During its long history, psychoanalytical theory has developed a criticism dealing with almost the entire domain of human culture and civilization. That theory lays bare the unconscious motives and structures which, on the conscious level, can have all kinds of pernicious effects. The weak point of that criticism, however, consists in its awareness that the unconscious motives and structures it brings to consciousness, after its critical analysis, will remain unconscious and repressed. In that sense, psychoanalytical theory performs a critique of criticism as such. Unmasking falsity and lies does not necessarily result in establishing truth.
This essay outlines the contours of such a psychoanalytical ‘critique of criticism as such’, as well as its implications for contemporary critical thought in general. The essay more precisely focuses on the right-wing cultural criticism, which makes use of criticism’s newly discovered ‘tragic condition’ in order to support a conservative ethical, cultural and political programme. This essay proposes a few points of reference replying to these tendencies in contemporary critical thought.
Lacan, Alcibiades and Freud: On Love and Transference
This essay examines why Socrates uses the Symposium of Plato to better understand transference in psychoanalytic treatment. The reason is found in Freud's argument that transference is true love and that Eros is the subject of the Symposium. Can Socrates be seen as a precursor to Freud? Lacan's answer is no. The knowledge of Socrates is not the knowledge of Freud. According to Socrates, love is oriented to what is good and the love for the individual is sublimated into…
The Place of Acting Out in Psychoanalysis: From Freud to Lacan
Within psychoanalysis acting out is, today, a contested concept, both in terms of its theoretical underpinnings and with regard to its clinical application. In light of this the present paper presents a review of the concept which begins with Freud and moves on to trace the various discussions and controversies which have surrounded the term. It is argued that acting out is a valid and clinically important psychoanalytic concept, though one which retains its value only in virtue of unpacking…
Freud and the Haizmann Affair
In 1923 Freud published an essay on the application of psychoanalysis to a case of demonic possession and liberation through exorcism in baroque Austria. For the psychoanalyst working with archival material, it is a matter of rediscovering neurotic ailments under a different rubric. According to Freud, the story of Christoph Haizmann clearly contains a truth which is dear to him, namely, the father conceived as devil. In this polemical text, aimed at Charcot's heirs, exorcists from the 17th century emerge…