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Fine, A. (2002). La vie opératoire [Operative life]. Claude Smadja. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. 2001. Pp. 272.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 83(5):1217-1220.
  

(2002). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 83(5):1217-1220

La vie opératoire [Operative life]. Claude Smadja. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. 2001. Pp. 272.

Review by:
Alain Fine

As its title indicates, this book is about operative functioning (l'opératoire), a concept theorised by French psychoanalysts involved in psychosomatic research during the nineteen sixties. The subtitle, ‘psychoanalytic studies’, suggests an approach that claims to lie squarely within the psychoanalytic theoretical field, at the heart of Freudian metapsy-chology, in contradistinction to other models used for understanding psychosomatic phenomena, as well as models that are somewhat further removed from this field. The author sets out the different models in his introduction, mentioning, in particular, the American studies by F. Dunbar and F. Alexander, without, however, invalidating them.

This concept of operative functioning underlies the models of somatic processes advanced by Pierre Marty—concepts and models which have also found currency outside France. It is a concept which has to be defined within an epistemological context, and over the course of time has proved to be of paradigmatic value in French circles. As the author points out, it is worth noting that some of these approaches are not dissimilar to the hypotheses of Sifneos on alexithymia, with which American psychoanalysts will be familiar.

Claude Smadja, a psychiatrist by training who has since become a full-time psychoanalyst (titular member of the Paris Psychoanalytic Society), has also chosen to work at the Institut de psychosomatique (IPSO) together with the Pierre Marty Hospital.

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