The mythification of memory: Freud, Lacan and Sebald’s Austerlitz

This paper explores the theme of memory and the process of remembering, linked to the inception of psychoanalysis and Freud’s work with his first hysterical patients which taught him that remembering, or rather, reminiscing, forms a crucial part of every analysis. Remembering is imprecise and is therefore of immense significance. What doesn’t fit into the narrative of life is “trauma.” It is what could not be assimilated by the subject and thus it is separated from “memory” (Braunstein, 2010, p. 6). In developing this, I will assess Freud’s early work with female hysterics and his work on technique, as well as Lacan’s elaborations of Freud’s technique in his work in the fifties which instrumentalise the importance of “dialectic” in supporting the analysand’s speech and remembering. What is essential is the “reconstruction” of the past and not simply reproducing it. W.G. Sebald’s compelling novel Austerlitz (2001) serves as a complimentary text in assessing the subjective significance of memory and remembering.