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Kurpinsky, M. (2019). The Ethical Seduction of the Analytic Situation: The Feminine-Maternal Origins of Responsibility for the other by Viviane Chetrit-Vatine London: Karnac; 2014, 215 pp.. Fort Da, 25(1):72-78.

(2019). Fort Da, 25(1):72-78

The Ethical Seduction of the Analytic Situation: The Feminine-Maternal Origins of Responsibility for the other by Viviane Chetrit-Vatine London: Karnac; 2014, 215 pp.

Review by:
Maureen Kurpinsky, Ph.D.

Nourishment comes as a happy chance.

— Levinas, 1961, p. 141

Viviane Chetrit-Vatine enters into an exchange between psychoanalysis and philosophy with the concern that the contiguous nature of these disciplines may lead to a “hazardous patchwork” and with the hope that it rather lead to creativity and inspiration. The patchwork pieces are themselves stimulating, associative links to words once heard, terms encountered without full understanding, while enough coherence is provided to hold and excite the reader's appetite. Chetrit-Vatine introduces more ideas than can be condensed into a single schematic while making an admirable attempt to do so. The tone of her work is in keeping with that of the two authors in whom she is primarily interested — Levinas and Laplanche — incorporating the Levinasian tension between totality and infinity and the Laplanchian lifelong effort to translate unconscious enigmatic messages.

Reading Ethical Seduction, I felt it might be possible to enjoy the book simply by moving from one of the artfully selected quotes to the next. Yet, it is Chetrit-Vatine's weaving of the infinite with attempts to totalize that make for the rhythm that moves the book along, not to a conclusion, but to a feeling of a bubbling cauldron of thought. At two points in Ethical Seduction, Chetrit-Vatine turns to poetic expression. Both occur when she is describing feelings aroused in contact with her patients — moments when the limitations of the treatise genre are apparent and a poetic form more resonant with her clinical experience emerges.

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