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Malater, E. (2006). History Beyond Trauma: Whereof one Cannot Speak… Thereof One Cannot Stay Silent. By Francoise Davoine, Jean-Max Gaudilliere, and Susan Fairfield. New York: Other Press, 2004, 312 pages.. Psychoanal. Rev., 93(4):675-682.
(2006). Psychoanalytic Review, 93(4):675-682
History Beyond Trauma: Whereof one Cannot Speak… Thereof One Cannot Stay Silent. By Francoise Davoine, Jean-Max Gaudilliere, and Susan Fairfield. New York: Other Press, 2004, 312 pages.
Review by: Evan Malater, CLSW
On August 21, 2001, during a visit to New York, French psychoanalysts Jean-Max Gaudilliere and Francoise Davoine visited a bookstore before going up to the observation deck of the World Trade Center. Gaudilliere remembers standing there with “40 pounds of Bion” strapped to his back. Nine days later, on August 30, they were home in Paris when a patient called in a panic and told Jean-Max to turn on the news. Although for the last year they had been working on a book about trauma and madness, their first impulse was to dismiss the call as a joke. A month later their book History Beyond Trauma was finished, ending with a sign-off that situates the book unmistakably in the context of its own historical trauma. Beneath the names of the authors is the date October 11, 2001.
Three years later, Davoine and Gaudilliere are back in New York for a conference on Democracy and Psychoanalysis at Columbia University. They have agreed to meet to discuss History Beyond Trauma. The uncanny timeliness of the book has only grown more so, accustomed as we have now become to reports of war atrocities. Still, Gaudilliere resists the temptation to interpret current events. “When it comes to trauma,” he says, “we have no right to politicize it,” adding that “trauma is frozen in time; in trauma there is no time.”
This comment is an example of a tension that is present throughout the book. For the analyst treating psychosis, the discrepancy between the urgency of the psychotic transference and the timelessness of a trauma that has resisted inscription in symbolic terms proves profoundly unsettling. In the author's view, the analyst must become the “horrified other” who allows the impact of the trauma to break down the boundaries of analyst and analysand, of past and present. When it comes to trauma, there is no private space or personal history. The analyst has no right to hide behind the shield of neutrality.
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