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Quinodoz, J. (2004). On: Chaotic possibilities: Toward a new model of development. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(4):1009-1010.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(4):1009-1010

On: Chaotic possibilities: Toward a new model of development Related Papers

Jean-Michel Quinodoz

Dear Sirs,

Robert Galatzer-Levy (2004) proposes a new psychoanalytic model of development and change in light of complex systems theory. The author calls into question most psychoanalytic models which, in his view, are essentially based on linearity and should consequently be abandoned. He advocates substituting a non-linear model. I would like to comment briefly on some points the author makes in this stimulating paper, which is part of a series of observations made on this topic by several psychoanalysts since the 1990s.

First, I think that the theory of complex systems not only allows us to have a new look at psychoanalytic models of development and change, as mentioned by Galatzer-Levy, but it also sheds light on similar models that are not based on continuities but on discontinuities in psychic processes. I especially have in mind models based on Freud's notion of Nachträglichkeit, which has been translated into English as ‘deferred action’ and into French as ‘après-coup’. The terms nachträglich and Nachträglichkeit have different meanings in Freud's work, but in the psychoanalytic model usually referred to as ‘après-coup’ theory, the Freudian notion of Nachträglichkeit is used in the following sense: something has been perceived initially but only takes on meaning retrospectively. Although in Freud's thinking the notion of sequential development coexists with the concept of discontinuity, the notion of ‘après-coup’ has been put in the foreground by the French psychoanalytic school to challenge the traditional idea that development follows a continuous path.

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