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Oakley, C. (1996). Jean Laplanche Seduction, Translation, Drives, edited by John Fletcher and Martin Stanton, ICA Documents 11, 1992, 236 pp., £10.95.. Free Associations, 6(1):142-147.

(1996). Free Associations, 6(1):142-147

Jean Laplanche Seduction, Translation, Drives, edited by John Fletcher and Martin Stanton, ICA Documents 11, 1992, 236 pp., £10.95.

Review by:
Chris Oakley

The alternative establishment within the British psychoanalytical firmament loosely congealed around the ICA, delightfully unfettered by any legitimating procedures, is the backdrop for this dossier. It gathers together various seminars by, essays about and from, plus an interview with, the French psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche all under the diligent stewardship of John Fletcher and Martin Stanton. Thanks to the initiatives of its psychoanalytic consultant, Sonu Shamdasani, the ICA provides a rich venue for the wider debates and the disemination of a weave of psychoanalytic and other cultural disciplines of which this volume is a fine example.

Laplanche is probably best known in this country for his collaboration with Pontalis over the The Language of Psychoanalysis (1967). More recently he put out an odd, rather offhand book entitled New Foundations in Psychoanalysis (Blackwell, 1989) which was a distillation of his five volumn Problematiques (1980-1987). This dossier provides a splendid amplification of many of the themes in New Foundations. Fundamental to his thesis is the concept of ‘primal seduction’. He is neither using this in the Baudrillardian sense of seduction being one of the fundamental dynamics of our being, nor is it to be construed as perverse or naive behaviour on the part of our parents. Via an assumption of the ‘primal passivity’ of the subject (elegantly elaborated upon by one of the essayists, Elizabeth Cowie) Laplanche claims that set in the context of our prematurity, we come into a world that is principally one of adult signification. Quite simply, aspects of this will inevitably be beyond us, for we are not as yet in any position to master this signification.

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