Freud Museum London: Psychoanalysis Podcasts A treasure trove of ideas in psychoanalysis. History, theory, and psychoanalytic perspectives on a diverse range of topics.

In What is Sex?, Alenka Zupančič approaches the question of sexuality from a Lacanian perspective, considering it a properly philosophical problem for psychoanalysis.

Drawing on Freud and Lacan, Zupančič argues that sexuality is at the point of a “short circuit” between ontology and epistemology.

Sexuality and knowledge are structured around a fundamental negativity, which unites them at the point of the unconscious. The unconscious (as linked to sexuality) is the concept of an inherent link between being and knowledge in their very negativity.

About the author

Alenka Zupančič is a Slovene philosopher and social theorist. She works as research advisor at the Institute of Philosophy, Scientific Research Center of the Slovene Academy of Sciences. She is also professor at the European Graduate School in Switzerland, and at the Graduate School ZRC SAZU (Ljubljana). She is the author of numerous articles and books on psychoanalysis and philosophy, including Ethics of the Real: Kant and Lacan; The Shortest Shadow: Nietzsche's Philosophy of the Two; Why Psychoanalysis: Three Interventions; The Odd One In: On Comedy; and, most recently, What is Sex?

In The Not-Two, Lorenzo Chiesa examines the treatment of logic and God in Lacan’s later work.

The Not-Two: Logic and God in Lacan

Chiesa draws for the most part from Lacan’s Seminars of the early 1970s, as they revolve around the axiom "There is no sexual relationship." Chiesa provides both a close reading of Lacan’s effort to formalize sexual difference as incompleteness and an assessment of its broader implications for philosophical realism and materialism.

Chiesa argues that "There is no sexual relationship" is for Lacan empirically and historically circumscribed by psychoanalysis, yet self-evident in our everyday lives. Lacan believed that we have sex because we love, and that love is a desire to be One in face of the absence of the sexual relationship. Love presupposes a real "not-two." The not-two condenses the idea that our love and sex lives are dictated by the impossibility of fusing man’s contradictory being with the heteros of woman as a fundamentally uncountable Other. Sexual liaisons are sustained by a transcendental logic, the so-called phallic function that attempts to overcome this impossibility.

Chiesa also focuses on Lacan’s critical dialogue with modern science and formal logic, as well as his dismantling of sexuality as considered by mainstream biological discourse. Developing a new logic of sexuation based on incompleteness requires the relinquishing of any alleged logos of life and any teleological evolution.

For Lacan, the truth of incompleteness as approached psychoanalytically through sexuality would allow us to go further in debunking traditional onto-theology and replace it with a “para-ontology” yet to be developed. Given the truth of incompleteness, Chiesa asks, can we think such a truth in itself without turning incompleteness into another truth about truth, that is, into yet another figure of God as absolute being?

Lorenzo Chiesa is a philosopher who has published extensively on psychoanalysis. His works in this field include Subjectivity and Otherness: A Philosophical Reading of Lacan (MIT Press, 2007); Lacan and Philosophy: The New Generation (, 2014); The Not-Two: Logic and God in Lacan (MIT Press, 2016); and The Virtual Point of Freedom (Northwestern University Press, 2016). Since 2014, he has been Visiting Professor at the European University at Saint Petersburg and at the Freud’s Dream Museum of the same city. Previously, he was Professor of Modern European Thought at the University of Kent, where he founded and directed the Centre for Critical Thought.

Re-reading Freud's 1905 edition of Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality

This book presentation is devoted to the newly translated and annotated English edition of Freud’s 1905 Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (Verso, 2016).

Freud’s publication is one of the grounding texts of 20th-century European thinking. In it Freud develops a highly innovative theory of sexuality for which pathology serves as a model to understand human existence. Freud published this text five times during his lifetime. In the book presentation, the editors will highlight the potential of the text in its relevance for contemporary psychoanalytic theory. This potential concerns three main issues. First, the text is important as regards its theory of sexuality: infantile sexuality is seen as strictly autoerotic and without an object, and hence, cannot be described in oedipal terms – Freud’s first theory of sexuality is a non-oedipal theory. Second, Freud opts for a very interesting, "pathoanalytic“ perspective on sexuality, when using the psychoneuroses (especially hysteria) as the model to understand the general human sexual constitution. Third, Freud offers a profound critique of heteronormative and functional theories of sexuality and the perversions in his contemporary psychiatric and sexological literature. Re-reading the Three Essays shows that we have to reconsider the genesis of Freudian thinking, and psychoanalysis’ potential in contemporary debates on sexuality, gender and normativity. 


Philippe Van Haute is Professor at the Center for Contemporary European Philosophy, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and Extraordinary Professor of philosophy at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He is a psychoanalyst of the Belgian School for Psychoanalysis and a founding member of the Société internationale de psychanalyse et de philosophie/ International Society for Psychoanalysis and Philosophy. He has published numerous books, among them Against Adaptation (2002), Confusion of Tongues (with Tomas Geyskens, 2004), From Death Drive to Attachment Theory (with Tomas Geyskens, 2007), and A Non-oedipal Psychoanalysis? (with Tomas Geyskens, 2012). He is the coeditor of the book series Figures of the Unconscious (Louvain University Press).

Herman Westerink is Lecturer at the Center for Contemporary European Philosophy, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and Extraordinary Professor at the University of Leuven, Belgium. He is a member of the Société internationale de psychanalyse et de philosophie/International Society for Psychoanalysis and Philosophy. He has published numerous books and articles on psychoanalysis, including A Dark Trace: Sigmund Freud on the Sense of Guilt (2009) and The Heart of Man’s Destiny (2012). He is Editor of the book series Sigmund Freud's Werke: Wiener Interdisziplinäre Kommentare.

Celebrity, Pornography and the Psychoanalysis of Self-Representation

Gareth Longstaff

Using the original concept of ‘Bodies that Stutter’ this paper focuses on the representational intersections between celebrity and pornography online.

To do this it will consider how contemporary practices of self-representation on digital and networked media (captured in the practice of the ‘selfie’) frame a rhetoric of desire as jouissance. The dialogue between queer and psychoanalytic theory will also inform the discussion to consider how performative bodies that have ‘mattered’ (Judith Butler, 1993) and unconsciously ‘muttered’ (Tim Dean, 2000) now ‘stutter’. Using the work of Jacques Lacan to reposition Tim Dean's and Judith Butler's concepts of bodies that matter and bodies that mutter, this stuttering body, which is embedded in late capitalist discourses of celebrity and pornography, is reflective of the hesitancy, frustration, exhilaration, and repetition that it subversively contains, as well as remaining vulnerable to metonymic contiguity and transposition of a symbolically normative language it cannot control. ‘Bodies that Stutter’ are also the bodies that attempt to express a powerful jouissance. through a language of the ‘personal’ and the metaphorical signifier. Yet, unlike Imaginary bodies that rely upon ego, the ‘Bodies that Stutter’ are subject to an impersonal Other that underpins how their desire is expressed metonymically – through this process they symbolically-stutter.

A lot like desire, or slips of the tongue and pen, stuttering is reliant upon stops and starts, structure and chaos, satisfaction and dissatisfaction. It is also something that cannot be contained or applied to one body above another or indeed one identity and/or identity type. This paper uses the contextual focus of the micro-celebrity selfie and its ubiquity on social networking sites to suggest that bodies that stutter form a practice of ‘symbolic stuttering’ that might well occur in multiple, ambiguous, and oblique ways.

Gareth Longstaff is a lecturer in media and cultural studies at Newcastle University. Both his teaching and research interests are primarily concerned with queer sexuality, celebrity, discourses of self-representation, pornography and psychoanalysis. Gareth works at the intersection of how these are connected to other dimensions of queer, cultural, philosophical, mediated and social life and in his upcoming monograph ‘Bodies that Stutter: Celebrity, Pornography and the Psychoanalysis of Self Representation’ his approach to these issues engages and applies queer theory and crossing of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis to the impersonality of desire and the mediated screening of the self in self-representational photography, pornography/sexual representation, and digital / networked media.

Freud's turn to Greek myth is very well known. His Oedipus emerges out of a long history of nineteenth-century obsessions with ancient Greece. But Freud's psychoanalysis of Greek myth was also a response to the nineteenth-century sexological fascination with the sexual decadence of ancient Rome. This talk explores the intriguing story of how the obscene and erotic verse of Roman epigram became an authoritative language for nineteenth-century sexual science, in order to ask, how and why did Freud's interest in Greek myth emerge out of the obscene sexual Latin of Richard von Krafft-Ebing's 1886 book Psychopathia Sexualis, the most famous work of sexology in the nineteenth century?

Sex: Antiquity and it Legacy is published by I.B.Tauris (February, 2013).

Dr Daniel Orrells is Lecturer in Ancient Greek Language and Literature at King's College London. His research examines the presence of classical antiquity in modern cultural, literary and intellectual history. His most recent book Sex: Antiquity and its Legacy offers a fresh, new narrative about the importance of the ancient world for the development of sexology and psychoanalysis.


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