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Faimberg, H. (2005). Après-coup. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(1):1-6.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(1):1-6

Après-coup Language Translation

Haydée Faimberg


Après-coup is the French translation of a concept designated by Freud as Nachträglichkeit (noun) and nachträglich (adjective). As it is a common word in German, this may be one of the reasons why the concept of nachträglich and Nachträglichkeit—in the sense we understand après-coup—has not acquired in the German psychoanalytical culture the same pregnancy as in France; since translation has required reflection.

There is no article written by Freud specifically centred on this concept. This may at least partially explain its variable fate. Thus, we give credit to Lacan for being the first in 1953 to underline the importance of this Freudian concept referring exclusively to the Wolf Man case. Laplanche and Pontalis (1967, 1968) were the first to draw attention to the general importance of the concept and recently Laplanche gave the following definition of après-coup: The notion of après-coup is important for the psychoanalytical conception of temporality. It establishes a complex and reciprocal relationship between a significant event and its resignification in afterwardsness, whereby the event acquires new psychic efficiency (2002, p. 121).

As we know, Nachträglichkeit was translated by Strachey as ‘deferred action’. (In some cases, deferred action is a correct translation of Nachträglichkeit. For the different meanings of the word in Freud's work see Laplanche, 1998; Green, 2000.

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