Aboriginal Populations in the Mind: Race and Primitivity in by Celia Brickman

By Celia Brickman

What half does racial distinction play in psychoanalysis? What will be realized while contemplating this question 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 came upon its approach 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 suggestion of "primitivity" as an early degree of mental improvement necessarily contains with it implications of an anthropologically understood "primitivity," which used to be conceived through Freud -and possibly nonetheless is at the present time -in colonialist and racial phrases. She relates the racial subtext embedded in Freud´s proposal to his representations of gender and faith and exhibits how this subtext types a part of the bigger historicizing pattern of the psychoanalytic undertaking. eventually, she exhibits how colonialist strains have made their method into the blueprint for the medical psychoanalytic dating and issues to modern tendencies in psychoanalysis that could make attainable a disengagement from this legacy.

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Indeed, raising such issues would have been perceived as an unwelcome disruption to the clinical work at hand. Yet there it was: the most intimate details of this man’s psychological development configured through the use of racialized stereotypes of Africa. One might well imagine what role such assumptions would play in clinical work with African-American and other raced subjects. Of course, one might protest that this vignette demonstrates nothing more than the taking up of culturally available stereotypes in a chain of interpretive associations, and that it is not psychoanalytic theory itself that has produced or even condones these associations.

This study seeks to extend such scrutiny to the career of these ideas in the foundational works of psychoanalysis. CHAPTER 1 The Figure of the Primitive: A Brief Genealogy The use of the figure of the primitive in psychoanalysis is so common it is difficult to recognize that it is, as this book argues, the key to the code of racial difference embedded in psychoanalytic discourse. In spite of the apparent straightforwardness of its meaning, the psychoanalytic term primitive is overdetermined, drawing on two differing but overlapping genealogies.

1 On the other hand, the term primitive is also suspended in a web of social and cultural meanings that have played a prominent role in the discourse of European colonialism. The term primitive in psychoanalysis draws on these meanings as well, ascribing the simplest stages of psychological functioning not only to earliest infancy but also to so-called primitive peoples of all ages (Freud will call them die Primitiven, die Naturvölker, die wilden Völker). Applied to peoples rather than to geological formations or logical propositions, the evaluative dimension of the word becomes evident, as can be further seen from its associations with the terms barbarian and savage, all three of which have been used to designate the inferiority of those seen as outside the western human community.

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