Featured Article

Ireland in Psychoanalysis—Contents

Author: Joseph Valente (University of Buffalo), Macy Todd (University of Buffalo), and Seán Kennedy (Saint Mary's University)

Comments

This issue of Breac, "Ireland in Psychoanalysis," was guest edited by Joseph Valente (University of Buffalo), Macy Todd (University of Buffalo), and Seán Kennedy (Saint Mary's University). Its contents include:

 

1. Joseph Valente — "Psychoanalysis in Ireland—Ireland in Psychoanalysis"

2. Macy Todd — A Lumper in the Throat: Famine and Object a

Read More

Psychoanalysis in Ireland—Ireland in Psychoanalysis

Author: Joseph Valente (University of Buffalo)

Comments

Introduction

It would be useful in my view to inaugurate the consideration of “Ireland in Psychoanalysis” by taking a look at what the provocative title phrase might be taken to signify, with what stakes and ramifications. And I thought to begin by puzzling the relationship of this suggested formulation to its chiasmatic (and more accustomed) counterpart, “psychoanalysis in Ireland.” Are we to gloss these rubrics as synonymous? Am I, in addressing the question of Ireland in psychoanalysis, expected to speak to the institutional presence, the methodological variation, and the sociocultural fate of psychoanalysis in Ireland? Left to wonder whether I should be identifying or differentiating these inverse formulae, and on what grounds, I came to imagine a rather unexpected distinction to be immanent in this pair of discursive/disciplinary constructs: psychoanalysis in Ireland is an object of history; Ireland in psychoanalysis is at bottom a literary proposition. The topic of psychoanalysis in Ireland poses relatively straightforward questions of genealogical fact—how psychoanalysis entered Ireland, how it developed there, how widespread was its influence at several points over the last century, and so on—although owing to the privatized nature of clinical practice in psychoanalysis, its focus on individual subjects in confidential settings, it leaves open, if not unanswerable, certain questions of social impact or cultural consequence. Ireland in psychoanalysis, by contrast, does not respect the regime of empirical fact, there being no collective subject, Ireland, who could be, as a literal matter, in

Read More

A Lumper in the Throat: Famine and Object a

Author: Macy Todd (University of Buffalo)

Comments

Psychoanalysis is often hailed as the advent of the notion of foundational trauma: an originary burl in the texture of subjectivity that produces symptoms in the present. In this context, were one to produce a psychoanalysis of Ireland, it would be tempting to settle on the Great Famine as this foundational trauma; marked by Kevin Whelan as the “loss so absolute as to be beyond redemption,”[1]

Read More

Psychoanalysis in Ireland—An Interview with Dr. Noreen Giffney

Author: Noreen Giffney (Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, Cultural Theorist and Convener of Psychoanalysis +)

Comments

Dr. Noreen Giffney works as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice. She also provides supervision to clinical practitioners conducting research in the fields of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. She is a tenured lecturer in counselling and psychotherapy at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. She has published extensively on psychoanalysis, gender and sexuality studies, and cultural studies. She is particularly interested in the writings of the psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion, the impact of psychosocial factors on work in the consulting room, and the clinical usefulness of non-clinical case studies for psychoanalytic practitioners becoming more self-reflective about the countertransference experience in the clinic. She is the convener of Psychoanalysis +

Read More

Fifty Shades of Green: Ireland and the Erotics of Austerity

Author: Seán Kennedy (Saint Mary’s University)

Comments

As Joseph Valente remarks in the opening essay of this volume, it makes little sense to talk of “Ireland in Psychoanalysis,” there being no collective Irish subject that might plausibly enter into such a process. As such, the phrase can only indicate a “literary proposition.”[1] It is in literary discourse, Valente suggests, that Ireland has been placed in psychoanalysis, by writers as different as James Joyce, Anne Enright, and Sebastian Barry. Here, I want to offer a comparable psychoanalytic reading of Irish political discourse, more specifically certain propositions about the Irish people that have become prevalent in the wake of the recent banking collapse: the era of “troikanomics” and continuing austerity. I want to address Ireland’s experience of troikanomics and recent membership of the European Union (EU) as part of what I am calling an “erotics of austerity”: I want to look at Ireland’s traumatic experience of, and muted response to, troikanomics as an erotic problem; or, put differently, I want to frame the apparent passivity of the Irish people in the wake of the bailout as a problem of austerity erotics. In reading about Ireland’s experience of troikanomics, one is struck, time and again, by the regularity with which the language of kink has permeated, even structured, the conversation: there has been a recurring tendency to frame the issue in terms drawn from the diverse vocabularies of BDSM.[2]

Read More

Cuckoos, or a Natural History of the Gay Child

Author: Ed Madden (University of South Carolina)

Comments

The common or European cuckoo, cuculus canoruscuach in Irish—is a migrant.[1] It spends its winters in Africa, but summers in Europe, showing up in Ireland in April when its song is considered one of the earliest signs of Irish spring. Unlike any other Irish bird, the cuckoo is also a brood parasite, which means that it lays its eggs in the nests of other birds—in Ireland, usually the meadow pipit and the dunnock, or hedge sparrow, both birds smaller than the cuckoo. When the female host bird is out of the nest, the female cuckoo swoops down, quickly pushes the host bird’s egg out of the nest, and replaces it with her own. In some species of cuckoos, the evolutionary adaptation includes egg mimicry, the cuckoo’s egg marked like that of a specific host bird. The bad egg looks like one of its own. Typically, too, the cuckoo eggs hatch before those of the host birds, and the chick will shove out the eggs of the host. If the host birds have already hatched, the cuckoo chick will push the smaller nestlings out as well, so that—as the bad egg turns bad seed—the surrogate parents focus only on the singular strange offspring

Read More

Psychoanalysis in Ireland—An Interview with Dr. Barry O’Donnell

Author: Barry O’Donnell (Director, the School of Psychotherapy, St. Vincent’s University Hospital)

Comments

Introduction

The School of Psychotherapy was set up in 1983 to develop the teaching of psychotherapy in the Department of Psychiatry in St. Vincent’s Hospital (subsequently St. Vincent’s University Hospital). Its first Director and co-founder was Dr. Cormac Gallagher who had attended the seminars of Jacques Lacan in Paris in the 1970s and had introduced Lacanian psychoanalysis into Ireland. UCD Professor of Psychiatry Noel Walsh and Dr. Mary Darby, consultant psychiatrist, founded the School along with Gallagher. Both practiced a psychanalytically-informed psychiatry in St. Vincent’s. Since its launch, the School has offered a Masters program awarded by UCD. The teaching on this program introduced the work of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan to students who (for the most part) already had formal training in psychiatry, medicine, psychology, social work, chaplaincy, or philosophy. It was the first formal psychoanalytic teaching in Ireland and serves as the foundation for most other developments in psychoanalysis in Ireland since. It has always required its students to take up their own psychoanalysis as a prerequisite for any real encounter with the field. The School has from the outset practiced an openness to the representation of other traditions within psychoanalysis and related practices, requiring only that there be respect for different positions and learning from these differences.

Read More

Mirrors/ Lacan with Joyce/ Theory, Psychoanalysis, and Literature

Author: Beryl Schlossman (University of California, Irvine)

Comments

 “Pouvait-on s’attendre à autre chose d’emmoi: je nomme.”
[“Could one expect anything else from me/being emotional: I give names.”][1]

 

Jacques Lacan considered an analytic perspective on language and the effects of literature as distinctive in the context of writing. In several chapters of his seminar of 1975-1976, posthumously published under the title of Le Sinthome

Read More

Samuel Beckett: From the Talking Cure to the Walking Cure

Author: Andre Furlani (Concordia University)

Comments

 “Lovely walk this morning with Father,” Beckett wrote to Thomas McGreevy on April 23, 1933. “I’ll never have anyone like him.”[1] There was grim clairvoyance in that prospect, for William Beckett’s fatal heart attack two months later terminated their Sunday tramps to the Dublin mountains. “I can’t write about him,” Beckett wrote to McGreevy a week afterwards, “I can only walk the fields and climb the ditches after him.”[2]

Read More

Psychoanalysis in Irish Studies—An Interview with Margot Backus

Author: Margot Gayle Backus (University of Houston)

Comments

How has the discourse of psychoanalysis shaped or contributed to your exploration of Irish literature and culture more generally?

 

My earliest engagement with Irish literature and culture sought to explore historical grief as informing literary representations of homoerotic love and loss. Psychoanalysis became methodologically crucial as I came to see the heterosexual nuclear family as mediating, within the Anglo-Irish settler colonial order, between the socio-historical trauma of colonial appropriation and the individual subject. I became particularly interested in the Anglo-Irish gothic, and found in its recurrent staging of supernatural assaults against youths on the cusp of sexual maturity a reversal of the idealized projection Freud describes in the family romance—as a fantasized projection of traumatic historical forces internal to the Anglo-Irish family onto monstrous external figures.

Read More

Yeats’s Extimacy

Author: Jen Braun (SUNY Buffalo)

Comments

It has long been the desire of Yeats readers and critics to establish the real thread of meaning that might link all of Yeats’s work into a comprehensible whole, a desire that John Unterecker observes in Yeats himself: “His project, always, was to give his work organic unity. Everything, he felt, should fit into a whole.”[1]

Read More

Paul Muldoon’s Things

Author: Guinn Batten (Washington University in St. Louis)

Comments

He was living in the open,

In a secret camp

On the other side of the mountain.

He was fighting for Ireland,

Making things happen

—Paul Muldoon, “Anseo”[1]

 

Something I never but once let on

—“The Firing Squad”[2] 

 

[S]omething made me want to persevere

 —“Bangle (Slight Return)”[3]

 …

Read More

Polymorphous Performance—An Interview with Fintan Walsh

Author: Fintan Walsh (Birkbeck, University of London)

Comments

Leafing through some book or other in the early 2000s, I first encountered the Freudian claim that we are all polymorphously perverse.[1] That we might all be perverse, and not just me, was a profoundly assuring and unnerving idea at the time, and one that has stayed with me since. That academic work, including within the trampled field called “Irish Studies,” might involve the study of polymorphous perversions by polymorphous perverts remains such a thrilling idea that it almost sounds too good to be true.…

Read More

The Irish Ga(y)ze, or Whither my O/other?

Author: Adrian Goodwin (Independent Scholar)

Comments

 “He was a polymorph, unintegrated, could-become-a-person creature.”[1]

“For my perception […] is as much a fact as the sun.”[2]

 

At its broadest level, the central focus of this paper is the dynamics of seeing, being seen, and not being seen within Irish queer culture. Through a close reading of a recent queer autobiography, namely that of the drag artist Pandora “Panti” Bliss, I wish to analyze the ocular vicissitudes of Irish queerness―what I will refer to, in psychoanalytic terms, as the “Irish ga(y)ze.”…

Read More

The Oedipal and the Everyday in Irish Theater

Author: Ariel Watson (Saint Mary’s University)

Comments

Oedipus always ruins the barbecue. Or that’s what he claims in the final scenes of Pan Pan Theatre’s 2006 version of Freud and Sophocles’s omphalic drama, blindly poking some disruptively “moist” sausages as his family gathers around him at the grill.[1] In this reinvention by Simon Doyle and Gavin Quinn, which goes by the winkingly flippant title Oedipus Loves You

Read More

Psychoanalysis in Irish Studies—An Interview with Claire Bracken

Author: Claire Bracken (Union College)

Comments

How has the discourse of psychoanalysis shaped or contributed to your exploration of Irish literature and culture more generally?

 

Psychoanalysis has profoundly shaped my thinking about, and analytical approach to, Irish literature and culture. During my undergraduate and graduate studies at University College Dublin and University College Cork respectively, I was influenced by the important feminist psychoanalytic scholarship of Patricia Coughlan, Gerardine Meaney, Anne Mulhall, and Moynagh Sullivan. Through their work and mentorship, I realized just how crucial psychoanalysis is to feminist explorations of Irish literature and culture, enabling thoughtful critique of some of the most entrenched gendered constructions underwriting the Irish imaginary, particularly with respect to the well-known Ireland-as-woman trope.

Read More

Current Articles

Ireland in Psychoanalysis—Contents

Author: Joseph Valente (University of Buffalo), Macy Todd (University of Buffalo), and Seán Kennedy (Saint Mary's University)

Comments

This issue of Breac, "Ireland in Psychoanalysis," was guest edited by Joseph Valente (University of Buffalo), Macy Todd (University of Buffalo), and Seán Kennedy (Saint Mary's University). Its contents include:

 

1. Joseph Valente — "Psychoanalysis in Ireland—Ireland in Psychoanalysis"

2. Macy Todd — A Lumper in the Throat: Famine and Object a

Read More

Psychoanalysis in Ireland—Ireland in Psychoanalysis

Author: Joseph Valente (University of Buffalo)

Comments

Introduction

It would be useful in my view to inaugurate the consideration of “Ireland in Psychoanalysis” by taking a look at what the provocative title phrase might be taken to signify, with what stakes and ramifications. And I thought to begin by puzzling the relationship of this suggested formulation to its chiasmatic (and more accustomed) counterpart, “psychoanalysis in Ireland.” Are we to gloss these rubrics as synonymous? Am I, in addressing the question of Ireland in psychoanalysis, expected to speak to the institutional presence, the methodological variation, and the sociocultural fate of psychoanalysis in Ireland? Left to wonder whether I should be identifying or differentiating these inverse formulae, and on what grounds, I came to imagine a rather unexpected distinction to be immanent in this pair of discursive/disciplinary constructs: psychoanalysis in Ireland is an object of history; Ireland in psychoanalysis is at bottom a literary proposition. The topic of psychoanalysis in Ireland poses relatively straightforward questions of genealogical fact—how psychoanalysis entered Ireland, how it developed there, how widespread was its influence at several points over the last century, and so on—although owing to the privatized nature of clinical practice in psychoanalysis, its focus on individual subjects in confidential settings, it leaves open, if not unanswerable, certain questions of social impact or cultural consequence. Ireland in psychoanalysis, by contrast, does not respect the regime of empirical fact, there being no collective subject, Ireland, who could be, as a literal matter, in

Read More

A Lumper in the Throat: Famine and Object a

Author: Macy Todd (University of Buffalo)

Comments

Psychoanalysis is often hailed as the advent of the notion of foundational trauma: an originary burl in the texture of subjectivity that produces symptoms in the present. In this context, were one to produce a psychoanalysis of Ireland, it would be tempting to settle on the Great Famine as this foundational trauma; marked by Kevin Whelan as the “loss so absolute as to be beyond redemption,”[1]

Read More

Psychoanalysis in Ireland—An Interview with Dr. Noreen Giffney

Author: Noreen Giffney (Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, Cultural Theorist and Convener of Psychoanalysis +)

Comments

Dr. Noreen Giffney works as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice. She also provides supervision to clinical practitioners conducting research in the fields of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. She is a tenured lecturer in counselling and psychotherapy at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. She has published extensively on psychoanalysis, gender and sexuality studies, and cultural studies. She is particularly interested in the writings of the psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion, the impact of psychosocial factors on work in the consulting room, and the clinical usefulness of non-clinical case studies for psychoanalytic practitioners becoming more self-reflective about the countertransference experience in the clinic. She is the convener of Psychoanalysis +

Read More

Fifty Shades of Green: Ireland and the Erotics of Austerity

Author: Seán Kennedy (Saint Mary’s University)

Comments

As Joseph Valente remarks in the opening essay of this volume, it makes little sense to talk of “Ireland in Psychoanalysis,” there being no collective Irish subject that might plausibly enter into such a process. As such, the phrase can only indicate a “literary proposition.”[1] It is in literary discourse, Valente suggests, that Ireland has been placed in psychoanalysis, by writers as different as James Joyce, Anne Enright, and Sebastian Barry. Here, I want to offer a comparable psychoanalytic reading of Irish political discourse, more specifically certain propositions about the Irish people that have become prevalent in the wake of the recent banking collapse: the era of “troikanomics” and continuing austerity. I want to address Ireland’s experience of troikanomics and recent membership of the European Union (EU) as part of what I am calling an “erotics of austerity”: I want to look at Ireland’s traumatic experience of, and muted response to, troikanomics as an erotic problem; or, put differently, I want to frame the apparent passivity of the Irish people in the wake of the bailout as a problem of austerity erotics. In reading about Ireland’s experience of troikanomics, one is struck, time and again, by the regularity with which the language of kink has permeated, even structured, the conversation: there has been a recurring tendency to frame the issue in terms drawn from the diverse vocabularies of BDSM.[2]

Read More

Cuckoos, or a Natural History of the Gay Child

Author: Ed Madden (University of South Carolina)

Comments

The common or European cuckoo, cuculus canoruscuach in Irish—is a migrant.[1] It spends its winters in Africa, but summers in Europe, showing up in Ireland in April when its song is considered one of the earliest signs of Irish spring. Unlike any other Irish bird, the cuckoo is also a brood parasite, which means that it lays its eggs in the nests of other birds—in Ireland, usually the meadow pipit and the dunnock, or hedge sparrow, both birds smaller than the cuckoo. When the female host bird is out of the nest, the female cuckoo swoops down, quickly pushes the host bird’s egg out of the nest, and replaces it with her own. In some species of cuckoos, the evolutionary adaptation includes egg mimicry, the cuckoo’s egg marked like that of a specific host bird. The bad egg looks like one of its own. Typically, too, the cuckoo eggs hatch before those of the host birds, and the chick will shove out the eggs of the host. If the host birds have already hatched, the cuckoo chick will push the smaller nestlings out as well, so that—as the bad egg turns bad seed—the surrogate parents focus only on the singular strange offspring

Read More

Psychoanalysis in Ireland—An Interview with Dr. Barry O’Donnell

Author: Barry O’Donnell (Director, the School of Psychotherapy, St. Vincent’s University Hospital)

Comments

Introduction

The School of Psychotherapy was set up in 1983 to develop the teaching of psychotherapy in the Department of Psychiatry in St. Vincent’s Hospital (subsequently St. Vincent’s University Hospital). Its first Director and co-founder was Dr. Cormac Gallagher who had attended the seminars of Jacques Lacan in Paris in the 1970s and had introduced Lacanian psychoanalysis into Ireland. UCD Professor of Psychiatry Noel Walsh and Dr. Mary Darby, consultant psychiatrist, founded the School along with Gallagher. Both practiced a psychanalytically-informed psychiatry in St. Vincent’s. Since its launch, the School has offered a Masters program awarded by UCD. The teaching on this program introduced the work of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan to students who (for the most part) already had formal training in psychiatry, medicine, psychology, social work, chaplaincy, or philosophy. It was the first formal psychoanalytic teaching in Ireland and serves as the foundation for most other developments in psychoanalysis in Ireland since. It has always required its students to take up their own psychoanalysis as a prerequisite for any real encounter with the field. The School has from the outset practiced an openness to the representation of other traditions within psychoanalysis and related practices, requiring only that there be respect for different positions and learning from these differences.

Read More

Mirrors/ Lacan with Joyce/ Theory, Psychoanalysis, and Literature

Author: Beryl Schlossman (University of California, Irvine)

Comments

 “Pouvait-on s’attendre à autre chose d’emmoi: je nomme.”
[“Could one expect anything else from me/being emotional: I give names.”][1]

 

Jacques Lacan considered an analytic perspective on language and the effects of literature as distinctive in the context of writing. In several chapters of his seminar of 1975-1976, posthumously published under the title of Le Sinthome

Read More

Samuel Beckett: From the Talking Cure to the Walking Cure

Author: Andre Furlani (Concordia University)

Comments

 “Lovely walk this morning with Father,” Beckett wrote to Thomas McGreevy on April 23, 1933. “I’ll never have anyone like him.”[1] There was grim clairvoyance in that prospect, for William Beckett’s fatal heart attack two months later terminated their Sunday tramps to the Dublin mountains. “I can’t write about him,” Beckett wrote to McGreevy a week afterwards, “I can only walk the fields and climb the ditches after him.”[2]

Read More

Psychoanalysis in Irish Studies—An Interview with Margot Backus

Author: Margot Gayle Backus (University of Houston)

Comments

How has the discourse of psychoanalysis shaped or contributed to your exploration of Irish literature and culture more generally?

 

My earliest engagement with Irish literature and culture sought to explore historical grief as informing literary representations of homoerotic love and loss. Psychoanalysis became methodologically crucial as I came to see the heterosexual nuclear family as mediating, within the Anglo-Irish settler colonial order, between the socio-historical trauma of colonial appropriation and the individual subject. I became particularly interested in the Anglo-Irish gothic, and found in its recurrent staging of supernatural assaults against youths on the cusp of sexual maturity a reversal of the idealized projection Freud describes in the family romance—as a fantasized projection of traumatic historical forces internal to the Anglo-Irish family onto monstrous external figures.

Read More

Yeats’s Extimacy

Author: Jen Braun (SUNY Buffalo)

Comments

It has long been the desire of Yeats readers and critics to establish the real thread of meaning that might link all of Yeats’s work into a comprehensible whole, a desire that John Unterecker observes in Yeats himself: “His project, always, was to give his work organic unity. Everything, he felt, should fit into a whole.”[1]

Read More

Paul Muldoon’s Things

Author: Guinn Batten (Washington University in St. Louis)

Comments

He was living in the open,

In a secret camp

On the other side of the mountain.

He was fighting for Ireland,

Making things happen

—Paul Muldoon, “Anseo”[1]

 

Something I never but once let on

—“The Firing Squad”[2] 

 

[S]omething made me want to persevere

 —“Bangle (Slight Return)”[3]

 …

Read More

Polymorphous Performance—An Interview with Fintan Walsh

Author: Fintan Walsh (Birkbeck, University of London)

Comments

Leafing through some book or other in the early 2000s, I first encountered the Freudian claim that we are all polymorphously perverse.[1] That we might all be perverse, and not just me, was a profoundly assuring and unnerving idea at the time, and one that has stayed with me since. That academic work, including within the trampled field called “Irish Studies,” might involve the study of polymorphous perversions by polymorphous perverts remains such a thrilling idea that it almost sounds too good to be true.…

Read More

The Irish Ga(y)ze, or Whither my O/other?

Author: Adrian Goodwin (Independent Scholar)

Comments

 “He was a polymorph, unintegrated, could-become-a-person creature.”[1]

“For my perception […] is as much a fact as the sun.”[2]

 

At its broadest level, the central focus of this paper is the dynamics of seeing, being seen, and not being seen within Irish queer culture. Through a close reading of a recent queer autobiography, namely that of the drag artist Pandora “Panti” Bliss, I wish to analyze the ocular vicissitudes of Irish queerness―what I will refer to, in psychoanalytic terms, as the “Irish ga(y)ze.”…

Read More

The Oedipal and the Everyday in Irish Theater

Author: Ariel Watson (Saint Mary’s University)

Comments

Oedipus always ruins the barbecue. Or that’s what he claims in the final scenes of Pan Pan Theatre’s 2006 version of Freud and Sophocles’s omphalic drama, blindly poking some disruptively “moist” sausages as his family gathers around him at the grill.[1] In this reinvention by Simon Doyle and Gavin Quinn, which goes by the winkingly flippant title Oedipus Loves You

Read More

Psychoanalysis in Irish Studies—An Interview with Claire Bracken

Author: Claire Bracken (Union College)

Comments

How has the discourse of psychoanalysis shaped or contributed to your exploration of Irish literature and culture more generally?

 

Psychoanalysis has profoundly shaped my thinking about, and analytical approach to, Irish literature and culture. During my undergraduate and graduate studies at University College Dublin and University College Cork respectively, I was influenced by the important feminist psychoanalytic scholarship of Patricia Coughlan, Gerardine Meaney, Anne Mulhall, and Moynagh Sullivan. Through their work and mentorship, I realized just how crucial psychoanalysis is to feminist explorations of Irish literature and culture, enabling thoughtful critique of some of the most entrenched gendered constructions underwriting the Irish imaginary, particularly with respect to the well-known Ireland-as-woman trope.

Read More