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Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)

The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud is one of the central and most controversial figures of modern thought. Following upon Copernicus’s decentring of the Earth, and Darwin’s dethroning of man from the top of the animal kingdom, Freud’s revolution showed man to not even be ‘master in his own house’. Freud emphasized the primacy of the unconscious in the constitution of psychic life, and later conceived of the Ego, or consciousness, as conditioned by the twin pressures of the Id and the Superego. Freud first began his engagement with psychology during his medical studies at the University of Vienna In 1885, during a trip to Paris, Freud encountered the work and practices of Jean-Martin Charcot, the renowned neurologist. Charcot’s use of hypnotism in dealing with hysterics led Freud to his earliest formulations of the nature of the unconscious mind. In lieu of hypnotism, Freud favoured free association and dream analysis as the best means for accessing the terrain of the unconscious. His masterpiece The Interpretation of Dreams was published in Vienna 1900. From his earliest work, Freud emphasized the central roles of sexuality and repression in psychopathology and in the constitution of the human mind in general. Freud was a divisive figure in his own day, leading to numerous schools and offshoots grounded in his initial work. The ‘return to Freud’ called for by Jacques Lacan in France was directed against the ‘ego psychology’ of the Anglophone context, and imported concepts from Hegelian phenomenology, Heideggerian existentialism, and structuralism into psychoanalysis. The new theory of subjectivity to be found in Lacan’s return to Freud was the main inspiration behind the Cahiers pour l’Analyse. Freud’s presence is ubiquitous in the journal, and his writings receive direct engagement in volume five, ‘La Ponctuation de Freud’, and in several commentaries by Serge Leclaire and Jacques Nassif.

In the Cahiers pour l’Analyse

Jacques-Alain Miller, ‘Avertissement: Concept de la ponctuation’, CpA 5.Introduction [HTML] [PDF] [SYN]
Serge Leclaire, ‘Les Éléments en jeu dans une psychanalyse (à propos de l’Homme aux loups)’, CpA 5.1 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN]
Michel Tort, ‘Le Concept freudien de “Représentant”’, CpA 5.2 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN]
Jacques Nassif, ‘Le Fantasme dans “On bat un enfant”’, CpA 7.4 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN]
Jacques Nassif, ‘Freud et la science’, CpA 9.10 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN]

Select bibliography

  • The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, ed. James Strachey with Anna Freud, 24 vols. London: Hogarth Press, 1953-1964.
  • The Wolfman and Other Cases, ed. Adam Phillips, trans. Louise Adey Huish. London: Penguin, 2002.
  • Beyond the Pleasure Principle, and other writings, ed. Adam Phillips, trans. John Reddick. London: Penguin, 2003.
  • The Psychology of Love, ed. Adam Phillips, trans. Shaun Whiteside. London: Penguing, 2006.