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:

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.

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.

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.