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Roughton, R. E. (1983). Freud on Schreber.

Psychoanalytic Theory and


The ritical !ct. Psychoanalytic "uarterly, #$%&3'(&)1
(1983). Psychoanalytic "uarterly, #$%&3'(&)1
Freud on Schreber. Psychoanalytic Theory and the ritical !ct
*y . *arry habot. !+herst% The ,ni-ersity o. /assachusetts Press,
198$. 1')
00.
Re-ie1 by
Ral0h E. Roughton
*arry habot, 1ho is an !ssociate Pro.essor o. 2iterature at The
!+erican
,ni-ersity and 1ho credits 3or+an 4olland 1ith introducing hi+ to
0sychoanalysis, ho0es 1ith this boo5 to rene1 a dialogue bet1een
0sychoanalysis
and literary studies by sho1ing ho1 si+ilar are the inter0reti-e
0rocesses in
the t1o disci0lines. 4e sees 0sychoanalysts and literary critics as
engaged in
a co++on enter0rise% the understanding o. another through an
understanding o.
his or her language. 4e also sees the t1o disci0lines as ha-ing +uch
to learn
.ro+ one another. Pre-ious e..orts to align the t1o disci0lines ha-e
le.t the
i+0ression, according to the author, that literary studies bring no
do1ry. 4e
see5s to redress the balance by sho1ing 0sychoanalysts that an
e6clusi-e .ocus
on the language o. the te6t (and here 7te6t7 can +ean either case
history or
literary 1or5) can 0roduce an inter0retation 1ithout recourse either
to
0ast
history or to 0sychoanalytic theory.
This is not a study in esoteric linguistics. habot8s a00roach is
that
o. a
reader 1ith a te6t, sensiti-e to the +eaning o. the 1ords, their
se9uence, and
their +eta0hors. 4e states that 7the inter0reti-e
( &3' (
0rocess in either disci0line ... is itsel. linguistic to the core,
1hether the
ob:ect o. attention is a sonnet or a 0atient7 (0. #;) and that 7both
analyst
and critic o. necessity .ul.ill their -ocations only by attending to
language
and ... their inter0reti-e strategies accordingly re0licate one
another7 (0.
'3).
For his 0ur0ose, Schreber8s /e+oirs o. /y 3er-ous <llness o..ers a
uni9ue
o00ortunity to study a te6t 1hich is both a literary 1or5 and a case
history o.
sorts. <n addition, in contrast to +ost case re0orts 1hich gi-e only
a
s+all
.raction o. the clinical +aterial, /e+oirs has the ad-antage o.
0ro-iding the
reader 1ith all o. the +aterial that 1as a-ailable to Freud 1hen he
1rote his
essay, thus +a5ing it 0ossible to e6a+ine the inter0reti-e logic and
0rocess
utili=ed by Freud. habot e+0hasi=es that his concern is not 1ith the
inter0retation o. any 0articular te6t but 1ith an in9uiry into the
nature o.
the inter0reti-e 0rocess itsel., 1hat assu+0tions are necessary, 1hat
logic is
used, 1hat a..iliations 1ith 0sychoanalytic theory are +ade, and 1hat
criteria
.or -alidity are used (0. 3).
habot correctly assu+es that .e1 readers ha-e any ac9uaintance 1ith
Schreber
e6ce0t through reading Freud8s essay, 7Psycho(!nalytic 3otes on an
!utobiogra0hical !ccount o. a ase o. Paranoia (>e+entia Paranoides),7
and his
lengthy su++ary .ro+ the original boo5 by Schreber is hel0.ul.
Pointing out
that +uch o. 1hat Freud said about Schreber 1as not an inter0retation
o.
Schreber but a 0resentation o. Freud8s 0re-iously .or+ulated theory o.
0aranoia, habot +a5es an argu+ent that is not against theory so +uch
as it is
.or a se0aration o. theory and inter0retation as di..erent real+s o.
discourse.
7The three real+s((theory, techni9ue, and indi-idual
inter0retation((are
9uite distinct in 0sychoanalysis and +uch o. the 0resent con.usion in
the
disci0line results 0recisely .ro+ +ista5ing the attributes and +ethods
o. one
.or those o. another7 (0. &$).
habot does .ind -alue in Freud8s inter0reti-e discourse on Schreber?
and he
1ants to sho1 that, i. Freud had concentrated on studying the /e+oirs
rather
than on 0resenting theory, the +aterial a-ailable in the te6t 1ould
ha-e
allo1ed hi+ to go beyond his ad+ittedly .rag+entary analysis o. the
case.
7!ctually, < do not so +uch challenge Freud8s authority as see5 to
e6tend its
do+ain? < 1ant to de+onstrate no +ore than that the inter0reti-e
0o1ers
o.
Freud8s disci0line are greater than he so+eti+es 5ne17 (0. 1;).
habot
( &38 (
then atte+0ts to +a5e this .urther inter0retation hi+sel., through his
reading
o. the te6t, and he o..ers this as an e6a+0le o. 1hat literary studies
can
contribute to 0sychoanalysis. *y using a techni9ue that is
e6clusi-ely
literary, in the sense o. 0aying attention only to the 1ords o. the
te6t and
o+itting any historical, genetic, or theoretical constructions, he
.inds the
the+atic center o. /e+oirs, and indeed o. Schreber8s li.e e-en be.ore
his
illness, to consist in the issue o. autono+y and sel.(deter+ination.
Then, in a 0u==ling atte+0t at 1hat see+s to be a re(in-ention o. the
1heel,
habot gi-es his theory o. the inter0reti-e 0rocess in order to
e60lain
ho1 a
.ocus only on the 0resent and on language can gi-e a co+0rehensi-e and
holistic
0icture o. an indi-idual8s li.e. Postulating the 7radical cohesion o.
any
indi-idual8s li.e7 as the 7enabling assu+0tion o. 0sychoanalytic
inter0retation7 (0. '&), and .inding con.ir+ation .or his ideas in
Eri5son8s
conce0t o. identity and in 2ichtenstein8s theory o. identity the+e, he
.inally
circles bac5 to state that 7i. 0ressed to its li+its Freud8s .igure o.
the
associati-e chain ... re-eals the notion o. the cohesi-e li.e7 (0.
1;)).
This a00roach is in contrast, he 0oints out, to others8 atte+0ts to
e6tend
Freud8s .rag+entary analysis o. Schreber by recourse to ne1
in.or+ation
about
Schreber8s .or+ati-e years. !nd yet, habot, 1ith his conce0t o. the
radical
continuity o. the indi-idual li.e and 1ith his conce0t o. the 0ast
e6isting in
the 0resent, .inds that his inter0retation has a historical di+ension
as 1ell.
habot see+s to ta5e Freud8s inter0reti-e acti-ity in this essay as an
e6a+0le
o. ho1 he 1or5ed 1ith 0atients. This is a logical assu+0tion .ro+ an
author
1hose thesis is that the inter0reti-e 0rocess is the sa+e 1ith a
1ritten te6t
as it is 1ith a 0atient? but herein lies the +a:or .la1 in the boo5.
There
are, to be sure, certain si+ilarities in the t1o situations,
es0ecially
1hen
one li+its the .ield o. discussion to the 7i+0licit logic o. the
discrete
inter0reti-e act7 (0. '3). *ut to base an entire re(e6a+ination o.
the
inter0reti-e 0rocess on such a li+ited 0ur-ie1 is to ignore +uch else
that
0sychoanalysts consider to be -ital to that 0rocess in their clinical
1or5.
!lthough Schreber8s /e+oirs +ay be uni9ue +aterial, 1hich allo1s
habot
to
illustrate the si+ilarity in the t1o disci0lines o. 0sychoanalysis and
literary
study, it is a choice, ne-ertheless, that 0er0etuates an i+0ortant
.la1
in his
argu+ent. 4e 1ants us to acce0t 0rinted 1ords on a 0age as the
e9ui-alent o. a
0atient in
( &39 (
analysis. <n the /e+oirs, Schreber is 0rinted 1ords on a 0age, as are
other
0atients in 0ublished case re0orts. !00lied to such +aterials,
habot8s
a00roach is in.or+ati-e and challenging. Perha0s that is as .ar as he
intended
us to ta5e his argu+ent. 4o1e-er, < +ust disagree 1ith the author8s
assertion
that% 7!ll inter0retation, 1hether o. indi-idual te6ts or o.
0atients,
is
essentially a te6tual e6ercise7 (0. #;). There is a 0ro.ound
di..erence
bet1een a 0rinted 0age and a 0atient% the 0atient can res0ond to an
inter0retation, and in .act +ust res0ond, e-en i. only 1ith silence?
and that
res0onse in all its direct and indirect co+0le6ity o. +eanings is
ta5en
by the
0racticing 0sychoanalyst as the +ost -alid chec5 on the correctness o.
his
inter0retation. habot8s theory o. inter0retation, as 1ell as his
other1ise
-ery good discussion o. -alidation o. inter0retation, lea-es out this
di+ension
entirely.
<t is 0ossible that habot 1ill .eel that he has been +isunderstood on
this
0oint, .or he ac5no1ledges that 0racticing analysts 1ill not
i++ediately
recogni=e his characteri=ation o. their e-eryday acti-ities, and he
se0arates
techni9ue and indi-idual inter0retation into di..erent real+s o.
discourse.
*ut one +ust also note the ease 1ith 1hich the author +a5es hi+sel.
+isunderstood, at least by the 0sychoanalyst(reader .or 1ho+ the boo5
1as
a00arently intended. <. the care.ul reader 5ee0s in +ind that
habot8s
use o.
7inter0reti-e 0rocess7 does not include 1hat 0sychoanalysts in.er .ro+
the 1ord
70rocess,7 it is 0ossible to a-oid so+e o. the +isunderstanding and to
gi-e
deser-ed attention to the interesting challenges the author +a5es to
so+e o.
our unrecogni=ed assu+0tions about ho1 and 1hat 1e do in inter0reting
our
0atients to the+sel-es. @ne can say that he has de+onstrated the
si+ilarity o.
the inter0reti-e 0rocess in the t1o disci0lines only i. one .ollo1s
habot8s
narro1 -ie1 o. 70rocess,7 1hich see+s to be closer to 1hat
0sychoanalysts +ight
call con:ecture about the +eaning o. the 0atient8s +aterial.
4as habot added to a rene1al o. dialogue bet1een 0sychoanalysis and
literary
studiesA 4is .inal su++ation on this 9uestion is% 7i. 0sychoanalysis
can
contribute to literary studies the substantial bene.its o. its
0sychological
theory, literary studies can reci0rocate by lending the .or+er the
bene.its o.
their recognition o. the linguistic nature o. their e-idence7 (0.
1#$).
This
1ill 0robably be blandly acce0table to +ost 0sychoanalysts, but it
see+s a
0allid su+ .or all the thought.ul, i. so+eti+es +isdirected, 1or5 he
has done.
!.ter
1 S5ura, /. !. (1981). The 2iterary ,se o. the Psychoanalytic Process.
3e1
4a-enB2ondon% Cale ,ni-. Press. Re-ie1ed in this "uarterly, 1983,
#$%)&9()'3.
( &); (
an initial 9uic5 scanning o. the boo5, +y i+0ression 1as that the
author had
bitten o.. +ore than he could che1. !.ter ha-ing studied it, ho1e-er,
< 1ill
re-erse that and say that he has che1ed +ore than he bit o.., .or his
sub:ect
is +uch larger than the linguistic nature o. inter0retation. Freud on
Schreber
has +erit as 0art o. a dialogue, es0ecially i. it is considered
1or5(in(0rogress. Psychoanalysts +ight no1 res0ond to the literary
habot 1ith
encourage+ent to a00ly a broadened understanding o. 70rocess7 to his
literary
studies, as has been done in a recent boo5 by /eredith !nne S5ura1
(1ho,
ironically, 1rites not as a 0sychoanalyst but as another Pro.essor o.
2iterature). Perha0s the dialogue is already under1ay.
( &)1 (
!rticle itation DEho ited ThisAF
Roughton, R. E. (1983). Freud on Schreber. Psychoanalytic Theory and
the
ritical !ct. Psychoanal "., #$%&3'(&)1