Title

‘My Capital Secret’: Literature and the Psychoanalytic Agon

Publication Title

The International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Publication Date

10-2009

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1111/j.1745-8315.2009.00175.x

Keywords

annihilation fears, dream analysis, John Milton, lay analysis, literature and psychoanalysis, Samson Agonistes, trauma, 9/11

Disciplines

Other Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy | Psychology | Theory and Philosophy

Abstract

Taking as my departure point Freud ’s unequivocal claim in The Question of Lay Analysis that psychoanalytic education should include “the history of civilization, mythology, the psychology of religion, and the science of literature” (Freud, 1926b, p. 246), I advocate for an integration of psychoanalysis with the arts, the humanities, and the social sciences in psychoanalytic training. Foundations in these fields are not only acceptable as preliminary to clinical training but will also provide the diverse intellectual climate that is urgently needed in psychoanalytic institutes whose discursive range is often quite narrow. To provide one example of the salutary effect of such disciplinary integration on clinical practice, I illustrate how the transformative power of literature provides compelling metaphors for the psychoanalytic encounter. Through an example drawn from within my own experience as literary critic and psychoanalyst, I describe the ways that the troubling tensions in Milton’s Samson Agonistes functioned to illuminate, for me, an analysand ’s ‘capital secret’.

Publisher

Institute of Psychoanalysis

Publisher Location

London, England


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