Freud’s Germinal Realism: From the Reihen of Trauma to the Researches of Childhood

  • Cristian Melchiorre




Throughout Freud’s corpus, one finds scattered a germinal motif: of the Keim and the Kern. The paper proposes that this trope pattern (of seeds, sprouts and kernels) in the early work of Freud is an index of the emerging discovery of a discrete category of reality with its own temporality, that he was trying to conceptualize: i.e., psychical reality. This paper revisits a strain of what it calls germinal realism in Freud’s early thinking, before tracing a conceptual lineage (following what Freud calls the “Reihen” or series/row of trauma in his work of the early 1890s) between the conceptual framework of the seduction theory and the theory of the researches of childhood. The paper argues that, for Freud, the origins and objects of the child’s researches (adult repressed sexuality) constitute a generalized form of seduction, and that the concept of the infantile researches/theories also represents Freud’s final attempt to ontogenetically conceive of complex formation, before the advent of the phylogenetic theory of the Oedipus complex.