2009 Conferences > Vienna Exchange

The Sigmund Freud Privatuniversität (SFU) Vienna-Clark University Exchange Symposium

"Freud in the Mirror of History"

Saturday, Oct. 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Higgins University Center, Grace Conference Room
Free to the public. No registration required.


10:00 a.m. - 10:05 a.m.
Organizational Start: Jaan Valsiner

10:05 a.m. - 10:20 a.m.
Welcoming words: John Bassett, Clark University

10:20 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.
Felix De Mendelssohn (SFU): American Psyche—Impact on the Freudian Tradition

10:50 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.
Commentary: Robert Tobin (Clark)

11:10 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.
Roger Bibace (Clark): The Psychology of Attention, Neuroscience and Values

11:40 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Commentary: Mario Carretero (FLACSO-Argentina and UAM, Spain)

12:00 p.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Franz Schwediauer (SFU): Freud, Clark and the Modern American Identity.

12:40 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Commentary: Mark Freeman (College of the Holy Cross)

An exchange between Clark and the Sigmund Freud University of Vienna will feature guest lectures by speakers of international standing on the theme "Revisiting the Visits of 1909: Freud, Jung, and the Impact of Psychodynamic Perspectives." Clark psychology Professor Jaan Valsiner will make the introductory remarks. Group discussion will follow the lectures. Sigmund Freud University, in Vienna, pioneered Psychotherapy Science as an academic degree.

Abstracts and Speakers

F. De Mendelssohn, head of the Department of Psychoanalytic Studies, Sigmund Freud University; "American Psyche: Impact on the Freudian Tradition"

Abstract: The influence of North American culture and values on its reception of Freudian method and metapsychology, and the way in which this influence has worked back into the European psychoanalytic scene in the aftermath of WW2, has been the subject of much criticism, beginning with Freud's own misgivings and continued by Russell Jacoby and Else Pappenheim in the U.S.A. and by the school of Jacques Lacan in Europe. This presentation seeks to summarise this critique of psychoanalysis in the U.S.A. - e.g. of rigidity of technique or of subverting the aims of psychoanalytic treatment to cultural adaptation and conformism - and then turn to other more beneficial aspects of this transmission. It will be argued that the virtual elimination during the war years of serious psychoanalysis in totalitarian Europe, with the exception of Great Britain, left the U.S.A. and South America as the chief repositories of the Freudian tradition, with its keen eye for the tensions between individual development and cultural demands. The consequent re-importation of psychoanalysis in Europe has suffered an ambivalent reception, unsure whether this was more of an occupying army or a badly-needed form of Marshall Aid. Some examples for this comparison will be cited.

Robert Deam Tobin, Henry J. Leir Chair in Foreign Languages and Cultures Foreign Languages and Literatures, Clark University; commentary

Roger Bibace, Professor of Psychology, Clark University; commentary

Abstract: Contemporary psychology has come a long way since 1909—first denying the value of in-depth look at the psyche in favour of accounting for behaviours—and of the species (rats) who would be unlikely fitting onto the Freudian couch. The result of these historical developments has resulted in the repression of psychoanalytic ideas in most U.S. psychology departments, while clandestinely borrowing from these very ideas. At the same time, Freudian ideas in new forms have flourished in the contemporary neurosciences, leading to the study of higher psychological phenomena such as values at the level of the functioning brain. The focus on values fits in very well with Sigmund Freud's idea, as a neurologist, with his concept of CATHEXIS, re-focusing on CHANGE. Both process and achievement; stressing the complementarity of the inside—>out as well as outside—> directions when addressing organism-environment relationships. Common forms of deception—"defense mechanisms"—are a major heritage of the past 100 years for the psychology of the future.

Franz Schwediauer, Doctor, Sigmund Freud University; "Freud, Clark and the modern American identity"

Abstract: Identity is one of the basic concepts and melting pots of Modernity. Particularly significant to American identity were moral ideas developed in Europe and the United States in the 18th and 19th Century. By the beginning of the 20th Century in the U.S.A., symptoms of crisis and change in cultural and professional life mounted, just as psychoanalysis emerged as a significant cultural concept. The social-critical power of psychoanalysis added to the new stresses of society helped substantially to transform the American moral identity order of the 19th Century to a psychological identity order of the 20th Century. The consequences of that psychological and cultural paradigm change were enormous for American society. That deep transformational process to a psychological founded identity became more and more important in the United States after 1909 – the year when Sigmund Freud gave his lectures at Clark University. From then on psychoanalysis steadily permeated the North American society and civilization because it was able to connect the professional (medical, neurological, psychiatric) culture on the one side with the American popular culture and daily life on the other side (e.g. movie-industry). This lecture will discuss and analyze the powerful impact that psychoanalysis had in the making of the new American identity based on a new sense of reality, regeneration, responsibility or destructiveness.

Mark Freeman, Professor of Psychology, The College of the Holy Cross; commentary