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Eckardt, M.H. (2006). Windows, by J.-B. Pontalis, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 2003, 114 pp., $20. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 34(3):575-577.

(2006). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 34(3):575-577

Windows, by J.-B. Pontalis, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 2003, 114 pp., $20

Review by:
Marianne Homey Eckardt, M.D.

The title intrigued me, suggesting looking out of a structure into spaces beyond. My reading acquaintances did not include J.-B. Pontalis. A glance at a few pages of this slim volume and I realized I had come upon a delightful treasure. The book became a window forme. I caught a glimpse of a non-Lacanian French psychoanalytic scene, of which I had not been aware. The excellent translator introduces us to the essential pertinent background. J.-B. Pontalis is a major figure in the psychoanalytic world of France. In 1967 he published in association with Jean Laplanche the Vocabulaire de la psychoanalyse (The Language of Psychoanalysis), the first systematic reference guide to psychoanalytic terminology. This not only presented the principal concepts and basic elements of Freudian psychoanalysis, but also laid out its history, evolution, and varied usages. He frequently contributed to Jean-Paul Sartre's journal, “Les Temps Modernes,” before launching his own journal, “La Nouvelle Revue de Psychoanalyse.” While promoting knowledge of psychoanalysis, he also became one of its major critics, challenging the institutionalization of its practice and its language. He fervently believes that we cannot reduce experience to concepts. Concepts need to be learned, then be put aside so that we can see with clear eyes. Pontalis speaks of “the tyranny of the concept.” In his decades of writing he sought to find a language of experience, a flow of expressions, which he affectionately calls “travelers in all directions,” a language that breathes and is a meeting with the unexpected.

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