Freud Museum London: Psychoanalysis Podcasts A treasure trove of ideas in psychoanalysis. History, theory, and psychoanalytic perspectives on a diverse range of topics. www.freud.org.uk

Part 4: Darian Leader - Symbol and Symbolic Function

This talk will explore some common misconceptions about symbolism, and discuss aspects of the formation of symbols and the establishment of the symbolic function.

Darian Leader is a writer, psychoanalyst, trustee of the Freud Museum and founding member of the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research. He has written numerous books, including Strictly Bipolar (2013), What is Madness? (2011), The New Black (2008) and Freud's Footnotes (2000)

Why do symbols have such a powerful influence on human beings?

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.

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.

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.
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