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Bourdin, D. (2016). La séduction éthique de la situation analytique. Aux origines féminines maternelles de la responsabilité pour l'autre [The ethical seduction of the analytic situation: The maternal feminine origins of responsibility for the other] by Viviane Chetrit-Vatine Le fil rouge, Paris, 2012; 251 pp; £24.50. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(1):203-207.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(1):203-207

Book and Journal Reviews

La séduction éthique de la situation analytique. Aux origines féminines maternelles de la responsabilité pour l'autre [The ethical seduction of the analytic situation: The maternal feminine origins of responsibility for the other] by Viviane Chetrit-Vatine Le fil rouge, Paris, 2012; 251 pp; £24.50

Review by:
Dominique Bourdin

A founding member of the Israel psychoanalytic society, here Viviane Chetrit-Vatine publishes a new version of her theory concerning the ethical dimension of the psychoanalytic situation. She claims to follow the philosophical thought of Emmanuel Levinas, and the psychoanalytic tradition of Jean Laplanche. The ethical position is primary, founding the human being, in the line of the ‘responsibility imperative’ developed by Hans Jonas (1984). The author's thought develops with the endless insistence of waters against a beach, every wave summing up while being renewed and enriched, as is emphasized by the epigraph quoted on page v, drawn from Derrida's Writing and difference (1978, p. 4, n. 1).

The thesis is formulated in the introduction: the question of an ethics, defined by Emmanuel Levinas (1982) as responsibility for the other, is intrinsically linked to a contemporary conception of the psychoanalytic treatment considered as an inter-human relationship. Following the Shoah and all the other crimes against humanity, now that organizing myths have lost some of their relevance and efficacy, as family structures are being transformed, the newborn human being's primary distress and his dependence for his survival on an adult environment remains more than ever “the fundamental anthropological situation” (Laplanche, 2006; see also Laplanche, 1987), the bedrock of humanization. This double founding asymmetry is seductive because adult sexuality is confronted with an immature baby, and ethical inasmuch as this adult world is responsible for him; it is reactivated in the transferences instigated in and by the treatment. The meaning is not present from the outset; it is gradually constructed, created and found inside the analytic process, with the aid of the analyst's affective participation. The work of symbolization is carried out jointly. It is no longer possible to avoid considering the analyst as an ethical subject who bears asymmetrical responsibility for the other, nor the analytic situation as a guardian of the ethical seduction.

The first part of the book deals with “a possible contribution of Levinas to contemporary psychoanalysis,” comparing the Freudian conception of ethics as well as the Lacanian standpoints concerning Levinas's theories,

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1 Translated by Sophie Leighton.

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