‘English’ or ‘European’? The trauma behind Brexit

Special guest posting by Sarai Allen The previous post on the subject of right-wing populism discussed and critiqued Jay Frankel’s paper that made the argument for right wing working class Americans identifying with the aggressor.  This was based on Frankel’s reading of Ferenczi’s paper on this subject.  In this post I would like to develop […]

The psychopathology of Brexit (part 2): restless ghosts

Is Brexit  the manifestation of a right-wing populism?  Certainly, some of the key motivations that appear to stand behind Brexit, which include concerns about immigration, a desire to see Britain ‘great’ again, xenophobia (especially towards ‘Europeans’), a distrust of (liberal) political elites, social conservatism veering towards authoritarianism, and so on, are all characteristics of right-wing […]

‘Father, don’t you see I’m burning?’

One of the lesser known things about the Real, and its manifestation through trauma, is its appearance in dreams. Of course, Freud himself did not have a concept of the Real, and neither did he have the concepts of Symbolic and Imaginary. Thus it was for Lacan to formalise what was already implicit but not […]

In search of the lost future

The ‘classical’ view of trauma is that [i] it is based on experiences which cannot be assimilated, made sense of, by the individual; and [ii] originates in the (early) past of the individual.  Of course, such a traumatic experience need not occur in infancy or childhood; Freud himself recognised that some psychopathologies (the ‘actual neuroses’) […]

In search of lost time

The concept of Nachträglichkeit is probably one of the most misunderstood of a long list of Freud’s misunderstood concepts, not helped by Strachey’s mistranslation of the German word as ‘deferred action’.  At the same time I would argue that it is probably one of Freud’s most radical ideas, and perhaps should be added to Lacan’s […]

In search of the lost past

According to Zachary Schiffman, ‘the past’ as we understand it is an invention of the Renaissance.1  This may seem a somewhat surprising assertion, and it may also beg the question regarding its relevance to psychoanalysis, and especially to the work of the psychoanalytic clinic.  After all, isn’t psychoanalysis all about ‘the past’, about tracing the […]

Imaginary histories?

One of the problems with any form of history, be it personal, social, or political, is how the historical narrative, the story told by the historian, relates to ‘what really happened’.  As the quotation marks suggest, the status of this ‘what really happened’ is itself problematic.  In semiotic terms we could perhaps pose the question […]

Time, history and the Holocaust

I’ve just been reading Lawrence Langer’s essay Memory’s Time: Chronology and Duration in Holocaust Testimonies  in which he makes a distinction between chronological and durational time.1  Chronological time presumes a ‘before, during and after’, whereas in durational time there is only now, and therefore there can be no sense of ‘what next?’ or an ‘afterwards’. […]

The Real of everyday life

It’s often tempting to think of the Real as something mysterious and esoteric; something that is transcendental or even, in some way, supernatural or occult.  However, I think this is to completely misrecognise the Real.  Or rather, although it’s actually very easy to misrecognise the Real, this is not because it’s hidden away in some […]

Trauma and therapy

As I’ve suggested in a number of posts related to trauma, the aim of therapy in these cases is to help the subject make sense of their traumatic experiences, usually by some form of cognitive or symbolic processing.  So, for example, with cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) the individual’s flashbacks and panic attacks are […]

Trauma without end……?

In my previous post1 I wrote about the importance of (and problems with) boundaries in relation to trauma – both on the individual and social levels.  I argued that without boundaries it becomes very difficult to define the scope of a traumatic experience.  It also becomes difficult, if not impossible, to circumscribe the traumatic event, […]

Historic abuse: the return of the repressed?

The last eighteen months or so has seen tsunami of allegations and court cases against the rich, famous and powerful in relation to alleged and actual sexual abuse. Much of this has involved children, so we are essentially dealing with a wave of paedophilia as well as inappropriate sexual behaviour, assault and rape against adults. […]

The Great War and the lost Arcadia

If the opposite of war is peace, the opposite of experiencing moments of war is proposing moments of peace. Since war takes place outdoors and always within nature, its symbolic status is that of ultimate anti-pastoral…….it belongs to the demonic world, and no one engages in it or contemplates it without implicitly or explicitly bringing […]

Jimmy Savile and the abuse of memory

Every day it seems more revelations are coming out about the abuse perpetrated by Jimmy Savile, who within weeks has changed from being a national icon who rubbed shoulders with the most powerful people in the country, to a paedophile and serial molester.  This can hardly have been better symbolised by the removal, in the […]