The Fabric of Affect in the Psychoanalytic Discourse

The Fabric of Affect in the Psychoanalytic Discourse

The Fabric of Affect in the Psychoanalytic Discourse

The Fabric of Affect in the Psychoanalytic Discourse


Published for the first time in English, The Fabric of Affect in the Psychoanalytic Discourse is Andre Green's seminal work on affect, one of the most neglected topics in psychoanalysis. Originally published in French as Le Discours Vivant and considered a classic in the psychoanalytic world, the book lucidly connects theory, culture and clinical practice as it considers affect within psychoanalytic literature, structure and process in clinical practice, and theories on affect, negative hallucination, and language and discourse.


Whenever I am led to express an opinion on the question of affect, I am reminded of the epigraph, which the reader will read below, in which Freud defends the notion that, where certain problems are concerned, it is not so much their obscurity or our ignorance of them that impedes our theorization of them as the difficulty we find in defining the right abstract ideas. Obvious as it may seem, I am not sure that this has always been taken seriously by those who wish to contribute to the theory of affect in psychoanalysis.

In my opinion, this difficulty, which I pointed out in the first version of this work, is still valid today. It is true that Freud's thought varied somewhat on the subject throughout his long work, but between my report to the 1970 Congrés des Psychoanalystes de Langues romanes and the publication of this English edition, the gap between the various views has tended to widen, rather than narrow. By noting, in detail, the different ways of approaching this problem the reader will come to see how far we still are from a united point of view.

The work of various artists and philosophers, as well as our experience in everyday life, suggests that it is very difficult to retain the originality of the affect when it is expressed in language. It is hardly surprising therefore that, when we try to conceptualize it, it is often ideas that do not seem particularly relevant that help us to see the problem more clearly. and if, to remain within the domain of theories (whether or not they are psychoanalytic in origin), we must also take into account the unquestionable part played in them by the body, the whole question becomes more obscure and the margin of interpretation more arbitrary. From ancient times there have been different views as to the primary or secondary nature of this incursion of the body into the psyche and they become clearer here than in any other aspect of psychical life.

Although psychoanalysis has revived the question, there is little unanimity among psychoanalysts: psychoanalysis has simply added other questions

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