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Lussier, A. (1995). Le Travail Du Negatif: By André Green. Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1993, 398 pp., Fr 180.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 43:263-266.

(1995). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 43:263-266

Le Travail Du Negatif: By André Green. Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1993, 398 pp., Fr 180.

Review by:
André Lussier

In this highly theoretical work, André Green presents readers the ultimate in his metapsychological thinking. In another respect, though, the reader is rewarded with some of the most essential, most memorable clinical views on the psychopathology of borderline patients; their countertransferential implications are revealed with rare depth and scope.

In the first of several appendices, Green states what in fact is the broad object of this book. He reminds us that even before 1986 he had proposed to designate, as the work of the negative, the totality of the psychological operations in which repression is the prototype, having given birth to such variants as negation, disavowal, and rejection. In Chapter 3 he goes so far as to say that several Freudian concepts call for a theory of the negative: dreams, mourning, the drives in relation to representations, and, above all, identification. He believes this amounts not simply to the establishment of a new category, but rather to an unprecedented interpretation that would affect Freud's ideas in their entirety.

The introductory chapter is essential for the reader not familiar with Green's work. It is a most helpful chapter, one that lays the groundwork for the more difficult material to come. Here Green speaks of the affinity of his thought with that of Bion and Winnicott. His summary of the latter's ideas leads to the heart of the matter, in a quite illuminating way. Winnicott, it seems, plumbed the psychopathological depths of severe separation, showing that it far outstrips the simple capacity to wait. Instead he described a state in which only what is negative is conceptualized as real. Such experiences are shown to affect the whole of the psychic structure and to become independent of the future appearance or disappearance of the object in reality.

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