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Fryer, D.R. (2007). “What Levinas and Psychoanalysis can Teach Each other, or how to be a Mensch without Going Meshugah”. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(4):577-594.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(4):577-594

“What Levinas and Psychoanalysis can Teach Each other, or how to be a Mensch without Going Meshugah

David Ross Fryer

Phenomenology Versus Psychoanalysis?

The relation between phenomenology and psychoanalysis is marked by a history of suspicion and mistrust.1 Phenomenologists have long questioned Freud's theory of the unconscious, critiquing the idea that there can be a hidden agency making decisions while remaining not only unknown but also at times unknowable to consciousness itself; psychoanalysts have long questioned phenomenology's insistence on consciousness as fundamentally transparent and accessible. Thus, any attempt to bring phenomenology and psychoanalysis together remains suspect and in need of not only significant clarification, but also defense.

I will attempt to bring the two schools together here.

Before we can begin, we will need to clarify a few things, both personal to my project and universal to the theoretical problematic at hand. On the personal level, first, I am not one of those who think that phenomenology and psychoanalysis ought to be at odds with each other. In fact, I believe that Freud himself was engaged in a kind of phenomenology and that psychoanalysis, when properly executed, needs to come closer to the insights of phenomenological analysis2.

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