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'Beyond the ‘sphincter-morality’: the concept of childhood in interwar psyc...

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University of Essex Colchester Campus

Room 4N.6.1

Colchester

CO4 3SQ

United Kingdom

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Beyond the ‘sphincter-morality’: the concept of childhood in interwar psychoanalysis

Abstract: The seminar will focus on perceptions of childhood in interwar British and European psychoanalysis. Ferenczi and A. Freud shared the same developmental tradition, namely both saw an inevitable chronological gap between adults and children – a gap that violently shapes the power-relations between them. That led Ferenczi to believe that he could help some patients undergo a process of ‘de-education’ in order to constitute a less severe super-ego than the one that was designed in their early childhood. By contrast, Anna Freud, who treated mainly children, sought ways to make psychoanalysis a major tool in the educational process itself. Klein, I argue, challenged both of them by proposing to concentrate on the synchronic and timeless elements in the structures of children’s and adults’ minds, in contrast to the diachronic perspective that dominated early Freudianism.

Shaul Bar-Haim is a Lecturer of Psycho-Social Studies at The University of Essex. He is currently working on a monograph about the role of the British psychoanalytical movement in creating a maternalist culture in the age of the welfare state. Part of this research was already published in Psychoanalysis & History, and History of the Human Sciences, as well as in a forthcoming article in History Workshop Journal. Shaul is also the Book Reviews Editor of Psychoanalysis and History.

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University of Essex Colchester Campus

Room 4N.6.1

Colchester

CO4 3SQ

United Kingdom

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