This interdisciplinary research network supported by the NSU (nordic.university) – an international research initiative funded by NordForsk – attempts a psychoanalytic interrogation of social, cultural and scientific issues. These meetings will create a space for dialogues between clinicians, theorists and practitioners on matters of politics, art, film and literature.
What, for example, could be the relationship between violence that suddenly erupts in the world, the unconscious and culture? These questions are particularly relevant in the Nordic countries today, after the shock of the Anders Breivik massacre in 2011. Since that atrocity there have unfortunately been newer cases of racism and terrorist attempts perpetrated by Nordic nationalists. We will try to interrogate these phenomena in creative ways, using psychoanalysis.
Post-1968, applied psychoanalytic thinking was significantly influenced by structuralism. In film theory it featured highly abstract interrogations of the relationship between the spectator and the screen, focusing on apparatus, identification and the gaze. It produced important and lasting work (Baudry, Metz, Mulvey) but, as a mode of interrogation, it has now almost been abandoned in cultural studies, being replaced by seemingly more relevant analytical tools such as, cognitive psychology and recently neuroscience. Further, in some circles at least, psychoanalysis is associated with patriarchal thinking and conservative politics.
And yet, psychoanalysis can also be seen as a radical philosophy, which privileges a subjective bodily experience, dislodges tradition and acknowledges the unacknowledgeable. It is still the only system of thinking which is rooted in the clinic while having wider applications in other disciplines, including cultural theory and sociology (e.g. Bulter, Nobus, Frosh, Zizek).
There have been many reformulations of what psychoanalysis might be since Freud published his famous Studies in Hysteria (1985) and The Interpretation of Dreams (1900). There have been many disputes within the psychoanalytical community and there have been many productive debates. Bion, for example, compares psychoanalytic interpretation to artistic work. Just as the painter transforms a landscape by representing it on canvas so can the analyst transform the experience of the raw material by offering the scaffolding through which the specific and finite can become abstract and infinite.
Popular tendencies appear to be towards interpretations that explain events based on linear cause and effect, scapegoating various groups and individuals, looking for easily definable answers. Psychoanalysis as a discipline defends complexity and spherical understanding by researching unconscious aetiology both in the person and in the group, often transgressing generations.
The place created by the therapeutic context is a non-tangible dynamic land made of (non-)memories and representational fragments. Projections, interjections and identifications in transference weave transient platforms, revealing what is hidden. Unreachable memories give form to dynamic configurations to be decoded and to create meaningful structures of the present moment and of the emerging self. Transforming parts of that experience for the public can be invaluable as a possible transformation of events that involve the complicated other and can at times be traumatic.
To sum up, the circle will investigate the interplay between the unconscious, its bodily expression and the speech/image on the one hand, and its position in culture and society on the other with a special focus on Nordic countries, where psychoanalysis is still fighting for its rightful place, both in the clinic and in the academy. The circle will try to make contact with the established researchers and psychoanalytic institutions in these countries as well as in the Baltic countries and thereby hoping to enlarge our group. We will discuss the historical reasons for the complicated trajectory of psychoanalysis in the Nordic countries. Was the core religion, Protestantism, at the heart of its slow progress, despite the fact that artists such as Henrik Ibsen, Edvard Munch, Arthur Strindberg were both influenced by psychoanalysis at the time of its beginnings, but also in turn influenced its thinkers (perhaps Freud’s discussion of Rosmersholm which he offered in 1916 demands further attention here).
Our ambition is to be rigorous and outrageous, scholarly and radical. We welcome clinicians and film scholars, mathematicians and performers, cultural studies scholars and historians. Let’s explore what psychoanalysis might offer us in the 21st century.
Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PsychoanalysisinourTime/