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Antinucci-Mark, G. (1995). Concerning the Rites of Psychoanalysis. : By Bice Benvenuto. Cambridge: Polity Press. 1994. Pp. 169.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:1284-1286.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:1284-1286

Concerning the Rites of Psychoanalysis. : By Bice Benvenuto. Cambridge: Polity Press. 1994. Pp. 169.

Review by:
Giuseppina Antinucci-Mark

Bice Benvenuto is an Italian Lacanian analyst who has been practising in London for many years. Her book is a comprehensive commentary on Lacan's concepts, based on seminars and lectures she has given over the years.

For this reader, the subtext that provides unity to this scholarly work is an exploration of the human mythmaking function that is the foundation of culture and is therefore the subject of enquiry at the point of intersection between psychoanalysis, anthropology, ethnology, linguistics and philosophy. This is particularly clear in Parts I and II, where she investigates the psychoanalytic process in relation to transference love, which is at the heart of it. Going back to the notion of malady of the soul, Benvenuto reminds us that psychoanalysis is the modern endeavour to heal the suffering soul. As such, psychoanalysis is a practice comparable to religion and philosophy. Their common element is the practice of love in its various forms: love of God, or love of knowledge, or transference love. Transference love is subsumed under the more general ‘discourse on love’, with its divisions into sacred and profane, sex and love, masculine and feminine, real and imaginary, conscious and unconscious.

This discourse on love structures and underlies the discussion of rites of passage and initiation rituals that ritualise the human encounter with love and eros. Benvenuto's discourse is expanded and transformed into a discourse on the drives within the Lacanian re-interpretation of drive theory. She puts forward the notion that the life and death instincts may be intimately fused. The death drive is somehow granted primacy when she claims that it operates through eros and is experienced by the subject as castration: ‘We could say that love intervenes imaginarily at the point when enjoyment must end: namely when castration intervenes’ (p. 13).


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