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The Greening of Psychoanalysis

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The influence of Andre Green on psychoanalysis has been immeasurable - his theoretical, clinical and cultural contributions have identified him as one of the most important psychoanalytic thinkers of our times. The present book brings together a group of eminent psychoanalysts from different parts of the world, all of whom presented the papers included in this volume at the 2015 Conference on The Greening of Psychoanalysis. Every one of these texts conveys a rich sense of continuing a conversation, always creative, albeit challenging, forever engaging and fruitful, with Andre Green. This book is an invitation to the reader to join in.

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8 Chapters

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1 - On Death and Destructiveness

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Litza Guttieres-Green

First, I would like to thank you for having organised this conference in memory of my husband, André Green, and for having invited me.

About four years ago, after his last stroke, André gradually stopped working, reading, and listening to music. It then struck me that this man, whose vitality had up until now held fast against the blows to his body, gave up in the struggle against death.

After his death, when my grandchildren asked me where he had gone, I realised that I was unable to answer them, as if I myself did not understand what death was. I told them: “When you die, you are nowhere!” They insisted: “But where is nowhere? In the sky? In Heaven?” Faced with the death of loved ones, we see that “one cannot know what death is, neither consciously nor unconsciously”, as André said. For Freud, “death is an abstract concept with a negative content” (Freud, 1923b, p. 58).

Even though we know in theory that we will never again see those we have lost, we cannot conceive of it. We say that they left us, as if it were a voluntary act, and yet they continue to live on in our dreams and memories.

 

2 - Negative Hallucinations, Dreams, and Hallucinations: The Framing Structure and its Representation in the Analytic Setting

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Rosine Jozef Perelberg

The framing structure

Green states that when holding her infant, the mother leaves the impression of her arms on the child, and this constitutes a framing structure that, in her absence, contains the loss of the perception of the maternal object and a negative hallucination of it. The framing structure is the outcome of the internalisation of the maternal environment created by maternal care. It is the “primordial matrix of the cathexis to come” (Green, 1986b, p. 166). The capacity for the negative hallucination of the mother lies at the origins of representation; it is against the background of negativity that future representations of the object are inscribed. This is the role of the negative in its structuring function (Green, 2005a, p. 161;1 2005b). From this perspective, negative hallucination precedes all theory of representation. The negative hallucination creates a potential space for the representation and investment of new objects and the conditions in which the activities of thinking and symbolisation can take place.2 In marking the role of the absent other in the constitution of the psyche, Green is following the traditions of both Winnicott and Bion. This is an absence as “an intermediary situation between presence…and loss” (Urribarri, 2005, p. 205). This leads to Green's statement that “the Psyche is the relationship between two bodies in which one is absent” (1995, pp. 69–76).3

 

3 - Troubled Bodies: Hypochondria, Transformation, and the Work of the Negative

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Jed Sekoff

I want to call upon a story about Green, whose work is especially poised to help with the complexities of the topic at hand. He had come to San Francisco to deliver a paper—it was difficult; and I conducted a public interview and discussion—he was charming. During a break I told him the following anecdote:

I had recently been to an exhibition of the work of Eva Hesse and my daughter, a bit of an artist herself, all nine years old of her, came along.1

I watched Lucia out of the corner of my eye, and as was her wont, she stood for a long while before certain pieces, quite still, intent. After a bit she came up to me and pronounced, “This is someone hanging on the edge of life and death.”

That was one of those moments when you wonder whether your child…well, whether they are your child. Now it was I who stood still for a while, pausing on what had transpired. In the next room, there was some biographical information. Hesse, a Jewish, German-born American artist whose family fled the Nazis in 1938, developed a formidable body of work, only to die from a brain tumour at age 34. Doing some rough math, it seemed that some of the pieces Lucia was viewing may have been completed while Hesse was suffering from her cancer.

 

4 - Some Thoughts on the Negative in the Work of Eduardo Chillida

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Gregorio Kohon

In this chapter I consider the negative in the work of Eduardo Chillida and draw on the explorations contained in my book, Reflections on the Aesthetic experience: Psychoanalysis and the Uncanny (Kohon, 2016). In it, I refer to the catalogue of the exhibition of Joshua Neustein's work at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem in 2012, where Meira Perry-Lehman (the curator of the exhibition) described how the artist proceeded with his work. First, Neustein scribbled a drawing on a sheet of paper; he then erased some of the drawn lines, creating a sharp-edged square. What was left of the original drawing, including the erased lines, echoed two operations: the act of drawing and the act of erasing. Neustein then collected the residue and affixed it to the bottom of the sheet, upholding its presence.

The exhibition displayed a series of such “erased drawings”—a description that expresses a logical contradiction, as the drawings were created through erasing: the rubbing out of what had been drawn made the drawing possible. As I argued in my book,

 

5 - Intellectual Generosity: The Greekness of Green

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Michael Parsons

In this chapter I wish to celebrate Andre Green's intellectual generosity.

Friends and colleagues know how generous he was with his time, his knowledge, and his wisdom. Opponents in debate, though, did not always find him generous. There were some famous occasions when he was uncompromising in his disagreement. The first time I spoke at the Paris Psychoanalytical Society, years ago, André was my discussant. I got a good laugh by saying that while I was naturally very honoured by this, I would wait until after his discussion before thanking him.

The reason André could sometimes be sharp in argument was that he had a clear vision of psychoanalysis whose principles were not to be compromised. That vision was very specific in terms of theory and clinical method, but an important aspect of it was also that psychoanalysis does not live in an ivory tower. It belongs to a larger landscape. The final section of André's book Key Ideas for a Contemporary Psychoanalysis (2005) considers how to relate psychoanalysis to other fields of knowledge “at the dawn of the third millennium”; the phrase gives an idea of the scale of his vision. He discusses Aristotle, Kant, and Schopenhauer—and we may remember that the entire second chapter of The Work of the Negative (1999) is about Freud and Hegel. André then surveys the use made of psychoanalysis by Foucault, Ricoeur, Wittgenstein, Derrida, and Habermas, and he treats in similar detail the relation of analytic ideas to neuropsychology and anthropology. He draws on this remarkable breadth of knowledge to illuminate his thinking and makes it available to us as his readers, encouraging us to use it to take our own thinking further. That is what I mean by his intellectual generosity.

 

6 - An Interview with André Green: On a Psychoanalytic Journey from 1960 to 2011

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Fernando Urribarri

Urribarri:To begin with let us address your intellectual journey…

Green:It could be explained by giving geographical, historic, and—undoubtedly—cultural reasons. I started by having a psychiatric training. But from the very beginning of our training we were aware in France that things were thought of in an original way, in a different way from the thinking in England, the USA, or South America.

After undergoing my training in French psychiatry, I needed to make a decision about a situation that troubled me regarding the first split of the SPP [Société Psychanalytique de Paris], in 1953, which had led to the departure from the SPP of those who left it to found another analytic movement, essentially around Lagache and Lacan. Right at the time that I began my analytic training, I was faced with the dilemma of where I should go. Lacan was already quite notorious. And he lured with him a number of personalities who were to play an important role in the future of psychoanalysis in France, although later they were to leave Lacan. Among them, the closest to me was my dear friend Rosolato. From working at St. Anne's [Hospital] I knew Laplanche, and—more distantly—I got to know Pontalis, Piera Aulagnier, Anzieu, all these authors—a generation that was my generation, people with whom friendship ties were above institutional differences. Finally I decided to apply at the SPP because already by then I did not like certain attitudes of Lacan. Lacan treated his disciples unkindly, and I did not want to be mistreated by him. The great event at that time was the Bonneval Colloquy. It was the first encounter between the SPP people and Lacan and his disciples.

 

7 - On Clinical Thinking: The Extension of the Psychoanalytic Field Towards a New Contemporary Paradigm

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Fernando Urribarri

Psychoanalyst and historian Martin Bergmann was right when he said that Freud, for better or for worse, left behind a psychoanalysis that was far less definitive and complete, and more open to problems and developments, than his early disciples had believed. After Freud's death, his depth psychology met with good fortune in the rise of some original post-Freudian authors who made very valuable contributions, but also with the misfortune that each of these authors created a militant “school”, proclaiming itself Freud's legitimate heir. The “three great post-Freudian dogmatisms”, as Jean Laplanche (1987) calls them—ego psychology, Kleinianism, and Lacanianism—set up their own reductionistic model, converted it into a dogma, mechanised a particular technique, and presented an idealised leader as head of this school.

André Green's prolific work can be characterised as the search for a new contemporary psychoanalytic thinking, capable of overcoming the impasses and fragmentations of post-Freudian models.

 

André Green Bibliography

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Un Oeil en trop. Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 1969. [The Tragic Effect: The Oedipus Complex in Tragedy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.]

Le Discours vivant. La conception psychanalytique de l'affect. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1973. [The Fabric of Affect and Psychoanalytic Discourse. London: Routledge, 1999.]

L'Enfant de ça. Psychanalyse d'un entretien. La psychose blanche (with J.-L. Donnet). Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1973.

Narcissisme de vie. Narcissisme de mort. Paris: Minuit, 1983. [Life Narcissism, Death Narcissism. London: Free Association Books, 2001.]

Le Langage dans la psychanalyse. In: Langages rencontres Psychanalytiques d'Aix-en-Provence 1983 (pp. 19–250). Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1984.

La Folie privée. Psychanalyse des cas-limites. Paris: Gallimard, 1990. [On Private Madness. London: Hogarth Press & The Institute of Psychoanalysis, 1986.]

 

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