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Perelberg, R.J. (1995). Transmission de la Vie Psychique Entre Générations. : By R. Kaës, H. Faimberg, M. Enriquez and J.-J. Baranes. Paris: Dunod. 1993. Pp. 208.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:179-182.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:179-182

Transmission de la Vie Psychique Entre Générations. : By R. Kaës, H. Faimberg, M. Enriquez and J.-J. Baranes. Paris: Dunod. 1993. Pp. 208.

Review by:
Rosine Jozef Perelberg

One can suggest that the question of the constitution of the individual lies at the centre of Freud’s work, especially in the formulations he developed in his structural model, centred on the concept of identifications. In Transmission de la Vie Psychique Entre Générations, Baranes points out that in Freud’s topographical model the emphasis is on the internal theatre, on the conflict between the drives, where the object may appear to be accidental. It is only with the development of the structural model that Freud emphasises the role of identifications, narcissism, the relationship between the various layers of psychic apparatus and the lost object (p. 172). In the structural model, the object becomes ‘theoretically crucial’ (p. 180—all quotes from the book are the reviewer’s translations). Psychoanalysis unmasked the notion of the self-contained autonomous nature of personal experience and motivation. ‘The individual does actually carry on a twofold existence: one to serve his own purposes and the other as a link in a chain, which he serves against his will, or at least involuntarily’ (Freud, 1914p. 78). This unmasking is achieved on several inter-related levels, of which I would identify two: (a) the way in which Freud constructed the psychic apparatus, particularly in the structural model; (b) the way in which he dealt with the problematics of culture.

I would suggest that Transmission de la Vie Psychique Entre Générations deals with the first of the above levels and touches on the second, without developing it fully. It contains seven chapters, written by four authors, all of whom are or were practising psychoanalysts in France (Enriquez died in 1987 in a car accident). The authors are clearly familiar with each other’s ideas, and this gives the book a continuity rare in a collection of papers, as themes raised in one chapter are developed and discussed by another author in a subsequent chapter.

Kaës contextualises the book in relation to a body of work carried out in the last twenty-five years in France.

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