Laurence Rickels Online

Nazi Psychoanalysis

Excerpt 3

We already know going into this that Nazi research-happiness is legend. It's Nazi Germany's equal time share in modernism. The Nazis were engaged in the all-out pursuit of whatever research project was out there, as long as it could be billed as a war-effort promotional. But this proviso represents, within any history of modernism, no exceptional or additional constraint, if , indeed, it is any constraint at all. Wernher von Braun, for example, is not a stray, projected, single-case overlap covering Weimar, Nazi, and U.S. aerospace projects. In other words, a circuitous, discontinuous "Dialectic of Enlightenment" or "Case of California" is not the only way to test the endurance of Nazism in our own time. There's also the direct hit or fit of continuity. Because within the limits and links of the one consideration given the total war service, Nazi research also mobilized psychoanalysis, and that means: one of the most protected and progressive sources of "our" modernism. But on the wider range of a more eclectic or more reunified rapport with psychotherapy at large, it was the model of intrapsychic reality (in contrast, for example, to the one taken only interpersonally), the model we saw first with Freud, that was pressed by Nazi researchers into areas of scientific inquiry where no psychological model had gone before.

Nazi psychoanalysis is the place where a more complete range of Freud's theorems can be tracked beyond that ranging doubled and contained within the alleged compatibility between psychoanalysis and the sociopolitical administration of what's out there. When Chasseguet-Smirgel refused to dismiss Nazi psychoanalysis as the kind of contradiction in terms belonging only to the category of aberration and discontinuity, she was able to project theoretical consequences for the transference within greater psychoanalysis. But really every other fundamental concept of psychoanalysis must also line up for rereading within the missing continuity and context.

With a thank-you note up front it's time to zap the historians of the Nazi era of German psychotherapy out of the running commentary and controversy, with one parting shot. Gudrun Zapp's ground-breaking 1980 dissertation, which was not replaced, for example, at least not item by item, within the later Lockot history, falls back again on the words and names that keep on getting in the way. It's the patch of resistance Zapp documented so well earlier, and much to the credit of Schultz-Hencke's more convincing auto-contextualization. When she quotes Bumke as he crosses this patch, his reactivity slips and slides until it opens up, down to the wiring, the force of the reception of psychoanalysis that is with him. Bumke states "that psychoanalysis - even if its claims were correct ­ on account of its content would right away encounter under any conditions intense resistance, and that the intensity of this natural resistance in turn explains the very forms in which it is given to express itself" (Zapp 215). But in her own introduction, Zapp leaves behind these chips from her workshop which are however still on her shoulder when she counts out loud the degrees of relevance of her study: "not only for an appreciation of the longer-lasting effects of National Socialism on the position of psychoanalysis in Germany, but also and especially because the motives leading to rejection of psychoanalysis which have crystallized in the course of this work are in part still valid today. The ability to accept psychoanalytic results presupposes an unusual degree of self-criticism. The insights mediated by psychoanalysis represent in the first place a lowering of self esteem, only in the second step or stage can they be received as helpful. But this cannot of course be expected when the resistance to self-discovery can base itself on prejudices that are distributed generally throughout society. The rejection of psychoanalysis during the reign of National Socialism cannot be grasped simply, therefore, as a historical error, but rather as an event that can - in modified form - repeat itself" (Zapp 6). The contributions that the historical documentations of the decade before made to the excavation of this uncanny era are self-evident and, from now on, need no longer bear repeating. They fell for the curse of the secretly buried, before in turn being buried alive. In other words, their theorization fell short of the material, even and especially of the very insights that the Nazi compromise formations manage to articulate if only between the lines, always with the slip showing, or on some stage of acting out. Almost ten years after the Hamburg Congress, the representatives of New York and German psychoanalysis that were summoned to contemplate power surges in and around their science of the transference in the immediate aftermath of the reunification of the Germanys, did not address the docu-history on exhibition in the foyer, the 1985 souvenir, which thus remained out of earshot of the lecture hall. Passing references could be made in overview openers or, in one case study example, along for the transference. What passed for knowledge so current it could go right on without reading left an opening wide for the author of The Case of California. Your West Coast respondent went for full-time reintroduction of the missing era of Nazi psychoanalysis.

The diplomatic buoyancy of the 1994 Congress, which caught New York delegates coming out with the equal guilt of Americans for the genocide of the Indians, and thus the equal rights of protection (and projection) for the German colleagues too, was short attention span. When the Californian finished you could hear the vacuum-packing suck-sounds of repression seal the very place or span of audition. Afterwards, on the sidelines, members of the audience sided with the response, and estimated the value of the reintroduction, even with regard to the "savings" psychoanalysis received, on all the sides of both world conflicts, following from Freud's original encounter, the first time around, with the mass epidemic of war neurosis. But when the letter of the broadcast was later read by one of those single-file cheerleaders, the feeling that now had to be shared was that the Californian response was really into blaming, first Freud, then the Jews. But it is appropriate to our age that excavation projects of this tall order must flash back to Freud's publication of Moses and Monotheism which at the time of reception by the requiring mind of nonreaders was, simply, same time and station of a double cross that the Jews were made to bear. The charge of splitting or self-hatred always gets signed on the first line of defense taken up against uncanny work.


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