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Puget, J. (2002). The State of Threat and Psychoanalysis: From the Uncanny that Structures to the Uncanny that Alienates. Free Associations, 9(4):611-648.

(2002). Free Associations, 9(4):611-648

The State of Threat and Psychoanalysis1: From the Uncanny that Structures to the Uncanny that Alienates

Janine Puget

Introduction

There are Some Experiences which cannot be avoided. They can be considered as universal, although they have a particular meaning for each individual. But there are others which we tend not to want to think about or which, if we are forced to live through them, we try to ignore, resorting to denial and to various defence mechanisms.

Let us remember what happened when Bettelheim arrived in the United States and tried to recount his recent experience of the concentration camp: no one would believe him, and attempts were even made to use psychiatry to diagnose him as having psychopathological problems, so that such an unbearable reality could more successfully be denied.

We shall not enter here into the details of the political reasons that may have supported the adoption of such a position by the people he spoke to. In any case, these psychic and political reasons are to be found in all situations of social violence and trigger off mental mechanisms, such as denial and alienation.

Nevertheless, those who say they have not experienced such extreme suffering could find ways to encounter similar phenomena in their own socio-cultural context. Such phenomena exist in a more or less visible form in all societies, although one must make a considerable effort to recognize the unconscious effects that they produce and to feel affected by them. However, it often seems, to people who have lived through such suffering, that it can only be understood by others who have also experienced it. We, therefore, encounter a double difficulty here.

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