Around the same time Rosenzweig was beginning to formulate these words as a soldier during World War I, another Jewish thinker writing in German was taking a completely different stance: “The high-sounding phrase, ‘every fear is ultimately the fear of death’, has hardly any meaning, and at any rate cannot be justified” (Freud, 1923, p. 57).
Freud’s words, here and elsewhere, constituted merely the first steps in what has become a long-lasting psychoanalytic journey. They express much more than the occasional concrete remark and bear witness to, rather, a fundamental and mosdy hidden tendency. In psychoanalysis, the greatest effort thus far to “map” the human psyche, death seems to occupy, as I hope to show, only a marginal place.
A thorough reading of analytic writings reveals a sort of a “denial of death,” or at least a reluctance to acknowledge death as a constituting factor in mental life. Sometimes death anxiety is reduced to other fears and mental states. At other times death’s significance in psychic life is denied, or death is simply ignored. This book explores the theme of death and death anxiety in psychoanalysis, and the existence of a lacuna, an act of repression, in psychoanalysis’ handling of death. It aims to show how and why death has been marginalized or repressed in psychoanalysis.
All cognition of the All originates in death, in the fear of death.
Philosophy takes it upon itself to throw off the fear of things earthly, to rob death of its poisonous sting, and Hades of its pestilential breath … Without ceasing, the womb of the indefatigable earth gives birth to what is new, each bound to die, each awaiting the day of its journey into darkness with fear and trembling. But philosophy denies these fears of the earth. It bears us over the grave which yawns at our feet with every step. (Franz Rosenzweig, 1971 , p. 3)
(H)ere the philosophers are thinking too philosophically …
(Sigmund Freud, 1915, p. 293)
Chapter 1: Against death: Freud and the question of death’s psychic presence
Chapter 2: “Most of the time life appears so uncertain to me”: Death as a concern in Freud’s life
Chapter 3: The dream of death: The Interpretation of Dreams
Chapter 4: To dream, perchance to die: A further exploration of The Interpretation of Dreams
Chapter 5: Death and anxiety
Chapter 6: A struggle with the concept of death: “Thoughts for the Times on War and Death”
Chapter 7: Driving death away: Freud’s theory of the death drive
Chapter 8: Death and culture: Death as a central motif in Freud’s cultural and literary analyses
Chapter 9: Avoidance and reduction of death in psychoanalysis
Chapter 10: The post-Freudians in the labyrinth of death
Chapter 11: Lacan
Chapter 12: Attempts at reconciliation
Chapter 13: Sources of the clash: The conflict between analytic ideas and concern with death
Chapter 14: Death in life
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