Friday, May 23, 2008

Pick, Daniel. "Analysing Adolf." TLS May 21, 2008.

Edmundson, Mark. The Death of Sigmund Freud: Fascism, Psychoanalysis and the Rise of Fundamentalism. London: Bloomsbury, 2007. Although this book focuses on the antinomies of psychoanalysis and Fascism, it also seeks to present, especially after the Anschluss, what Edmundson calls the “oddly converging lives” of the leaders of these two movements of thought. Sometimes the “convergence” is strained, with the author virtually implying (albeit to good dramatic effect), for instance, that a personal reckoning with the founder of psychoanalysis was on Hitler’s mind as he raised the diplomatic stakes in 1938: on March 14, writes Edmundson, Hitler was “heading to Vienna (and to Freud)”. The more serious and sustained concern of The Death of Sigmund Freud lies elsewhere than in personal crossed paths, and rather in the dire psychic and political processes that Nazism exploited and Freud might help us to think about. A call to obedience and total faith in authority – that of the Führer himself – were central to Nazism. This was also the terrain that Freud opened up in his account of the superego, which he set out in The Ego and the Id in 1923, and which was substantially to transform the discourse of psychoanalysis thereafter. In certain circumstances, a particular type of superego, for instance, cruel, mad and implacable, may seem to be given licence to dominate the entire psyche. Freud’s work, Edmundson passionately argues, has a very strong bearing on politics, including, but not confined to, the specific politics that bedevilled interwar Europe, even if it says little about the contingent historical factors that led to the disasters of modern German history. . . . Read the rest here:

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