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Vanderwees, C. (2016). Lacanian Affects: The Function of Affect in Lacan's Work by Colette Soler Translated by Bruce Fink New York: Routledge, 2016, 176 pp.. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 24(1):142-145.

(2016). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 24(1):142-145

Lacanian Affects: The Function of Affect in Lacan's Work by Colette Soler Translated by Bruce Fink New York: Routledge, 2016, 176 pp.

Review by:
Chris Vanderwees

Jacques Lacan's emphasis on the signifier in psychoanalysis has led a number of scholars and analysts to contribute to the development of a relatively prevalent, essentialist misreading of his theorization of affect. Amongst psychoanalysts and other academics, this lingering misreading manifests as a critique of Lacan and his work's supposed failure to address the significance of affective dynamics in psychoanalytic treatment. Cormac Gallagher (1997) writes that Lacan's “focus on linguistics and logic is thought to lessen the importance of the affective dimension and to lead to a sterile analysis from which anger, shame, pity, indignation, envy and jealousy have been banished” (p. 111). Some of the most prominent analysts contributing to the study of affects have fostered this unfortunate perspective on Lacanian psychoanalysis. André Green (1973/1999) describes Lacanian theory as a total rejection or “forgetting” of affect. “Lacan's work,” writes Green, “is exemplary … not only because affect has no place in it, but also because it is explicitly excluded from it” (p. 99). Ruth Stein (1999) echoes Green when she accuses Lacan of excluding affect from psychoanalytic theory and of “reject[ing] affects altogether as unfit for theorizing” (p. 133). Further, Lacan's emphasis on the importance of the symbolic order is often reproached as if it were a kind of over-intellectualism that supports an opposition between affective and intellectual dimensions. It is in this light that Jean Laplanche (1999) presents his appraisal of Lacan's approach to psychoanalysis:

You do not need to read many Lacanian texts to be convinced that the Freudian distinction between affect and representation has become—in Lacanianism—a real rejection, sometimes scornful, of the affective and of lived experience, which moreover, are usually affected by signs of irony or inverted commas. (p.

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