Literature and psychoanalysis

Author: Jeremy Tambling

Not only did Sigmund Freud know literature intimately, and quote liberally from literatures of several languages, he has also inspired twentieth-century writers and philosophers, and created several schools of criticism, in literary and cultural studies. Freud was not just practising psychotherapy on his patients, helping them in difficult situations, but helping them by studying the unconscious as the basis of their problems. This book deals with Freud and psychoanalysis, and begins by analysing the 'Copernican revolution' which meant that psychoanalysis decentres the conscious mind, the ego. It shows how Freud illuminates literature, as Freud needs attention for what he says about literature. The book presents one of Freud's 'case-histories', where he discussed particular examples of analysis by examining obsessional neurosis, as distinct from hysteria. It analyses Freud on memory, in relation to consciousness, repression and the unconscious. Guilt was one of his central topics of his work, and the book explores it through several critical texts, 'Criminals from a Sense of Guilt', and 'The Ego and the Id'. The book discusses Melanie Klein, a follower of Freud, and object-relations theory, while also making a reference to Julia Kristeva. One of the main strands of thought of Jacques Lacan was the categories of the Imaginary, the Symbolic, and the Real, as well as paranoia and madness, which are linked to literature here. The book finally returns to Freud on hysteria, and examines him on paranoia in Daniel Paul Schreber, and the psychosis of the 'Wolf Man'.

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