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(1991). Editorial. Free Associations, 2(3):321-322.

(1991). Free Associations, 2(3):321-322


It is convenient to assume that English is the lingua franca of international psychoanalytic debate, and that anything interesting that occurs in other languages will inevitably be translated. In recent years, however, such hegemonic assumptions have been carefully scrutinized, and deep underlying prejudices have been revealed. First of all, there is the increasing awareness that the work of the ‘founding father’ of psychoanalysis was written in another ‘mother tongue’, German, and that Strachey's ‘standard edition’ betrays flaws in translation. Second, it has become clear that many of the psychoanalytic ‘schools’ that have emerged in Britain and North America actually were founded and shaped by analysts who crossed language barriers, and abandoned German, Czech, Hungarian or Yiddish for English. In retrospect, it is increasingly appreciated that such transitions were neither simple nor total, and that analysts like Mclanic Klein, Otto Rank, Theodor Reik, Erich Fromm, Karen Horney or Margaret Mahler did not simply change language with their passports. Finally, psychoanalytic work in other cultures has exposed the inherent colonialism of European and North American clinical and theoretical models. This has raised particularly difficult questions for analysts working with images of psychoanalytic work that have been hyped, packaged and marketed just like other Western ‘luxuries’.

This issue addresses these various aspects of language and cultural difference. To begin, Martin Stanton interviews Jean Laplanche, eminent specialist in psychoanalytic terminology and official French translator of Freud, whose own philosophy and practice of psychoanalysis are built round the notion of ‘translation,’.

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