The Sexual Animal and the Primal Scene of Birth

Elissa Marder

in The Mother in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780823240555
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823240593 | DOI:
The Sexual Animal and the Primal Scene of Birth

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This chapter suggests that the case history Wolf Man not only provides Freud's most sustained articulation of the concept of the primal scene in psychoanalysis, but also that the case itself constitutes something of a primal scene for psychoanalysis. Freud's text resembles a dream rebus that amalgamates his entire metapsychological apparatus into a fabulous narrative whose function is to account for the radical unthinkability of the primal scene of birth. Freud's quasi-photographic reconstruction of the “real event” that ostensibly gives rise to the primal scene becomes the site at which several critical differences (real event vs. fiction, man vs. woman, human vs. animal) are viewed, constructed, and repressed. In Wolf Man, Freud attempts to grapple with the fact that the specificity of human subjectivity is grounded in a relation to sexuality which renders us simultaneously too close and too far from the realm of animals.

Keywords: primal scene; Wolf Man; Nachträglichkeit; animality; enigmatic messages; Laplanche; photography

Chapter.  9866 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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