04/15/2024, 00:37, 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 Stefan Kristensen from Geneva, Switzerland:

He is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Art History Department, University of Geneva. He holds a PhD in philosophy from the Universities of Geneva and Paris on Merleau-Ponty and the question of expression. He has been a research fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at the University of Heidelberg (2013-2015). He has published extensively on the theory of subjectivity, on the problem of witnessing, on the sources and limits of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy among other topics in contemporary continental philosophy and aesthetics. He recently completed his habilitation thesis at the University of Toulouse with a work entitled “The Sensitive Machine”, an essay of articulating the phenomenological perspective of Merleau-Ponty and the schizoanalysis of Félix Guattari (to be published by Herrman, Paris). His latest book is entitled Jean-Luc Godard Philosopher (2014).


DWP: What led you to deal with psychoanalysis, respectively with Freud and his achievements?

Stefan Kristensen: I have come to psychoanalytical literature through the study of the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty. I was curious about his use of the Freudian notion of sublimation in his attempts to describe the passage of perceptual sense onto the realm of language (in PhD, published in 2010 under the title Parole et subjectivité. Merleau-Ponty et la phénoménologie de l’expression). This made me familiar with Merleau-Ponty’s quite mysterious idea of an ontological psychoanalysis (in The Visible and the Invisible), in which the unconscious would not be necessarily circumscribed to an individual, but where the unconscious actually is an access to being itself. From such a vantage point, Freud appears as the groundbreaking classic author who made many things possible, but whose ontological prejudices prevented him from going all the way through. But as a genuine classical thinker, his text contains a potential of new questioning at each new reading.

DWP: Have you ever undergone psychoanalysis?

Stefan Kristensen: I’m afraid I have not (yet). I’m still hesitating between different sensibilities and schools. Perhaps I haven’t had any strong crises in my life triggering the decision to start an analysis. One problem thereby in my case (but this may be some defense mechanism) is that my theoretical interests in the ontological foundations of psychoanalysis might be dominant in the conversation, and that I lose sight of the reason why I came to lie on the couch in the first place…

DWP: If you had the opportunity to talk with Sigmund Freud, what would be the topic?

Stefan Kristensen: My topics with Freud himself would be quite a few: first I’d like to ask him about the articulation of the individual and the collective. Is the unconscious a strictly individual realm, or is there a collectively shared unconscious allowing for the communication between the unconsciouses of different persons. Secondly, there is an issue about the (pretended) universality of our Western psychological structures. Would Freud admit that the oedipal structure of affectivity is a structure fitting the Western bourgeois being in the world? Thirdly, there is question of ontology: would Freud affirm the existence of two distinct realms of being the realm of sense and the realm of mechanical causality, or would he also admit the necessity of formulating an ontology beyond the traditional dualism of Western thinking? Finally, I’d be curious to better understand the relation between the body and the unconscious in Freud’s opinion; in some passages from “The Ego and the Id”, Freud suggests that the unconscious is a bodily phenomenon, but he doesn’t elaborate on that point.

DWP: Fabric or leather couch?

Stefan Kristensen: My question would not be the kind of couch that is used, but the relation between the setting and the discourse produced by the setting. I doubt that the industrial origin of the couch should have any influence on this. But the same question made me think of the alternative inspired by Deleuze and Guattari against Freudian psychoanalysis in the Anti-Œdipus: they ask whether the unconscious is a factory or a theater and they answer it’s a factory. A place of production, and not a theater where the same play is shown over and over again. Is the shape and origin of the couch a sufficient motive of producing novelty? This amounts to the question of how repetition produces novelty.

DWP: According to Bruno Bettelheim and 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?

Stefan Kristensen: I have been told many fairy tales in my childhood, but I remember only very few. One tale that I have very much appreciated in the past years (with my own children) is the Star Wars epic… it sort of works like a postmodern condensation of all fairy tales.

DWP: What do you find good or particularly good in psychoanalysis and is there anything you do not like about it?

Stefan Kristensen: There is a temptation in parts of the psychoanalytical tradition to consider the interpretation as a kind of science, as if the analyst had a privileged access to the unconscious of the patient, and as if the psychoanalytical method granted an objective conception of the unconscious independently of the perspective of the patient her-/himself. This would be the bad caricature of (mostly Lacanian) psychoanalysis. The good side is, correlatively, the idea in most of the psychoanalytical tradition that the perspective of the subject is irreducible. The process of the analysis is fundamentally the process of a subject coming to terms with her/his own history and present situation. This simple fact is very…

DWP: Do you have a favorite Freud - quote?

Stefan Kristensen: «Rêver n’est-il pas également un remémorer, bien que soumis aux conditions du temps de nuit et à celles de la formation du rêve? Par ce retour aux rêves, je m’explique que se forme peu à peu, chez les patients eux-mêmes, une ferme conviction touchant à la réalité de ces scènes originaires, conviction qui ne le cède en rien à celle fondée sur le souvenir» (Loups, trad. Laplanche, p. 49) 

DWP:  Are there other psychoanalysts, in addition to Sigmund Freud, who you like to study?

Stefan Kristensen: I actually think the most interesting in Freud’s work is the richness of his legacy. In my view one productive direction is the one labeled “ethnopsychiatry” launched by Georges Devereux and now pursued by Tobie Nathan and his followers. Among the French psychoanalysts, I am particularly interested in those who have articulated the life of the body and the question of the unconscious, that is for example Françoise Dolto (with her idea of the body image being totally different from Paul Schilder’s body schema), Didier Anzieu (and his idea of the “Skin-Ego”, using the structure of the body to delimitate the boundaries of the Ego), and the psychosomatic tradition of Paul Marty. More recently, I’m very much interested in the work of René Kaës and his project of the widening (extension) of psychoanalysis from the individual sphere to the realm of the collective.

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

Contact information of the author:
Stefan Kristensen

Sigmund Freud Museum SFU Belvedere 21er haus stuhleck kunsthalle
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