Psychoanalysis, Colonialism, and Modernity

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In Aboriginal Populations in the Mind: Race and Primitivity in Psychoanalysis Celia Brickman has put together in a new way the pieces of the often contradictory puzzle that we know as psychoanalysis. I have sometimes argued, struggling with this puzzle, that there are many Freuds and that some of Freud’s statements are simply less central than others (2003). I have spoken of Freud’s masterplots and countertheses to differentiate oppositional and contradictory threads in his work (2001a). My students have sometimes referred to some of the more problematic texts as “Freud on a bad day.” But Brickman has made sense of it all. Freud’s good days and bad days are all part of one coherent paradigm in which the trope of the primitive plays a central and troubling role. This book, in my view, will change the way we read Freud. I would like to outline Brickman’s argument, raising two questions about the implications of her argument for how we read Freud.