009. Fascination, Alienation and Fear of Contact: Ethnopsychoanalytic Considerations on Large-Group Identity. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 18:214-218.

Hegel, G.W.F. 1807. The Phenomenology of Spirit. Trans. A.V. Miller. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1987.

Habermas, J. 1991. Gerechtigkeit und Solidarität. 232.

Heidegger, M. 1927. Being and Time. Revised Edition to the Stambaugh Translation. New York: NY State University Press, 2010.

Hoelzl, M. 2004. Recognizing the Sacrificial Victim: The Problem of Solidarity for Critical Social Theory. JCRT.

Honneth, A. 1996. The Struggle for Recognition. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Johnson, F. 1975. Psychological Alienation: Isolation and Self-Estrangement. Psychoanal. Rev., 62:369-405

Kierkegaard, S. 1849. The Sickness unto Death, trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980.

Kropotkin, P. Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution. – L.: Freedom press, 1998.

Lerner, J.A. 1985. Wholeness, Alienation From Self, and the Schizoid Problem. Am. J. Psychoanal., 45:251-257

Lynd, H.M. 1961. Alienation: Man’s Fate and Man’s Hope. Am. J. Psychoanal., 21:166-171.

Marx, K; Engels, F. 1846. The German Ideology. International Publishers Co. 1970.

Menzies Lyth, I. 1960, 1990. Social systems as a defense against anxiety: An empirical study of the nursing service of a general hospital. In. E. Trist and H. Murray (eds.) The Social Engagement of Social Science Vol. 1: The Socio-Psychological Perspective. London: Free Association Books, pp. 439–462.

Mészáros, I. 1970.  Marx’s Theory of Alienation. On Marxists.org https://www.marxists.org/archive/meszaros/works/alien/meszaro1.htm

Rousseau, J-J. 1968. The Social Contract. London: Penguin Classics.

Sartre, J.P. 1938. Nausea. Trans Robert Baldick, London: Penguin, 2000.

Skelton, R. (Ed.). 2006. The Edinburgh International Encyclopaedia of Psychoanalysis.

Verhaege, P. 2014. What About Me? The Struggle for Identity in a Market-Based Society. Melbourne/London: Scribe.

Winnicott, D. W. 1965. “Ego distortion in terms of true and false self”. The Maturational Process and the Facilitating Environment. New York: International Universities Press: 140–157.

Call – Migration

MIGRATION, EXILE AND POLYPHONIC SPACES

Call for papers – spring symposium in Barcelona March 20th-22nd  2015

“Philosophy, drama, and psychoanalysis each examine exile and return in the grand scheme of the life cycle – exile from the womb, from symbiosis with mother, from motherland, but also from our own reason and passions,” writes Spergel (2012). “Self‐imposed exile is usually a metaphor for the journey of self‐discovery, toward autonomy and self‐empowerment – to explore the forbidden, unacceptable, and transgressiveAvian-migration-Swans parts of ourselves, our sexuality, our will to power, our hidden identities.” Where ‘exile’, though connoting the pain of banishment, has a ring of individual nobility, ‘migrant’ or ‘refugee’ suggest people conceived as members of herds, deprived of individuality. “Our age,” states Said (2000:174) “is indeed the age of the refugee, the displaced person, mass immigration”. Arendt reflects on the loss of being recognised as ‘someone’ that follows such a loss of ‘a place in the world’:

The best criterion by which to decide whether someone has been forced outside the pale of the law is to ask if he would benefit from committing a crime. If a small burglary is likely to improve his legal position, […] one may be sure he has been deprived of human rights. […] He is no longer the scum of the earth but important enough to be informed of all the details of the law under which he will be tried. He has become a respectable person. A much less reliable and much more difficult way to rise from an unrecognized anomaly to the status of recognized exception would be to become a genius. […] it is true that the chances of the famous refugee are improved just as a dog with a name has a better chance to survive than a stray dog who is just a dog in general (Arendt [1951]1979:286-287).

Displacement is central in the distortions of the manifest material in the dream work (Freud 1917d [1915]). It consists of the movement of elements from the centrality to the periphery of the dream as well as the replacement of these for an element that merely alludes to them. Analogously, migration and exile may serve similar purposes in the narrative of the individual. Geographical shifts may sometimes follow from defensive movements against anxiety producing or inadmissible motives, impulses and desires. Lacan, however, likens displacement with metonymy, used to explain the ever-moving dynamics of desire. In this sense, a defensive move against inadmissible desire may be another movement in the flow of desire itself. This appears clearly in Greek tragedy as Ananke, or necessity, and is personified by Oedipus who simultaneously runs away from desire in exile, yet unwittingly runs towards it.

Madness and madmen have been described as occupying a liminal topos, or place. In Madness and Civilisation ([1961] 1988), Foucault recounts how during the Renaissance madmen were exiled to wander the rivers of the Rhineland and Flanders in what was called the Ship of Fools. Foucault describes the madman as “the prisoner of passage”, a figure caught in an eternal crossing of a threshold. The eternal passage results in the land of origin and destiny becoming unknown. Besides being a depiction of eternal exile, the loss of origin and destiny is also, notably, the endeavour of the deconstruction of Social Sciences and Western metaphysics (Derrida 1993).

Foucault depicts the madman as enclosed within the limits of the city, or excluded from the city but imprisoned in eternal travel. The same liminal topology remains at play not only in the relation to the mad, insane or disabled, but in the relation between subjectivity and madness as such “if we are willing to admit that what was formerly a visible fortress of order has now become the castle of our conscience”. Lacan’s neologistic notion of extimacy, an external intimacy or an intimate externality, points to a similar topology. He characterises the relation between the subject and the symbolic order and between the subject and the object of desire as internal yet external, and vice versa (1962). These topologies presuppose displacement from traditional notions of belonging as well as dimensions of exile and foreignness at play at once within and without the subject.

Recounting how ‘leprosy’ in medieval Europe corresponded to no precise diagnosis and description, Douglas shows how the category was assigned to vagabonds, beggars and heretics. As part of a generally increased control on sexuality, lepers were held to be incestuous, rapists and highly infectious, and were made to wander or live in segregated settlements (1992:96). Thus ideas of madness, foreignness and disease can be seen to be linked as ‘matter out of place’, again associated with physical segregation, or continuous wandering. Fonseca’s suggestion that Roma narratives may be unique in not referring to a (lost or intact) homeland is of interest in this context:

Nostalgia is the essence of Gypsy song, and seems always to have been. But nostalgia for what? Nostos is Greek for “a return home”; the Gypsies have no home, and, perhaps uniquely among peoples, they have no dream of a homeland. Utopia – ou topos – means “no place”. Nostalgia for utopia: a return home to no place. O lungo drom. The long road (Fonseca 2006:5).

As opposed to the exile, “those who have never been displaced,” writes Kelley (2004:6), “can continue to ask “who am I” from their place of origin.” Yet even people who have remained settled suffer losses due to the passing of time, internal and external. Thus Burkeman remarks on how discourses of cultural nostalgia hook on to, and draw on confusion with, images of one’s own lost childhood, perhaps idealised as a psychic pastoral:

The hazy memory of a simpler past is enormously powerful in politics: see the Tea Party, or the hate-nostalgia of the Daily Mail. But look closely at the era being praised, whether it’s the 40s or the 90’s, and you’ll frequently find the praise-giver was about seven at the time (Burkeman 2014).

In this sense, to Kelley “Exile is the metaphor of the human condition”, the immigrant “a painful reminder of a truth that awaits us all but which we do not quite want to know – just yet (2004:8). Although many psychoanalysts throughout the history of the discipline, Kleimberg observes, were and are immigrants and exiles, they have largely refrained from writing about it, perhaps due to the pain associated with the experience (2004:46). Yet the condition of immigration or exile leads to questions on cultural complexity, compatibility, adaptation or colonisation. “Every emigrant becomes a natural anthropologist, observing, or more pertinently sensing such nuances, and the minute but not insignificant differences in cultural modes of being” (Hoffman 2004:58-59). The question of psychoanalysis’ relation to universality and difference is raised by Borossa, who cites from the Indian analyst Bose’s letter to Freud:

I do not deny the importance of the castration threat in European cases; my argument is that the threat owes its efficiency to its connection with the wish to be a female […] my Indian patients do not exhibit castration symptoms to such a marked degree as my European cases. The desire to be a female is more easily unearthed in Indian male patients than in Europeans. The Oedipus mother is very often a combined parental image and this is a fact of great importance. I have reasons to believe that much of the motivation of the ‘maternal deity’ is traceable to this source (Bose, cited by Borossa 1997:5).

Questions of the impact of specific cultural conditions and differential histories on the workings of one’s ‘inner world’ are also raised by Preta, who describes the task of contemporary psychoanalysis as that of “establishing a comparison between different anthropological positions”:

In the Western world, where we can see a fragmentation of the subject, psychoanalysis should, above all, help to recompose the Self. The individual tries to find not only a personal meaning but a collective one. On the contrary, in the Eastern world people are oppressed by totalitarian regimes which suffocate individuality. For this reason psychoanalysis is asked to free them from this control of the group. The Iranian psychoanalyst Gohar Homayounpour opposes “the unbearable lightness of being” of the West to the unbearable weight of the Eastern experience. (Preta 2010)

Such considerations may be seen to extend to subtler details of social interactions. For instance, can there be a cross-cultural, or cross-subcultural understanding of what ‘neutrality’ means in the analytic setting? Do the patient and analyst shake hands, do they kiss on both cheeks, or neither? What is the potential for accidentally communicating ‘coldness’ or ‘warmth’ in interactions and in the lay-out of consulting room interiors, depending on the cultural reading of the situation? Emphasising a positive element of the condition of exile, Said remarks on its potential to “diminish orthodox judgment and elevate appreciative sympathy”:

Most people are principally aware of one culture, one setting, one home; exiles are aware of at least two, and this plurality of vision gives rise to an awareness of simultaneous dimensions, an awareness that – to borrow a phrase from music is contrapuntal (Said 2000:186).

Where Said describes how, via the exile’s memory, both the new and the old environments may occur together contrapuntally, Lacan stresses how, in addition to a horizontal linearity of a discursive chain, there is a “polyphony” of discourse that aligns each signifier vertically along the several staves of a musical score at any point, constituted through the metaphorical substitution of one signifier by another. Thus the occulted signifier remains present through its connection with the rest of the chain (Clark 2014: 507/157). The coexistence of several languages, and of multilingual subjects, furthermore, raises questions of the role linguistic frameworks plays in one’s thoughts, imaginings, feelings and symbolic elaborations. Consider the role of words in Freud’s study of the Rat Man:

What the rat punishment stirred up more than anything else was his anal eroticism […] rats came to have the meaning of ‘money’. The patient gave an indication of this connection by reacting to the word ‘Ratten‘ [‘rats’] with the association ‘Raten‘ [‘instalments’]. […] Moreover, the captain’s request to him to pay back the charges […] served to strengthen the money significance of rats, by way of another verbal bridge ‘Spielratte‘, which led back to his father’s gambling debt. […] Moreover, all of this material, and more besides, was woven into the fabric of the rat discussions behind the screen-association ‘heiraten‘ [‘to marry’] (Freud 1909:213-215).

Reading these passages makes one wonder to what extent the patient’s symbols and associations would have changed if his native language had been a different one. And what if his analysis had been in a language other than German? What works and what dies in translation, and what elements are musical or preverbal? Perhaps another form of polyphony occurs in the following exchange, as reported by Szekacs-Weiss:

Alice came from Sweden. […] Whenever she felt it was important that I understood what she really meant she stopped and repeated the word in Swedish. Associating to the shades and acoustics of these words took us further, but somehow did not satisfy her wish to be held and understood. One day having given me another word of her mother tongue she expectantly looked at me and I did not think: just said the same word in Hungarian. It had a transformative effect. […] it made it possible for us to go back in time to an age when her basic trust had not been broken into pieces (Szekacs-Weisz 2004:24).

We invite contributions on these and related questions.

This is an interdisciplinary conference – we invite theoretical contributions and historical, literary or clinical case studies on these and related themes from philosophers, sociologists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, group analysts, literary theorists, historians, anthropologists, and others. Perspectives from different psychoanalytic schools will be most welcome. We promote discussion among the presenters and participants, for the symposium series creates a space where representatives of different perspectives come together, engage with one another’s contributions and participate in a community of thought. Therefore, attendance to the whole symposium is encouraged and priority will be given to those who plan to do so. Due to the nature of the forum audio recording is not permitted.

Presentations are expected to take half an hour. Another 20 minutes is set aside for discussion. There is a 10 min break in between each paper. Please send an abstract of 200 to 300 words, attached in a word-document, to moc.liamgnull@scitilop.sisylanaohcysp by November 1st 2014. We will respond by, and present a preliminary programme on November 15th 2014. If you would like to sign up to participate without presenting a paper, please contact us after this date.

This is a relatively small symposium where active participation is encouraged and an enjoyable social atmosphere is sought. A participation fee, which includes two shared dinners, of £160 (or €200) before December 31st 2014 – £200 (or €250) between January 1st and February 15th 2015 – £250 (or €315) after February 15th, is to be paid before the symposium. Fees must be covered by bank transfer/international bank transfer. Your place is only confirmed once we have received your completed registration form as well as your payment. Additional information will be given after your abstract has been accepted or after the programme has been finalized.

We would like to thank the Spanish Psychoanalytical Society.

Unfortunately, we are unable to offer travel grants or other forms of financial assistance for this event, though we will be able to assist you in finding affordable accommodation after January 1st 2015. Please contact us if you wish to make a donation towards the conference. We thank all donors in advance!

 

 

NON-EXCLUSIVE LIST OF RELEVANT LITERATURE:

Arendt, H. ([1951]1976) The Origins of Totalitarianism. San Diego/N.Y./London: Harcourt Brace.

Auestad, L. ed. (2012) Psychoanalysis and Politics. Exclusion and the Politics of Representation. London: Karnac.

Auestad, L. ed. (2013) Nationalism and the Body Politic. Psychoanalysis and the Rise of Ethnocentrism and Xenophobia. London: Karnac.

Borossa, J. (1997). “The migration of psychoanalysis and the psychoanalyst as migrant” Oxford Literary Review, 19(1-2), 79-104.

Burkeman, O. (2014) “It’s not that life used to be simpler, or people less narcissistic. It’s that you got older” on the blog oliverburkeman.com Jan 29th, first published in Guardian Weekend Magazine.

Clark, M. P. (2014). Jacques Lacan (Volume I)(RLE: Lacan): An Annotated Bibliography (Vol. 1). London/New York: Routledge.

Damousi, J./Plotkin, M.N. (2012) Psychoanalysis and Politics. Histories of Psychoanalysis under Conditions of Restricted Political Freedom. New York: Oxford University Press.

Derrida, J. (1993). Structure, sign, and play in the discourse of the human sciences. A postmodern reader, 223-242.

Douglas, M. (1992) “Witchcraft and Leprosy. Two Strategies for Rejection” in Risk and Blame. Essays in Cultural Theory. London/New York: Routledge.

Fonseca, I. (2006) Bury Me Standing. The Gypsies and Their Journey. London: Vintage Books.

Foucault, M. ([1961] 1988). Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. Random House LLC.

Freud, S. (1909d). Notes Upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis. SE, vol. 10.

Freud, S. (1912-13). Totem and Taboo. SE, vol. 13.

Freud, S. (1917d [1915]) A metapsychological supplement to the theory of dreams. SE, vol. 14.

Grinberg, L., & Grinberg, R. (1989). Psychoanalytic perspectives on migration and exile. Yale University Press.

Hoffman, E. (2004) “Between Worlds, Between Words” in Szekacs-Weisz, J./Ward, I. eds. (see below)

Kelley-Lainé, K. (2004) “Preface in Three Voices” in Szekacs-Weisz, J./Ward, I. eds. (see below)

Kleimberg, L. (2004) “From Cottage Cheese to Swiss Cottage” in Szekacs-Weisz, J./Ward, I. eds. (see below)

Lacan, J. (1962). Séminaire IX, L’identification (1961-62). Inedit.

Lowe, F. (2014) Thinking Space. Promoting Thinking about Race, Culture, and Diversity in Psychotherapy and Beyond. London: Karnac.

O’Neill, M. (2009). Making connections: Ethno-mimesis, migration and diaspora. Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society, 14(3), 289-302.

Preta, L. (2010) “Geographies of Psychoanalysis” Special issue of Psiche, Journal of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society.

Róheim, G. (1950) Psychoanalysis and Anthropology. New York: International Universities Press.

Said, E. (2000) “Reflections on Exile” in Reflections on Exile and Other Essays. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Spergel, M. (2012)”Exile and Return: The Intersection Between Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and the Dramatic Imagination” in Other/Wise vol. 7.

Szekacs-Weisz, J./Ward, I. eds. (2004) Lost Childhood and the Language of Exile. London: Imago East West/ The Freud Museum.

 

 

Call – Rhetorics of Power and Freedom of Thought – Voices of the ‘It’ and the ‘Over-I’

Call for papers – spring symposium in Budapest May 9th-11th 2014

Speakers include:

JULIA BOROSSA: Histories of Violence: Outrage, Identification and Being Alongside

FERENC ERÓS: Ferenc Mérei and the Politics of Psychoanalysis in Hungary

ANDRÉ HAYNAL: Listening to Fanaticism. Commentaries of a Psychoanalyst

ÁGNES HELLER The Role of Political Commitment (Weltanschauung) in Autobiographical Memory

KATHLEEN KELLEY From Totalitarian to Democratic Functioning: The Psychic Economy of Infantile Processes

MARGARITA PALACIOS: Guilt and the Politics of Knowing. A Reflection on Post War Academic Cultures

CALL FOR PAPERS: Authority, wrote Said, “is formed, irradiated, disseminated; it is instrumental, it is persuasive” – it “can, indeed must, be analysed” ([1978] 2003). “There is no alternative” is the phrase Thatcher often repeated with reference to economic liberalism. It can be taken as symbolic of the language of power or the rhetorics of oppressive persuasion, more generally.

We are told that there is no alternative to protecting ourselves against ‘others’ who are after stealing scarce jobs and welfare goods, or who pose a threat to security. Hence, it is argued, borders need to be closed, minorities kept at a distance or in a state of submission, and techniques of surveillance are called for. Fear is stirred up and utilised to produce obedience to these demands, presented as fundamental and thus overriding concerns for human rights. In Moïsi’s words “the culture of fear is reducing the qualitative gap that once existed between democratic and nondemocratic regimes, for fear pushes the countries to violate their own moral principles” (2010).

The rhetorics of power may be seen to take on the part-object voice of a persecutory ‘over-I’. Melanie Klein described the ‘I’ as feeling “oppressed and paralysed by the influences of the super-ego”. No other voice or counterdiscourse can be heard for the ‘I’ distrusts “accepting the influences of real objects, often because they are felt to be in complete opposition to the demands of the super-ego, but more often because they are too closely identified with the dreaded internal ones” (Klein, 1931). Right-wing populist discourse, historically as well as today, combines the function of voicing a revolt against authorities with a highly authoritarian stance. Thus it echoes both the voice of the ‘it’ and that of the ‘over-I’, allowing for, or demanding aggression against people posited as ‘other’ or ‘weaker’ than those the listener is impelled to identify with. We might liken this process to identification with the aggressor, leaving behind a mind “which consists only of the id and super-ego” (Ferenczi, 1933), and question whether traumatised societies are more susceptible to such rhetorics of power.

Rhetorics of power employ figures of speech which aim to conceal, distort or even reverse meanings and associations to the presented material. Thus a way of approaching this topic would be to analyse the relevant metaphors and their political implications; what meaning is ‘carried over’ (Gr. metapherein) from where to where, and what is forgotten as a result of this transfer? Think, for instance, of the figure of ‘the parasite’ in recent political discourse. Questions about the use of social and political manipulation can also be raised in terms of ‘master suppression techniques’ (Ås, 2004). These are used by a dominant group to maintain a hierarchy; making invisible/silencing, appeal to ridicule, withholding of information, double bind, and to heap blame on or put someone to shame. One might interrogate the psychic effects of these techniques and potential remedies for them.

Rhetorics of power can become mainstream political discourses and shape people’s ideology by totalising and impeding freedom of thought. This is visible in the current economic, religious and ideological fundamentalisms. Pervasive totalitarian elements efface the distinction between fiction and reality, making ideology true and stifling the imagination. They do not just label thoughts as forbidden but aim to render one unable to think or imagine them. Freud wrote to Ernest Jones in 1933 on the occasion of a mass book burning in Berlin: “What progress we are making! In the Middle Ages they would have burnt me; nowadays they are content with burning my books” (Jones, 1957, 182) not foreseeing the escalation of events yet to come.

“We live in an age that pays lip service to history, yet which continually undermines the ties we have to the past”, wrote Darian Leader (2013). This statement, which relates to manic depression and the healthcare system’s denial and attempted erasure of the meaning of personal history, can be given a wider reading in the context of the present investigation. Undermining history, memory and the ties with the past serves a totalising hegemonic purpose. Historical consciousness, on the other hand, can introduce alternative discourses that challenge the dominating voices of the ‘it’ and the ‘over-I’. The present, as well as hegemonic historical discourses can be put into question in the light of the past. Walter Benjamin calls for a questioning of the pillars of history and culture “for there is no testimony of culture that it is not also a testimony of barbarism”. By means of the figure of the “ragman” Benjamin highlights the importance and unsettling power of what mainstream discourses scorn. Benjamin calls for the historian to “brush history against the grain” (Benjamin, 1942, 433) as a way of countering the totalising historical discourse by re-introducing what hitherto had been excluded, perhaps feared and deemed abject.

Foucault’s thinking on ‘speaking truth to power’, or parrhesia, is relevant in this respect. It involves; “the risk of offending or provoking the other person; it is truth subject to risk of violence”. The truth spoken challenges the bond between the speaker and the addressee, at the risk of ending the relationship. Parrhesia means telling all, saying everything, without withholding or concealment. It can be understood in two senses, however, saying anything “that comes to mind, anything that serves the cause one is defending, anything that serves the passion or interest driving the person who is speaking” – or in a more positive sense, of “telling the truth without concealment, reserve, [or] empty manner of speech”. In the positive sense of the term the truth must be the personal opinion of the speaker – one personally signs the truth stated, binds oneself to it, and is thus bound to and by it ([1984]2011, 9-11).

We might ask how the practice of psychoanalysis, and free association, stand in relation to this, and about its political implications. With reference to the protected and confidential space of the clinical setting, Thompson writes; “Most of us either speak impulsively without awareness of what we say or think through everything we are about to disclose before speaking”. By contrast, “speaking unreservedly while remaining attentive to what is being disclosed” (2001, 75) appears radical, emphasising the significance of the promise to free associate, rather than the activity as such. In Freud’s words; “You must never give in to these criticisms” – which could be conceived of as related to the power of the analyst, figures from one’s past, socially more or less conscious restrictions combined with one’s own – “indeed, you must say it precisely because you feel an aversion to doing so. […] Finally, never forget that you have promised to be absolutely honest, and never leave anything out because, for some reason or other, it is unpleasant to tell it” (1913c, 135). What social or political conditions or frameworks are presupposed in or challenged by these ideas? We invite contributions on these and related questions.

This is an interdisciplinary conference – we invite theoretical contributions and historical, literary or clinical case studies on these and related themes from philosophers, sociologists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, group analysts, literary theorists, historians and others. Perspectives from different psychoanalytic schools will be most welcome. We promote discussion among the presenters and participants, for the symposium series creates a space where representatives of different perspectives come together, engage with one another’s contributions and participate in a community of thought. Therefore, attendance to the whole symposium is encouraged and priority will be given to those who plan to do so. Due to the nature of the forum audio recording is not permitted.

Presentations are expected to take half an hour. Another 20 minutes is set aside for discussion. There is a 10 min break in between each paper. Please send an abstract of 200 to 300 words, attached in a word-document, to moc.liamgnull@scitilop.sisylanaohcysp by December 10th 2013. We will respond by, and present a preliminary programme on December 20th  2013. If you would like to sign up to participate without presenting a paper, please contact us after this date.

This is a relatively small symposium where active participation is encouraged and an enjoyable social atmosphere sought. A participation fee, which includes two shared dinners, of £150 (or € 178) before February 15th 2014 – £180 (or € 214) after February 15th 2014 is to be paid before the symposium. Fees must be covered by a bank transfer/international bank transfer. Your place is only confirmed once we have received your completed registration form as well as your payment. Additional information will be given after your abstract has been accepted or after the conference programme has been finalized.

Unfortunately, we are unable to offer travel grants or other forms of financial assistance for this event, though we will be able to assist you in finding affordable accommodation after January 1st 2014. Please contact us if you wish to make a donation towards the conference. We thank all donors in advance!

Note 1. The use of the terms ‘it’ and ‘over-I’ draws on Bettelheim’s critique of the standard English translation of Freud in Freud and Man’s Soul.

NON-EXCLUSIVE LIST OF RELEVANT LITERATURE:

Adorno, T.W/Frenkel-Brunswik, E./Levinson, D. J./Sanford, R. N. (1950) The Authoritarian Personality. N.Y: Harpers & Brothers.

Adorno, T. W. ([1959]1998)”The Meaning of Working Through the Past” in Critical Models. Interventions and Catchwords, New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 89-103.

Arendt, H. ([1951]1976) The Origins of Totalitarianism. San Diego/N.Y./London: Harcourt Brace.

Auestad, L. ed. (2012) Psychoanalysis and Politics. Exclusion and the Politics of Representation. London: Karnac.

Auestad, L. ed. (2013) Nationalism and the Body Politic. Psychoanalysis and the Rise of Ethnocentricm and Xenophobia. London: Karnac.

Benjamin, W. (1943). “Sur le Concept d’Histoire” Œuvres III. Paris: Gallimard, 2000./ Benjamin, W. ([1943]1968) “Theses on the Philosophy of History” in W. Benjamin/H. Arendt ed. Illuminations. New York: Schocken Books.

Bettelheim, B. (1983) Freud and Man’s Soul. New York: Vintage.

Enyedi, Z./ Erós, F. (1999) eds. Authoritarianism and Prejudice: Central European Perspectives. Osiris Kiadó.

Ferenczi, S. (1933) “Confusion of Tongues between the Adult and the Child” in Final Contributions to Psycho-Analysis. London/New York: Karnac, 199, pp. 156-167.

Foucault, M ([1984]2011) The Courage of Truth. The Government of Self and Others II. Lectures at the Collège de France1983-1984. London/New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Freud, S. (1913c) On Beginning the Treatment. SE, vol. 12.

Hall, S./Massey, D./Rustin, M. (2013) After Neoliberalism? The Kilburn Manifesto, Soundings journal, available electronically: http://www.lwbooks.co.uk/journals/soundings/manifesto.html

Jones , E. (1957) The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 3 . New York: Basic Books

Klein, M. (1931). “A Contribution to the Theory of Intellectual Inhibition” Int. J. PsA., vol. 12, p. 206.

Leader, D. (2013) “What have I done?” in The Guardian, 27th April.

Moïsi, D. (2010) The Geopolitics of Emotion. New York: Anchor Books.

Said, E. W. ([1978] 2003) Orientalism. London: Penguin Books.

Thompson, M. G. (2001) “The Ethic of Psychoanalysis. The Fundamental Rule to be Honest” in Where Id Was. Challenging Normalization in Psychoanalysis. London/New York: Continuum.

Todorov, T. (2011) The Totalitarian Experience. London/New York/Calcutta: Seagull Books.

Ås, B (2004). “The Five Master Suppression Techniques”. Women In White: The European Outlook. Stockholm: Stockholm City Council. pp. 78-83.

ACTION – A LIMIT OF PSYCHOANALYSIS?

Call for papers – Ulsteinvik, Norway, JULY 29th – AUGUST 5th 2013

In “Remembering, Repeating and Working Through” Freud (1914g) posits acting out as the obverse of remembering. “‘Agieren’ write Laplanche and Pontalis (1973), “is nearly always coupled with ‘erinnern’, to remember, the two being contrasting ways of bringing the past into the present.” In Freud’s words: “the patient acts it before us, as it were, instead of reporting it to us” (1940a [1938]) – yielding to the compulsion to repeat. Acting out is thus located alongside repetition and resistance. But, can psychoanalytic discourse conceptualise actions, or political praxis, otherwise than as acting out? Is political praxis, from a psychoanalytic perspective, always to be understood as resistance to remembering in the context of transference? In Laplanche and Pontalis’ formulation: “One of the outstanding tasks of psycho-analysis is to ground the distinction between transference and acting out on criteria other than purely technical ones – or even mere considerations of locale (does something happen within the consulting room or not?). This task presupposes a reformulation of the concepts of action and actualisation and a fresh definition of the different modalities of communication.” Along this line of questioning, we might ask: is it possible to conceptualise psychoanalytically different kinds of acting?

In relation to political activism, Hanna Segal cites Nadejda Mandelstam on the dangers of keeping silent about politics, as is common practice in psychoanalysis, by asserting: “Silence is the real crime against humanity” (Segal, 1987). Thus a question is raised about the place the analyst can or should occupy when it comes to political praxis. Are neutrality, abstinence and silence techniques that can be understood as political praxes as well, and if so, do they conceal the danger of political passivity? Are there any other possibilities for the analyst to occupy a political place? The passivity of the analyst, however, is meant to promote the patient’s speech, thinking and memory. Can political action or praxis be understood as promoting memory and thinking rather than avoiding them? Segal’s position, along these lines, identifies articulation of psychic mechanisms like denial, projection and magical thinking in political life as a political act allied with memory and reflection: “To be acquainted with facts and recognize psychic facts, which we of all people know something about, and to have the courage to try to state them clearly, is in fact the psychoanalytic stand.”

We invite contributions that discuss the potential political role of psychoanalytic thinking and reflections on psychoanalytic understandings of action, activism, ‘engagement’ and ‘neutrality’ within and beyond the frame of the consulting room.

This is an interdisciplinary conference – we invite theoretical contributions and historical, literary or clinical case studies on these and related themes from philosophers, sociologists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, literary theorists, historians and others. Perspectives from different psychoanalytic schools will be most welcome.

Presentations are expected to take half an hour; another 20 minutes is set aside for discussion. Please send an abstract of 200 to 300 words to moc.liamgnull@scitilop.sisylanaohcysp by May 10th 2013. Abstracts received after this date will not be considered.

We will respond by, and present a preliminary programme on, May 15th 2013. If you would like to sign up to participate without presenting a paper, please e-mail us to let us know, and say a few words about yourself if you have not participated in previous Psychoanalysis and Politics symposia. 

 

ABOUT PSYCHOANALYSIS AND POLITICS

Psychoanalysis and Politics is a conference series that aims to address how crucial contemporary political issues may be fruitfully analyzed through psychoanalytic theory and vice versa – how political phenomena may reflect back on psychoanalytic thinking.  The series is interdisciplinary; we invite theoretical contributions and historical, literary or clinical case studies from philosophers, sociologists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, group analysts, literary theorists, historians and others. Perspectives from different psychoanalytic schools are most welcome.

We emphasise room for discussion among the presenters and participants, thus the symposium series creates a space where representatives of different perspectives come together and engage with one another’s contributions, participating in a community of thought.

We aim to be non-discriminatory and egalitarian. Disrespect or discrimination towards the forum or any of its participants on the basis of nationality, skin colour, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexuality will not be tolerated.

We aim to disseminate the knowledge produced in these fora by means of publications.

 

Non-exclusive list of some relevant literature

Auestad, L. ed. (2012) Psychoanalysis and Politics. Exclusion and the Politics of Representation. London: Karnac.

Borossa, J./Ward, I. (2009) “Psychoanalysis, Fascism and Fundamentalism”, Psychoanalysis and History Special Issue, vol. 11 no 2.

Danto, E. A. (2005) Freud’s Free Clinics: Psychoanalysis & Social Justice, 1918-1938 New York: Columbia University Press.

Freud, S. (1908d) ‘Civilized’ Sexual Morality and Modern Nervous Illness. S.E., 9.

Freud, S. (1914g) Remembering, Repeating and Working-Through, S.E., 12.

Freud, S. (1921c) Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, S.E., 18.

Freud, S. (1927c) The Future of an Illusion, S.E., 21.

Freud, S. (1933b [1932]) Why War?, S.E., 22.

Freud, S. (1940a [1938]) An Outline of Psycho-Analysis, S.E., 23.

Frosh, S. (2010) Psychoanalysis outside the Clinic. Interventions in Psychosocial Studies. Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hoggett, P. (1992) Partisans in an Uncertain World: The Psychoanalysis of Engagement. London: Free Association Books.

Jacoby, R. (1983) The Repression of Psychoanalysis. Otto Fenichel and the Political Freudians. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

Laplanche, J. and Pontalis, J.B. (1973). The Language of Psycho-Analysis. Int. Psycho-Anal. Lib., 94:1-497

Layton, L/Hollander, N. C/Gutwill, S. eds. (2006) Psychoanalysis, Class and Politics. Encounters in the Clinical Setting. London and New York: Routledge.

Milino, A./Ware, C. eds. Where Id Was. Challenging Normalization in Psychoanalysis. London and New York: Continuum.

Rose, J. (1993) Why War? Psychoanalysis, Politics, and the Return to Melanie Klein. Oxford, UK & Cambridge, USA: Blackwell.

Segal, H. (1987) “Silence is the Real Crime” in Int. Rev. Psycho-Anal. vol. 14. no 3.

Steiner, R. (2000) “It is a New Kind of Diaspora”. Explorations in the Sociopolitical and Cultural Context of Psychoanalysis. London: Karnac Books.

 

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Julia Borossa, representing Psychoanalysis and Politics, is the Director of the Centre for Psychoanalysis at Middlesex University whose function is to provide a vehicle for scholarly activity, including MA and PhD programmes in Psychoanalysis, host international conferences, seminars and workshops and develop research projects with colleagues from the European Union, the Middle East, Russia and Latin America. Borossa has an interdisciplinary academic background with an MA in Comparative Literature and a PhD in History and Philosophy of Science. Her research interests and publications are in the history, politics and cultures of the psychoanalytic movement, with particular reference to the question of its ‘extensions’ outside the West. She has also written on narratives of trauma and resilience, with respect to the Sieges of Leningrad and Beirut.

She has presented her work at international conferences, as well as at public venues such as the Tate, the Hayward Gallery and the Freud Museum. She is on the organizing committee of Therip, The Higher Education Research in Psychoanalysis Network, and a consultant and named participant in the successful ESRC Global Uncertainties Leadership Project, led by Prof. Caroline Rooney, ‘Imagining the Common Ground’. In addition, Borossa also has expertise in group relations and group analysis. She is the editor of Sandor Ferenczi: Selected Writings, Penguin, 1999, and, with Ivan Ward, of Psychoanalysis, Fascism, Fundamentalism, Edinburgh U.P. 2009, and, with Catalina Bronstein and Claire Pajaczkowszka, of the forthcoming New Klein Lacan Dialogues. She is author of Hysteria, Icon 2001, and has contributed both to Psychoanalysis and Politics: Exclusion and the Politics of Representation, Karnac, 2012 and to the forthcoming Nationalism and the Body Politic, Karnac 2013.

 

Nina Power, representing the Popmodernism circle, is Senior Lecturer in philosophy at the University of Roehampton as well as an important public intellectual. Her ways of being a public intellectual, in the blogosphere – in the now, unfortunately, now closed blog “Infinite Thought” – in newspapers (The Guardian) and magazines (Film Quarterly, The Wire, and more), shows a contemporary way of being an intellectual, where the “security” of the university and a free-lance market meet.

Her work is grounded in Marxism as well as modern continental philosophy, political theory, diverse forms of radicalism, feminism, and new media. Her book One Dimensional Woman (2009) discusses feminism with a particular focus upon consumption, leading to renewed questions about the political dimension of a still-ongoing feminist project.

The 2013 summer session will take place at Sunnmøre Folkehøgskule, Ulsteinvik, on the west coast of Norway. Arrival: Monday 29th of July Departure: Monday 5th of August

Accommodation and all meals are included in the price of the summer session. They have great rooms and offer accommodation with various standards, ranging from family rooms hotel standard with its own bathroom, internet connection and TV, with single bunk beds. Most units also have their own balcony with beautiful views. In addition to the bedrooms, the building has excellent classrooms / amphitheatre, dining room, several living rooms and a cosy common area with wireless Internet, billiards, table tennis and TV. There are also service stations for washing and drying clothes.

There are golf courses 5 min from the school -Driving Range w / exercise area for golf, fine sand beach, beach volley court, climbing hall and outdoor climbing.

Sunnmøre Folkehøgskule is an alcohol free place. This means that they do not serve alcohol at the site, but they are not concerned about what people drink. For most participants coming to Norway means leaving the European Union; you are advised to take a full quota from the airport you travel from and bring it with you to the summer session.

CONFERENCE FEE

Amounts in Euros are only indicative; amounts in NOK are exact.
Single room: 5000 NOK (650 EUR)
Double room: 3150 NOK (410 EUR)
Three or four person room: 2400 NOK (310 EUR)
Children between 4 and 15 years on extra bed: 920 NOK (120 EUR)
Children below 3 years, in their parents bed or one’s own travel bed: Free
Discount for master students: 1500 NOK (200 EUR)
Prices include all meals and activities (except excursions).

 

Flight travel
There are direct flights to Ålesund Airport from a few destinations: Copenhagen, Newcastle, London (Gatwick), Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger.
If you want to travel by plane, but not from any of the destinations above, Oslo Airport, Gardermoen (OSL) is the most central airport with most departures to Ålesund Airport and Hovden Airport.
The two airports closest to Ulsteinvik are: Hovden Airport (HVO), Ørsta/Volda and Ålesund Airport (AES), Vigra.

Hovden Airport (HVO), Ørsta/Volda. Details:
From Hovden Airport it is possible to take a bus to either Volda or Ørsta.
From both Volda and Ørsta you can travel with bus to Ulsteinvik. Check 177mr.no for schedules.

Ålesund Airport (AES), Vigra. Details:
From Ålesund Airport, Vigra  you can take the flight bus to the city centre of Ålesund. The price is 80kr.
You can take a boat from Ålesund city centre to Hareid. The price is 95kr for adults and 50kr for children.
Transport from Hareid to Ulsteinvik will be arranged by the Summer session.  Contact the Summer session for more info.

Arrkom (the organising committee):

Responsible for the cultural programme: Solveig Styve Holte, moc.liamgnull@etlohgievlos
Responsible for the economy: Haakon Flemmen, on.nemmelfnull@nokaah
Responsible for the information: Sidsel Pape, ten.i2cnull@epaps

ERUPTIONS, DISRUPTIONS AND RETURNS OF THE REPRESSED

CALL FOR PAPERS – WINTER SYMPOSIUM IN HELSINKI 15th to 17th of MARCH 2013
Venue: House of the Estates (Säatytalo) Snellmansgatan 9-11, 00170

Recent eruptions of conflict, revolt and discontent have been radical and unexpected. The Arab Spring, the UK Riots or the Occupy movement are some examples of these. Furthermore, the recent violent right-wing attacks in Europe exemplify underlying conflict in the contemporary political climate. This symposium raises the questions of how to evaluate and to think about these phenomena. A further question is that of to what extent these events challenge the limits of psychoanalytic conceptualisation.

 Individual and social eruptions and disruptions may have creative dimensions reflected in social and individual change. They can also be read as traumatic repetitions or as the surfacing of repressed affects, drives and representations. The Arab Spring uprisings sparked joy and hope for sudden and unexpected democratisations, while also, from the point of view of Europe, it stirred up anxiety, perhaps linked to Orientalist fantasies about the revolt of the ‘others’. The world-wide “Occupy Movement” seems to be a reaction to a feeling of displacement of the subject from the economical, cultural and social; hence its call to occupy a space. Nevertheless, it can be argued that there is no object to which this call is directed and, therefore, it seems to begin to disappear from the space it attempted to occupy. The UK riots appeared as a revolt of private consumerism rather than a political one. Blamed by the justice secretary on the nature of the “feral underclass”, other commentators saw them as an ironic confirmation of Thatcher’s famous slogan “There is no such thing as society”. In a different vein, Breivik’s propagandistic “recycling” of old and familiar Anti-Semitic, racist and misogynistic fantasies in the context of islamophobic ideology evokes the thought of the ‘return of the repressed’. The return of the repressed occurs when the compromise formation fails, when the symptom does not suffice to keep psychic equilibrium. A possible question, then, is whether social movements can be understood as disruptions that occur when social compromise formations or symptoms break down.

The terms revolt and resistance have a polyphonic character. Revolt can be thought of as means for revolutionary change or, on the other hand, as the very rejection produced by the uprising. These terms may be understood in the sense of political and social resistance movements, as well as the forces of resistance that oppose the emergence of the repressed. “It is hard”, wrote Freud (1926d [1925]), “for the ego to direct its attention to perceptions and ideas which it has up till now made a rule of avoiding, or to acknowledge as belonging to itself impulses that are the complete opposite of those which it knows as its own. Our fight against resistance in analysis is based upon this view of the facts.” With reference to the resistance of the superego, Rose (2007) asserts that “there is a pleasure in subjugation; there is a pleasure – hence the last resistance – in pain. Idealisation of self and nation is a way of submitting to a voice that will never be satisfied”. Whole individual destinies, as she rightly claims, are contained in the different meanings of these words. “To be sure,” wrote Arendt (1963) in relation to the testimonies in Eichmann in Jerusalem, “those who resisted were a minority, a tiny minority, but under the circumstances “the miracle was,” as one of them pointed out, “that this minority existed”.” Fackenheim (1989) posits everyday resistance as an ontological ethical imperative: how can we not resist the logic of destruction ontologically, here and now, when they resisted it ontically, there and then. Thus, we may interrogate resistance as a defense as well as an authentic category of being.

By understanding the social analogously to the psychic, it is possible to identify social forces of repression, aggression, identification, projection and resistance. However, Freud (1930) asks “what would be the use of the most correct analysis of social neuroses, since no one possesses authority to impose such a therapy upon the group?” One way of posing such a question would be to ask about the practical employment of psychoanalytic insight in social settings; another would be to ask about its legitimacy and the possible limits of its scope. Thus, the question of the relevance, scope and place of psychoanalytic knowledge in relation to social uprisings, movements and revolutions is posed as a leading thread in the present investigation. The Breivik trial revitalized questions of mental health as an individual or a social issue and the links between these perspectives. “If he is left to himself,” Freud wrote in Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, (1921) “a neurotic is obliged to replace by his own symptom formations the great group formations from which he is excluded. He creates his own world of imagination for himself, his own religion, his own system of delusions, and thus recapitulates the institutions of humanity in a distorted way”. Given the view that processes that would be regarded as pathological when encountered on an individual level commonly occur on a collective level without being thought of as abnormal, can we speak of the social as being more or less sane or insane, and if so, based on what criteria? The answer that all social units are ‘neurotic’ or ‘psychotic’ begs the question of whether they can be conceived under a more positive light.

Acting out, to Freud, takes place when the subject, in the grip of unconscious wishes and phantasies, relives these in the present while refusing to recognise their source and their repetitive character. Action, thus conceived, stands in opposition to thought and to memory – but is there scope for a more positive conceptualisation of action within psychoanalytic thinking?

A related issue is that of how representatives of the extreme right have adopted a discourse of victimhood in relation to a feeling of not being heard by the majority. At the same time, a large share of Norwegians not directly affected by the terrorist attacks tended to construe themselves as their victims. This raises interesting questions about identification with the state and the nation in relation to fantasies about these and the politizised role of the martyr as a predisposition for acting or reacting.

This is an interdisciplinary conference – we invite theoretical contributions and historical, literary or clinical case studies on these and related themes from philosophers, sociologists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, group analysts, literary theorists, historians and others. Perspectives from different psychoanalytic schools will be most welcome. We emphasise room for discussion among the presenters and participants, thus the symposium series creates a space where representatives of different perspectives come together and engage with one another’s contributions, participating in a community of thought. Therefore, we would like you to attend for the whole symposium, and we will give priority to those who plan to do so. Due to the nature of the forum audio recording is not permitted.

Presentations are expected to take half an hour; another 20 minutes is set aside for discussion. Please send an abstract of 200 to 300 words to moc.liamgnull@scitilop.sisylanaohcysp by December 1st 2012.

We will respond by, and present a preliminary programme on, December 15th 2012. If you would like to sign up to participate without presenting a paper, please contact us after this date.

This is a relatively small symposium where active participation is encouraged. Researchers, clinicians, students and others who are interested are invited to attend and present their work in a friendly and enjoyable social atmosphere. A participation fee, which includes two shared dinners, of € 155 – 1155 NOK – 1338 SEK – 1156 DKK – £ 125 – $ 201 – 108 LVL – 535 LTL,  is to be paid before the symposium. Fees must be covered by a bank transfer/international bank transfer. Your place is only confirmed once we have received your completed registration form as well as your payment. Additional information will be given after your abstract has been accepted or after the conference programme has been finalized.

The organizers would like to thank the Finnish Psychoanalytical Society for their support.

 

NON-EXCLUSIVE LIST OF RELEVANT LITERATURE:

Abraham, K. ([1924] 1988) “A Short Study of the Development of the Libido, viewed in the Light of Mental Disorders” in Selected Papers of Karl Abraham. London: Maresfield Library.

Abraham, N./Torok, M. (1994) The Shell and the Kernel. Chicago/London. University of Chicago Press.

Adorno, T.W./Horkheimer, M. (1944/1997) Dialectic of Enlightenment. London/New York: Verso.

Arendt, H. (1963) Eichmann in Jerusalem. London/New York: Penguin Books.

Auestad, L. ed. (2012) Psychoanalysis and Politics. Exclusion and the Politics of Representation. London: Karnac.

Bion, W. R. (1959a) Experiences in Groups and Other Papers, London: Karnac Books.

Bollas, C. (1987) The Shadow of the Object. Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known. London: Free Association Books.

Borossa, J./Ward, I. (2009) “Psychoanalysis, Fascism and Fundamentalism”, Psychoanalysis and History Special Issue, vol. 11 no 2.

Butler , J. (2004) Precarious Life. The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London/New York: Verso.

Castoriadis, C. (1997) World in Fragments. Writings on Politics, Society Psychoanalysis and Imagination. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Fackenheim, E. (1989) To mend the World. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Ferenczi, S. (1928-33) Final Contributions to the Problems and Methods of Psycho-Analysis. London: Hogarth Press, 1955.

Freud, S. (1895d [1893-95) Studies in Hysteria. SE vol. 2.

Freud, S. (1912-1913) Totem and Taboo. S.E., vol 13. London: Hogarth.

Freud, S. (1914g) Remembering, Repeating and Working Through (Further Recommendations on the Technique of Psycho-Analysis, II), SE, vol. 12.

Freud, S. (1917e [1915]) Mourning and Melancholia. SE vol. 16.

Freud, S. (1918b [1914]) From the History of an Infantile Neurosis. SE vol. 17.

Freud, S. (1920g) Beyond the Pleasure Principle, SE, vol. 18.

Freud, S. (1921) Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego. S.E. vol. 18. London: Hogarth.

Freud, S. (1926d [1925]) Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety. SE vol. 20

Freud (1930) Civilisation and its discontents. SE vol. 21. London: Hogarth Press.

Freud, S. (1939a [1937-39]) Moses and Monotheism: Three Essays, SE, vol. 23.

Garland, C. ed. (1998/2002) Understanding Trauma. A Psychoanalytical Approach. London: Karnac.

Hopper, E./Weinberg, H. eds. (2011) The Social Unconscious in Persons, Groups and Societies. Vol. 1: Mainly Theory. London: Karnac.

Jacques, E. (1955) “Social Systems as a defence against Persecutory and Depressive Anxiety” in Klein, M./Heimann, P./Money-Kyrle, R.E. New Directions in Psycho-Analysis. London: Maresfield Reprints.

Kogan, I. (2007) The Struggle Against Mourning. New York: Jason Aronson.

Kristeva, J. ([1987] 1989) Black Sun. Depression and Melancholia. New York: Columbia University Press.

LaCapra, D. (2001) Writing History, Writing Trauma. Baltimore, London: John Hopkins University Press.

Leader, D. (2008) The New Black. London: Hamish Hamilton.

Menzies Lyth, I. (1960) “Social Systems as a Defense Against Anxiety. An Empirical Study of the Nursing Service of a General Hospital” in E. Trist, H. Murray eds. The Social Engagement of Social Science Vol. 1: The Socio-Psychological Perspective. London: Free Association Books, 1990.

Mitscherlich, A./ Mitscherlich, M. ([1967] 1975) The Inability to Mourn. Principles of Collective Behavior. New York: Grove Press.

Nancy, J.L. (1991) The Inoperative Community. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Perelberg, R. J. (2008) Time, Space and Phantasy. London/New York: Routledge.

Rabinovich, D. (1990) The Concept of Object in Psychoanalytic Theory. Buenos Aires: Manantial.

Rickman, J. (1951) “Number and the human sciences” in John Rickman/Pearl King ed. No Ordinary Psychoanalyst. London: Karnac, 2003.

Ricoeur, P. (2004) Memory, History, Forgetting. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Rose, J. (2007) The Last Resistance. London/New York: Verso.

Sklar, J. (2011) Landscapes of the Dark. History, Trauma, Psychoanalysis. London: Karnac.

Varvin, S. / Volkan, V. D . eds. (2003) Violence or Dialogue? Psychoanalytic Insights on Terror and Terrorism. London: International Psychoanalytical Association.

Call – Shared Traumas, Silent Loss, Public and Private Mourning

SUMMER SYMPOSIUM, BRANDBJERG, DENMARK, JULY 27th – AUGUST 3rd 2012

This symposium continues to explore the theme from the 2012 Stockholm winter symposium with the same title.

 CALL FOR PAPERS:

Mourning can be thought as a private endeavour, so familiar it seems hardly pathological, writes Freud (1917e [1915])). During mourning, the ego withdraws from the world. It re-visits the different aspects of the lost object, approaches it from a series of different angles. Leader (2008) compares this work to the process leading up to the Cubist image resulting from the combination and reshuffling of the conventional image of a person. Thus there is an aspect of mourning that confronts us with fragmentation, of the object mourned and of the experience of mourning. It is pertinent then to question the act, experience and results of mourning in terms of their possible or impossible completions.

Leader suggests that mourning, however private, requires other people; a loss requires recognition, a sense that it has been witnessed and made real. From a different angle, this can be seen to resemble Balint’s (1969) claim, drawing on Ferenczi (1928-33) that the trauma is only completed in the third phase, when the adult acts towards the child as if nothing distressing or painful had happened, thus depriving the event that took place of its reality. Trauma is overwhelming in its magnitude (Freud 1895d [1893-95], 1920g, Rabinovich 1990), consists in a shattering of one’s experiential world as a safe, stable and predictable place (Stolorow 2007), and it breaks up the unifying thread of temporality – past becomes present, and future loses all meaning other than endless repetition.

The anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer describes how every documented human society has public mourning rituals and makes use of outward signs to inscribe the mourner within a shared, public space, arguing that the decline of public mourning rituals in the West was linked to the mass slaughter of the First World War. The surplus of the dead, and of the bereaved, was so extreme and overwhelming that communal mourning no longer seemed to make sense, leading to the erosion of public mourning rituals in Europe. This decline contrasts with current attempts to commemorate and work through shared traumas. This year has marked the 10th anniversary of September 11th, leading to debates on how this event can be dealt with, other than by demonization and hero-worship. 2011 has also included the terrorist acts performed by a native and referred to as ‘Norway’s 9/11’. In the latter case conceiving of the event as a wholly alien invasion would seem to require more of an imaginative strain, thus it challenges the typical strategy of scapegoating and poses the question of how to deal with shared trauma differently.   

Mourning can be conceived as a social effort that binds communities together. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission can be seen to have performed such work, less about punishing the perpetrators than about recognizing and registering their crimes. Conversely, if we think of how Freud reminds us of our tendency to recoil from any activity that causes pain, how there is ‘a revolt in our minds against mourning’, we can also conceive of a refusal to mourn as a tie between communities. The Federal Republic of Germany, wrote the Mitscherlichs ([1967] 1975), rather than succumbing to mass melancholia, avoided self-devaluation as a group by breaking all affective bridges to the immediate past; “only a patient whose symptoms cause him suffering greater than the gain he gets from repression is willing to relax, step by step, the interior censorship preventing the return to consciousness of what has been denied and forgotten”, they stated, “But here we are asking that this therapy be carried out by a society which, at least materially, is on the whole better off than ever before. Therefore, it feels no incentive to expose its interpretation of the recent past to the inconvenient questioning of others”. Their formulation is reminiscent of Jaques’ (1955) hypothesis that one of the primary elements that bind people into institutionalised association is the motivation to defend against depressive and paranoid anxieties. The aspect of asymmetry with regard to who may speak, appear and become objects of shared mourning, has been further highlighted in Butler’s (2004) reflections on the public sphere as “constituted in part by what cannot be said and what cannot be shown”.

“In psychoanalysis lies freedom, or at least the potential for freedom” writes Sklar (2011) in pointing towards the need for reflection on the traumas of European history in analytic thought and practice. The author compares the reconstructed city of Warsaw, recreated so as to have covered up all signs of its near total destruction, to a delusion “applied like a patch over the place where originally a rent had appeared in the ego’s relation to the external world” (citing Freud 1924). The collective work of mourning may contribute to the construction of narratives, and to the writing of history. In this sense, memorials, works of art, monuments, public ceremonies or other discursive practices, as long as they are not sentimentalized, exemplify scars or seams on social tissues. Rachel Whiteread’s memorial in Vienna faced the problem of how to commemorate the Shoah without seeming to fill in and even compensating for the void left behind. Her solution presented a cast of the spaces between and around books in a full-size library – thus the sculpture is one that seems to display absence, or emptiness, the reintroduction of which was unwanted by parts of the local population, as the resurfacing of a long-repressed memory (Young 2004).  

Loss, when conflated with absence is often called to operate in power discourses. The full unity and homogeneity of the body politic is often posited as lost, disrupted or polluted by others (LaCapra, 2001). However, one may argue that this putative unity in fact never existed, it is an absence. It points to the fundamental socio-political problem that Jean-Luc Nancy (1991) describes as being in common, without common being. Thus, the conflation of absence and loss can become an alibi for nationalistic discourses, foundational philosophies and fundamentalist ideologies that posit past utopias and paradises lost. This conflation leads to unmournability, for it touches on the sphere of ontological absence, and can provide testimony of melancholic mechanisms operating behind otherwise convincing cultural, social, political or individual agendas.

It is worth questioning, thus, the junctions of the private and the public when it comes to trauma, loss and the work of mourning, for these notions challenge our very notions of the individual and the shared (see also Hopper/Weinberg 2011). To paraphrase Adorno ([1959] 1998): What do we mean by ‘working through the past’? How is a shared work of mourning to be understood? With what legitimacy do we consider a particular social or cultural practice to be ‘mourning’?

We may also question the nature of historical, political and social events that can or should be conceptualised as losses or as traumas. What happens when we extrapolate the subjective dynamics of loss and of trauma to a collective level, and what are the normative implications of doing so? The dimension of temporality, in terms of Nachträglichkeit or après-coup (Freud 1918b [1914], Perelberg 2008), may also be worthy of interrogation.

This is an interdisciplinary conference – we invite theoretical contributions and historical, literary or clinical case studies on these and related themes from philosophers, sociologists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, literary theorists, historians and others. Perspectives from different psychoanalytic schools will be most welcome.

Presentations are expected to take 25-30 minutes; another 15-20 minutes is set aside for discussion. Please send an abstract of 200 to 300 words to moc.liamgnull@scitilop.sisylanaohcysp by May 1st 2012. We will respond by, and present a preliminary programme on, May15th 2012.

Psychoanalysis and Politics, and the NSU, is more social, engaging and democratic than most other fora. The focus is not just on presenting one’s own paper, but on engaging with and discussing one another’s presentations. Therefore priority will be given to those who commit to participating for the whole week.

The organizers would like to thank The Board of the NSU and The Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and British Psychoanalytical Society for their support.

 

PRELIMINARY INFORMATION ABOUT THE SUMMER SESSION

The summer session for 2012 will take place at Brandbjerg Højskole, Denmark 27th of July – 3rd of August, 2012. Brandbjerg Højskole is located about 15 minutes from Vejle, Denmark by bus. The modern school was established in the 50s, but has an old mansion from 16th century. Most study rooms, a large auditorium and a dining room are centrally located. A courtyard or atrium is a natural gathering place. The keynote speaker is Richard Schusterman. Read more at: http://nsu.nsuweb.net/node/2 Registration for the summer, via a form on NSU’s webpage, opens April 1st 2012.  

ABOUT THE NSU

Since 1950, NSU has actively supported the cultivation of new ideas and growing research networks in the Nordic countries. For more than 60 years the NSU has contributed to the development of new inter-disciplinary research areas and methods. Today the unique way of organizing academic networks and doing cross-disciplinary research attracts participants from all over the world alongside the Nordic countries. Participation takes place across academic borderlines, career and generational divides which transcend institutional identities and organizational obstacles found within the traditional universities. NSU is a non-profit organization, sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers (www.norden.org).

Psychoanalysis and Politics www.psa-pol.org NSU: www.nsuweb.net

NON-EXCLUSIVE LIST OF RELEVANT LITERATURE:

Abraham, K. ([1924] 1988) “A Short Study of the Development of the Libido, viewed in the Light of Mental Disorders” in Selected Papers of Karl Abraham. London: Maresfield Library.

Abraham, N./Torok, M. (1994) The Shell and the Kernel. Chicago/London. University of Chicago Press.

Adorno, T. W. ([1959] 1998) “The Meaning of Working through the Past” in Critical Models. Interventions and Catchwords. New York: Columbia University Press.

Balint, M. (1969) “Trauma and Object Relationship” in Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 50:429-435.

Bohleber, W.  (2010) Destructiveness, Intersubjectivity and Trauma: The Identity Crisis of Modern Psychoanalysis. London: Karnac.

Bollas, C. (1987) The Shadow of the Object. Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known. London: Free Association Books.

Borossa, J./Ward, I. (2009) “Psychoanalysis, Fascism and Fundamentalism”, Psychoanalysis and History Special Issue, vol. 11 no 2.

Butler, J. (2004) Precarious Life. The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London/New York: Verso.

Castoriadis, C. (1997) World in Fragments. Writings on Politics, Society Psychoanalysis and Imagination. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Ferenczi, S. (1928-33) Final Contributions to the Problems and Methods of Psycho-Analysis. London: Hogarth Press, 1955.

Freud, S. (1895d [1893-95) Studies in Hysteria. SE vol. 2.

Freud, S. (1914b) Remembering, repeating and working-through. SE vol. 12.

Freud, S. (1917e [1915]) Mourning and Melancholia. SE vol. 16.

Freud, S. (1918b [1914]) From the History of an Infantile Neurosis. SE vol. 17. 

Freud, S. (1920g) Beyond the pleasure principle. SE vol. 17.

Freud, S. (1926d [1925]) Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety. SE vol. 20

Garland, C. ed. (1998/2002) Understanding Trauma. A Psychoanalytical Approach. London: Karnac.

Hopper, E./Weinberg, H. eds. (2011) The Social Unconscious in Persons, Groups and Societies. Vol. 1: Mainly Theory. London: Karnac.

Jacques, E. (1955) “Social Systems as a defence against Persecutory and Depressive Anxiety” in Klein, M./Heimann, P./Money-

Kyrle, R.E. New Directions in Psycho-Analysis. London: Maresfield Reprints.

Kogan, I. (2007) The Struggle Against Mourning. New York: Jason Aronson.

Kristeva, J. ([1987] 1989) Black Sun. Depression and Melancholia. New York: Columbia University Press.

LaCapra, D. (2001) Writing History, Writing Trauma. Baltimore, London: John Hopkins University Press.

Leader, D. (2008) The New Black. London: Hamish Hamilton.

Mitscherlich, A./ Mitscherlich, M. ([1967] 1975) The Inability to Mourn. Principles of Collective Behavior. New York: Grove Press.

Nancy, J.L. (1991) The Inoperative Community. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Perelberg, R. J. (2008) Time, Space and Phantasy. London/New York: Routledge.

Rabinovich, D. (1990) The Concept of Object in Psychoanalytic Theory. Buenos Aires: Manantial.

Ricoeur, P. (2004) Memory, History, Forgetting. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Sklar, J. (2011) Landscapes of the Dark. History, Trauma, Psychoanalysis. London: Karnac.

Stolorow, R. J. (2007) Trauma and Human Existence. Autobiographical, Psychoanalytic, and Philosophical Reflections. New York/Sussex: Routledge.

Varvin, S./Volkan, V. D. eds. (2003) Violence or Dialogue? Psychoanalytic Insights on Terror and Terrorism. London: International Psychoanalytical Association.

Young, J. E. (2004) “Rachel Whiteread’s Judenplatz Memorial in Vienna. Memory and Absence” in C. Townsend ed. The Art of Rachel Whiteread. London: Thames & Hudson.

SHARED TRAUMAS – SILENT LOSS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE MOURNING

CALL FOR PAPERS – WINTER SYMPOSIUM IN STOCKHOLM
9th to 11th of MARCH 2012

Venue: Swedish Psychoanalytical Association, Västerlånggatan 60

 

Mourning can be thought as a private endeavour, so familiar it seems hardly pathological, writes Freud (1917e [1915])). During mourning, the ego withdraws from the world. It re-visits the different aspects of the lost object, approaches it from a series of different angles. Leader (2008) compares this work to the process leading up to the Cubist image resulting from the combination and reshuffling of the conventional image of a person. Thus there is an aspect of mourning that confronts us with fragmentation, of the object mourned and of the experience of mourning. It is pertinent then to question the act, experience and results of mourning in terms of their possible or impossible completions.

Leader suggests that mourning, however private, requires other people; a loss requires recognition, a sense that it has been witnessed and made real. From a different angle, this can be seen to resemble Balint’s (1969) claim, drawing on Ferenczi (1928-33) that the trauma is only completed in the third phase, when the adult acts towards the child as if nothing distressing or painful had happened, thus depriving the event that took place of its reality. Trauma is overwhelming in its magnitude (Freud 1895d [1893-95], 1920g, Rabinovich 1990), consists in a shattering of one’s experiential world as a safe, stable and predictable place (Stolorow 2007), and it breaks up the unifying thread of temporality – past becomes present, and future loses all meaning other than endless repetition.

The anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer describes how every documented human society has public mourning rituals and makes use of outward signs to inscribe the mourner within a shared, public space, arguing that the decline of public mourning rituals in the West was linked to the mass slaughter of the First World War. The surplus of the dead, and of the bereaved, was so extreme and overwhelming that communal mourning no longer seemed to make sense, leading to the erosion of public mourning rituals in Europe. This decline contrasts with current attempts to commemorate and work through shared traumas. This year has marked the 10th anniversary of September 11th, leading to debates on how this event can be dealt with, other than by demonization and hero-worship. 2011 has also included the terrorist acts performed by a native and referred to as ‘Norway’s 9/11’. In the latter case conceiving of the event as a wholly alien invasion would seem to require more of an imaginative strain, thus it challenges the typical strategy of scapegoating and poses the question of how to deal with shared trauma differently.   

Mourning can be conceived as a social effort that binds communities together. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission can be seen to have performed such work, less about punishing the perpetrators than about recognizing and registering their crimes. Conversely, if we think of how Freud reminds us of our tendency to recoil from any activity that causes pain, how there is ‘a revolt in our minds against mourning’, we can also conceive of a refusal to mourn as a tie between communities. The Federal Republic of Germany, wrote the Mitscherlichs ([1967] 1975), rather than succumbing to mass melancholia, avoided self-devaluation as a group by breaking all affective bridges to the immediate past; “only a patient whose symptoms cause him suffering greater than the gain he gets from repression is willing to relax, step by step, the interior censorship preventing the return to consciousness of what has been denied and forgotten”, they stated, “But here we are asking that this therapy be carried out by a society which, at least materially, is on the whole better off than ever before. Therefore, it feels no incentive to expose its interpretation of the recent past to the inconvenient questioning of others”. Their formulation is reminiscent of Jaques’ (1955) hypothesis that one of the primary elements that bind people into institutionalised association is the motivation to defend against depressive and paranoid anxieties. The aspect of asymmetry with regard to who may speak, appear and become objects of shared mourning, has been further highlighted in Butler’s (2004) reflections on the public sphere as “constituted in part by what cannot be said and what cannot be shown”.

“In psychoanalysis lies freedom, or at least the potential for freedom” writes Sklar (2011) in pointing towards the need for reflection on the traumas of European history in analytic thought and practice. The author compares the reconstructed city of Warsaw, recreated so as to have covered up all signs of its near total destruction, to a delusion “applied like a patch over the place where originally a rent had appeared in the ego’s relation to the external world” (citing Freud 1924). The collective work of mourning may contribute to the construction of narratives, and to the writing of history. In this sense, memorials, works of art, monuments, public ceremonies or other discursive practices, as long as they are not sentimentalized, exemplify scars or seams on social tissues. Rachel Whiteread’s memorial in Vienna faced the problem of how to commemorate the Shoah without seeming to fill in and even compensating for the void left behind. Her solution presented a cast of the spaces between and around books in a full-size library – thus the sculpture is one that seems to display absence, or emptiness, the reintroduction of which was unwanted by parts of the local population, as the resurfacing of a long-repressed memory (Young 2004).  

Loss, when conflated with absence is often called to operate in power discourses. The full unity and homogeneity of the body politic is often posited as lost, disrupted or polluted by others (LaCapra, 2001). However, one may argue that this putative unity in fact never existed, it is an absence. It points to the fundamental socio-political problem that Jean-Luc Nancy (1991) describes as being in common, without common being. Thus, the conflation of absence and loss can become an alibi for nationalistic discourses, foundational philosophies and fundamentalist ideologies that posit past utopias and paradises lost. This conflation leads to unmournability, for it touches on the sphere of ontological absence, and can provide testimony of melancholic mechanisms operating behind otherwise convincing cultural, social, political or individual agendas.

It is worth questioning, thus, the junctions of the private and the public when it comes to trauma, loss and the work of mourning, for these notions challenge our very notions of the individual and the shared (see also Hopper/Weinberg 2011). To paraphrase Adorno ([1959] 1998): What do we mean by ‘working through the past’? How is a shared work of mourning to be understood? With what legitimacy do we consider a particular social or cultural practice to be ‘mourning’?

We may also question the nature of historical, political and social events that can or should be conceptualised as losses or as traumas. What happens when we extrapolate the subjective dynamics of loss and of trauma to a collective level, and what are the normative implications of doing so? The dimension of temporality, in terms of Nachträglichkeit or après-coup (Freud 1918b [1914], Perelberg 2008), may also be worthy of interrogation.

This is an interdisciplinary conference – we invite theoretical contributions and historical, literary or clinical case studies on these and related themes from philosophers, sociologists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, literary theorists, historians and others. Perspectives from different psychoanalytic schools will be most welcome.

Presentations are expected to take half an hour; another 30 minutes is set aside for discussion. Please send an abstract of 200 to 300 words to moc.liamgnull@scitilop.sisylanaohcysp by December 10th 2011.

We will respond by, and present a preliminary programme on, December 15th 2011. If you would like to sign up to participate without presenting a paper, please contact us after this date. 

This is a relatively small symposium where active participation is encouraged. Researchers, clinicians, students and others who are interested are invited to attend and present their work in a friendly and enjoyable social atmosphere. A participation fee, which includes two shared dinners, of 1200 NOK/1417 SEK/1157 DKK/€ 155/

£ 135/$ 214//110 LVL/537 LTL, is to be paid before the symposium. Additional information in this regard will be given after your abstract has been accepted or after the conference programme has been finalized.

 

The organizers would like to thank The Board of the NSU and The Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and British Psychoanalytical Society for their support.

 

NON-EXCLUSIVE LIST OF RELEVANT LITERATURE:

Abraham, K. ([1924] 1988) “A Short Study of the Development of the Libido, viewed in the Light of Mental Disorders” in Selected Papers of Karl Abraham. London: Maresfield Library.

Abraham, N./Torok, M. (1994) The Shell and the Kernel. Chicago/London. University of Chicago Press.

Adorno, T. W. ([1959] 1998) “The Meaning of Working through the Past” in Critical Models. Interventions and Catchwords. New York: Columbia University Press.

Balint, M. (1969) “Trauma and Object Relationship” in Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 50:429-435.

Bohleber, W.  (2010) Destructiveness, Intersubjectivity and Trauma: The Identity Crisis of Modern Psychoanalysis. London: Karnac.

Bollas, C. (1987) The Shadow of the Object. Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known. London: Free Association Books.

Borossa, J./Ward, I. (2009) “Psychoanalysis, Fascism and Fundamentalism”, Psychoanalysis and History Special Issue, vol. 11 no 2.

Butler, J. (2004) Precarious Life. The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London/New York: Verso.

Castoriadis, C. (1997) World in Fragments. Writings on Politics, Society Psychoanalysis and Imagination. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Ferenczi, S. (1928-33) Final Contributions to the Problems and Methods of Psycho-Analysis. London: Hogarth Press, 1955.

Freud, S. (1895d [1893-95) Studies in Hysteria. SE vol. 2.

Freud, S. (1914b) Remembering, repeating and working-through. SE vol. 12.

Freud, S. (1917e [1915]) Mourning and Melancholia. SE vol. 16.

Freud, S. (1918b [1914]) From the History of an Infantile Neurosis. SE vol. 17. 

Freud, S. (1920g) Beyond the pleasure principle. SE vol. 17.

Freud, S. (1926d [1925]) Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety. SE vol. 20

Garland, C. ed. (1998/2002) Understanding Trauma. A Psychoanalytical Approach. London: Karnac.

Hopper, E./Weinberg, H. eds. (2011) The Social Unconscious in Persons, Groups and Societies. Vol. 1: Mainly Theory. London: Karnac.

Jacques, E. (1955) “Social Systems as a defence against Persecutory and Depressive Anxiety” in Klein, M./Heimann, P./Money-

Kyrle, R.E. New Directions in Psycho-Analysis. London: Maresfield Reprints.

Kogan, I. (2007) The Struggle Against Mourning. New York: Jason Aronson.

Kristeva, J. ([1987] 1989) Black Sun. Depression and Melancholia. New York: Columbia University Press.

LaCapra, D. (2001) Writing History, Writing Trauma. Baltimore, London: John Hopkins University Press.

Leader, D. (2008) The New Black. London: Hamish Hamilton.

Mitscherlich, A./ Mitscherlich, M. ([1967] 1975) The Inability to Mourn. Principles of Collective Behavior. New York: Grove Press.

Nancy, J.L. (1991) The Inoperative Community. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Perelberg, R. J. (2008) Time, Space and Phantasy. London/New York: Routledge.

Rabinovich, D. (1990) The Concept of Object in Psychoanalytic Theory. Buenos Aires: Manantial.

Ricoeur, P. (2004) Memory, History, Forgetting. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Sklar, J. (2011) Landscapes of the Dark. History, Trauma, Psychoanalysis. London: Karnac.

Stolorow, R. J. (2007) Trauma and Human Existence. Autobiographical, Psychoanalytic, and Philosophical Reflections. New York/Sussex: Routledge.

Varvin, S./Volkan, V. D. eds. (2003) Violence or Dialogue? Psychoanalytic Insights on Terror and Terrorism. London: International Psychoanalytical Association.

Young, J. E. (2004) “Rachel Whiteread’s Judenplatz Memorial in Vienna. Memory and Absence” in C. Townsend ed. The Art of Rachel Whiteread. London: Thames & Hudson.

NARRATIVITY AND POLITICAL IMAGINARIES

CALL FOR PAPERS – SUMMER SYMPOSIUM July 31st– August 7th 2011

Venue: Falsterbo educational centre, 20 km South of Malmö, Southern Sweden

“A man of letters by instinct, though a doctor by necessity, I conceived the idea of changing over a branch of medicine—psychiatry—into literature,” writes Freud in a letter to Giovani Papini. Thus he asserts the inextricable relation between the psychoanalytic take on psychopathology and the subjective narrative that serves as its vehicle. Continue reading

NATIONALISM AND THE BODY POLITIC

CALL FOR PAPERS – WINTER SYMPOSIUM IN

OSLO 25th to 27th of MARCH 2011

We cannot, argued Gullestad in Plausible Prejudice (2006), “understand the appeal of right-wing politics if we do not take into account how this rhetoric is underpinned by and embedded in rearticulated neo-ethnic ideas.” She argued that politicians from other than the right-wing populist parties have resisted specific ways of talking that are considered too extremist, rather than their underlying frame of interpretation. Continue reading