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Foss, T. (2013). The moulting season of the analyst: reconsidering Freud's therapeutic pessimism ††. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 36(1):43-51.

(2013). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 36(1):43-51

The moulting season of the analyst: reconsidering Freud's therapeutic pessimism †

Torberg Foss

Concepts and theoretical models should at times be subject to doubt. This happens to Freud in his Analysis termininable and interminable. Rather than identifying a therapeutic pessimism, which is the overall interpretation, Freud is seen as living through an epistemological crisis. A through-going reference to Goethe's Faust substantiates this claim. In this way, Freud's at times agonized reflection comes to be our concern as well. Such crises may strike any analyst where the protective shields of our concepts and models are discarded, much in the same way as a fowl goes through the moulting season. The idea of a complete treatment in particular, or for that matter, a complete theory, falls under the shadow of doubt; Balzac's “The unknown masterpiece” helps us to see the dynamics of such an overwhelming idea. Serious flaws in Strachey's translation prove to be instructive in reconstructing the venture Freud had in writing his article.

[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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