Memory, Myth, and Seduction
Unconscious Fantasy and the Interpretive Process
Edited by Deborah L. Browning
Foreword by Alan Bass
Routledge – 2011 – 280 pages
Series: Psychological Issues
Memory, Myth, and Seduction reveals the development and evolution of Jean-Georges Schimek's thinking on unconscious fantasy and the interpretive process derived from a close reading of Freud as well as contemporary psychoanalysis. Contributing richly to North American psychoanalytic thought, Schimek challenges local views from the perspective of continental discourse. A practicing psychoanalyst, teacher, and consummate Freud scholar, Schimek sought to clarify Freud's concepts and theories and to disentangle complexities borne of inconsistencies in Freud's assumptions and expositions.
This book is divided thematically into three sections. The first concerns fantasy and interpretation as they play out in the analytic situation, and the manner in which analyst and patient coconstruct meaning and reconstruct and recover memory. The second consists of two seminal papers which provide the sequence of steps in the five revisions in Freud's seduction theory. Schimek's careful scholarship lays out the data of Freud's writing, which allows one to draw one's own conclusions about the implications of the changes in the theory that he made. In the third, more theoretical section, he provides a foundation for understanding many of today's discussions about unconscious fantasy, dreaming, remembering, consciousness, affect, self-reflection, mentalization, and implicit relational knowing. He clarifies and illustrates Freud's original formulations (and their inherent problems) through a careful reading of sections of The Interpretation of Dreams, and a study of Freud's famous Signorelli parapraxis.
Skillfully arranged and carefully edited by Deborah Browning and including a foreword by Alan Bass, this collection of Schimek's published and unpublished papers will be of interest to practicing psychoanalysts, psychoanalytically-oriented psychotherapists, and students of the history of ideas and philosophy who have a particular interest in fantasy, interpretation, and Freud.
"Schimek's thoughtful explorations of the most fundamental and still controversial ideas in psychoanalysis have always commanded my deepest respect and interest. His contributions retain special importance in these days of radical change that is often based more on rhetorical force than the profound and subtle scholarship to be found in these pages. The appearance of this book is most welcome." - Roy Schafer, Ph.D., author, Tragic Knots in Psychoanalysis
"If you were as awed as I by Schimek's celebrated article which illuminated the underlying dynamic of Freud's thought by tracking his little-known struggle with the trauma theory, you will want this book for that classic paper alone. But you will be happy to discover that Schimek's famous tour-de-force was but part of a profound, lifelong engagement with a central ambiguity of Freud's theory involving the unconscious, an ambiguity never finally resolved but everywhere alive in the nuts and bolts of treatment where it emerges in such questions as: What is the real nature of psychic reality? What does unconscious fantasy actually mean? What are we doing when we interpret? In what state does the repressed exist? What should we regard as transference? What is the relationship between the way we understand dreams and the way they are made? How does analysis work? Along the way, Schimek shows us what Freud was after (and incidentally provides the clearest exegesis of the Dreambook that you can find anywhere). Schimek brings us brilliant scholarship, balanced, non-dogmatic judgment, plain reasonableness, an intimate but critical empathy with Freud's thinking, a non-adversarial assessment of rival doctrines, clinical savvy, and an ability to lead one comfortably through complex issues. Theorists of Schimek's caliber are now rare, but watching him think through one after another of our taken-for-granted concepts to reach a judicious contemporary understanding reminds us that we dare not retire from the theory business if we want to practice sensibly." - Lawrence Friedman, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Weill-Cornell Medical School
"This is a beautiful, subtle book, full of the wisdom of a brilliant teacher, a rare scholar, and a humane and generous clinician. Schimek's reach and breadth are truly extraordinary; in this series of conversations about the diverse and complex world of psychoanalysis, he enriches and deepens our understanding through spirited reflection, gentle challenge, and a deep sense of history. This is a book to learn from and treasure." - Arietta Slade, Ph.D., Professor of Clinical and Developmental Psychology, CUNY
"At a time when some of our training institutes are debating the place of Freud in their curriculum, this collection leads us to appreciate the importance of grasping the complexity of Freud's fundamental constructs and tracing the evolution of these ideas through their transformations in modern theory….As the essays span a period of thirty-six years, Browning's skillful synthesis contributes to the book's overall coherence, as well as insight into the evolution of Schimek's core theoretical concerns." - Richard Honig MD, Cincinnati Center for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis
Bass, Foreword. Browning, Introduction. Part I: On the Analytic Relationship. Psychoanalysis and Transference: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. The Construction of the Transference: The Relativity of the "Here and Now" and the "There and Then." Intersubjectivity and the Analytic Relationship. On the Resolution of the Positive Transference: Suggestion, Identification, and Action. Transference and Psychic Reality: Ideas about the Timeless Past in Psychoanalysis. Further Thoughts on the Contemporary Analytic Relationship. Part II: On Freud's Seduction Theory. Fact and Fantasy in the Seduction Theory: A Historical Review. Interpretations of the Past: Childhood Trauma, Psychical Reality, and Historical Truth. Part III: On Unconscious Fantasy. Unconscious Fantasy: Interpretive Construct and Developmental Phenomenon. A Critical Reexamination of Unconscious Mental Representation. Affective Schemas: Toward a Structural View of Cognition and Affect. Notes on the Psychoanalytic Theory of Consciouness and Reflective Awareness. Signorelli: The Parapraxis Specimen of Psychoanalysis. The Interpretation of Dreams Revisited: Interpretation, Primary Process, and Language.
Jean-Georges Schimek, Ph.D., was Training Analyst and faculty member at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR) in New York City and former Director of the Clinical Psychology Program at New York University.
Deborah L. Browning, Ph.D., is Adjunct Associate Professor at New York University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and editor of Adolescent Identities (Analytic Press, 2008). Her earlier publications in psychology reflect her interest in adolescence and life span development. She maintains a private practice in New York City.
Alan Bass, Ph.D., is Training Analyst and faculty member at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR), the New York Freudian Society, and the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis (NPAP). He is also on the Graduate Faculty, Psychoanalytic Studies, at the New School for Social Research. He is the author of Difference and Disavowal: The Trauma of Eros (Stanford, 2000) and Interpretation and Difference: The Strangeness of Care (Stanford, 2006), and is well known for his translations of works by Jacques Derrida.