ByPeregrine Horden
Pages 3

This paper was written as an introduction to a collection of studies entitled Freud and the Humanities. The collection was about the influence of Freud and psychoanalysis outside the profession, on the arts and humanities and on the various disciplines by which they might be studied. There were thus chapters on, for example, the psychoanalysis of creativity, Freud and literary biography, psychoanalysis and anthropology, and psychoanalysis and the study of the ancient world; some at least of the lecturers were very big names whose writings in their respective fields endure (Richard Ellmann, E. H. Gombrich, Hugh Lloyd-Jones). My task as I saw it was threefold. First, it was to discuss in general terms the place within Freud’s output of ‘non-clinical’ psychoanalysis: the analysis of religion, art, literature, culture; the life of the group and not just the individual, the whole life course of the historical individual and not just the neurotic patient. Second, it was to show how an investigation into Freud’s influence might be undertaken: an investigation not mainly in terms of analytical schools, with its heroes, rebels, outcasts and heretics but, rather, one that would take seriously Auden’s elegiac distillation in 1939: ‘if often he was wrong and, at times, absurd, / to us he is no more a person/ now but a whole climate of opinion’. But, thirdly and lastly, my task was to complicate that investigation – by recalling the ‘prehistory’ of Freud’s ideas, the influences on the influencer, the ‘deep time’ of subjects that he made his own and virtually claimed to have invented (as in a small way with the paper on perceptions of infant sexuality also reproduced here).