J. Lorand Matory is Lawrence Richardson Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Director of the Sacred Arts of the Black Atlantic Project at Duke University. He is the author of
The Acropolis, the Couch, the Fur Hat, and the “Savage”:On Freud’s Ambivalent Fetish
Freud's insecurities about his race and his sexual orientation shaped psychoanalysis and inspired divinations about the human personality that uncannily resemble underdeveloped versions of the Afro-Atlantic religions.
In pursuit of a livelihood and in a defensive response to the anti-Semitism of the day, Freud's early followers organized themselves around ideas, ritual practices, and membership requirements much like those of a priesthood.
The shared insights of psychoanalysis and the Afro-Atlantic religions are used here to highlight the ambivalent nature of the empowered things at the core of the social organizations constituted by both psychoanalysis and the Afro-Atlantic religions. This chapter explores the meaning and the ambivalence of the intaglio rings, the couch and the armchair, the artifact collection, the cigars, and the canonical books around which the early community of psychoanalysis was organized.