Abstract

Abstract:

In a short text published 1916, Freud discusses his patient's neurotic obsession to imagine his intimidating father without a head and with a face on his belly. Freud notes that the hallucination reminds him of the iconography of the ancient myth of Baubo, who is said to have lifted her skirts and exposed herself to the goddess Demeter. Being up to date on archaeological literature, Freud knew that, since 1904, the name had been associated with the peculiar iconography of a group of Hellenistic votive figurines discovered at Priene, modern-day Turkey. What does it mean for Freudto match a turn-of-the-century paternal hang-up "exactly" to ancient figurines showing a grotesque female body? Freud's fits the patient's obsession squarely within his Oedipal master-myth but appeals to a little-known myth about female exhibitionism in order to illustrate it. This paradoxical parallel prompts us to reconsider the relationships within his work between the individual and the general, the ancient and contemporary, and analysis and archaeology-and what role gender plays in all of these. The following essay reads Freud's text in the context of contemporary archaeological debates on Baubo and female obscenity and draws attention to the investments archaeology and psychoanalysis shared in understanding themselves as inheritors of ancient (and implicitly male) rationality. Taking up Freud's interest in J. J. Bachofen's theories of early matriarchies, the essay further suggest that Freud's "Parallel"-essay mobilizes what he himself and many of his contemporaries considered an irrational and female way of thinking as part of a new scientific approach to the past.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1085-7931
Print ISSN
0065-860X
Pages
pp. 275-305
Launched on MUSE
2021-08-28
Open Access
No
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