The Violence of Right: Rereading ‘Why War?’

In this contribution, the often neglected correspondence ‘Why War?’ (Freud, 1933b) is presented as the locus classicus of Freud’s account of ‘Right and Violence’. In the discussion with Freud, Einstein’s position appears in the light of Kant’s Toward Perpetual Peace. It is exemplary of the dominant liberal conception of international law as the ultimate means for world peace. This contribution problematizes the debate between Freud and Einstein by its confrontation with the legal philosophy of Hans Kelsen, who is renown as the ‘Einstein of Law’. It is argued that Freud subscribes to Einstein’s and Kelsen’s liberalism in order to radically criticize it. Based on his own conception of right as considered to be a temporary incantation of violence, Freud scrutinizes the liberal possibility of ‘peace through international law’.

Freud reads Krafft-Ebing: A short Genealogy of Sadism

This contribution presents a reconstruction of the way the concept of sadism was introduced and anchored in psychoanalytic metapsychology. It focusses on the first two editions (1905 and 1910) of Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. Freud’s singular indebtedness to Krafft-Ebing is emphasized. Subsequently, it is argued that Freud’s selective reading of Krafft-Ebing is determined by his model of hysteria. Freud seems unable to give an adequate account of sadism in his Three Essays and in his later work, sadism remains a conceptual “problem child” becoming an oversimplified passe-partout concept used to discuss the theme of human aggressiveness.

“My Name was Sabina Spielrein”: Freud’s Russian Daughter and the Echoes of her Fascinating Oeuvre

This contribution is dedicated to the Russian psychoanalyst Sabina Spielrein (1885-1942). Following a short sketch of the historical context, we focus on Spielrein’s oeuvre, with specific reference to the implicit and the explicit impact of both Spielrein and her earliest work on the thinking of Jung and Freud. We concentrate not only on the theme of (counter)transference and on the concept of the death instinct, but also on some typically Jungian core concepts, such as the “collective unconscious”, the “archetypes”, the “anima”, and the “shadow”. In addition, we also briefly discuss Spielrein’s pioneering work in child analysis, including the role of child play, infant observation, and developmental psychology. In this way, we hope to illustrate the concrete impact of Spielrein’s oeuvre on the work of Melanie Klein, Anna Freud, and Donald Winnicott.

Destructive Passion: Freud’s Metapsychology of Hate in “Instincts and their Vicissitudes”

This contribution proposes that Freud, in “Instincts and their Vicissitudes” (1915c), develops a separate metapsychology of hate for the first time. Freud does not only distinguish hate from sadism and masochism, but also renounces his former opinion about hate as a transformation of love. We analyse Freud’s views on hate in line with his “The Disposition to Obsessional Neurosis” (1913i) and according to the matrix of obsessional neurosis. We also draw attention to the constitutive importance of the ego-development and the ego-instincts as put forward in “On Narcissism: An Introduction” (1914c). In this way Freud’s plea for an original hate is one of the rare locations in the Freudian corpus where there is room for an original, non-sexual aggressivity.

Freud contra Laplanche: On Sadism and Masochism in “Instincts and their Viscissitudes”

This contribution focuses on Freud’s elaboration of the genesis of sadism and masochism in “Instincts and their Vicissitudes” (1915c). We first briefly recap the standard reading of this text by Jean Laplanche which relies on Freud’s concept of “anaclisis”. In our opinion, Laplanche’s reading implicitly presupposes that Freud’s discussion of sadism and masochism questions the sexualisation of an originally non-sexual aggressivity. In contrast, we argue that Freud’s argumentation starts from the question how the aggressivity that is inherent in sexuality relates to sadism and masochism qua perversion. The matrix of obsessional neurosis and the development of the ego discussed in the same context are of crucial importance for the systematic development of Freud’s answer to this last question.