Charles Melman – Why Was Psychoanalysis Founded by an Emigrant?

The Letter Issue 66-67 (Autumn 2017/Spring 2018) Pages 69-74

Why Was Psychoanalysis Founded by an Emigrant?

Charles Melman

This paper addresses the question ‘Why was psychoanalysis founded by an emigrant?’ It draws parallels between Freud’s position in relation to his father and that of both emigrant and hysteric. It is proposed that the position of the emigrant is fundamentally a guilty one in relation to the father and therefore the problem posed by emigrants is not simply at the origin of psychoanalysis but is still current to psychoanalysis.

Keywords: Freud; Psychoanalysis; masochism; emigrant; hysteric; father

First of all I will say that we are – all of us – masochists. It’s the very condition of our survival. We are all masochists, which means that we live out our suffering and our problems face to face with God, as a confrontation with the very presence of the real of God, in other words, He who stops us from going too quickly to get to the end of our lives. First of all, he says that our time is His, in other words, what He has prescribed for us. A maniac is someone who wants to go too quickly to the end of his life. If we are masochistic and if that is the condition for our survival, we can’t tolerate the idea that God himself is a masochist because that would mean cutting him off from His power, as if He himself were subjected to another influence.

As it happens, the emigrant suffers precisely for this reason. He suffers because the one who is for him his God or his father is castrated, cut off from his power. If I am an emigrant I suffer from the fact that the God or the father of my line of descendants cannot be honoured but I feel just as guilty with respect to the God or the society in which I find myself because, as an emigrant, I have denied the totality of His power. The emigrant is in a fundamentally guilty position with regard to the figure of…

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