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Gentile, J. (2015). Parrhesia, Phaedra, and the Polis: Anticipating Psychoanalytic Free Association as Democratic Practice. Psychoanal Q., 84(3):589-624.

(2015). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 84(3):589-624

Parrhesia, Phaedra, and the Polis: Anticipating Psychoanalytic Free Association as Democratic Practice

Jill Gentile

This essay explores the mostly unexamined analogy of psychoanalytic free association to democratic free speech. The author turns back to a time when free speech was a matter of considerable discussion: the classical period of the Athenian constitution and its experiment with parrhesia. Ordinarily translated into English as “free speech,” parrhesia is startlingly relevant to psychoanalysis. The Athenian stage—in particular, Hippolytus (Euripides, 5th century BCE)—illustrates this point. Euripides's tragic tale anticipates Freud's inquiries, exploring the fundamental link between free speech and female embodiment. The author suggests that psychoanalysis should claim its own conception of a polis as a mediated and ethical space between private and public spheres, between body and mind, and between speaking and listening communities.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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