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Sigg, B.W. (1990). Moses Hiding the Empty Tomb. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 17:205-222.

(1990). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 17:205-222

Moses Hiding the Empty Tomb

Bernard W. Sigg

Freud's striking conception of the life and death instincts remains one of the most controversial parts of the psychoanalytic theoretical edifice. Some ignore or even demolish it, for a variety of ostensible reasons. The same thing happened in architecture, in particular at the time of Violletle-Duc, and the process still, incidentally, continues with respect to the entire body of Freud's work, although more insidiously. One need only mention the unfortunate term 'applied psychoanalysis', which he let slip, in order for a given text to be relegated to the status of an insignificant prop. However, this is to assume that the creation of theory is no more than the stringing together of random finds. This paper attempts to disprove this proposition.

The reference to death is in fact no less fundamental than the sexual reference, and it is inconceivable that Freud should have failed to recognize its significance for years, only to discover it, as some claim, when confronted with a particular event, however tragic: the world war, deaths in the family or the diagnosis of his own cancer. Two unpublished letters will help me to plot the course of the conceptual genesis of this idea over a period of more than 20 years, on the basis of the history of the man and in two of his most disparaged works.

In this way it proves possible to reconstruct the process of theoretical production, thereby perhaps enabling it to bear new fruit. A large number of different routes may ultimately

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