‘Was Freud a Liar?’
(20 October 1973)
A re-reading on the 40th anniversary
of Cioffi’s seminal radio talk
on sexual abuse and Freud’s ‘seduction theory’
Towards existential seduction theory
Inner Circle Seminar No. 196
Sunday 20 October 2013
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This provocatively titled twenty-minute talk by Frank Cioffi (11 January 1928 – 1 January 2012) was published in The Listener on 7 February 1974. After some weeks, a critical letter from Dr James Hopkins was published, and subsequently Cioffi responded. Otherwise the talk seems to have received little attention at the time. But, despite its imperfections, it revealed contradictions in Freud’s explanation of why he first advocated then retracted what is usually called his ‘seduction theory’ – his dramatic claim that in every case of ‘hysteria’ the ‘patient’ had been sexually abused in childhood. On the talk’s fortieth anniversary, we explore how reading it can help psychotherapists today non-seductively help clients to recall and revalue childhood seduction, mystification and abuse, whether sexual or existential; to distinguish memory and phantasy; and to free themselves from the paralysing influence of ‘the past’. Professor James Hopkins (as he now is) will himself participate in the seminar during the afternoon to debate and defend, almost forty years on, his critique of Cioffi's talk.
We shall see that psychotherapists of all schools have been confused – not only by the claims of Freud and the psychoanalytic establishment that his ‘patients’ were phantasizing, but also by the claims of feminists and other writers who argue that the ‘seduction theory’ was essentially correct, and by the claims of those who argue that it was a question of Freud’s inducing ‘false memories’ in his ‘patients’.
Returning to the unique history of each individual client, in the spirit of Cioffi’s paper and Sartre’s existential psychoanalysis, then reveals sexual abuse and incestuous phantasy as merely two of the many ways in which the client may be mystified by ‘the past’. You are invited to join the discussion of the possibility of a general existential seduction theory which Anthony Stadlen proposed in the very first Inner Circle Seminar on 21 April 1996 (the centenary of Freud’s presentation of his so-called ‘seduction theory’ in Vienna on 21 April 1896).
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com./