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The Birth of Psychoanalysis: Body, Sexuality, Subjectivity

This article aims to clarify the ways sexuality and subjectivity have been implicated in each other in the emergence of psychoanalysis. It departs from the major argument that psychoanalysis is not a theory of sexuality but a theory of subjectivity in connection with sexuality. Thus, the aim of the article is to draw attention to the social and historical context in which psychoanalysis has been founded by Freud. With this aim, it firstly focuses on some biographical aspects of Freud’s life. Later, it draws on the argument suggested by Foucault in his The History of Sexuality about the “archaeology of psychoanalysis”. There are two different axes of historical explanation which the article takes from Foucault and proceed: the first relates to the ways sexuality has been connected to the family so as to result in the sexualization of family relations. The second is about the emergence of psychoanalysis as a “technology of the self” employed by the bourgeois class by means of caring the sexual and familial relations. The article mostly benefits from E. Roudinesco’s impressive biographical work on Freud to understand the birth of psychoanalysis in more concrete and particular ways, covering aspects of Freud's life and the small circle around him. On the first historical axis, it deals with the role of hysteria, focusing on the case of Anna O. Here the critical moment is the slide towards inner forces and intimacy instead of the body in the treatment of hysteria. On the second historical axis, the paper draws attention to the inter-familial relations and the familial dramas of the closed circle around Freud to understand the birth of psychoanalysis as a technology of the self


Freud, Psychoanalysis, Body, Sexuality, Subjectivity, Hysteria.


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