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Kirshner, L.A. (2005). The confusion of tongues: The primacy of sexuality in Freud, Ferenczi, and Laplanche by Philippe Van Haute and Tomas Geyskens New York: Other Press. 2004. 158 pp.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(4):1219-1223.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(4):1219-1223

The confusion of tongues: The primacy of sexuality in Freud, Ferenczi, and Laplanche by Philippe Van Haute and Tomas Geyskens New York: Other Press. 2004. 158 pp.

Review by:
Lewis A. Kirshner

How do we conceive of sexuality and its relation to the subject in psychoanalysis? Is it constitutive, rooted in the pleasure-seeking nature of the human infant, as Freud would suggest? Or is sexuality merely one element of subjectivity which must be relegated to its proper place, even a fairly modest one in the hierarchy of structures determining our lives, as some current theorists of attachment and infant behavior suggest? No doubt that, from our contemporary vantage point, Freud's overarching conception of libido seems a relic of 19th-century metaphysics, Germanic idealism, and Darwinian schemas of nature, whose vast unifying principles seemed to promise a coherent and reassuring logic underlying the puzzles of existence. We have certainly entered another era of thought, and yet the vision of the human subject being parsed into a set of functional components, like the menu list on a word processor, seems no less restrictive in its biases and assumptions, as well as untrue to the clinical analytic experience of a century.

The psychoanalytic view of human sexuality and its nature is central to what Van Haute and Geyskens see as its ‘clinical anthropology’, an attempt to raise fundamental issues about subjectivity that extend beyond a simple psychologizing of mental development and its aberrations. This leads them to explore the perhaps irresolvable inconsistencies between the various stages of Freud's thinking about sexuality and then to suggest their further elaboration and resolution in the work of Sándor Ferenczi and Jean Laplanche. They see the foundations of psychoanalytic anthropology as resting on three pillars: the lack of a sharp break between the

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