Fort Spa: In at the Deep End with Derrida and Ferenczi

Turner, Lynn. 2015. Fort Spa: In at the Deep End with Derrida and Ferenczi. In: Simon Morgan Wortham and Chiara Alfano, eds. Desire in Ashes: Deconstruction, Psychoanalysis, Philosophy. London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 103-119. ISBN 9781472533517 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

In his lengthy engagement with Beyond the Pleasure Principle Derrida finds Freud unable to take a clear step beyond anything. Even though Freud dares to contemplate such a thing as a death drive, Derrida finds its contaminating taint to be already at work. Life, the latter finds, is already ‘life death’. Yet this chapter intervenes in the anxious space between Freud and his junior colleague Sandor Ferenczi: where the former speculated upon a desire to return to the inorganic, the latter suggests a ‘thalassal trend’ linking human life not simply to an uncanny desire for intrauterine existence, but to a desire to return to life in water. The thalassal trend turns not just towards our ontogenetic amniotic waters but to our phylogenetic immersion amongst earlier forms of non-human life.

Current feminist work such as that of Elizabeth A Wilson and Vicki Kirby inspired by the legacies of deconstruction now refuses the doxa of a mind/body split endorsed by psychoanalysis such that we need no longer think of the body as barred to the psyche. In light of Wilson’s attention to the ‘stomach-mind’ in particular, we can think the relation between soma and psyche as properly supplemental. In light of Ferenczi’s theory of amphimixis, the singularity of the phallus is displaced – not because anything can assume a phallic function, but because the genitals are supplemented by neighbouring organs from the start.

This chapter reads Derrida and Ferenczi together – principally through the former’s The Postcard: from Socrates to Freud and Beyond (1985) and the latter’s Thalassa: A Theory of Genitality ([1938] 2005) to explore the possibilities for rethinking bodies that desire.

Item Type:

Book Section


Derrida, Ferenczi, Freud

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Visual Cultures


17 December 2015Published

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Date Deposited:

23 Feb 2015 08:26

Last Modified:

18 Mar 2021 12:04


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