The Location of Anxiety
This essay elaborates an alternative to the Freudian and Lacanian conceptions of anxiety by tracing a middle ground between their accounts of linguistic acquisition and object-attachment. Both psychoanalysts overlook the importance of gestural expression while theorizing the eventual reliance on the symbolic with the onset of the Oedipal period. The essay turns to the folk psychology notion of the “theory of mind,” and a specific experiment called the “false belief task” to offer an alternative to how the encroachment of the symbolic is conceptualized in psychoanalytic history. Rather than framing the onset of the symbolic order as a swift entry into language, the essay proposes rethinking it as a process with a longer temporality and a more complex set of expressive behaviors (language, gesture, embodied expression). The comparative account of Freud and Lacan are supported with references to psychoanalysts and scholars of psychoanalysis such as Julia Kristeva, Elizabeth Grosz, and Donald Winnicott.
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