What Does the Princess Want? Marie Bonaparte between Biology and Psychoanalysis

Lecture by Rémy Amouroux

Today, biographical anecdotes concerning Marie Bonaparte (1882-1962) are more famous than her scientific work. Marie Bonaparte was the daughter of a grandnephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, and a royal princess by marriage. She was also a student and friend of Sigmund Freud, and she helped him to escape from the Nazis. For her contemporaries, she was a respected model of orthodox. However, she developed a conception – anchored in the natural sciences rather than the human sciences – that went against the ideological current of post-war French psychoanalysis. As a psychoanalyst, Marie Bonaparte was always looking for the biological origin of the psychological process. Perhaps this is the reason why some of her ideas are strange from a twenty-first century point of view?

Aside from giving a biographical account, I will describe her role in the psychoanalytic movement, but also her connection with the scientific and literary circles. Moreover, I will explore the cultural climate in which Marie Bonaparte has evolved. This contextualization will allow me to focus on her psychoanalytic work about female sexuality and illustrate how and why is it connected with biological issues. Rémy Amouroux
Rémy Amouroux is Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Lausanne. Previously, he served as a Senior Lecturer at the School of Medicine of Brest, was granted a Research Scholarship at the Marie Bonaparte Collection, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and worked as a Clinical Psychologist in Paris. He holds a PhD. in History of Psychology from Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, and an MSc. in Clinical Psychology from Université D. Diderot, Paris. He is the author of several writings on Marie Bonaparte, such as "Als Marie Bonaparte sich taub stellte" (with A. Stouten, Luzifer-Amor 53, 2014), Marie Bonaparte: entre biologie et Freudisme, Rennes 2012, and "Marie Bonaparte, her first two patients and the literary world" (International Journal of Psychoanalysis 91, 2010).


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