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Janin-oudinot, M. (2001). La polarité de l'amour et de la mort [The polarity of love and death]. Catherine Couvreur. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, Collection Epîtres. 2000. pp. 172.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 82(1):195-197.

(2001). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 82(1):195-197

La polarité de l'amour et de la mort [The polarity of love and death]. Catherine Couvreur. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, Collection Epîtres. 2000. pp. 172.

Review by:
Martine Janin-oudinot

Catherine Couvreur is a former joint editor of the monographs of the Revue française de psychanalyse. Her book faithfully reflects the trend of French psychoanalytic thought today. The reader is immediately interested and thrilled by the way she does not hesitate to share her inner experience with us—an experience that reveals her to be at once writer, clinician and theoretician.

Freud bequeathed to us a territory of thought—a territory in which to think—situated in the space between. The existence of two metapsychological topographies plunges us into a field of tension, one of whose manifestations—the polarity of love and death—denotes the functional antagonism that holds sway in the life of every psyche.

The book's title is taken from a phrase used by Freud in a letter to Schnitzler, which the author chose because, in her view, it reveals an essential characteristic of the life of the drives, namely, that it is always in a state of tension between psyche and soma, narcissistic cathexis and object cathexis, love and destruction, binding and unbinding (p. 1). In addition to these functional polarities, there are those of presence and absence, pleasure and unpleasure, sensitivity and rationality. Finally, there is the polarity of clinical experience and theorisation (p. 7).

By this title, the author takes us (back) over the field ‘beyond’ and ‘within’ the pleasure principle, thus placing herself in the direct line of descent of Freud's concepts of trauma after the turning point of 1920 (the second topography).

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