By Celia Brickman

What half does racial distinction play in psychoanalysis? What should be discovered whilst contemplating this query from a postcolonial point of view? during this refined and commanding research, Celia Brickman explores how the colonialist racial discourse of late-nineteenth-century anthropology chanced on its method into Freud´s paintings, the place it got here to play a covert yet an important position in his notions of subjectivity. Brickman argues that the typical psychoanalytic proposal of "primitivity" as an early level of mental improvement inevitably incorporates with it implications of an anthropologically understood "primitivity," which used to be conceived through Freud -and possibly nonetheless is this present day -in colonialist and racial phrases. She relates the racial subtext embedded in Freud´s suggestion to his representations of gender and faith and exhibits how this subtext kinds a part of the bigger historicizing development of the psychoanalytic undertaking. ultimately, she exhibits how colonialist strains have made their approach into the...

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For a while, I accepted it at face value: after all, psychoanalytic theory tells us that our patterns of behavior and the roots of our pathologies lie in the earliest experiences of our lives, when our mental organization and abilities are at their most rudimentary. Why not call this level of organization primitive? Why not describe certain behaviors understood to be immature and childish as primitive? Surely the term primitive is commonly used in everyday life, as well as within psychoanalytic theory, to convey the raw and the rudimentary, the undeveloped, the archaic.

Practicing psychoanalysts, too, have recently begun to grapple with the realization that questions of ethnocentricity in psychoanalysis arise within western clinical practice. And, most recently, cultural critics have begun to examine more closely the interwoven assumptions about gender, sexuality, and race that have been part of the psychoanalytic enterprise. 12 Thus far, however, little systematic attention has been paid to the relationships between the colonial ancestry of the problematic of race in psychoanalysis, the evolutionary thought Freud made use of, and the historicizing framework of psychoanalysis that seeks to create a modern subjectivity through a renegotiation of the past; and little attention has been paid to the implications of these relationships for the therapeutic encounter.

Columbus’s first descriptions of the people he met seemed to indicate that what he could not recognize, they did not have: no clothes, no religion, no reason, no laws or private property, and even no language. Their lands were characterized as belonging to no one: terra nullius. What was unintelligible simply did not seem to exist, and thus these peoples were seen as deficient and inferior compared to European standards. 19 The American native was seen both as lacking the attributes of the European and as embodying the attributes of the fantasized exotic other.

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