Possession, exorcism and psychoanalysis

Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
This paper investigates the historiographical utility of psychoanalysis, focussing in particular on retrospective explanations of demonic possession and exorcism. It is argued that while 'full-blown' psychoanalytic explanations-those that impose Oedipus complexes, anal eroticism or other sophisticated theoretical structures on the historical actors-may be vulnerable to the charge of anachronism, a weaker form of retrospective psychoanalysis can be defended as a legitimate historical lens. The paper concludes, however, by urging historians to look at psychoanalysis as well as trying to look through it. Full-blown psychoanalysis is a bad historical lens but it may, in some cases, be an excellent explanatory template: a thorough understanding of how psychoanalytic therapy functions in the modern world is, for example, a good theoretical preparation for historians seeking to understand the sixteenth-century's demonological universe.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Upload history
First archival date: 2019-11-06
Latest version: 2 (2020-07-25)
View other versions
Added to PP index

Total views
65 ( #51,645 of 2,448,722 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
16 ( #36,658 of 2,448,722 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.