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Perelberg, R.J. (2012). The Analyzing Situation by Jean-Luc Donnet (Andrew Weller, translator) Karnac, London, 2009, Psychoanalytic Ideas and Applications Series; 199 pp; £22.99. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 93(1):239-245.
(2012). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 93(1):239-245
The Analyzing Situation by Jean-Luc Donnet (Andrew Weller, translator) Karnac, London, 2009, Psychoanalytic Ideas and Applications Series; 199 pp; £22.99
Review by: Rosine Jozef Perelberg
This book makes the work of one of the most inspiring contemporary French psychoanalysts accessible to the Anglo-Saxon readership. It revisits and expands some of the themes explored in his previous publications. In this review I can only address some of them.
The first chapter of the book constituted one of the three previously published texts which were introduced at the 2001 IPA Congress in Nice on the theme ‘Psychoanalysis, Method and Applications’. In this seminal and much-celebrated article, Donnet points out the inherent contradiction between the use that psychoanalysts make of the notion of method, linked to the specificity of unconscious psychic processes, on the one hand, and the requirement that analysts from different traditions have of applicable prescriptions. This is discussed later in the book in terms of his distinction between the analytic method and psychoanalytic techniques, and the tension between subjectivity and objectivity.
A fundamental paradox persists in psychoanalysis:
Any attempt to define the analytic method is faced with the contrast between what the term method suggests in the way of controlled organization, and the renunciation of control implied by free association. This paradox is necessary if the unconscious was to open to rational investigation.
This leads Donnet to indicate the contradiction between the necessary, acquired knowledge on the one hand, and the need to suspend knowledge on the other. Concepts of ‘learned ignorance’ (Lacan) and negative capacity (Bion) are evoked (Chapter 2), as well as Winnicott's distinction between game and play, i.
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