1st Edition

Psychoanalytic Explorations of the Masculine and the Maternal Uncovering the Image of Circumcision in Freud’s Works

By Yael Pilowsky Bankirer Copyright 2025
    264 Pages
    by Routledge

    264 Pages
    by Routledge

    In this book, Yael Pilowsky Bankirer reads into Freud's writings with the unique prism of circumcision as a marker for both the formation of masculine identity, and for matricide, the disappearance of the mother.

    Pilowsky Bankirer uses Freud’s idea of circumcision within a text as a ‘leitfossil’: a key fossil through which an unresolved unconscious conflict can be traced. She conducts a close reading of Freud’s texts – including Little Hans, The Wolf Man, Totem and Taboo and Moses and Monotheism – to illuminate and uncover the textual unconscious, deconstruct the explicit narrative and open alternative psychoanalytic possibilities inherent to the encounter with the maternal realm. Throughout the volume, Pilowsky Bankirer informs her analysis by considering the work of Freud in tandem with that of Lacan, Kristeva, Irigaray, Derrida, Benjamin, Butler, and more.

    Psychoanalytic Explorations of the Masculine and the Maternal: Uncovering the Image of Circumcision in Freud’s Works will be of interest to scholars of psychoanalysis and practicing analysts alike, particularly those interested in the intersection of gender studies and psychoanalysis.

    Preface  Introduction  1.In her Shadow: Three Case Studies  2.Totem and Taboo: Phantasies of Origin  3.The Jewish Key Fossil In the Footsteps of Freud:Passing Reflections on Motherhood and Circumcision


    Yael Pilowsky Bankirer is a psychoanalyst and poet based in Cambridge, UK. She is a Medical Doctor and has a PhD in Gender Studies and Psychoanalysis. She is a member of the Site for Contemporary Psychoanalysis and an editor for Sitegeist – a journal of psychoanalysis and Philosophy.

    "This book’s brilliant discussion through the various cases of Freud turns reading into a unique journey of psychoanalytic-linguistic detective work, making it an exploration of how the theories "act" and "enact" and how these enactments affect the culture that grew out of them."

    Prof. Dana Amir, Head of the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Track in Psychoanalysis, University of Haifa, Editor in Chief of Maarag - The Israeli Annual of Psychoanalysis.


    "Yael Pilowsky Bankirer gives us a fearless and profound psychoanalytic investigation that reveals the deficiencies in Freud's writing regarding the feminine and maternal. I particularly recommend it for feminist scholars, psychoanalysts and social scientists for teaching purposes, as it makes arcane information inviting and accessible".

    Prof. Aner Govrin, Bar-Ilan University, Editor of Routledge Introductions to Contemporary Psychoanalysis


    “It is a profoundly captivating and rich read, revealing significant innovations in psychoanalysis, particularly in feminist interpretations of Freud. The reading experience provokes thought and my imagination was engaged for hours thereafter. This is a breakthrough study that demands the reader to remain open minded when reading the complex and original ideas”.

    Henriette Dahan Kalev, Professor Emerita, Political Scientist, Founder and first chair of Gender Studies, Ben Gurion University


    “Beautifully written and closely researched, this book deciphers censured powers of the maternal within Freud’s Oedipal cases and historical narratives. By exposing ‘cut off’ residues of birth, cord-severance and weaning in the sacrificial ritual of circumcision, and by naming the mark of radical otherness/ nothingness erasing the mother’s subjectivity, the author reimagines other conceptions of gender relations.”

    Prof. Joan Raphael-Leff, British Psychoanalytical Society, International Association of Psychoanalysis, and the Anna Freud Centre.