Aug 082012

(Le texte qui suit a originellement paru dans le mensuel luxembourgeois Forum, n° 320, juillet 2012.)

Sans RisquesUn nouveau spectre hante le Luxembourg. Après les médecins fripons et les enseignants fainéants, voici donc le fléau des psychothérapeutes dangereux.

Ce danger est-il récent ? S’est-il renforcé progressivement au cours des dernières décennies ? Y a-t-il eu des blessés ? Des morts ? Des personnes se sont-elles plaintes auprès de la police ? Des jugements ont-ils été émis contre des malversations ou des fautes professionnelles ? Et quelqu’un a-t-il relevé ces faits, dressé des listes, établi des statistiques ?

Assurément, il n’est pas difficile de se sentir pris de vertige, à feuilleter les rubriques ‘psychologues’ ou ‘psychothérapeutes’ des pages jaunes nationales. Un minimum d’ordre et d’information n’y apporteraient certainement pas de préjudice. Pourtant, en regardant par-delà les frontières nationales, un éventail psychothérapeutique autrement plus impressionnant s’ouvre devant les yeux des curieux.

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Feb 092012

I was in one of your dreams?
Can you deal with that?

  A brilliant recent exploration of the nature of dreams, and their paradoxical (non-) place in our living environment is Jeff Nichols’s film Take Shelter (2012). In it a married construction supervisor named Curtis has nightmarish dreams of storms, or of a fantastic catastrophe, and of people attacking him.  These dreams tell of lurking dangers in the present and of a coming ecological reckoning.  The dreamer reacts by two contradictory sets of actions: one, he prepares for the imminent danger, and tears himself away from those who threaten him in his dreams, digs a hole in the ground, builds up his storm shelter.  And, two, in the same responsive manner, consults a number of health professionals to confirm his possible paranoid schizophrenia and his greatest fear: to be put away, to be removed from his family, like his own mother was.  The brilliance of the film comes from that uncomfortable co-existence of mutually exclusive elements. 

 Curtis to his family doctor: A couple of days ago I had a dream that my dog attacked me and it took the whole day for the pain in my arm to go away.

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Feb 092012

Psychoanalysis is likened to voodoo, and seen as deriving from dreaming. The fright of the reader of psychoanalytical texts.  Also: Masud Khan and the why of art.

Masud Khan (photo by Neil Libbert)

I am not a psychoanalyst, nor am I seeing one.  But I read psychoanalytical texts, and must ask myself why. 

I mean I try to read mostly narratives of the analytical encounter and the analyst’s subsequent attempt to extract or abstract a number of still theoretical formulations that could be useful to him, and then to others.  But I prefer it if the texts have an emotional significance, meaning that they are, at the end, tragically useless beyond what they describe.  Freud’s “Dora” is a great narrative but is contested because the patient, at the end, does not return.  A writer of such texts is, I believe, later bound to put their name to an unhappy, uncertain ending – to a text written over by the absent patient. That adds, in a way, to the drama of the texts.

 But it’s even more unclear to me what a reader of psychoanalytical texts does, or is.

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Jan 272012

© Warner Brothers 2012

During an evening out at the club, J. Edgar Hoover suddenly urges his friend and lover Clyde Tolson to leave in a hurry. They just came from a movie that was of important symbolic value:  Hollywood had eventually shifted from the sympathetic gangster hero to the heroic police officer. Hoover feels so gratified by what he considers to be a public recognition of his work that during the ride home, he holds his lover’s hand. The gesture has a slight scent of provocation since his mother, Anne, sitting in front of the car, could not but notice. And she would pay him back for this daring move soon enough.

That evening though, nothing seemed to stop J. Edgar. At first, at least. After dropping his mother off, he and Clyde continue to their club, where they get to sit at a table with three beautiful, admiring actresses. Here we see the new hero of the Bureau of Investigation, inspiring comic strips and now movies,  bragging about some incredibly important secrets he cannot reveal. Young, radiating, gorgeous Hoover seems overspilling with power, wits and overall success. Until one of the actresses, trying to get beyond sitting and listening, first invites and then urges him to dance. At this point J. Edgar loses it.

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Jan 202012

Un certain Freud
Au sujet de Les patients de Freud : destins
de Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen
Sciences Humaines Éditions, 2011

J’ai lu ce livre de Borch-Jacobsen avec beaucoup d’intérêt, ayant moi-même étudié ce sujet aussi bien par intérêt personnel que par intérêt professionnel. Je fais des cours pour des étudiants universitaires et je viens d’écrire un livre, Ferenczi, la psychanalyse autrement, où j’ai approché de près le matériel qui sert aussi à Borch-Jacobsen. J’ai trouvé son livre d’autant plus passionnant qu’il n’y a pas beaucoup de livres en français à ce sujet. Faut-il dire que la France présente un paysage assez désolant en termes d’éditions psychanalytiques. Malgré toutes les apparences en sens contraire, la France devient de plus en plus paroissiale dans le paysage mondial des publications. Celui qui n’y lit pas l’anglais, reste un chercheur aveugle. Il n’y a aucun espoir que soient traduits en français des livres comme Unorthodox Freud : the View from the Couch, de Beate Lohser et Peter M. Newton, publié à New York et Londres, qui présente un vaste panorama des patients de Freud et de leur destin, ou Unfree Associations : inside psychoanalytic institutes, de Douglas Kirsner, publié à Londres, qui présente un vaste panorama de comment sont conduites les discussions dans les milieux psychanalytiques. Il est donc d’autant plus précieux que des chercheurs internationaux comme Borch-Jacobsen publient d’abord en français avant de publier en anglais.

Je dois avouer que je n’ai pas lu Le livre noir de la psychanalyse, car j’ai trouvé au bout de quelques pages que c’était très mal écrit. Je fuis systématiquement tous les livres mal écrits, y compris la malheureuse édition des Œuvres complètes de Freud en français, qui prétend présenter comme méthode et rigueur ce qui au fond n’est qu’incompétence traductive. Il faut avoir présent à l’esprit que Laplanche s’était donné le français de Chateaubriand comme modèle à respecter pour ces Œuvres complètes. Le résultat final en est l’opposé.
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Jan 182012

I found the film very interesting. It is a pity Cronenberg didn’t show Jung 20cms taller than Freud, which he actually was, neither Jung picking Freud from the ground in his arms.

The only way a think the question of Jung’s reasons for him to “fall for Sabina Spielrein” is pertinent is that the actress is not a tenth as beautiful as Sabina was, neither does she look slightly as intelligent as Sabina was. I tried to find Sabina’s photo on the cloud, but I couldn’t. A pity. It is very difficult to resist a beautiful and intelligent woman and seductive woman who decides to seduce. And Jung was not a fortress. On the contrary ! He needed two women in his life. Emma Jung was not only a rich bourgeois. Some letters of hers to Freud really show an intelligent woman, really caring for Jung. Neither Jung has a “nervous breakdown”. He went fully through an schizophrenic crises. Try to read his Red Book! Its worst than Schreber’s.

There is another sad thing : it seems that Cronenberg needs strong scenes to try to suggest Sabina was a masochist. When we read her hospital files, we see that her masochism was quite different than what Cronenberg suggests. To have her hands gently squeezed would be perceived by her as an intense pain. She would have delusions of being forced to something she hated. But I don’t think she would have needed to be spanked. If she could ask for being spanked, she would not have been a psychotic.

I agree that Sabina was the motor in their history. Carotenutto and other have written a beautiful book, a documentary about this affair. There is no hint of Freud ever thinking about a death drive before Sabina’s paper on “Destruction as Cause…” But this was Freud’s style : “You have a very good idea, I have had it before, thank you for developping it.” Or “You had a very good idea, but you missed the core of the problem. Here it is.”

Just a last word: the final discussion about Amenophis in fact was an argument between Freud and Abraham.

But all in all, it seems to me it is a very good film. The supposed erotic scenes are useless. Of course Sabina was masochist. If she had not been a masochist, she would never get attached to Jung. But nothing proves she could make her masochism erogenous.

Jan 142012

Mon expérience de l’autisme
Garance, autour d’Écouter Haendel de Scarlett et Philippe Reliquet, Gallimard, 2011

Écouter Haendel est une jubilation de Garance, enfant autiste. C’est aussi le titre d’un livre où ses parents racontent leur découverte lente et douloureuse de l’autisme de leur fille. Lente et douloureuse, mais aussi riche de compréhension, de sagesse et d’ouverture aux possibilités offertes à l’exploration de mondes autres que les nôtres, dits « normaux ».

Une clinique du sujet est forcément une clinique de la subjectivité, différente par exemple d’une clinique des corps. Une clinique de la subjectivité est forcément une clinique du transfert et implique le contre-transfert. Je ne peux aborder ce que je comprends qu’en exposant ma manière de comprendre. Écouter Haendel est un livre précieux, délicat, sensible, émouvant, habité par Garance, cette petite fille, jeune fille, préadolescente, adolescente, que ses parents découvrent progressivement autiste, nous guidant dans leur découverte, nous faisant à notre tour découvrir l’autisme comme si c’était la première fois que nous en entendions parler.
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Jan 072012

True to historic facts, Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method holds some interesting surprises – naturally, considering the director and the actors’ work on the subtlest staging details. (See the Cronenberg interview).
Some of those details lie on the more comical side, such as Freud’s character.
So far I had imagined Freud in different ways, but the idea of a Viennese cigar-munching Godfather had not occurred to me. Cronenberg’s Freud comes across as a slow talking, sometimes cynical, sometimes despicable plotter of institutional schemes. A hard-nosed professional subversive who seems impressed only by the ever-growing anti-semitism that besieges him and his new science. And when Jung finally falls out of favour, the only sense that comes to Freud’s mind is his designated successor’s “Aryanism”.
With Spielrein and Jung’s respective characters, things immediately seem to run deeper. The first time we see Spielrein, she’s literally howling mad. But she seems to get better with an astonishing speed, each and every time Jung addresses her like a normal human being. One can only imagine what it must have been like in the asylums of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But Bleuler and Jung’s Burghölzli looks very much like the Anti-Psychiatrist‘s dream. Patients, not inmates, are being cared for, offered interesting humane work and most of all are treated like fully responsible grown-ups. In this utopian castle, Spielrein not only turns out to be the gifted psychologist that Jung suspected right away, but she also learns how to accept and enjoy her sexual fantasies. Although, with some practical help of her therapist, who does not show the same ease towards his own fantasies.
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