Psychoanalysis Reading Psychoanalysis: Questions of Resistance and Interpretation
by Dr Catrin Edwards
Abstract PhD Thesis Dr Catrin Edwards
Congratulations to CIRCL PhD student Catrin Edwards for completing her PhD and viva on 16-12-2010 with her thesis on ‘Psychoanalysis Reading Psychoanalysis: Questions of Resistance and Interpretation’. Supervisor: Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein. Viva External examiner: Professor Nicholas Royle, University of Sussex, Internal examiner: Dr Neil Cocks.
Abstract of thesis
Grounded in the works of Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida as well as Shoshana Felman (1977) and Jacqueline Rose (1984), the thesis asks “what is psychoanalysis?” and develops its own theory of a psychoanalytically informed reading through reading Sigmund Freud’s works and through readings of texts claiming to work psychoanalytically. In line with Felman’s work, the thesis does not consider psychoanalysis as a knowledge to be applied to texts but as an approach to reading.
The thesis specifically addresses the role of “resistance” within psychoanalytic interpretation. I take the work of psychoanalytic practitioners – Dale Boesky (2005), Charles Hanly (2009) and Patrick Casement (2000) – and read the way in which these works formulate a psychoanalysis resistant to the implications of the unconscious. The thesis does not survey the psychoanalytic literature or offer a historical review but takes these texts as examples of problems at work for psychoanalysis. A parallel critique of the resistance to psychoanalysis within psychoanalytic literary criticism is offered and takes the work of Peter Brooks (1987) as an example. An analysis of Paul Ricoeur’s Freud and Philosophy considers how this text can be read to resist psychoanalysis but also opens the way to a more fruitful relationship between philosophy and psychoanalysis. This reading is aligned with the work of Eftichis Pirovolakis (2010).
“Resistance” is further considered for psychoanalysis as in fact constitutive of psychoanalytic reading and interpretation. Readings of texts analysing Freud’s formulation of “the navel of the dream” as a point of “resistance” to interpretation and meaning, including Jeffrey Mehlman’s “Trimethylamin” and Felman’s “Postal Survival,” are offered as a way of producing psychoanalytic reading’s concern with the possibility and impossibility of meaning. This becomes a way of situating a theory of psychoanalytic reading in relation to Deconstruction.
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