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Bokanowski, T. (1999). Épître aux Oedipiens [Epistle to the Oedipans]: Jean Cournut. Paris: Presses Univ. France, Collection Épîtres. 1998. Pp. 230. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 80(1):182-184.
(1999). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 80(1):182-184
Épître aux Oedipiens [Epistle to the Oedipans]: Jean Cournut. Paris: Presses Univ. France, Collection Épîtres. 1998. Pp. 230
Review by: Thierry Bokanowski
Jean Cournut reminds us by his title that every human being is by nature bound to be an ‘Oedipan’. After many years of studying the effects of the drives and of sexuality on ‘psychic work’ (1991, L'ordinaire de la passion. Paris: Presses Univ. France, Fil rouge; 1993, M. Cournut-Janin & J. Cournut, La castration et le féminin dans les deux sexes. Rev. franç. Psychanal., 52, Special Congress issue: 1333–1558; 1996, J. Cournut et al., Psychanalyse et sexualité. Questions aux sciences humaines. Paris: Dunod, Collection Inconscient et Culture), the author here turns to one of the essential questions of present-day psychoanalysis: what is the place of the Oedipus complex for the psychoanalyst today as he listens to and theorises on the basis of his patients’ material?
In his original, pungent and humorous style, Cournut offers the reader a perspective view and a reassessment of the attention currently vouchsafed by the entire psychoanalytic community, in its clinical and theoretical debates, to (1) the Oedipus complex and its corollary, the castration complex, both of which take account of the organisation of the drives; (2) their end-points and limits, which may have to do with the ‘passions’, the organisation of ‘character’ and other factors; and (3) sexuality, which is too often concealed or even evacuated in contemporary psychoanalytic thought.
There are a number of reasons, both inside and outside psychoanalysis, why the author considers that the Oedipus complex, as the bedrock of Freud's ‘discovery’, now being not so much rejected as trivialised, needs to have its former status restored.
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