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House, J. (2019). Commentary on Saketopoulou. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 67(1):169-183.

(2019). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 67(1):169-183

Commentary on Saketopoulou Related Papers

Jonathan House

Psychoanalysts seem particularly vulnerable to the temptation to create basic concepts. The result is a confusion of conceptual tongues. Some papers use only a few concepts but don't notice that they are mutually contradictory. In other papers the concepts are so numerous and juggled so quickly that it is hard to notice when one or two drop out of sight. As Paul Gilroy has remarked, “We now appear to have reached the point where theories and concepts are almost fashion items with the shelf life of cheap tee-shirts” (quoted in Dawes 2011).

Generosity is a virtue and theoretical eclecticism a convenience, but neither generosity nor eclecticism should be used to cover up conceptual problems. On this matter, Laplanche (2007) hits the right note: he calls his essay on the conceptual distinction between drive and instinct

a clarification, which, in our discipline, is primarily a catharsis—something for which psychoanalysis has a powerful and continuing need. Robert Stoller, with his great freedom of thought and in his own occasionally very amusing manner, compares current psychoanalytic theory to the Pantheon of imperial Rome, where coexisted the temples of Isis and of Jupiter, a few early Christian churches, the temples of Mithra, and so on. In psychoanalysis too we add little temples, private mansions, and supplementary shrines onto the Freudian forum, without worrying about their coherence. A pinch of the symbolic, a dash of leaning-on, a knob of the negative, a small measure of seduction, a sprig of transitivity—all without worrying ourselves about what it is we are building upon or how these cohere with it [Laplanche 2007, p. 5].

I believe Avgi Saketopoulou's “overwhelm” is one of those rare novel concepts that should be retained. For this reason alone, overwhelm deserves careful examination. These comments aim to establish the metapsychological foundation for overwhelm on Freud's and Laplanche's theorizing of binding.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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