Abstract

Freud claimed that he conceived his idea of sublimation while reading about the youthful dog-tail-cutting adventures of the future surgeon J. F. Dieffenbach in Heinrich Heine's The Harz Journey. Although Heine does mention a prohibition against docking dog tails in the work, the Dieffenbach anecdote actually appears in Heine's memorial to Ludwig Börne. This article argues that Freud's parapraxis is entwined with an irony that, if recognized, might undermine the general approbation given to sublimation. By mapping the Jewish matrix of the two passages that converge upon Freud's errant account of the origin of his concept, the author uncovers a third canine caudal caesura in the work of Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, an author Freud closely associated with Heine. This triangulation leads the author back to Freud's early formulations of sublimation, which betray its further imbrication with Judentum and suggest that what may be most sublimated by sublimation itself is the correlation between psychoanalytic discourse and Freud's Jewish identifications.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1085-7931
Print ISSN
0065-860X
Pages
pp. 169-184
Launched on MUSE
2009-08-07
Open Access
No
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