Psychoanalysis, Anti-Semitism and the Miser

By Frosh, Stephen | New Formations, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Psychoanalysis, Anti-Semitism and the Miser


Frosh, Stephen, New Formations


Abstract In some recent writing that draws on Lacanian ideas about the structure of psychoanalysL·, Shvoj Zizek opposes the common cultural visum of the analyst as confessor or priest. In this view, psychoanalysL· L· born out of the capitatist spirit of 'thrift', of hoarding and spending only with reluctance. Instead of the religious imagery of confession and forgiveness, or indeed a fantasy that psychoanalysL· might represent a 'cure by love', Zizek alights on an anti-semitic trope that starkly pronounces on psychoanalysL· as a mode of economic exchange. Miserliness L· the core ofthL· trope. Zizek writes (in The Parallax View), 'The link between psychoanalysL· and capitatism L· perhaps best exemplified by one of iL· great literary figures of the nineteenth-century novel, thejew^ moneylender, a shadowy figure to whom all the big figures of society come to borrow money, pleading with him and telling him all their dirty secrets and passions. '

This essay takes seriously the idea that, in centring on a miserly exchange mediated by money, psychoanalysis reveals the structuring power of the social order over encounters that are fantasised to be based on love or care. However, it ash why the trope has to be so explicitly anti-semitic in its formulation. It is argued that what breaks through in this and some other passages where Zizek overly exuberantly evokes anti-semitism is a continuing failure of psychoanalysis to deal with its own Jewish' investments.

Keywords psychoanalysis, Zizek, Jews, anti-semitism, money, miser

JEWISH HISTORY

It is an old quip that books on psychoanalysis might be catalogued by publishers under the title 'Jewish studies', and it is certainly the case that whilst the numerical domination of the psychoanalytic movement by Jews may have shifted significantly - and may never, since the very early years, have been as great as is often imagined - the symbolic resonance of psychoanalysis as in some ways 'Jewish' has never let up. This chapter takes this resonance seriously and places it in contact with discussions of psychoanalysis and money, specifically in relation to an intriguing reading of psychoanalysis as being based on the model of 'miserly exchange'. The general argument is diat psychoanalysis retains its association with Jewishness and that this has resulted in a legacy of unworked- through anti-Semitism, which is precipitated under various circumstances, including when considerations of money come to the fore. It may even be that the juxtaposition of the 'Jewish science' with the deep-rooted anti-semitic imagery of the money-grabbing Jew is a particularly potent reminder of just how much work remains to be done if psychoanalysis is to come to terms with its own conditions of emergence and its own unresolved anti-Jewish complexes.

The 'Jewish heritage' of psychoanalysis has been deeply mined, particularly in work on Freud, which has convincingly shown the extent to which his 'Jewish identity' was an active force in the construction of his psychoanalytic thinking.1 To cut a very long story short, it is no accident that his closing words to the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society on the occasion of its dissolution echoed a passage in Moses and Monotheism that explicitly invoked psychoanalysis as a continuation of Jewish tradition. After the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by Titus,' he said, 'Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai asked for permission to open a school at Yavneh for the study of Torah. We are going to do the same. We are, after all, used to persecution by our history, tradition and some of us by personal experience'.2 Here, the identification between psychoanalysis and Jewish thought is absolutely explicit, as is the link between the psychoanalytic movement and the Jews, and the focus on die pursuit of knowledge as a distinctive Jewish concern. It is as if Jewish history has translated directly into psychoanalytic history, the latter being die continuation of the former. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Psychoanalysis, Anti-Semitism and the Miser
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.