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French philosopher Sarah Kofman examines the role that photography played in Sigmund Freud’s theoretical elaboration of the human psyche. In this excerpt from her book Camera Obscura: Of Ideology, first published in French in 1973, Kofman tracks the ways Freud explicitly and repeatedly used the metaphor of photography—and the photographic negative, in particular—in order to illustrate his theory of the unconscious. Far from simply producing a transparent image of reality, Kofman shows how Freud used photography to help illustrate the way human perception is structured to suit the demands of the ego.

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