Conference: The Effectiveness of Symbols

Freud Museum London: Psychoanalysis Podcasts show

Summary: <br> Part 3: Boris Wiseman - Symbolic efficacy: From Ritual to Psychoanalysis and Back Again<br> <br> <br> In this paper I will address the question of the efficacy of symbols by exploring some echoes between ritual and psychoanalytic practices. I will start by examining Lévi-Strauss’s seductive theory of symbolic efficacy and will then turn to a contemporary anthropological revision of that theory by Carlo Severi (Laboratoire d’anthropologie sociale) and its psychoanalytic resonances. I will conclude by turning the lens of anthropology onto psychoanalysis and by asking what Amerindian ritual practices may tell us about the talking cure.<br> <br> <br> Boris Wiseman is Associate Professor at the Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies, University of Copenhagen. He is the author of several books, including Lévi-Strauss, Anthropology and Aesthetics (2007), and edited The Cambridge Companion to Lévi-Strauss (2009).<br> <br> <br> <br> <br> Why do symbols have such a powerful influence on human beings?<br> <br> <br> <br> <br> This question lies at the heart of both psychoanalysis and anthropology. In his seminal paper ‘The Effectiveness of Symbols’, French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss compared the healing practices of shamans and psychoanalysts in terms of the structuring effects of symbol and language on the body.<br> <br> <br> Lévi-Strauss opened up new ways of thinking about the symbolic dimension of human life, offering a subtle reformulation of the Freudian unconscious and putting forward a theory of symbolic function that continues to resonate within both fields.<br> <br> <br> This conference brings together eminent speakers from the fields of psychoanalysis and anthropology to reflect on Lévi-Strauss’ paper and its influence, and to discuss symbolic effectiveness in their own research and practice.<br>