Cite as: Andreas Mayer, The Ambivalent Translator: On Psychoanalysis, Philology, and Translation, lecture, ICI Berlin, 27 October 2020, video recording, mp4, 57:41 <>
27 Oct 2020

The Ambivalent Translator

On Psychoanalysis, Philology, and Translation
By Andreas Mayer
In The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud famously compared the act of interpreting a dream to the translation of a text. This metaphorical use of translation has not only had an impact on the way psychoanalysts understand their own practice, but also on translation studies or traductologie, a burgeoning interdisciplinary field since the 1970s. The metaphorical connection between the act of dream interpretation and the activity of translation has been extended in the past years, heavily relying on a psychoanalytic vocabulary in order to address the translators’ ‘unconscious’ and affective processes of ‘transference’ occurring in their work. In this vein, the translator has been characterized as a ‘rewriter’ whose stance towards the original work and its author is deeply ambivalent. This talk will problematize such theoretical transpositions by introducing a historical perspective on the figure of the ‘ambivalent translator’ in early psychoanalysis. The first model translations of Freud’s works also yield theoretical and practical insights that challenge current philological standards in translation.

Andreas Mayer is a historian and sociologist of science working as a senior researcher at the CNRS and teaching at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. In 2019/2020 he is a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. He has published extensively on the history of the human sciences and of psychoanalysis, most notably, Dreaming by the Book: Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams and the History of the Psychoanalytic Movement (with Lydia Marinelli, 2003), Sites of the Unconscious: Hypnosis and the Emergence of the Psychoanalytic Setting (2013), Sigmund Freud (2016), Introduction à Sigmund Freud (2020), and The Science of Walking. Investigations Into Locomotion in the Long Nineteenth Century (forthcoming).


ICI Berlin
(Click for further documentation)

Organized by

Wilhelm Brüggen
Monika Englisch
Andreas Gehrlach
A cooperation of the ICI, BIPP, the International Psychoanalytic University Berlin (IPU) and the Department of Cultural History and Theory of the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

Video in English

Format: mp4
Length: 00:57:41
First published on:
Rights: © ICI Berlin