Posts Tagged ‘ Sigmund Freud ’

New book – The Arabic Freud: Psychoanalysis and Islam in Modern Egypt


The book The Arabic Freud: Psychoanalysis and Islam in Modern Egypt by Omnia El Shakry might be of interest to H-Madness readers. On the publishers website you can read the introduction of the book. The abstract reads as follows:

The first in-depth look at how postwar thinkers in Egypt mapped the intersections between Islamic discourses and psychoanalytic thought.

In 1945, psychologist Yusuf Murad introduced an Arabic term borrowed from the medieval Sufi philosopher and mystic Ibn ‘Arabi—al-la-shu‘ur—as a translation for Sigmund Freud’s concept of the unconscious. By the late 1950s, Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams had been translated into Arabic for an eager Egyptian public. In The Arabic Freud, Omnia El Shakry challenges the notion of a strict divide between psychoanalysis and Islam by tracing how postwar thinkers in Egypt blended psychoanalytic theories with concepts from classical Islamic thought in a creative encounter of ethical engagement.

Drawing on scholarly writings as well as popular literature on self-healing, El Shakry provides the first in-depth examination of psychoanalysis in Egypt and reveals how a new science of psychology—or “science of the soul,” as it came to be called—was inextricably linked to Islam and mysticism. She explores how Freudian ideas of the unconscious were crucial to the formation of modern discourses of subjectivity in areas as diverse as psychology, Islamic philosophy, and the law. Founding figures of Egyptian psychoanalysis, she shows, debated the temporality of the psyche, mystical states, the sexual drive, and the Oedipus complex, while offering startling insights into the nature of psychic life, ethics, and eros.

This provocative and insightful book invites us to rethink the relationship between psychoanalysis and religion in the modern era. Mapping the points of intersection between Islamic discourses and psychoanalytic thought, it illustrates how the Arabic Freud, like psychoanalysis itself, was elaborated across the space of human difference.

The Richardson History of Psychiatry Research Seminar (Fall 2017, Cornell University)


The Richardson History of Psychiatry Research Seminar at Cornell University might be of interest to H-Madness readers. The lectures are held in the fall of 2017.

The programme:

September 6
Benjamin Zajicek, Ph.D., Towson University
“Soviet Psychiatrists and ‘The So-Called Traumatic Neuroses of Wartime:’ Medical Practice and Professional Politics in the USSR, 1939-1945”
September 20
Dany Nobus, Ph.D., Brunel University, London
The Madness of Princess Alice: Sigmund Freud and Ernst Simmel at Sanatorium Schloss Tegel”
October 4
Avraham Rot, Ph.D., John Hopkins University
“The Postulate of Anxiety in Freudian Theory, or Why There Are No Boredom Disorders”
October 18
Robert Goldstein, M.D., Weill Cornell Medical College
“Innateness in Behavioral Science: A Hundreds’ Year War”
November 1
Samuel Scharff, M.D./Ph.D. Candidate, Johns Hopkins
“‘A Glimpse of the Promised Land’: Psychiatry, Law, and the Politics of U.S. Criminal Justice, 1941-1976”
November 15
Thomas Dodman, Ph.D., Boston College
“What Nostalgia Was: Emotions Before Trauma”
November 29
Issues In Mental Health
December 6
Matthew Gambino, M.D., Ph.D., University of Illinois, Chicago
“Mental health and Ideals of Citizenship: Patient Care at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., 1903–1962”
December 20
No Seminar — Holiday Party





Announcement: Fulbright-Freud Visiting Scholar of Psychoanalysis, 2016-17

Wartezimmer_1Fulbright-Freud Visiting Scholar of Psychoanalysis, 2016-17

Deadline: August 1, 2015
Length of Grant: 4 months
Starting Date: March 1, 2017
Location: Sigmund Freud Foundation and Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna
Benefits: This award includes a travel grant of Euro 800, medical and accident insurance, and a monthly stipend of Euro 3,300 per month for four months.
Language: The Austrian Fulbright Commission expects Fulbright-Freud scholars to have a high level of German proficiency, although English may be used as the language of instruction.
Qualifications: Open to associate and full professors. Several years of teaching/lecturing or professional experience in relevant fields of psychoanalysis.
Grant Activity: Conduct research at the Sigmund Freud Foundation in Vienna and teach between one or two courses or seminars on a topic related to the research project at a Viennese host institution. Applicants should explain why their research needs to be conducted in Vienna. Details of teaching assignment are to be arranged by the Sigmund Freud Foundation and the Austrian Fulbright Commission in consultation with grantee.
Specialization(s): human sciences, cultural studies, theory and/or practice of psychoanalysis, psychoanalytic studies, neurosciences in relation to psychoanalysis, arts related to psychoanalysis.
Comments: Applicants must solicit a letter of invitation from the Sigmund Freud Foundation by submitting a curriculum vitae and research/lecturing proposal. Grantee will have a workstation in the library of the Sigmund Freud Museum. Visit for more information about the Freud Museum.
Contact person: Dr. Daniela Finzi, Research, Sigmund Freud Foundation, Berggasse 19, A 1090 Vienna; ph. +431 319 15 96 0; fax: +431 317 02 79; e-Mail:
Link to Application:

Article: “The enduring legacy of Freud – Anna Freud” (BBC News)

BBC News has a new article dated 7 September entitled

“The enduring legacy of Freud – Anna Freud”

The legacy of Sigmund Freud – the founder of psychoanalysis is well known. But perhaps less so is the impact his daughter Anna had, and continues to have, on child psychoanalysis.

Her involvement began at the age of just 13, when she took part in her father’s weekly discussions on psychoanalytic ideas.

Controversially, she is also believed to have received some informal therapy from her father.

By the time of her death in 1982, Anna Freud’s work had revolutionised how we treat children in many walks of life, such as in hospital – with longer visiting hours when children are having treatment – and in the judicial system, where screens and video cameras are used when children have to give evidence.

To read the entire article, click here.

To hear Claudia Hammond’s account of the life and legacy of Anna Freud in Radio 4’s Mind Changers, click here

Film Review – A Dangerous Method. Directed by David Cronenberg, Sony Pictures 2011

By Geoffrey Cocks

One of the characteristics of the psychoanalytic movement in Central Europe during the early twentieth century was the often important professional role played by women as theorists, practitioners, and patients.  One of those who performed in all three roles was Sabina Spielrein, an intellectually gifted woman from an affluent Russian Jewish background studying in Zurich and suffering from childhood traumata.  Spielrein was to play a particularly important role in the early and ultimately broken relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.  Tyrannized by her own father, she would become Jung’s patient, colleague, and lover; one means for Jung to confront (or not) his own father issues; and, as a psychoanalyst herself the most important source for the articulation of the death instinct by a Freud beset with his own unresolved conflicts regarding his mother.  Freud’s version of Spielrein’s death instinct, formulated in the heaving wake of the First World War, would itself become part of the basis for object relations theory, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and feminist psychoanalytic sociology, all three of which conceived of the mother as the source of fundamental male discontent over desire for—and separation from—the original caretaker.  In the mid-twentieth century such and similar dynamics would coalesce with historical trends, events, and disasters in German history in particular to drive Hitler and his Nazi brethren to inflict anxious and murderous violence upon millions of human beings.  Among these millions of victims was Sabina Spielrein who, in the early months of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, was, together with her two daughters, among the Jews in Rostov-on-Don who were rounded up and shot.

Based primarily on clinical psychologist John Kerr’s book, A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud. And Sabina Spielrein (1993), A Dangerous Method begins on August 17, 1904.  A hysterical young woman is being transported by coach to the Cantonal Psychiatric Hospital and Clinic of Zürich, famously and widely known under the direction of Eugen Bleuler as the Burghölzli Clinic.  The woman is Sabina Spielrein, who is to be treated there by means of the “talking cure” pioneered by Sigmund Freud in Vienna.  As historian Peter Loewenberg has argued, the Burghölzli was a model scientific community in which new methods of psychiatry, in particular psychoanalysis, were cultivated.  One of the young men attracted to this creative scientific environment was a young follower of Freud’s method by the name of Carl Jung.  It is he who will supervise Spielrein’s treatment.  She will sit in a chair and he will sit in a chair located behind her.  Jung instructs her not to turn around but simply to talk about what she recalls about her life.  It is in this scene that the limitations of the film genre are most manifest.  Within less than three minutes of conversation—and one significant silence on the patient’s part—Jung elicits the core trauma of Spielrein’s childhood:  beatings by her father.  In a subsequent scene only two minutes are required for her to reveal that she was sexually aroused by the beatings and ever after would feel the urge to masturbate in response to any instance of emotional stress.  This elision of much of the hard, time-consuming work of mining the unconscious has the dramaturgical advantage, however, of drawing the viewer swiftly and surely into the pathos of the story the film has to tell.  The screenplay (written by Christopher Hampton from his play The Talking Cure [2002]) also includes one nice bit of parapraxis that emphasizes the content of unconscious emotion constituting a continuous individual history.  This is a very quickly spoken slip of the tongue by Spielrein as she describes how she began to seek out humiliation in order to experience arousal:  “I looked for any humiliation—even here.  You hit my cock with your stick.”  Suddenly the past (“looked”) has become the present (“even here”) and vice-versa in a classic psychoanalytic instance of transference, whereby the analyst becomes the object toward whom the patient expresses emotions connected with someone in the past.  Moreover, for the dramatic purposes of the film the future too is invoked since Spielrein and Jung will become lovers.  The nonsense statement (“my cock . . . your stick”) collapses the stick carried by the father (also his penis) into Jung’s (“your”), “my cock” representing her wish for possession of the penis as well as a rhetorical reversal that represents denial of the wish for sexual intercourse with Jung, her father, and any or all men.  She concludes:  “There’s no hope for me.  I’m vile.”

The first thing to say historically about what is to follow in the film is that there is no hard evidence that Jung and Spielrein had a sexual relationship, which included his indulgence of her masochism.  (Later, in 1910, when Spielrein comes to Jung’s home in Küsnacht for help with publication of her dissertation—and eventually they resume their sadomasochistic sex—Jung says that on Tuesday next “I’ll start ripping you to shreds.”)  Spielrein broadcast this relationship and kept a diary of it.  Today Freudians generally affirm the affair while Jungians generally deny it.  So-called “boundary issues” are a common occupational hazard in psychoanalysis wherein emotional involvement is central to treatment.  This was particularly the case in the early “frontier days” of psychoanalytic practice.  Also relevant in this regard is that the married Jung would later have a long-term sexual relationship with patient and colleague Toni Wolff.  In any case, the film presents the relationship as fact, beginning with Sabina’s invitation and Carl’s arrival one evening at her apartment door.  She—and the screenplay—in full psychoanalytic double-entendre mode tell him to “Come inside.”

It was this baggage that Jung carried with him to his first meeting with Freud.  The film shows Jung arriving in Vienna on March 3, 1906, but as Jung scholar Jay Sherry has pointed out, this meeting actually took place in 1907.  The film, again in indirect psychoanalytic fashion, hints at Jung’s own struggles with sexuality when it shows him at a dinner with an observant Freud and a tableful of astonished dinner guests, heaping his plate with mounds of food and vigorously gulping it all down.  The film seems to suggest that Jung’s insistence to Freud that psychoanalysis be a means of questing at mystical and eternal verities behind and beyond sexuality constituted unconscious denial of his own current and ongoing sexual needs, indulgences, and conflicts.  The film even provides in this respect a diaboli ex machina in the figure of Otto Gross, a brilliant but unstable psychoanalyst Freud had sent to Jung for treatment who appalls but also tempts Jung with his celebration of drug addiction and unrepressed sexuality.

The shadow of the coming World War—we know it of course—but the characters—and/or of course the filmmakers—too “sense” something terrible is in the offing.  In 1913 Jung, who believes, among other things, in premonitions, relates to a married and pregnant Sabina his recurrent dream of an apocalyptic flood from the North Sea that engulfs all of Europe and turns to blood, “the blood of Europe.”  And even more distant things, more terrible than the Great War.  Freud tells Spielrein to remember that they are Jews and that she should not put her trust in a fantasy of “mystical union with a blond Aryan” like Jung.  Indeed.  The concluding bits of text that are now standard in historical films tell us, over music from Wagner’s Siegfried, that Otto Gross starved to death in Berlin in 1919.  That Freud “was driven out of Vienna by the Nazis and died of cancer in London in 1939.”  And that Spielrein was taken by the Nazis to a synagogue in Rostov and murdered.  As for Jung:  He suffered from “a prolonged nervous breakdown during the First World War” and later became “the world’s leading psychologist.”  There is no mention of the fact that Jung for some years in the 1930s associated himself with a group of non-Jewish psychotherapists and psychoanalysts who established an institute for psychotherapy in Nazi Berlin under the leadership of a relative of Hermann Göring.

Geoffrey Cocks teaches at Albion College and is the author of numerous works, including
Psychotherapy in the Third Reich: The Göring Institute, 2nd ed. (Transaction 1997) and most recently The State of Health: Illness in Nazi Germany (Oxford 2012).

Freud en français

La Société psychanalytique de Paris vient de publier une bibliographie des écrits de Sigmund Freud traduits et publiés en français. Elle reprend dans l’ordre chronologique toutes les traductions françaises des textes et correspondances. Pour chaque texte référencé, un tableau récapitulatif indique, quand ils existent, les titres en français, allemand et anglais avec leurs références bibliographiques précises.

Pour plus d’informations, cliquez ici.

Book Review – Mitchell G. Ash (ed.): Psychoanalyse in totalitären und autoritären Regimen (Frankfurt a. M. 2010)

By Uffa Jensen

“Psychoanalysis in totalitarian and authoritarian regimes”

In political terms, Freud’s view of his creation – psychoanalysis – was ambivalent. In the wake of the First World War, he argued in favor of the use of psychoanalysis by the expanding welfare state under a Socialist or reformist leadership.  When later referring to the threat of Bolshevism against psychoanalysis in Russia, he stated, however, that psychoanalysis required a “certain liberal attitude”. And after the rise of Nazism, he did not hesitate to advocate the continuation of psychoanalysis in the name of pure science, despite the evident intimidation of Jewish psychoanalysts. This raises important questions (not just) about the history of psychoanalysis, which are explored in this collection of essays. How flexible was psychoanalysis as a system of knowledge in its adaptation to a political context? Did it have a clear political nature? Or could psychoanalysis as a therapeutic technique and a scientific body of ideas be reinterpreted to fit almost every political system, including authoritarian or totalitarian dictatorships?

In his introduction, the editor of this volume, Mitchell G. Ash, broadens the perspective beyond the history of psychoanalysis: in the history of science more generally we can find numerous examples of a false opposition between true science in democracies and pseudo-science in totalitarian or authoritarian regimes. Historically, this contrasting interpretation results itself from an ideological constellation: the anti-totalitarian mobilization of science during the Cold War era. Such views enabled and supported the conventional view of psychoanalysis, which, particularly in the case of Nazi Germany, stresses the incompatibility of psychoanalysis and totalitarian political regimes. In contrast to other sciences, the practice of psychoanalysis in a totalitarian society poses a specific problem as a therapeutic instrument: to treat patients should mean to restore their self, but this also requires a certain degree of social and political adjustment. Thus, psychoanalysis could prove to be attractive to very different political regimes. As Michael Schröter can demonstrate in this volume, this functional (re-)orientation of psychoanalysis as a therapy proved to be the way in which the remaining psychoanalysts tried to convince the new regime of their usefulness. A similar point is discussed by Geoffrey Cocks, who stresses the importance of therapeutic ideas for the Nazi regime in its attempt to mobilize and discipline the human resources available to it. For such normalizing efforts, practical psychoanalytical methods were much more helpful for the regime than any discussion of a “German” form of therapy (“deutsche Seelenheilkunde”).

In his essay, Michael Schröter further explores the relationship of the psychoanalytical movement and the emerging Nazi regime. He concentrates on the early phase of the regime from 1933 to 1936 – the period in which there was still hope that psychoanalysis could survive under Nazism. It is important to note that in this period psychoanalysis was ridiculed by the regime, but its practitioners were not directly persecuted. While many Jewish psychoanalysts had to leave Germany, they often did so because of restrictions and humiliation, not yet because of direct physical threats. The only exceptions here were psychoanalysts on the radical left like Wilhelm Reich. Schröter carefully discusses the developments during the period and stresses their fundamental openness. He even puts into context the infamous attempts by German, non-Jewish psychoanalysts like Felix Boehm or Carl Müller-Braunschweig to establish a psychoanalysis with a “specifically German character”, which were at least implicitly directed against its supposedly “Jewish” character. Schröter’s piece is noteworthy in its attempt to treat these protagonists with “understanding and compassion” and “to identify exactly the point where understanding and compassion reach a limit” (164). This has already sparked considerable discussions in German psychoanalytical circles, as a recent volume of “Psyche” (Vol. 65/2, 2011) reveals.

In her contribution, Birgit Johler approaches a similar issue from an entirely different angle. She provides insight into the therapeutic practice of August Aichhorn, one of the few remaining psychoanalysts in Vienna after 1938. This is part of an ongoing project on Aichhorn’s daily work that attempts to describe the social profile of his patients. An interesting detail is his particular use of his date-books before and after the Nazi’s seizure of power in Austria. It remains unclear, however, how to explain his deliberate attempt to conceal meetings and sessions, with the use of two different date-books. It could have been an instrument to deceive the Nazi regime about the true nature of his psychoanalytical practice – or to just evade the tax system.

In her contribution, Jacqueline Amati Mehler recounts the early history of the Italian psychoanalytical movement under the Fascist regime as a “story of David and Goliath” (136). Yet, she stresses the relatively relaxed relationship until the mid-1930s. The fact that she finds little evidence of collaboration by Italian psychoanalysts may, however, have more to do with the comparatively low level of institutionalization of psychoanalysis in Italy – and individual opposition to the regime – than with strict ideological incommensurability.

Igor M. Kadyrov recounts the development of psychoanalysis in the Soviet Union and in contemporary Russia. He describes the early phase of psychoanalytical reception until the mid-1920s as a period of immense discursive richness, combined with an acute lack of trained personnel, proper psychoanalytical training, and coherent and systematic therapeutic practice. While the movement had thus always stood on shaky grounds, the actual destruction of the psychoanalytical movement in Soviet Russia certainly came from above and was, in particular, a consequence of the political power struggle between Stalin and Trotsky, who was closely associated with psychoanalysis. In Kadyrov’s account, it was only in the 1970s that psychoanalysis started to make inroads into Soviet society again.

There are more historical essays in this collection, exploring similar problems, i.e. in Belgium, Norway, or Brazil. Other contributions concentrate on the historical consequences of the Nazi period for postwar psychoanalysis. However, two further texts also underline the difficulties of approaching this subject. In her essay, Elizabeth Brainin analyses dreams during the Nazi era. She does raise some interesting points: discussing two of Victor Klemperer’s short dreams, she can show how prevalent fear and persecution were in his daily life – up to the point that dreaming itself lost its function as a refuge and any possibility of wish fulfilling. Her discussion of Charlotte Beradt’s collection of “Dreams in the Third Reich” (1966) is also useful, at least in part. In general, however, her approach does not fit well with the other essays, because of its a-historical nature, in two different respects. Firstly, her arguments rest upon Freudian concepts of dream interpretation, which are themselves not analyzed as historical entities, but taken for granted. Secondly, she portrays Nazi ideology as an irrational evil that subjugates the individual dreamer. Hence, much of her discussion of dreams by non-Jews assumes that a wish to coexist with the regime stood in sharp conflict with the wish to resist it, which existed in the superego. Thus, the individual dream was not a fulfillment of a wish, but ripe with conflict. But how can we presuppose that a wish to resist the regime existed in the superego? Historians of Nazis would find such a prevalence of resistance truly astonishing, given what they know about the nature of opposition under Nazism. Hence, this seems to come dangerously close to simply reproducing the self-image of the dreamers as objects and, in some way even, as victims of the Nazi dictatorship. Similar problems arise in Daphne Stock’s essay on psychoanalysis and democratic consciousness. Here, again psychoanalytical categories are used and not questioned for the analysis of the politics of the present era.

But apart from such criticism, this collection of essays is an important contribution to the debates about the history of psychoanalysis and, in general, of science in totalitarian regimes. A further comment for future research needs to be added here. Interestingly, these essays primarily approach the problem of political utilization from the perspective of psychoanalysis. The question how adaptable psychoanalysis was under totalitarian or authoritarian regimes could be turned around as well: how willing were such regimes to accept psychoanalysis? Here, additional insights may be gained, because it seems that in most cases it was the lack of interest and, after a while, even open hostility of these regimes that in the end destroyed the official psychoanalytical movements, not the other way around. On the whole, psychoanalysts tried to adapt to the political circumstances, if they were allowed to do so. But what perceptions of psychoanalysis caused the general mistrust, aversion, or ignorance with which totalitarian and authoritarian regimes approached it? Why were they – after a while – no longer interested in an explicitly psychoanalytical technique of psychological adjustment? Was this caused by anti-Semitism and by the complementary image of psychoanalysis as an unacceptable “Jewish science”? What role in this rejection was played by the allegedly bourgeois character of psychoanalysis? Or by its emphasis on sexuality? At least in part, it was the somewhat late, but nevertheless resolute rejection by these regimes that gave psychoanalysis its now disputed reputation of a democratic and politically defiant force.

Uffa Jensen is currently affiliated with the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, where he is a researcher in the project on “Curing Emotions. Psychoanalysis in Berlin, London, and Calcutta 1910-1940.”

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