Introduction to Psychoanalysis
The course is designed to introduce to the clinical, theoretical, and cultural history of psychoanalysis through readings of texts by the most important psychoanalytic writers from the late nineteenth century to the present day. They include Sigmund Freud, Sabina Spielrein, Melanie Klein, Jacques Lacan, D. W. Winnicott, John Bowlby, Juliet Mitchell, Stephen Mitchell, and others. These readings suggest that psychoanalysis offers powerful ways of understanding how all of us think, feel, and behave, both as individuals and in relation to other people and larger communities. The theory and the practice of psychoanalysis are based on the importance of unconscious processes. We will study the complex ways in which those processes affect our lived experience in childhood development and family relationships, in our wishes, dreams, and fantasies, in our experiences of work, play, love, sex, trauma, and loss, and in our creative, spiritual, and political strivings. Because the course aims to link the academic and the clinical, it is team-taught by a professor English and a psychoanalyst who introduce to the breadth, variety, and dynamism of psychoanalytic ideas and techniques. In order to stress the interdisciplinary nature of psychoanalysis, we will read a number of literary, historical, philosophical, and anthropological works that have relevance to the psychoanalytic exploration of the human condition. We will try to show how effective psychoanalytic ideas are in bridging a wide variety of disciplines in the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences, including recent developments in neuropsychoanalysis. Students from all disciplines will find in the class illuminating links between psychoanalysis and their primary fields of study.