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Manzano, J. (1997). Au vif de l’infantile—réflexions sur la situation analytique. [At the heart of childhood: reflections on the analytic situation]. By Florence Guignard. Lausanne: Delachaux et Niestlé. 1996. Pp. 232.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:837-838.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:837-838

Au vif de l’infantile—réflexions sur la situation analytique. [At the heart of childhood: reflections on the analytic situation]. By Florence Guignard. Lausanne: Delachaux et Niestlé. 1996. Pp. 232.

Review by:
Juan Manzano

This book is surely one of the purest expressions of French psychoanalytic thought, whose typical features of constant flux, creativity and the calling into question of established ideas it exhibits. French psychoanalysis, having always been firmly grounded in Freudian metapsychology and the first topography, has been particularly resistant to the structural approach of ego-psychology; by contrast, it has received substantial external contributions that it has reinterpreted and assimilated. The author offers a graphic account of the effects of the encounter between these disparate elements, which she subjects to sensitive and open analysis; in particular, she discusses the elaboration of the ideas of Klein and her school on the early Oedipus complex and narcissistic identifications, as well as Bion's establishment of a psychoanalytic theory of thought processes and his observation of a group mentality at the heart of individual oedipal functioning.

The thread that runs through Guignard's thought is the concept of the ‘infantile’ in the analytic relationship. The ‘infantile’ is an ‘ineffable’ notion, by its very nature hard to define, yet in her view omnipresent implicitly in the works of Freud and of other analytical authors. It is a ‘strange historical-ahistorical conglomerate, the crucible of primal fantasies and sensorimotor experiences that are memorisable in the form of mnemic traces. It may be regarded as the psychic locus of the first unrepresentable emergences of the drives’ (pp.

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