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Charles, M. (2007). History beyond trauma: Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one cannot stay silent, Françoise Davoine and Jean-Max Gaudilliere, Other Press, New York, 2004, 288 pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 67(1):109-113.

(2007). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 67(1):109-113

History beyond trauma: Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one cannot stay silent, Françoise Davoine and Jean-Max Gaudilliere, Other Press, New York, 2004, 288 pp.

Review by:
Marilyn Charles, Ph.D.

Françoise Davoine and Jean-Max Gaudilliére are Lacanian clinicians who speak, not in jargonized terms, but rather in language culled from longstanding familiarity with Lacanian conceptualizations, grounded in their profound appreciation for the human condition. These are clinicians who have worked extensively with individuals who have stood at the margins of society. They have much to tell us about what goes unnoticed if we are not attentive to the history being spoken through the symptom.

Davoine and Gaudilliére speak from their many years of experience working with psychotics in Paris. They have listened well to their patients and also to truths gleaned from many cultures and disciplines, including literature, philosophy, political theory, and anthropology, and psychoanalytic theorists, such as Bion, Lacan, Searles, and Sullivan, who attempted to contextualize madness squarely where it belongs: in the annals of a history that has become unspeakable. “People said to be crazy, in the ordinary sense of the term, show us what it was necessary to do in order to survive,” they write. “In our experience, the successive shocks that constitute the rhythm of an analysis of madness always lead back to the same region, the field of historical and social traumas” (pp. xxii, xxiii).

Trauma fragments history (Charles, 2006). In Davoine and Gaudilliére's terms, it destroys speech and leaves the subject estranged and alienated from self and experience. This fragmentation and alienation, if undigested, is passed along the generations,

transmitted to whichever of the person's descendants try, in some outburst of madness, to communicate and demonstrate the deafening screams that were left in a state of suspension, until they find someone … to accompany them to those places that no one wants to look at anymore, so that they can begin a transmission,

(p.

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