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Smith, J.H. (1995). Jacques Lacan & Co.: A History of Psychoanalysis in France, 1925-1985. By Elisabeth Roudinesco. Translated by Jeffrey Mehlman. Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press, 1990, 766 pp., $40.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 43:615-618.
(1995). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 43:615-618
Jacques Lacan & Co.: A History of Psychoanalysis in France, 1925-1985. By Elisabeth Roudinesco. Translated by Jeffrey Mehlman. Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press, 1990, 766 pp., $40.00.
Review by: Joseph H. Smith
In this book, a bestseller in its French edition, Elisabeth Roudinesco writes engagingly of “His Majesty” Jacques Lacan—of the influence upon his life and work, of the influence of his life and work on others, and of her predictions of his effects on posterity.
Daughter of the Parisian analyst Jenny Aubry and herself a member of Lacan's Ecole freudienne de Paris from 1969 to 1980, Roudinesco spares the reader nothing of Lacan's extravagantly narcissistic and exhibitionistic shortcomings. “His Majesty” is her term. Such “objective facts” as the brief “hours” that would allow Lacan to fit thirty analysands into his schedule at once (p. 323) are nevertheless presented with the bias of an author who would forgive all eccentricities to one she considers the single most outstanding psychoanalytic clinician and theoretician since Freud.
This is the second of two volumes published in France under the title La bataille de cent ans, “The Hundred Years' War.” The first volume covers the period 1885-1925. The reach of these volumes extends to the history and prehistory of psychoanalysis in not only France, but also internationally.
The comments on psychoanalysis in America bear a familiar bias. Roudinesco, along with almost everyone else I know of on the Lacanian scene, falls hook, line, and sinker for Lacan's proclamation that American psychoanalysis aims only for adaptation, with “adaptation” read pejoratively as mere conformity. That is not true, regardless of what Hartmann might have thought, said, or written. Indeed, Hartmann himself on numerous occasions, either on his own or with Kris and Loewenstein (who was Lacan's analyst), specifically rejected the equation of mental health and the tendency to conform. In 1946, for instance, long before the 1953 split of the IPA-associated Société psychanalytique de Paris (SPP), out of which the Lacan-affiliated Société francaise de psychanalyse (SFP) was formed—i.e.,
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