1st Edition

Trauma, Psychoanalysis and History

By Luis Sanfelippo Copyright 2024
    274 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    274 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Located at the crossroads of psychoanalysis and history, this book investigates the ambiguous concept of trauma and the changes to its formulation and use between the years 1866 and 1939. 

    Luis Sanfelippo introduces the original conceptions of trauma outlined by Sigmund Freud, Pierre Janet and their contemporaries, before investigating how the meaning of this concept was influenced and informed by large-scale historical events like the First World War. Trauma, Psychoanalysis and History investigates the multiple problems linked to this fetishised category and how it has developed over time. Sanfelippo also considers the historiographical and conceptual problems raised by the application of trauma to collective memory and contemporary history, reflecting on what this means for historiography. 

    Trauma, Psychoanalysis and History will be of great interest to students in training for psychotherapy and mental health practice, trained psychoanalysts, as well as academics and scholars of psychoanalytic studies, the history of psychology, trauma studies and modern history. 

    Introduction  1. Mechanical Trauma, Psychical Trauma: Railway Accidents and Hysteria (1866-1889)  2. Trauma and Memory: The Janet-Freud Debate, 1889-1895/1913-1914  3. Sexual Cause and Traumatic Testimonies: The Versions of the Neurotica and its Abandonment (1896-1933)  4. The War Neuroses and a New Economic Conception of Trauma (1914-1920)  5. On Collective Traumas: The Persistence and Transmission of Past Experiences (1913 and 1939)  Conclusions


    Luis Sanfelippo, PhD, is a professor and researcher at the University of La Plata and the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He coordinates the Centre for the History of Psychoanalysis at the National Library of Argentina, and has been a practising psychoanalyst since 2001.

    "We should be grateful to Luis Sanfelippo for his research on trauma, a concept that over the years since Freud used it to start psychoanalysis, experienced transformations, expansions and bastardizations. His meticulous research of Freud's papers should allow clinicians and theoreticians to stand on more solid ground when attempting to understand the human condition. The exploration of trauma in psychoanalysis is scholarly and complemented by the research on the link with other human sciences and culture that significantly enriches our understanding of the other concept." Alberto Pieczanski, MD, psychoanalyst; training and supervising analyst, Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis; member of the British Psychoanalytical Society, UK; co-editor (with Nydia Pieczanski, MD) of The Pioneers of Psychoanalysis in South America: An Essential Guide

    "Trauma is one of the words most often associated with the experience of the contemporary world: two world wars, crimes and mass violence have originated a growing awareness of psychic injuries, both individual and collective. The interest of Luis Sanfelippo's research lies in the fact that it restores, around Sigmund Freud, a key moment in the genealogy of this notion. Psychologists, psychiatrists and psychoanalysts have not ceased to deepen and reformulate it, but their thinking is inseparable from a history that concerns us all." Jacques Revel, Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, France

    "Thanks to the recent exhumation of documents and reconstructions of context, which this book helps to bring to light, the canonical version of the reasons for Freud's abandonment of his trauma theory has lost consensus. Pursuing Freud's delays, returns, mutations and perplexities, Luis Sanfelippo highlights unknown subtleties of that inner debate. Observing that whirlwind would allow one to discover, as he says, how 'the past does not determine a necessary direction; but it conditions, it generates conditions of possibility and, also, it determines impossibilities." Jorge Baños Orellana, École lacanienne de psychanalyse, Argentina and France

    "The passion for psychoanalysis leads Luis to a rigorous study of the concept of trauma in Freud, given the different versions that emerge from various readings at different times. Luis Sanfelippo's research is already a reference in Latin America for the study of the concept  of trauma. His historical, serious and profound journey makes it essential." Griselda Sanchez Zago, Instituto Freudiano para el Estudio de las Prácticas Psicoanalíticas (México); Asociación Psicoanalítica de Guadalajara; FEPAL; IPA; co-editor, Calibán

    "A lot has been written in recent years about trauma, either from a psychoanalytical perspective or from a historical point of view. Yet, so far, there were no significant studies dedicated to this capital concept in the history of psychoanalysis and even beyond... Not only does this ground-breaking piece by Luis Sanfelippo show the changing places of trauma in Freudian theory, in different contexts, but it also traces its medical origins back to the first railroad accidents and their objective and subjective consequences. For those willing to know how trauma became a key category to understand our time, this research, as precise as it is lively, will become a must-read." Alejandro Dagfal, psychologist and historian; University of Buenos Aires; National Research Council and National Library, Argentina