Seductions and Enigmas: Laplanche, Theory, Culture

Seductions and Enigmas: Laplanche, Theory, Culture

Seductions and Enigmas: Laplanche, Theory, Culture

Seductions and Enigmas: Laplanche, Theory, Culture


French psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche (1924–2012) elaborated a distinctive methodology for the reading of Freud’s corpus and at the same time evolved a radical new metapsychology – one that critically recast Freud’s early ‘seduction’ theory of trauma and placed at the heart of psychic life a particular model of ‘enigmatic signification’.

Contributors to this volume elaborate Laplanche’s unique method for the interpretation of Freud, and its attention to the decentering and recentering movements of thought that structure the psychoanalytic field. They explore how the metapsychological developments arising from the implementation of that method open up new horizons for the psychoanalytic reading of other texts and oeuvres in the cultural domain.

Some essays develop and discuss Laplanche’s critical methodology; others work through aspects of his major theoretical innovations as points of departure for the reading of cultural works: fiction, drama, painting, visual and sound installations, and film.


John Fletcher and Nicholas Ray

The death of Jean Laplanche in 2012 brought to an end the work of one of Europe’s most distinguished, innovative and rigorous psychoanalytic thinkers. Among Anglophone scholars and clinicians, his name was for many years most readily connected with two of his earliest books: The Language of Psychoanalysis (1967, translated 1973) a systematic critical vocabulary of psychoanalytic concepts, co-written with Jean-Bertrand Pontalis, and Life and Death in Psychoanalysis (1970, translated 1976), a monograph analysing the structural repetitions and oppositions, slippages and breakthroughs that organise Freud’s conceptual and terminological field. As such Laplanche had perhaps been underestimated by some, misrecognised as little more than a brilliant purveyor of explications de texte freudien. in recent years, however, the translation of several other of Laplanche’s works – in particular, Essays on Otherness (1999) and Freud and the Sexual (2007, translated 2011) – has afforded Anglophone readers a much clearer view of the evolution and trajectory of his thought since the 1960s and 1970s, and confirmed the groundbreaking originality with which his research has developed. in particular, through these works English-language readers have become acquainted with something of Laplanche’s own distinctive re-elaboration of Freudian metapsychology associated with his return to, and generalisation of, Freud’s abandoned theory of seduction. It is a re-elaboration that constitutes veritable ‘new foundations’ for the theoretical bases of psychoanalysis as such.

It is important to stress, then, that what might initially look like two heterogeneous aspects of Laplanche’s work – his critical analysis and re-mapping of the Freudian oeuvre and his own affirmation of a . . .

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