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Forrester, J. (2011). Editorial. Psychoanal. Hist., 13(1):1-3.

(2011). Psychoanalysis and History, 13(1):1-3



John Forrester

The first two papers in this number take us to major historical moments in Central European History of the 16th and 17th centuries, but approach these in two very different ways. Herman Westerink's ‘Eternal Hate and Conscience: On the Filiation between Freudian Psychoanalysis and Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Century Protestant Thought’ explores a claim by Jacques Lacan that there exists a ‘cultural paternity … between Freud and a new direction of thought’, found in Luther, Calvin and the Protestant theology to which they gave rise, expressing God's fundamental hatred for Creation. How fruitful is this contextualization of the ‘vision’ embodied in psychoanalytic theory as indebted, in a subterranean fashion, to the irruption of Protestant theology which marked so profoundly the emergence of modernity in Europe? Westerink gives us novel material with which to consider this question and reminds us, in so doing, that visions of ‘nature’ found in the religious revolutions of the early modern period have direct relevance to the understanding of scientific developments whether of that earlier period (Newtonianism, Leibnizian philosophy) or later periods (such as the context for Darwinism and psychoanalysis).

Embedded in the world of the early modern transformation of Europe of which the rise of Protestantism was a part, yet with a very different relation to religion and its institutions, was the persecution of witches. In ‘Research into Witchcraft in Psychoanalysis and History’, Alf Gerlach brings together reflections on witches and possession derived from clinical experience with a balanced review of a series of important attempts to develop psychoanalytic understanding of witchcraft, of possession, of collective fantasy.

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