This book sheds a new light on Freud, who from the beginning was aware that the psychoanalytic edifice he was constructing – which revealed in each individual an “ego not master in its own house” – had clear implications for understanding collective human behavior, including religion, morality, and civilization.
The authors’ political focus is unusual, and their choice of quotes from lesser-known sources holds great interest. Freud’s interlocutors include Oskar Pfisrer, the Swiss pastor and lay analyst; Einstein; and the American diplomat William Bullitt, with whom Freud wrote a study of President Wilson, entitled Thomas Widrow Wilson: A Psychological Study. In his introduction to this book, written in 1930, Freud describes Wilson as a person for whom mere facts held no significance; he esteemed highly nothing but human motives and opinions. As a result, writes Freud, it was natural for him to ignore the facts of the real outer world, even to deny they existed if they conflicted with his hopes and wishes. In effect, Wilson’s vision of America as savior of the world led to the disastrous consequences of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, causing William Bullitt to predict that it would make renewed international conflicts inevitable, subjecting nations to a century of future wars.
René Major and Chantal Talagrand present psychoanalysis itself as political. What is at stake is liberation from all forms of bondage of the self, the other and the world. While focusing on the uniqueness of inner life, Freud never lost sight of humanity as a whole. Toward the end of his life, he concluded: "A great part of my life's work has been spent [trying to] destroy illusions of my own and those of mankind." By highlighting Freud’s involvement in the political realities of his era, this book draws attention to the inextricable link between psychoanalytic and sociopolitical perspectives. In other words, it includes psychoanalysis in the urgent affairs of the world.
About the Authors:
René Major is a renowned psychoanalyst practicing in Paris. He was Director of theInstitut de psychanalyse de Paris. In 1979 he created the journal Confrontation, a publication linking contemporary art to literature, philosophy, and psychoanalysis. He was later named Program Director at the International College of Philosophy in Paris where he placed particular emphasis on the intersection between philosophy and psychoanalysis. In 2000, he organised an international meeting of psychoanalysts at the Sorbonne, attended by over 1000 participants from thirty-four countries, to discuss the general state of the “science” of psychoanalysis. In 2003 he founded the Institut des hautes études en psychanalyse (Institute of Advanced Studies in Psychoanalysis).
René Major is the author of numerous books, including Rêver l’autre, Le Discernement, De l’Élection, Lacan avec Derrida, La Démocratie en cruauté, Au coeur de l’économie, l’inconscient ('The Unconscious at the Heart of Economy'). He also edited the collective work Derrida pour les temps à venir.
Chantal Talagrand is a psychoanalyst practicing in Paris. At the Institut des hautes études en psychanalyse she conducts a seminar on the relation between psychoanalysis, criminology, and law. She was editor-in-chief of the magazines Cahiers Confrontation and Contretemps, and has published many articles in France and abroad, including Confrontation, Études freudiennes, Psychanalyse à l’Université, Traverses, Intersignes, Textuel, and Filigrane. In addition, she has contributed toJenseits des Identichen ('Beyond Identity'), Depuis Lan ('Since Lacan'), and États généraux de la psychanalyse ('The General State of Psychoanalysis').