Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Psychoanalysis and Culture in the Weimar Republic

Berlin after WW 1
I recently finished reading Veronika Fuechtner’s Berlin Psychoanalytic: Psychoanalysis and Culture in Weimar Republic Germany and Beyond (University of California Press, 2011) and want to share some material from her conclusion which, I suspect (or hope), may interest those of you sympathetic to, if not convinced of the unique psychological, social psychological and political value of, psychoanalytic theory and praxis. 

Without going into specifics, we can characterize “Berlin Psychoanalytic” as a diverse network of people, discourses, and a corresponding cultural praxis. In particular, the psychoanalytic theory and practice that emerged from the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute (BPI) after WW I can be distinguished by the prominence of the following elements: “the preoccupation with war neurosis that for some analysts and artists also translated into an investment in social change through psychoanalysis; the institutional or intellectual openness to other social movements and theoretical approaches of the time, such as socialism, feminism, and sexual science; the agenda to popularize psychoanalysis and, the confidence that media such as the daily press and film would not dilute what this ‘new science’ was about; the understanding of psychoanalysis as a highly topical practice of intervention connected to more than high bourgeois culture [this is largely owing to its overall Leftist orientation]; the desire to implement psychoanalysis in other social and cultural practices and theories and, conversely, the openness to engage with psychoanalysis in forms deemed nonscientific—that is, novels.” 

Berlin Psychoanalytic is best viewed “as a form of psychoanalytic modernism, and as such it also shares historical characteristics and aesthetic strategies with the psychoanalytic modernisms in Vienna, Paris, and London.” Regarding the last, “[o]n the level of personal relationships, the London Bloomsbury Circle is closely connected to the Berlin Psychoanalytic and, in its specific form of psychoanalytic modernism, most akin to it.”

Finally, and perhaps not surprisingly, Fuechtner notes that “there is still a lot to be said about the influence of race theories, Social Darwinism, and eugenics on the development of psychoanalytic theory in the German context.”
Berlin after WW 1 b
Further Reading:
  • Abel, Elizabeth. Virginia Woolf and the Fictions of Psychoanalysis. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1989.
  • Arato, Andrew and Eike Gebhardt, eds. The Essential Frankfurt School Reader. New York: Continuum Publishing Co., 1990.
  • Blau, Eve. The Architecture of Red Vienna, 1919-1934. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999.
  • Blum, Mark E. and William Smaldone, eds. Austro-Marxism—The Ideology of Unity, Vol. 1: Austro-Marxist Theory and Strategy. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books (reprint), 2017 (Brill, 2016).
  • Blum, Mark E. and William Smaldone, eds. Austro-Marxism—The Ideology of Unity, Vol. 2: Changing the World: The Politics of Austro-Marxism. Leiden: Brill, 2017.
  • Bottomore, Ted and Patrick Goode, eds. Austro-Marxism. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1978.
  • Danto, Elizabeth Ann. Freud’s Free Clinics: Psychoanalysis and Social Justice, 1918-1938. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.
  • Ferenczi, Sandor, Karl Abraham, Ernst Simmel, and Ernest Jones. Psycho-Analysis and the War Neuroses. Vienna: The International Psycho-Analytical Press, 1921.
  • Forrester, John and Laura Cameron. Freud in Cambridge. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2017.
  • Frank, Claudia (Sophie Leighton and Sue Young, trans.; Elizabeth Spillius, ed.) Melanie Klein in Berlin: Her First Psychoanalyses of Children. New York: Routledge, 2009.
  • Fromm, Erich (Barbara Weinberger, tr. and Wolfgang Bonss, ed.) The Working Class in Weimar Germany: A Psychological and Sociological Study. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984).
  • Gruber, Helmut. Red Vienna: Experiment in Working-Class Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
  • Jacoby, Russell. The Repression of Psychoanalysis: Otto Fenichel and the Political Freudians. New York: Basic Books, 1983.
  • Jay, Martin. The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-1950. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1996 (1973).
  • Kaes, Anton, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg, eds. The Weimar Republic Sourcebook. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1995.
  • Killen, Andreas. Berlin Electropolis: Shock, Nerves, and German Modernity. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2006.
  • Leed, Eric J. No Man’s Land: Combat and Identity in World War I. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1979.
  • Lerner, Paul. Hysterical Men: War, Psychiatry, and the Politics of Trauma in Germany, 1890-1930. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003.
  • Makari, George. Revolution in Mind: The Creation of Psychoanalysis. New York: HarperCollins, 2008.
  • Marcuse, Peter, “A Useful Installment of Socialist Work: Housing in Red Vienna in the 1920s,” in Rachel G. Bratt, Chester Hartman, and Ann Meyerson, eds. Critical Perspectives on Housing. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1986.
  • Meisel, Perry and Walter Kendrick, eds. Bloomsbury/Freud: The Letters of James and Alix Strachey. New York: Basic Books, 1985.
  • Micale, Mark S., ed. The Mind of Modernism: Medicine, Psychology, and the Cultural Arts in Europe and America, 1880-1940. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004.
  • Nicholson, Virginia. Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living, 1900-1939. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.
  • Rabinbach, Anson, ed. The Austrian Socialist Experiment: Social Democracy and Austro-Marxism, 1918-1935. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1985.
  • Robinson, Paul. The Freudian Left: Wilhelm Reich, Geza Roheim, Herbert Marcuse. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1969.
  • Wiggershaus, Rolf (Michael Robertson, trans.) The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories, and Political Significance. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994 (German edition, Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1986).
  • Winter, Jay and Antoine Prost. The Great War in History: Debates and Controversies, 1914 to the Present. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
  • Zaretsky, Eli. Secrets of the Soul: A Social and Cultural History of Psychoanalysis. New York: Vintage Books, 2004.
  • Zaretsky, Eli. Political Freud: A History. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.
German remains WW 1Relevant Bibliographies:
German cemetery WW 1


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