The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

History Program EventsNewsNon-GC Events

Feb 27 – Dagmar Herzog on “Cold War Freud” at NYU

February 27 at 5pm

King Juan Carlos Center

53 Washington Square South

“Cold War Freud: Psychoanalysis in an Age of Catastrophes”

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In Cold War Freud Dagmar Herzog uncovers the astonishing array of concepts of human selfhood which circulated across the globe in the aftermath of World War II. Against the backdrop of Nazism and the Holocaust, the sexual revolution, feminism, gay rights, and anticolonial and antiwar activism, she charts the heated battles which raged over Freud’s legacy. From the postwar US to Europe and Latin America, she reveals how competing theories of desire, anxiety, aggression, guilt, trauma and pleasure emerged and were then transformed to serve both conservative and subversive ends in a fundamental rethinking of the very nature of the human self and its motivations. Her findings shed new light on psychoanalysis’ enduring contribution to the enigma of the relationship between nature and culture, and the ways in which social contexts enter into and shape the innermost recesses of individual psyches.


‘This is surely a history of the Cold War world as we did not know it, in which psychoanalytic conformists and rebels flex their way through the controversies of the era – Auschwitz, My Lai, student protests, postcolonial insurgencies, the culture of narcissism. Partly about the collapse of psychoanalysis in its bid to be the regulating body for Christian American normalcy, it is even more so the story of psychoanalysis resurgent and radical. Fiercely relevant.’ Matt Ffytche, author of The Foundation of the Unconscious

‘A fascinating and impeccably researched history of post-World War II psychoanalysis as a highly charged field of intellectual combat. Herzog shows how in complex and often surprising ways, the legacy of Freud configured debates over hetero- and homosexuality, politics, Nazism, PTSD, and even religion. Passionately argued and lucidly written, she has given us an account of psychoanalysis for the twenty-first century.’ Anson Rabinbach, author of In the Shadow of Catastrophe

‘In this brilliant book, Herzog explores the relationship between politics and psychoanalysis in the aftermath of World War Two. As she convincingly shows, psychoanalysts were deeply engaged with their contexts and they revised their theories to better understand how desire, violence, and power interacted.┬áThis will change the way we think not only about psychoanalysis but also about the Cold War.’ Camille Robcis, author of The Law of Kinship

‘In this illuminating work, Dagmar Herzog explores post-War psychoanalysis, rescuing often neglected or glibly marginalized figures and placing them firmly at the center of debates that took place in the sombre decades that followed the Holocaust over the nature of self, sexuality, cruelty, and political life. A ground-breaking study.’ George Makari, author of Soul Machine and Revolution in Mind

‘In her scintillating new book, Dagmar Herzog shows that in the years between World War Two and the 1960s, Freud almost replaced Marx as the cornerstone of radical thought. The result is a new way of thinking about the Cold War – and about our own time as well.’ Eli Zaretsky, author of Political Freud

‘Dagmar Herzog takes us on an illuminating tour through postwar landscapes of the mind, and into the fields of desire, pleasure, guilt, anxiety, and aggression. This is a finely measured and surprising survey, as well as a strong argument for exploring psychoanalytic ideas historically. Her book deserves a wide readership.’ Daniel Pick, author of Psychoanalysis: A Very Short Introduction

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