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Niedecken, D. (2021). On Dionysiac Longing. IJP Open, 8:8.

(2021). IJP Open, 8:8

On Dionysiac Longing

Dietmut Niedecken

Bringing together the socio-philosophic reflections in "The Dialectics of Enlightenment" by Horkheimer/Adorno, with Freudian socio-cultural reflections, I have presented and analysed the drama "The Bacchae" by Euripides. I use this as a parable to show that the constitution of the modern subject (already in its beginnings in the enlightened Athenian polis) is based on a predetermined breaking point. This breaking point is depicted in Euripides' work in the juxtaposition of Pentheus' perverse structure and Agaue's psychotic delusion. I understand both roles as part of a whole, similar to the way Horkheimer and Adorno speak of the "male subject", which is combining male and female social role schemata. Drawing on clinical considerations of the relationship between perversion and psychosis, I propose to speak of a breaking point that underlies the "male subject", to which the power of Dionysus can apply its disruptive effect. In two child observations, I show how this breaking point buildup in certain anal confrontations. Finally, I contrast a third position that arises from the autonomy demand of the "male subject" with that of psychoanalysis, comparing the latter to the ancient Greek notion of "Sôfrosýne", and show how the latter model is implicitly sketched out in Euripides' drama.

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