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Stanton, M. (1991). Laissez-Faire: James Strachey and Freud's French. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 18:393-400.

(1991). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 18:393-400

Laissez-Faire: James Strachey and Freud's French

Martin Stanton


This paper examines Freud's use of the French language and his reference to important French debates. It argues that his dialogue with the Charcot, Bernheim, and later, Janet, schools, was reflected in his choice of terminology. Important here were the terms idée fixe, obsession, double conscience, fausse reconnaissance and déjà vu, which, contrary to first appearance, cannot be understood outside this dialogue. Strachey either leaves these terms in the original French, or mistranslates them. He also fails to keep step with Freud's footnotes and so misses the context of important arguments. A renovatory strategy is therefore proposed, suggesting the inclusion of a historical context in which Freud's use of this terminology can be better understood.

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