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Bourdin, D. (1996). Somatisation. Psychanalyse Et Sciences Du Vivant [Somatisation. Psychoanalysis And The Life Sciences]. : Edited by Isabelle Billiard. Paris: Eshel. 1994. Published with the assistance of the Centre national des Lettres.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 77:419-420.

(1996). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 77:419-420

Somatisation. Psychanalyse Et Sciences Du Vivant [Somatisation. Psychoanalysis And The Life Sciences]. : Edited by Isabelle Billiard. Paris: Eshel. 1994. Published with the assistance of the Centre national des Lettres.

Review by:
Dominique Bourdin

This book is the report of the activities of a working party of biologists and psychoanalysts as reflected in a number of meetings extending over about a year. Twenty years after the famous colloquium entitled ‘The Unity of Man’, from which the psychoanalysts were absent, the initiative of the French Interministerial Research and Experimentation Task Force (MIRE) has allowed workers in different fields to meet on a multidisciplinary basis to compare their questions and issues. What we have is a record of the dialogue between psychoanalysis and the life sciences on a subject of common concern, namely somatisation.

The book falls into two main parts. The first is a record of the meetings as held, and it ultimately reveals not only the difficulties of arriving at a common language but also the positive character of the divergences themselves. These divergences are incidentally evident not only between disciplines but also within each discipline itself. It might be felt that the results achieved by this working party were negative, but that would be to fall into the naïve fallacy of believing that only accepted results and agreement lead to progress in ideas and knowledge. It is more important to note, as most of the participants themselves do, the extent to which the experience drew attention to and made it possible to quantify the discrepancies between the problem situations and the obscurities of languages and concepts revealed when these are exported outside their own discipline or communicated to interlocutors in other disciplines.

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