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Kervella, D.B. (2009). Psychanalyse de l'imposture [Psychoanalysis of Imposture] by Andrée Bauduin PUF, Paris, 2007; 315 pp; €28. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(1):177-184.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(1):177-184

Psychanalyse de l'imposture [Psychoanalysis of Imposture] by Andrée Bauduin PUF, Paris, 2007; 315 pp; €28

Review by:
Denis Bouchet Kervella

Andrée Bauduin is a full member of both the Belgian Psychoanalytic Society and the Paris Psychoanalytic Society. In 1987, she wrote a report entitled On the Preconscious for the 46th Congress for French-speaking psychoanalysts; she was the director of studies at the University of Liège, where she founded the first department of child psychiatry; she was vice-director of the Revue francaise de psychanalyse, and won the 1995 Maurice Bouvet Prize for two articles reproduced in this book.

Having long been interested in the theme of imposture, Andrée Bauduin has now written a very dense book on the subject. It is the fruit of a deep and subtle process of reflection, and solidly grounded in very rich clinical experience, the paths and uncertainties of which she has been able to share with us with remarkable finesse and sensibility.

She points out right away that imposture has some points in common with sexual and narcissistic perversions, but she attempts to circumscribe the profound and singular issues of identity that characterize it, and to uncover the different facets that it can take on in treatments. She introduces her remarks by noting the existence of a fundamental paradox of imposture: it is the fraudulent borrowed identity that provides the subject with his sense of personal identity, because the illusory character that he has invented has become real for him, and he feels the vital need to have this confirmed by others. Thus the success of sham not only feeds the triumph over the other, but, more particularly, the borrowed identity into which the Ego has slipped: “what the impostor seeks is to act real, for want perhaps of ever having been able to be real” (p. 22).

In the first part of her book entitled ‘Forms of Imposture’, Bauduin observes that the degrees of intensity of imposture can vary according to a large spectrum, ranging from legendary historical cases, like James Macph-erson, to those rather rare cases of impostors who manage to bring themselves for treatment.

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