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Anzieu, D. Vanderwees, C. (2020). Note to Introduce Levels of Symbolization. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 28(1):66-74.

(2020). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 28(1):66-74

Note to Introduce Levels of Symbolization

Didier Anzieu and Chris Vanderwees


Didier Anzieu (1923-1999) was a French psychoanalyst whose diverse writings range from studies on Freud's concept of self-analysis and creative processes to a renewal of thinking about the body and the skin in psychoanalysis. Anzieu also made contributions to the field of group therapy while extending the field of object relations throughout his career in building upon Melanie Klein, Heinz Kohut, and Wilfred Bion. Despite being attuned to the importance of the signifier, Anzieu remains one of the most prominent critics of Jacques Lacan's work.i

Published in 1989 in the Revue française de psychanalyse, Anzieu's “Note pour introduire l'échelle des symbolisations” [Note to introduce levels of symbolization]ii provides a reflection on Claude Lévi-Strauss's (1908-2009) massive anthropological and ethnological work, Mythologiques, a text spanning four volumes including The Raw and the Cooked, From Honey to Ashes, The Origin of Table Manners, and The Naked Man.iii Influenced by the structural linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure, Lévi-Strauss sought to explore symbolism and myths (mythèmes), which he understood to shape human relations, behaviours, and traditions. According to Lévi-Strauss, the structure of myths ultimately contributes to the collective unconscious of the larger group. Lévi-Strauss especially examined the pairings (binary oppositions: i.e.,

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