In no other time and place was Freudian psychoanalysis more successful than in the first two Cold War decades in the US. This was also a time and place when psychoanalysis was intensely conservative – especially sexually conservative.
In this lecture, Dagmar Herzog shows that the florid misogyny and homophobia were not merely products of generalized Cold War trends, but rather a side-effect of widely broadcast battles over the relationship between religion and psychoanalysis, as the “Jewish science” of psychoanalysis underwent a process of “Christianization” in the postwar US.
In addition, tracing the arc from Karen Horney’s Neurotic Personality of Our Time to Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, the lecture will explore how complex processes of de- and resexualization and profound ambivalence about the status and meaning of the concept of “libido” were at the heart of a succession of fierce rivalries that helped determine the directions taken by American Freudians – with consequences for the fate of Freudianism as a whole.
Dagmar Herzog is Distinguished Professor of History at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her most recent books are Cold War Freud: Psychoanalysis in an Age of Catastrophes (Cambridge 2017), Unlearning Eugenics: Sexuality, Reproduction, and Disability in Post-Nazi Europe (Wisconsin 2018), and Lust und Verwundbarkeit: Zur Zeitgeschichte der Sexualität in Europa und den USA (Wallstein 2018).