BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Primitivity and violence: traces of the unconscious in psychoanalysis

    Frosh, Stephen (2016) Primitivity and violence: traces of the unconscious in psychoanalysis. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 37 (1), pp. 34-47. ISSN 1068-8471.

    Primitivity and Violence revision.pdf - Author's Accepted Manuscript

    Download (601kB) | Preview


    Psychoanalysis, the theory and practice of the ‘unconscious’, has an unconscious of its own, in the sense of containing unacknowledged assumptions that continue to affect it. The unconscious of psychoanalysis can be seen in the implicit models that it holds of the nature of the human subject, and particularly in the manner in which psychoanalytic ‘knowledge’ is disrupted by persistent assumptions and recurrent blind-spots that are at best partially recognised. These operate especially strongly in relation to ‘otherness’. In this paper, some lingering effects of psychoanalysis’ ‘unconscious’ assumptions are explored. It is argued in particular that the colonial elements of psychoanalysis’ heritage are visible in its conceptualisation of violence and primitivity, and specifically in thinking of violence as an ‘atavistic’ reproduction of a foundational savagery that, in its imagery and in its substance, is caught up with divisions between civilised and barbaric with very particular sociohistorical resonances.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): psychoanalysis, unconscious, violence, primitivity, colonialism, otherness
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Mapping Maternal Subjectivities, Identities and Ethics (MAMSIE)
    Depositing User: Stephen Frosh
    Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2016 08:05
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:25


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item