Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Letter from Stockholm 1

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Letter from Stockholm 1

Article excerpt

Some of the ideas of Sigmund Freud were preceded in a literary form by the Swedish writer August Strindberg in the late 19th century. Psychoanalysis itself was introduced in Sweden about a decade into the 20th century by two rivalling pioneers, the doctors Emanuel af Geijerstam and Poul Bjerre. After a slow start, the Danish-Norwegian Psychoanalytical Society and the Finnish-Swedish Psychoanalytical Society were formed in 1934 in Stockholm. The same year, Ericastiftelsen [The Erica Foundation], a psychotherapeutic clinic for children, was founded by Hanna Bratt. Five years later, in 1939, also in Stockholm, the organization that was to become St. Lukasstiftelsen [The Saint Luke's Foundation] was founded. It has been, and still is, an association that has trained psychodynamic psychotherapists, with a focus on existential, religious and philosophical questions. Today, St. Luke's tries to be up-dated from an academic standpoint. During the Second World War, several important psychoanalysts came to Sweden, for example René de Monchy, Lajos and Edith Székely, and Stefi Pedersen. Ola Andersson's doctoral dissertation ("Studies in the Prehistory of Psychoanalysis", 1962) and the historian Gunnar Brandell's essay ("Freud, a Man of His Century", 1961) have had an international impact. In the last two decades, an authorized and carefully edited translation of Freud's collected works has been published by Natur och Kultur, and the history of psychoanalysis in Sweden has been written at the University of Gothenburg. As a result of a recent interest in the work of Jacques Lacan, and French psychoanalysis, philosophy and literature, the journal Psykoanalytisk Tid/Skrift was founded in 2002, in Gothenburg. Since 2011 the journal is called Arche. The largest organized group of psychoanalysts in Sweden today is the Swedish Psychoanalytical Association (SPAF), which has around 225 members. Since 2008, it no longer has the right to license psychotherapists, a situation which reflects the position of psychoanalysis outside the mainstream of psychiatric health services and academic psychology. Despite the criticism of Freud's thinking from biologically and cognitively oriented theoretical standpoints, the interest in psychoanalysis endures.

Keywords: History of Psychoanalysis, Sweden, Strindberg, Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan

To some degree, Sigmund Freud's line of thought was anticipated at the end of the 19th century in the work of the famous Swedish playwright and novelist August Strindberg (1849-1912), who wrote penetrating dramas, novels and short stories about a variety of human dilemmas, for example religious misgivings, dreams, loneliness, the relationship between the sexes, and the father and his position in the family. Strindberg studied bigotry, destructive forces and the unconscious motivations of men and women at the turn of the last century. His drama, Fadren (The Father), published in 1887, is an early testimony to the decline of the father's position in Western society, and to the manner in which the family structure was disintegrating. He sent the book to Friedrich Nietzsche. He corresponded with Nietzsche in French and felt a special kinship with him. Strindberg focused on the question of whether a man can really know for certain if he is in fact the father of a particular child. Or is there always a doubt? He paints the portrait of a man tortured by the suspicion, instilled by his wife, that the child he loves and thinks of as his own is, in fact, the child of another man. Strindberg's drama ends with the death of the father who, in his doubt, rage and despair, has been declared mentally ill by his wife, his physician and a clergyman. Strindberg's story illustrates how the issue of the recognition of the father is essential to the understanding of the human being. Strindberg also emphasized the importance of dreams, maintaining that the relationship between dreams and reality is complex. For Strindberg, there was neither time nor place in dreams. …

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