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Simpson, R.B. (2003). Introduction To Michel De M'uzan'S “Slaves Of Quantity”. Psychoanal Q., 72(3):699-709.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 72(3):699-709

Introduction To Michel De M'uzan'S “Slaves Of Quantity”

Richard B. Simpson, M.D.

French psychoanalysis is increasingly recognized as having a distinct voice in a developing dialogue with Anglo-American psychoanalysis (Kernberg 2001). However, difficulties of translation, both linguistic and cultural, have impaired this dialogue. In proposing to Michel de M'Uzan that I translate “Slaves of Quantity” for its first publication in English, it was my hope that his paper would contribute to that dialogue, with this introduction acting as a kind of passerelle—literally, a footbridge—a means of gaining access to the ideas within.

Originally published as “Les esclaves de la quantité,” the paper illustrates an innovative style of thinking in which de M'Uzan has rigorously developed extensions of Freud's concepts over the past forty-five years. The ideas and the style of writing may well be unfamiliar to Anglophone readers. As de M'Uzan himself (2002) put it recently:

My approach is more literary … and seeks an unveiling little by little. Psychoanalysis according to the criteria of Claude Bernard cannot be considered scientific—but look at Beyond the Pleasure Principle, which is a form of meta-biological daydreaming. There is art in psychoanalysis.

One of the founders of the Paris Psychosomatic School, de M'Uzan is known for the adept way he uses the concept of psychic energy in his work. The quantity of energy, the quantity of excitation, is the central topic of this paper, and energetic concepts play a central role in his theorizing.

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