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Freud and the Scene of Trauma$
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John Fletcher

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823254590

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823254590.001.0001

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The Wolf Man II

The Wolf Man II

Interpreting the Primal Scene

(p.248) Ten The Wolf Man II
Freud and the Scene of Trauma

John Fletcher

Fordham University Press

Chapter Ten continues the discussion of the Wolf Man case by considering how Freud’s retrospective construction of the parental primal scene, inferred from the Wolf dream (and discussed in Chapter 9), is interpreted in terms of castration as the traumatic ‘real event’ behind the dream. A critique of Freud’s argument is made through a consideration of the time structure borrowed from the old trauma theory and the conceptual slippages between ‘activation’, ‘recollection’, ‘understanding’ and ‘revision’ entailed; in particular, the tendency to collapse everything into a supposed ‘undertanding’ of the primal scene as castration that conflicts with the symbolic revisions implemented in the wolf dream via the wolf stories and the traumatizing discourses of the boy’s grandfather, sister and Nanya. It tracks Freud’s oscillations between the primal scene as fantasy and real event and his attempt to stabilize this undecidability by appeal to the notions of phylogenesis and primal fantasy. It concludes with a consideration of Laplanche’s reading of the ‘Beating Fantasies’ essay that in effect counterposes to ‘primal fantasy’ an alternative theorization of ‘original fantasy’ as the individual formation of a fixated, masochistic scene of incestuous wish and its punishment as an unconscious oedipal prototype.

Keywords:   archaic heritage, beating fantasies, castration, Haeckel’s Law, original/originary fantasies (ursprüngliche Phantasie), phylogeny, primal scene, primal fantasy (Urphantasie), psycho-Lamarckianism, retrospective fantasizing (Zurückphantasieren)

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