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Birot, E. (2015). L'Humour et la Honte [Humour and Shame], J.-L. Donnet, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 2009, Fil rouge; 274 pp; €36; Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 96(5):1441-1445.

(2015). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 96(5):1441-1445

Book and Journal Reviews

L'Humour et la Honte [Humour and Shame], J.-L. Donnet, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 2009, Fil rouge; 274 pp; €36;

Review by:
Elisabeth Birot

Jean-Luc Donnet is a psychoanalyst and member of the Paris Psychoanalytic Society (SPP). For several years he was the director of the Etienne Marcel Centre, a day hospital providing therapeutic care for adolescents, and then of the Jean Favreau Centre for Psychoanalytic Consultations and Treatments.

The first of the qualities of his new book, L'Humour et la honte, is no doubt the range of its field of investigation. Bringing together earlier texts that have been reworked and recent or unpublished texts, it shows how the author ‘puts to work’ themes of research that are dear to him in a way that is always more thorough, always more deeply anchored in analysis, and always in dialogue with contemporary analytic thought. The back cover declares that “J.-L. Donnet offers us a series of clinical and theoretical studies that explore the paths of shame and humour, all of which are haunted by the spectre of the superego”. The word “spectre” is to be understood here not only as the uncanny, the shadow of the beyond which returns to visit us, but also as the range which defines, for example, a field of frequencies. According to the author, it is its range and primal heterogeneity - from the roots of the id to the demands of reality, from primary identification to post-oedipal bisexual structuring, from tenderness to cruelty, from phylogenesis to ontogenesis, from impersonalization to resexualization - that give the superego its transitional potentiality and constitute it as both “object and matrix” of its psychic appropriation by the subject, without forgetting that this space also defines a field of instinctual drive forces.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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