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Moving Away from the Familiar

The Letter, Issue 66/67, Autumn 2017/Spring 2018, Pages 83 - 92


Glenn Brady

The founding of psychoanalysis is a milestone historical event. Freud’s ideas challenged our preconceptions of who we think we are. He embarked on a journey away from the familiar. Is there something pertinent in Freud leaving the familiar? Does ‘moving away’ from what is ‘familiar’ create a new space where we can dare to unshackle ourselves from stultifying influence of the mob? I will not attempt to draw conclusions from a biographical study of Freud’s early life but rather ask the question of whether something monumentally significant to an understanding of who we are, that is, the founding of psychoanalysis, could only be achieved through the speaking of a loss and thereby, truly moving away from the familiar.

Keywords: Psychoanalysis; Freud; hysteria; emigration; loss; speak-being.

The online etymology dictionary tells us that the word ‘emigrant’ comes ‘from the Latin emigrantem (nominative emigrans), present participle of emigrare, ‘move away’.[2] Why was psychoanalysis founded by this person who ‘moved away’? And from what did Freud move away but from that which was familiar, not only to him, but also the rest of us. ‘Familiar’-from Latin familiaris, ‘domestic, private, belonging to a family…The Latin plural, used as a noun, meant ‘the slaves’.[3]

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