Forget Freud; here comes the real thing…

Thursday, 24. January 2013

This book is transforming the way Cora and I think about “personality”. Forget Freud, he’s just the start…


This volume is a superb introduction to the richness and originality of Abraham and Torok’s approach to psychoanalysis and their psychoanalytic approach to literature. Abraham and Torok advocate a form of psychoanalysis that insists on the particularity of any individual’s life story, the specificity of texts, and the singularity of historical situations. In what is both a critique and an extension of Freud, they develop interpretive strategies with powerful implications for clinicians, literary theorists, feminists, philosophers, and all others interested in the uses and limits of psychoanalysis.
Central to their approach is a general theory of psychic concealment, a poetics of hiding. Whether in a clinical setting or a literary text, they search out the unspeakable secret as a symptom of devastating trauma revealed only in linguistic or behavioral encodings. Their view of trauma provides the linchpin for new psychic and linguistic structures such as the “transgenerational phantom” an undisclosed family secret handed down to an unwitting descendant, and the intra-psychic secret or “crypt” which entombs an unspeakable but consummated desire. Throughout, Abraham and Torok seek to restore communication with those intimate recesses of the mind which are, for one reason or another, denied expression. Classics of French theory and practice, the essays in volume one include four previously uncollected works by Maria Torok. Nicholas Rand supplies a substantial introductory essay and commentary throughout. Abraham and Torok’s theories of fractured meaning and their search for coherence in the face of discontinuity and disruption have the potential to reshape not only psychoanalysis but all disciplines concerned with issues of textual, oral, or visual interpretation.

3 Responses to “Forget Freud; here comes the real thing…”

  1. Vincent Says:

    It’s my impression that you were already thinking along those lines, a congregation ready for a sermon delivered to the converted. Aren’t we all birds of a feather, delighted to read that which confirms and fleshes out our existing intuitions?

  2. Vincent Says:

    The book, as you refer to it, puts me in mind of another author who might have said, “Forget Freud; here comes the real thing”, and proposed that it’s a human trait to hide things from ourselves. I refer to Ernest Becker, whose book “The Denial of Death” won the Pulitzer Prize in 1974. I’ve written a review of it here

  3. RealSteveHolmes Says:

    As we get into the book we are discovering some of the more profound insights of Freud, as opposed to the cheap, modern therapy errors people make about him. My position is softening, though I still think the insistence on bodily, instinctual and Id drivers is OTT I’ve never had an Oedipal thought in my entire life.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Website Knight