The Temporality of Sexual Life in Husserl and Freud

Phenomenology of Eros (2012)
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In this text I would like to show two things. Firstly, that the so-called “timelessness” of the Freudian unconscious can be elucidated through an interpretation of the concept of Nachträglichkeit, and showing thereby that there is indeed a temporality specific to the workings of the unconscious. Freud’s analysis of early psychic trauma related to sexual phenomena pointed to a serious complication for all believers in the immediate transparency of consciousness. For the “wound” itself was constituted over time, and the possibility of coming to understand the trauma (thereby achieving a certain freedom from its repercussions) was again only possible after the event had passed. The Nachträglichkeit involved in the psychoanalytical understanding of sexual trauma thus hinges on a threefold temporal process at work in subjective life. Secondly, I wish to show that Husserl, in his analyses of time and intersubjectivity, delivered the materials with which a phenomenological clarification of Nachträglichkeit can be given. Since Nachträglichkeit is essentially tied to the structure of repression (and thus the very constitution of the unconscious), what I am suggesting is a prolegomenon to a phenomenological clarification of Freudian repression. This clearly suggests the need for further investigations into the phenomenology of sexual life.



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Nicholas Smith
Södertörn University

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