1-21-2016 Daniel Burston
Date: Thursday, January 21, 2016
Location: Berger Gallery (207 College Hall)
Title: Psychoanalysis and Catholicism in Karl Stern and Jacques Lacan
Presenter: Professor Daniel Burston, Department of Psychology, Duquesne University
Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) and Karl Stern (1906-1975) were both profoundly influenced by Catholic teaching. Both questioned Freud's views on religion, and believed Roman Catholicism to be the "one true religion." Both made clear-cut distinctions between the analytic profession and the Catholic rite of confession. However, Lacan reveled in ambiguity and willful obscurity, while Stern cultivated a lucid and straightforward prose style. Stern was a Christian humanist and existentialist in the spirit of Jacques Maritain and Gabriel Marcel, and read Freud in that spirit, while Lacan was an anti-humanist, describing Freud as one as well. Developmentally speaking, Stern accepted Freud's psychosexual phases, while Lacan rejected them, and criticized those of Freud's followers who talked in such terms as "Pharisees." Following Freud, Lacan also stressed the primacy of the father in human development, saying that the subject is constituted in and through language, and that any vestiges of pre-linguistic subjectivity are repressed in the process of language acquisition. By contrast, Stern stressed the primacy of the mother-infant bond, and the persistence of pre-linguistic and paralinguistic communication between mother and child's psyche (participation mystique), arguing that this forms the basis for an intuitive/empathic mode of engagement with the world he called "the poetic mode of knowledge", which he contrasted with the (masculine) scientific mode of knowledge. Indeed, Stern said that the malaise of modernity (since Descartes) results from the over-evaluation of the latter and the loss or attenuation of the former.
Daniel Burston is the author of numerous books and journal articles on the history of psychoanalysis, including The Legacy of Erich Fromm (Harvard University Press, 1991), The Wing of Madness: The Life and Work of R.D.Laing (Harvard University Press, 1996) and Erik Erikson and the American Psyche: Ego, Ethics and Evolution (Aronson, 2007.) His next book is entitled A Forgotten Freudian: The Passion of Karl Stern, and will appear in April 2016 from Karnac Books, London.
All interested faculty, graduate students, and other parties are invited. Refreshments will be served.
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