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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 Scenography of Trauma

The Scenography of Trauma

Oedipus as Tragedy and Complex

(p.123) Five The Scenography of Trauma
Freud and the Scene of Trauma

John Fletcher

Fordham University Press

Chapter Five considers Freud’s turn to the two tragedies, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It locates Freud’s reading of them in the theoretical crisis of 1897 over the theory of traumatic seduction examined in Chapter Four. It considers this turning point and Freud’s reading of the two tragedies in relation to his affiliation of psychoanalysis to the Copernican revolution that overturned the geocentric Ptolemaic synthesis. Freud describes three acts of decentring in which ‘Man’ is displaced from centre in relation to the cosmos (Copernicus), the world of animal species (Darwin), the unconscious and the drives (Freud). Laplanche proposes that “if Freud is his own Copernicus, he is also his own Ptolemy” and that the abandonment of the seduction theory is a move from a ‘Copernican’ other-centred model to a ‘Ptolemaic’ recentring of the individual on his own endogenous, ‘oedipal’ impulses. Metapsychologically Freud replaces an external agent, the seductive, traumatizing other, with “a universal event in early childhood.” His ‘Ptolemaic’ reading reduces the role of Apollo and the Delphic Oracle’s prophetic function in Sophocles’ tragedy to “no more than materialisations of an internal necessity”. There follows a ‘Copernican’ counter-reading of the daimonic and traumatic repetitions of Oedipus.

Keywords:   Copernican revolution, reading, daimon, Hamlet, intromission, Oedipus the King, Laplanche, Jean, palimpsest, Ptolemaic reading, traumatology, traumatological, scenography

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