Michaela Wünsch has taught Media Studies at Universität Wien, Freie Universität and Humboldt Universität in Berlin, Universität Potsdam, and University of California Riverside. From 2012-2015 she conducted a research project on repetition in psychoanalysis and television as Marie-Curie-Fellow at UC Riverside, UCLA and Universität Potsdam. She is a founding member of the publishing collective b_books and serves as the president of the Psychoanalytic Library Berlin, a space for psychoanalytic research and practice.

Publications include Im inneren Außen. Der Serienkiller als Medium des Unbewussten (Berlin: Kadmos, 2010), the edited volumes Angst. Lektüren zu Jacques Lacans Seminar X  (Wien: Turia+Kant, 2012) and Techniken der Übereinkunft. Zur Medialität des Politischen (Berlin: Kadmos, 2009, with H. Blumentrath, K. Rothe, S. Werkmeister, and B. Wurm); FeMale HipHop. Realness, Roots und Rap Models (Mainz: Ventil 2007, with Anjela Schischmanjan), and Outside. Ein Reader zur Politik queerer Räume (Berlin: b_books 2005, with Matthias Haase and Marc Siegel).

Science and Psychoanalysis: Entropy from Freud to Lacan

The aim of this project is to analyse the status of science, and especially of physics and mathematics, in psychoanalysis. The project argues that the use of scientific models and theories by the psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) did not constitute an effort to establish psychoanalysis as a science, but has to be considered a reflection of the scientific discourses prevalent during their respective lifetimes and furthermore as an intervention into science which aimed to modify the concept of ‘science’ itself. Psychoanalysis has always been situated at the margins of the sciences and humanities: its status was questioned from the beginning; the speculative character of Freud’s and Lacan’s writings violate and provoke scientific norms while deliberately risking failure within disciplinary boundaries.

Nonetheless, the project wagers that Freud’s and Lacan’s interest in science and especially in the notion of entropy in thermodynamics offers a possibility to think the real. As Geneviève Morel suggests, science ‘is concerned with the real, and even more precisely, with finding some knowledge in the real’. What is called ‘entropy’ in thermodynamics as well as in information theory promises a possibility for measuring contingency and probability and is therefore of interest for a psychoanalytic approach to what is called the ‘real’ in psychoanalysis. The question is not if there is anything scientific about the ‘babbling practice’, but if psychoanalysis uses formal science, its calculative thinking, in form of scientific-style formalizations, topology and algebra to discover logic in the illogical (Adrian Johnston), to develop a materialist theory of subjectivity, or to grasp the moment in the singular analytic experience where the subject evades scientific logic.

Death Drive, Repetition Automatism and Seriality in the Intersections
between Psychoanalysis, Cybernetics and Popular Culture

ICI Project 2008-10

My research project is concerned with the interrelations of the repetition compulsion of the subject and the phenomena of repetition and seriality in the audiovisual media, especially in television. It proposes to examine the structural similarities and differences between the mechanisms of the psychic apparatus and the automated processes and standardized patterns in the media. The objects of study are psychic automatisms, their explanatory approaches, and the television series as a media phenomenon.

These planes, however, should not be treated as entirely separate from one another. One of the main points of the project is therefore the influence of cybernetics on the psychoanalytic formation of theory and of the repetition automatism inherent in the death drive. A further area of research is the media constitution of discourse in the humanities and the formation of the subject, which will be treated through the example of television. Since television series are also characterized by automatisms of repetition, this will be brought into relation with psychic processes.