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The Problem of Heredity: Ferenczi's Organology and the Politics of Bioanalysis

The Problem of Heredity: Ferenczi's Organology and the Politics of Bioanalysis At the beginning of the First World War, Sándor Ferenczi drafted a first version of his theory of genitality, which was to be published in 1924 under the title Versuch einer Genitaltheorie (in English: Thalassa). Here, he theorizes not only genitality, but the genitals themselves. With the morphology of reproductive organs as a point of departure, Thalassa takes us through time and space, speculating that the physiological side of genitality must be understood as the belated abreaction of a series of phylogenetic catastrophes. This contribution offers a new frame for reading Thalassa, challenging the common perception that the phylogenetic speculation in Ferenczi and Freud sought to provide psychoanalysis with a natural scientific foundation. Instead, Ferenczi deconstructs precisely such foundational claims: he reads his sources from nineteenth-century popular biology against the grain and draws upon diverging psychoanalytic notions of hysteria to destabilize popular evolutionary narratives. Read against the backdrop of its time, Ferenczian ‘bioanalysis’ holds the potential for a political intervention against biologism and eugenic thought. His methodology breaks with the dream of a transparent language in what is today called the hard sciences. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Psychoanalysis and History Edinburgh University Press

The Problem of Heredity: Ferenczi's Organology and the Politics of Bioanalysis

Psychoanalysis and History , Volume 24 (2): 14 – Aug 1, 2022

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Edinburgh University Press
ISSN
1460-8235
eISSN
1755-201X
DOI
10.3366/pah.2022.0424
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

At the beginning of the First World War, Sándor Ferenczi drafted a first version of his theory of genitality, which was to be published in 1924 under the title Versuch einer Genitaltheorie (in English: Thalassa). Here, he theorizes not only genitality, but the genitals themselves. With the morphology of reproductive organs as a point of departure, Thalassa takes us through time and space, speculating that the physiological side of genitality must be understood as the belated abreaction of a series of phylogenetic catastrophes. This contribution offers a new frame for reading Thalassa, challenging the common perception that the phylogenetic speculation in Ferenczi and Freud sought to provide psychoanalysis with a natural scientific foundation. Instead, Ferenczi deconstructs precisely such foundational claims: he reads his sources from nineteenth-century popular biology against the grain and draws upon diverging psychoanalytic notions of hysteria to destabilize popular evolutionary narratives. Read against the backdrop of its time, Ferenczian ‘bioanalysis’ holds the potential for a political intervention against biologism and eugenic thought. His methodology breaks with the dream of a transparent language in what is today called the hard sciences.

Journal

Psychoanalysis and HistoryEdinburgh University Press

Published: Aug 1, 2022

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