At the turn of the 19 Century, when the Freudian paradigm took its first steps toward becoming a modern amalgam of science and hermeneutics, history was considered the most established and instrumental discipline in man’s quest to endow his thinking and action with meaning. The kinship between the disciplines, which could be traced back to the persona of Freud, took many shapes in the course of the 20-century. Examined in perspective one could maintain that modern historiography and psychoanalysis have traveled the same distance in moving away from philosophical idealism, shared some of the illusions of militant positivism and are accustomed to evoke the same criticism due their claim to half scientific half artistic epistemology. We start by considering the intellectual legacies and theoretical foundations that shaped the two disciplines perspective of each other. We then proceed to juxtapose several historical moments in the evolution of psychoanalysis and history and critically compare several key concepts and tropes, which figure in the objectivity-subjectivity discourse in which both disciplines actively participate. Notwithstanding the pitfalls of traditional psycho-historical discourse we sketch an outline for a psychoanalytically- informed theory of history.
published in Psychoanalysis and History
a revised version of this paper was published in German in Zeitschrift für Psychoanalytische Theorie und Praxis>>