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Truth and Freedom in Psychoanalysis

The Letter, Issue 65, Summer 2017, Pages 1 - 26


TRUTH AND FREEDOM IN PSYCHOANALYSIS *

William J. Richardson, Ph.d.


This paper seeks to find a philosophical relevance for psychoanalysis in the thought of Martin Heidegger. Given Heidegger’s rejection of Freud’s hypothesis, it raises the question whether or not he would have been equally hostile if it had been presented to him from a Lacanian perspective, as something ‘structured like a language’. It endeavours to show the compatibility between certain basic Heideggerean and Lacanian concepts, focussing on the notions of being, truth and freedom.


Keywords: Heidegger; Lacan; language; Dasein; psychoanalysis.


Martin Heidegger was no friend of psychoanalysis. His first serious exposure to it came through the ministrations of Medard Boss,[1] who, in effect, introduced him to Freud. Mediated through Boss’s own attempt to rethink Freud’s insights into what he called Daseinsanalysis, Heidegger’s relation to Freud himself remained cool, to say the least. Several attempts in the 1950’s to entice him into dialogue with the so-called ‘French Freud,’ Jacques Lacan, whose self-proclaimed ‘return to Freud’ some found deeply consonant with certain themes of Heidegger, proved fruitless. Given this record, any new attempt to find philosophical relevance for psychoanalysis in the thought of Martin Heidegger seems ill-starred indeed. And yet . . . .


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