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‘The Most Obscure Problem of All’: Autonomy and its Vicissitudes in the Interpretation of Dreams

ffytche, Matt (2007) '‘The Most Obscure Problem of All’: Autonomy and its Vicissitudes in the Interpretation of Dreams.' Psychoanalysis and History, 9 (1). 39 - 70. ISSN 1460-8235

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Abstract

The unconscious is implicated in Romantic and liberal discourses of autonomous individuality, and these insinuate themselves in complex ways into Freud's descriptions of the psyche. Focusing on The Interpretation of Dreams, the paper examines the fortunes of notions such as autonomy and selfhood, beginning with a consideration of Freud's languages of determinism, and moving on to the theory of the wish. In particular it examines ambiguities in the accounts of sexual and egotistical wishes, and in the portrayal of egotism itself. It is suggested that behind such ambiguities lies a deeper ambivalence in Freud's understanding of the I and its autonomy, which is in turn related to indeterminacies in the liberal concept of self. These ambiguities are further explored via the unstable political metaphors Freud attaches to the father–son relationship. The paper argues that such instabilities in the idea of selfhood radically unsettle the terms of the psychoanalytic account.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2019 12:34
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2019 13:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/21169

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