07/25/2024, 15:27, Vienna  DEUTSCH / ENGLISH

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Leading articles

THE VIENNA PSYCHOANALYST wants to give not only already internationally established psychoanalysts, but also still unknown psychoanalysts the opportunity to post a self-written and not yet published article on the FrontPage of our online magazine!

Our Users then can leave comments, ask questions or discuss the articles in our forum. Our aim is to provide an international platform where for the first time anyone interested in psychoanalysis can exchange ideas on certain topics.
Articles are welcome in German and/ or English.

If you are interested, please send your article to

(For reasons of readability, the male form is used with personal names, however the female form is also always intended.)




In our interview series "in conversation with“, we will briefly present the authors of the leading articles. We want to give our users the opportunity to read the leading article from a different point of view.

This week we are very glad to welcome Frank Schumann from Berlin, Germany.

He studied sociology, psychology and philosophy at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena and graduated with a thesis on the concept of the subject in Freud´s writings. In 2017 he received his doctorate supervised by Hartmut Rosa – in sociology; in 2018 his dissertation was published in the publishing house transcript under the title "Leiden und Gesellschaft. Psychoanalyse in der Gesellschaftskritik der Frankfurter Schule".

Since 2017, Frank Schumann has been a researcher in the field of psychoanalytic social psychology and social psychiatry at the International Psychoanalytic University in Berlin (IPU Berlin), where he focuses on social movements, normative dimensions of social criticism, prejudice research as well as political psychology and sociology. He is currently a Fellow at the Center for Humanities and Social Change (CHSC) at the Humboldt University in Berlin.

DWP: What brought you to psychoanalysis?

Frank Schumann: I came to psychoanalysis during my studies of sociology, philosophy and psychology, when I was searching for approaches that help to understand human coexistence in its less rational and more conflicted aspects. Psychoanalysis seemed to do that, along with several other theories.

DWP: What fascinates you most about psychoanalysis?

Frank Schumann: What has fascinated and still fascinates me is that, in my opinion, psychic processes only appear to be in the foreground. Because even in Freud’s, the psychic conflicts take place against the background of a more general cultural and social horizon. Individual psychological dynamics also include a "conditio humana" - even if they have to be qualified in terms of social theory.

DWP: What role does psychoanalysis play as a form of therapy for you?

Frank Schumann: My knowledge of psychoanalytic therapy is mainly based on my theoretical activity, whereby here again; I have been mainly influenced by Freud´s writings.  If one makes the effort to read Freud in chronological order and does not omit the technical writings, a picture of a living and evolving discipline emerges, which at that time was the result of practical preoccupation with therapeutic problems. One can almost observe Freud, as he tries to grasp the neurotic symptoms, with new considerations; and how he gradually develops an increasingly complex theory of the psyche. This process led me to believe that psychoanalytic concepts cannot be adequately understood without taking the therapeutic situation into account. The therapy is, so to speak, an experiential space of psychoanalysis; and within this space , it also experiences the social, or social issues. When psychoanalytic concepts are used outside of psychoanalysis, the therapeutic reference seems to be often disregarded - which is why I am concerned with the question of how this can be obtained in interdisciplinary work.

DWP: If you had the opportunity to talk to Sigmund Freud, what would be the topic?
Are there any specific questions?

Frank Schumann: There are hardly any specific questions; but what I would be interested in is why Freud speaks of culture, but never of society. There are many speculations. A conversation would be extremely exciting.

DWP: Fabric or leather couch?

Frank Schumann: Fabric couch - it feels more comfortable and makes, quite simple, less noise when you move.

DWP: Bruno Bettelheim pointed out the importance of fairy tales in childhood. Will you tell us your favorite fairy tale? And do you see parallels to your own adult life?

Frank Schumann: As a child, I have heard many fairy tales, even less canonized ones that are not included in the fairy tale collection of the Brothers Grimm - However, strangely, I can only remember the Grimm´s fairy tales. Of those - I would say spontaneously – I can’t think of one that I would call a favorite fairy tale.

DWP: I dream,….

Frank Schumann: ... unfortunately too little lately.         

DWP: What can psychoanalysis contribute to today´s society? How does it influence your life? What are its limitations?

Frank Schumann: As a form of therapy, despite the changed circumstances, it can probably do something similar to what it did 100 years ago. Especially in the long term, discussion and a conflict-oriented approach are  as relevant as it was then, in my opinion. However, if one views psychoanalysis as more than merely a method of treatment, then that is (unfortunately) also its limit: It seems to me that psychoanalysis now mainly appears as a method of treatment and, moreover, can no longer inspire the fascination and stimulation that it still possessed in the 20th century.

DWP: What do you particularly appreciate about psychoanalysis? Can psychoanalysis also have negative effects/cause harm?

Frank Schumann: In psychoanalysis, as in Freud´s case, there is also an ethical postulate-namely, to gain a certain, albeit limited, autonomy in one´s own way of life by reflecting on the conditions of being yourself. In this respect, it can also be understood as self-criticism - based on Kant´s understanding of criticism to some extent as self-analysis - and thus as self-enlightenment.

Dangerous may be a strong word, but sometimes something that bothers me, especially in popular psychoanalytic accounts, is what one might describe as prejudice of the depth. By this, I mean the assumption that something, because it is hidden, must also be truer than what supposedly lies on the surface. This approach turns a blind eye the everyday and the obvious which often seem self-evident. Not to mention that I find the focus on the deep and hidden awakenings of a  more mystical connotation more problematic in the context of a therapeutic procedure which involves asymmetric two-way interaction.

DWP: Would you tell us your favorite quote? By Freud, or any other psychoanalyst?

Frank Schumann: It´s hard to pick out a single quote. Above all, however, I find an idea that Freud expressed early in his studies of hysteria interesting when he tried to defend his case against an imaginary doubter. He asks this question, which he immediately answers:

‘Why, you tell me yourself that my illness is probably connected with my circumstances and the events of my life. You cannot alter these in any way. How do you propose to help me, then?’ And I have been able to make this reply: ‘No doubt fate would find it easier than I do to relieve you of your illness. But you will be able to convince yourself that much will be gained if we succeed in transforming your hysterical misery into common unhappiness. With a mental life that has been restored to health you will be better armed against that unhappiness.’

Thank you very much for this conversation, we are already looking forward to your leading article!

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