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Lemaigre, B. (1999). Les raisons de l'irrationnel [The reasons of the irrational]: Michel Neyraut. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, Collection Le fil rouge. 1997. Pp. 294. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 80(2):391-393.

(1999). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 80(2):391-393

Les raisons de l'irrationnel [The reasons of the irrational]: Michel Neyraut. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, Collection Le fil rouge. 1997. Pp. 294

Review by:
Bernard Lemaigre

By virtue of the originality of the views expressed and the vigour of the author's thought, Les raisons de l'irrationnel is an important book. In his survey of the field of psychoanalysis, Michel Neyraut opts for a consideration of thought and reason in their relations with the irrational; this is an unusual approach even for those interested in the functioning of the psychic apparatus, although Bion and Lacan also followed it. In an earlier book, on the ‘logics of the unconscious’ (Neyraut, 1978), the author took advantage of the fact that ‘our age invites us to the banquet of logics’ (p. 11) to attack the ‘stubborn dogma of a single reason, a universal logic and an unalterable consensus’ (p. 11f.). Whether the form of this single reason is that of statistics or of divine providence, this dogma in his view leads to the elimination of the ‘unconscious’. Neyraut recently expanded his reflections on reason, memory and their links with unconscious processes in an interdisciplinary debate between biology and psychoanalysis based on a recent book by Edelman (1992). Here he expresses the same conviction, which concerns the need to resist any inclination to ‘confuse human memory with the syntactic and coded models that are only too bound up with a single reason’ (Neyraut, 1996p. 50). In case the reader is surprised by the theoretical character of this book, it should be added that it in fact constitutes a solidly based summing up, by way of a metapsychology of thought, of the reflections of a French psychoanalyst on the whole of his psychoanalytic practice, which has extended over many years and covers a wide clinical field.

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