CFP: Psychoanalysis in Our Time 2017 – Psychoanalysis and Destiny

Nordic Summer University, Saulkrasti, Latvia, 26th July – 2nd August 2017


Now in its fourth year – and following the great success of sessions in Copenhagen, Sauðárkrókur, Tallinn, Druskininkai, Gdansk, Orivesi and Sopot – the Psychoanalysis in Our Time research network is delighted to announce the call for papers for our next event, which will take place at the Baltic coast resort of Saulkrasti, Latvia, from 26th July – 2nd August 2017. The topic for this symposium will be “Psychoanalysis and the Destiny”.

This research initiative funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers aims to initiate and develop trans-disciplinary conversations. We believe in deep and ardent discussions over meals and in sessions. We have recently published our first edited collection stemming from the meetings in Copenhagen and Tallinn, entitled Psychoanalysis and The Unrepresentable: from Culture to the Clinic (Routledge, 2016). We are working on further publications based on our on-going research activities. Please see our website for further details:

Our invited keynote speakers for the Summer Session will be Sigridur Thorgeirsdottir, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Iceland, who specializes in the philosophy of Nietzsche, feminist philosophy and philosophy of nature and embodiment; and Cecilia Malmström Olsson, a Ph.D. in dance science and literature who has been working in the field of dance for the past 35 years as a dancer, dance critic and researcher.

You can find details of the full event here:

Please note that if you are prepared to share a room, the prices are very reasonable indeed and include full board and lodging as well as sessions and keynotes.

We are looking for a range of proposal for papers on the subject of Psychoanalysis and Destiny – which could deal with cinema, literature, politics as well as the clinical. Please send an abstract (max. 300 words) and a short biographical statement to Dr Agnieszka Piotrowska ( or Dr Ben Tyrer (

The deadline for submission is 25th May 2017.


Further details:

This session deals with notions of fate and destiny. Freud famously suggested that, “One might say here, varying a well-known saying of the great Napoleon: ‘Anatomy is destiny’” – an intervention that has been the subject of great controversy ever since. In its original context (“On the Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love”, 1912), it was a reflection on the relationship between love and sex, and on which Freud was rather pessimistic. The fate of this phrase, moreover, was to be drawn into the long debates on biological determinism, particularly in feminist and queer theory. We should ask once more, then, what is the fate of love, sex and the body in psychoanalytic discourse?

The life of another Freudian formulation in this area has been rather ill-fated. While James Strachey certainly had an eye and an ear for a striking turn of phrase, his rendering of Freud’s “Triebe und Triebschicksale” as “Instincts and their Vicissitudes” is doubly dissatisfactory. As is well known, “Trieb” is better rendered as “drive”; equally, however, “schicksale” is “fate/destiny”, which lends a rather different sense from the “ups-and-downs” evoked by Strachey’s phrase. What, then, is the destiny of psychoanalytic thought, moving particularly from German (and French) into English? Are the nuances of Freud’s ideas forever fated to be lost in translation?

Lacan in his discussions of Antigone, in The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, focuses on Sophocles’ word, Atë – which can be translated as “fate”, “destiny”, “human misery”, even “delusion”. Lacan interprets Atë as a narrow range within which to operate and within this range it is important to find out what one’s desire is and then to follow it to the end. Not everybody must make such a dramatic choice: ‘One does or does not approach Atë, and when one approaches it, it is because of something that is linked to a beginning and a chain of events’ (264). Antigone’s Atë is that she is the daughter of Jocasta and Oedipus, the sister of Eteocles and Polynices. This she cannot undo. However, she can determine her own actions faced with Creon’s unreasonable edict. If, as Lacan seems to suggest, Antigone in effect replaces Oedipus as the central myth of psychoanalysis, then, we ask, is the ethical Act the only true path for the Lacanian subject?

In his recent study, Abolishing Freedom: A Plea for a Contemporary Use of Fatalism, Frank Ruda makes a defence of predestination and divine providence, through a reading of Kant, Hegel and Freud. He argues that freedom presupposes fatalism: the assumption that the worst has always already happened. Is it the case, as Ruda argues, that only rationalist fatalism can cure the contemporary problem of freedom?

The session invites papers from all disciplines: clinicians, artists, performers, film, literature and cultural scholars. What is the fate of psychoanalysis? Is it (finally) outmoded in the age of neuroscience and cognitive therapy? What is the destiny of the speaking subject in the Twenty First century? How do these questions play out in the social and cultural fields, from film noir to emancipatory politics?

We welcome submissions for 20 minute papers and would invite different approaches to this subject from, for example, neuroscientists alongside historians, philosophers and natural scientists with an interest in psychoanalysis.