In this article I sketch out some fundamental aspects of ethnographic practice and understanding within the framework of phenomenology and psychoanalysis. Their synthesis, created through continuous field research and self-transformative thinking, offers a deeper understanding of psyche, unconscious, and imagination as the generative matrix of human cultural life-worlds. Moreover, this view posits ethnographic experience and creation of critical gnosis as the primary condition for the restoration of anthropological self-understanding and the pursuit of truth-bound knowledge and action.
The Epistemology of Ethnographic Field Research
A Personal Journey
Starting with a reflection on the experience of his own analysis, conducted in German by a German analyst, the author explores the problems of psychoanalytic work carried out in a cross-cultural context. First, the Hindu world-view and its three major elements, moksha, dharma, and karma, are explained. The cultural belief in a person's inner limitations is contrasted with the Western mind-set of individual achievement. The high value that Hindu society places on connection as opposed to separation and how this affects notions of gender and the sense of one's body is discussed. The article then returns to the author's experiences in analysis and his conclusions about the nature of cultural transference and counter-transference and the optimal approach toward psychoanalysis with regard to differing cultural backgrounds.
A Defense of Lacanian Responsibility
In this article, I reconsider the philosophical significance of Jacques Lacan’s reading of Freud in light of Jean-Paul Sartre’s early critique of Freudian psychoanalysis. Since direct comparisons between the work of Sartre and Lacan are sparse in the English literature, Betty Cannon’s comprehensive treatment proves to be an invaluable resource in opening up this line of inquiry. I claim that one reason for the limited attention given to comparisons of their work is the continued strength of the polemics between humanism and structuralism. Lacan’s structuralism is regularly indicted by humanists for failing to provide a conception of subjective responsibility in the way that Sartre’s humanism does. Taking Cannon’s critique of Lacanian psychoanalysis on this issue as a point of departure, I argue that a conception of subjective responsibility can be found throughout Lacan’s work, serving as a point of common ground upon which further inquiry—particularly of Sartre’s later work—might begin.
The central thesis of this article is that psychoanalysis is an organic offshoot of that evolutionary process called religion. As such it has more in common with the world's religions than it would care to admit. Nor would the world's religions feel particularly excited about admitting psychoanalysis in their midst, for its inclusion forces a rethinking of their place in human development. Using Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale," the author looks at the pain of human existence and how it has resulted in the concepts of soul, God, and immortality. The nature of sentience—being aware of one's awareness—is examined. The article asserts that psychoanalysis is the process by which the soul examines itself, thought examines thinking, and life examines its meaning. The author describes religion, soul theory, and psychoanalysis as having evolved naturally and necessarily from human existence and experience, and views them as necessary dimensions of existence.
This chapter examines the ironic reversals found in many psychoan- alytic interpretations, looking especially at their construal of the rela- tionship between illness and agency. Freudian interpretations take two different forms, one associated with the current uses of illness, the other with its infantile origins. I argue that these two ways of reading illness draw their structures from the two most inﬂuential forms of irony in Western literature. Interpretations stressing the cur- rent uses of neurotic symptoms follow a pattern laid down by rhetor- ical irony, in which the ironist’s seeming innocence or incapacity conceals a strategic aim. Those tracing neurosis to its infantile origins follow the pattern of dramatic irony; here the concern is with hidden forces shaping a victim’s destiny.
Jacqueline Rose, The Question of Zion (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005).
Mira Sucharov, The International Self: Psychoanalysis and the Search for Israeli-Palestinian Peace (Albany: SUNY Press, 2005).
Review of Esther Rashkin, UNSPEAKABLE SECRETS AND THE PSYCHOANALYSIS OF CULTURE
This essay compares Sartre's existential psychoanalysis with Freud's psychoanalysis and Binswanger's Daseinsanalysis. On the one hand, Sartre's psychoanalysis, despite the pure phenomenological interpretation of the factical self (in the first part of Being and Nothingness), is ultimately metaphysically founded on the concept of 'human reality' (in the fourth part of the book), so that this psychoanalysis cannot be identified with the way of interpreting existence in the Daseinsanalyse. On the other hand, Sartre's phenomenological interpretation of the factical self implies that Freud's analysis of psychical phenomena is false, because the self 'is strictly to the degree that it signifies' (Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions) and is 'coextensive with consciousness' (Being and Nothingness).
Pharmacology and Subjectivity in Buenos Aires
This essay describes the use of medication by Lacanian psychoana- lysts in an acute psychiatric ward in Buenos Aires. In this chaotic and difﬁcult setting, psychotropic drugs provided a way to sustain the object of psychoanalytic knowledge—patient subjectivity. Such drugs enabled the patient to speak—as long as such speech did not include discussions of medication. This ‘ironic’ use of medication was premised on a strict division of labor between the task of the physician and the task of the analyst—and, more fundamentally, on a distinction between the body and the subjectivity of the patient, known as ‘structuralist dualism’. In effect, physician-analysts in the ward gave medication not to treat the illness directly, but in order to remain Lacanian.
Demythologizing Girlhood in Kate Bernheimer’s Trilogy
In this article I position the metaphor of the hope chest at the heart of a trilogy of fairy tale novels, The Complete Tales of Ketzia (2001), The Complete Tales of Merry (2006a) and The Complete Tales of Lucy Gold (2011), by Kate Bernheimer that explore traditions of American girlhood. Deploying psychoanalytic interpretative readings, I investigate the characterization of each of the three sisters. My use of the hope chest (as both a toy and a cultural repository) enables me to offer a fuller picture of the social transition depicted in these novels from childhood into womanhood, and is thus conflated with the idea of the child-woman— a hinge-like cultural figure whom Bernheimer represents metaphorically through boxes of accoutrements containing memories and prophecies. With reference to unpublished interviews with Bernheimer, I support my interpretative reading of her trilogy by invoking and explaining the relevance of literary theories related to caskets.