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Laplanche, J. (2019). Should We Burn Melanie Klein?. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 67(5):825-838.

(2019). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 67(5):825-838

Should We Burn Melanie Klein? Related Papers

Jean Laplanche

Why did I choose a title that takes us back to the era of obscurantism, the dark days when the Inquisition burned people and their works? People were indeed burned, but only after great efforts had been made to make the possessed confess to a truth outside their own awareness: the truth of the devil within them.

I should start by emphasizing the extent to which the imagery of demons, witches, and possession is still with us—not only in clinical treatment, but also in psychoanalytic theory. A thesis completed by one of my students—Freud and the Devil—recently showed the extent to which such imagoes are coextensive with Freudian thinking and its development (Urtubey 1983). To be sure, a rationalist perspective belonging to so-called “Enlightenment” philosophy is another aspect of Freud's thinking: Wherever reason appears, the demons of the night should disappear forever. (Afflavit et dissipati sunt.)

But no less strong in Freud is an incorrigible enthusiasm for the devil, which resists any attempt to reduce it to an illusion. So much so that metapsychology itself, that most theoretical element of his work, is sometimes likened to a witch; I am thinking of his splendid obituary tribute to Charcot (Freud 1893). There Freud shows how the moment when hysterics were no longer the objects of derision marked the imminent discovery

1 Editor's note.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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