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Bourdin, D. (2009). Psychanalyse de I'imposture [The Psychoanalysis of Imposture] by Andrée Bauduin PUF, Paris, Le fil rouge, 2007; 217 pp; €28. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(5):1181-1185.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(5):1181-1185

Book Reviews

Psychanalyse de I'imposture [The Psychoanalysis of Imposture] by Andrée Bauduin PUF, Paris, Le fil rouge, 2007; 217 pp; €28

Review by:
Dominique Bourdin

“The impostor usurps an identity, invents a story for himself that is not his own, sometimes even to the point of believing it, passes himself off as someone else—and it works” (p. 1). Andrée Bauduin's book The Psychoanalysis of Imposture opens with this quotation from J.B. Pontalis, which pinpoints from the outset one of the essential concerns of the work: identity in imposture—alienating, vague, and untruthful situations concerning identity itself.

In this book, Andrée Bauduin, a Belgian psychoanalyst and member both of the Paris Psychoanalytic Society and the Belgian Psychoanalytic Society, expands on her earlier elaborations on a child's alienation (non-psychotic) from one of his/her parents, in particular the mother. This leads the author to follow not only the internal psychic processes involved in the emergence of the imposture and its installation, as well as the reactions to the imposture, i.e. its co-production revealed by a form of unconscious complicity and manifested by the fact that ‘it works’. The perverse movement of imposture does not simply lie in the instinctual and defensive need to create an image and a misleading identity in order to be recognized in something that is not oneself—a symptom and sign of the impossibility of recognizing oneself—but in the meeting between this psychic movement and an efficacy of illusion, a desire which is fascinated by the personality-type of impostors. Whether the fascination is aroused by the power of the imposture, by the apparent perfection of the fabricated identity, or, alternatively, by the exhibited avoidance of distress connected with issues of identity (which are absent on the surface), it forms an integral part of the phenomenon of imposture as a sort of paradoxical voyeurism: what is shown satisfies completely, but it is false; what is hidden and foreclosed leaps to the eyes without being seen, owing to the bedazzling effects of fascination.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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