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Sparer, E.A. (2018). The Skin-Ego, by Didier Anzieu. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 99(2):542-546.

(2018). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 99(2):542-546

The Skin-Ego, by Didier Anzieu

Review by:
Ellen A. Sparer

Writing a review about a book written by a French psychoanalyst normally puts the reviewer in the unenviable position of having to explain what Didier Anzieu limpidly describes, very early in this almost perfect translation of “The Skin-Ego”. Anzieu (p. 4) clearly articulates the “internal conflict in psychoanalytic thought” between what is called in France a British or American pragmatic empiricism and the French structural “tendency”. A large majority of French psychoanalysts disdain the “pragmatic” position. Didier Anzieu simply “refuse(s) to take sides in this conflict” (p. 5). Taking a profoundly dialectical approach, Anzieu underlines the value of the complementarity and antagonism between the two. Furthermore, he clarifies that the Skin-ego itself is “an intermediate structure of the psychical apparatus: it mediates chronologically between the mother and the infant and structurally between the mutual inclusion of psyches in the state of original fusion and the differentiation of psychical agencies in Freud's” (p. 5) second topography. Naomi Segal uses the French terminology: the second topographical theory, although the correct translation into English would be the structural theory. The French term, the second topographical theory, maintains the intuitive dialectal differentiation in French, between the first and the second theories. One overlays the other. However, in the interest of clarity, the translator might explain this distinction.

[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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