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Ahumada, J.L. (2016). Response to Robert A. Paul. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(3):853-863.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(3):853-863

Response to Robert A. Paul Related Papers

Jorge L. Ahumada


Different ships, different long-splices. Coming from quite distinct professional backgrounds and diverse psychoanalytic traditions, our responses to the question ‘Is the nature of psychoanalytic thinking and practice (e.g., in regard to sexuality) determined by extra-analytic, social and cultural developments?’ are distinct indeed.

Robert A. Paul is a cultural anthropologist who has pursued an academic career in the US, publishing extensively at the interface of cultural anthropology and psychoanalysis, a double appurtenance to which he ascribes his paper. His psychoanalytic background rests on US authors, stating a critique of American ego-psychology and his option for interpersonal stances. On my side I was medically trained in Buenos Aires and for 50 years have considered myself a clinical enquirer. My psychoanalytic training was Freudian-Kleinian-Bionian: Margaret Mahler and Harold F. Searles were the main US authors influencing me; Ignacio Matte-Blanco, André Green, Donald Winnicott and Frances Tustin were later influences. Long-standing contact with R. Horacio Etchegoyen led to an interest in the psychoanalytic method having insight at its core and, later on, to the study of its epistemology; it fell on Eugenio Gaddini (1984) to alert me on the current changes in the psychopathologies.

Relevantly, Paul and I address different Freuds: he builds on the early, pre-psychoanalytic Freud's criticism of the restrictions of sexuality in Victorian society, while I take up the later Freud's concerns, 80 years ago, on the emerging sociocultural changes. He keeps sexuality to its everyday sense, while I hold to the wider, evolving Freudian concept of psychosexuality.

The Cultural Anthropologist's Viewpoint

Exploring our differences in outlook, some words on cultural anthropology as a discipline. Coming up in the 30s in the US, pioneered by Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson and Bronislaw Malinowski (to mention a few of the most prominent), cultural anthropology was influenced by, and in turn influenced psychoanalysis.

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