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Hock, U. (2014). Plea for the Unity of the Freudian Theory of Memory. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 95(5):937-950.

(2014). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 95(5):937-950

Plea for the Unity of the Freudian Theory of Memory

Udo Hock


In his text, César Botella (2014) deals with one of the central themes, indeed possibly even the central theme of psychoanalysis from its beginnings up to the present: memory - his essay is called On remembering: The notion of memory without recollection. But a problem arises immediately: ‘memory’ itself does not belong to the “vocabulary of psychoanalysis” at all, but at best occurs there in particular composite concepts like “memory traces (mnemes, engrams) or remnants of memory”, “memory (or mnemic) symbol” or “screen memory” (cf. Laplanche and Pontalis, 1982, pp. 113, 138, 143). Nor, therefore, are there any set translations into other languages for memory and its composites, and this lack of terminological clarity also goes - how could it be any different - hand in hand with an unclarity of subject-matter. Even the very translation of the English heading of César Botella's text into German creates difficulties, since the trinity of Remembering - Memory - Recollection appears to be barely transferable into German without substantial loss of meaning and/or without confusion that is not to be taken lightly. There again: what Freudian arsenal of concepts is enshrined in this distinction made by the English language? Given that, in his writings and particularly in the text at hand, Botella places the utmost store by terminological clarity and understands precisely how to tease fresh variants of meaning out of the Freudian text over and over again, it would seem entirely apt to confront Botella's methodical procedure with Freud's own observations on the topic of ‘memory’.

[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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