TH8. Psychoanalytic Flexion


The pre-psychoanalytical work of Freud (1856–1939) saw him mastering neuroanatomy, mapping the phylogenetic path of ganglion cells. As his interests subsequently moved up the spinal cord, they simultaneously migrated from lampreys and fish toward man. Even after leaving neurobiology behind and embarking upon psychoanalysis, Freud, by his own admission, ‘remained faithful to the line of work upon which I had originally started’; he had merely migrated, in his own words, from ‘the spinal cord of one of the lowest of the fishes’ up to ‘the human central nervous system’. His psychoanalytical work, naturally, attributed a central role to bipedalism: upright posture expedited the central role played by sight within human sexuality, as opposed to the quadruped’s coprophiliac Umwelt (tethered to the horizontal-digestive axis and anchored to olfactory stimulation). Freud speculated that infant sexuality retraces this journey toward ‘upright carriage’ and away from scatological stimuli. A ‘devout recapitulationist’ to his career’s end, Freud presages Ballardian neuronics when he diagnoses a schizoid analysand as existing within a ‘prehistoric landscape’, perhaps ‘in the Jurassic’, where ‘the great saurians are still running around’…