History of psychoanalytical movement in France
(from Alain de Mijolla, Short Story of Psychoanalysis, International Association for History of Psychoanalysis, www.aihp-iahp.com)
No doubt the psychoanalytic movement in France would have unfolded much more smoothly had professor Sigmund Freud never existed ! One could then have made some accommodation to psychoanalysis, if necessary, but to make it to him and to his writings… Let us get it clear : under the word “psychoanalysis”, later “psychoanalysis”, one could – and still ca – present almost anything, (nor has one ever denied oneself such manoeuvres) whilst the work of this devil of a man persists with its demands and continues to upset possible compromises. In spite of eighty years of the most diverse forms of national wiles, the problem remains as ever : how is gone to get rid of him ?
Whether by not breathing even a word of it in almost a quarter of a century or whether by translating his work as if drop by drop out of a pipette and often even that only very approximately, or whether one predigests it with French enzymes in philosophical treatises, in medical textbooks, in university courses or between two radio publicity announcements or by presenting oneself as its exponent, in order to truncate it all the better by so doing, all – or almost all of these – seem to have been tried an continue to be tried, in order to keep the dangerous “Freudian doctrine” the secret property of a few rare polyglot initiates, in love with the past. Besides, what would be the point of reading Freud ? Regularly, for fifty years now, the solemn announcement can be heard to the effect of fashion having definitely changes and of the fright, the poison, psychoanalysis, being dead…
“Teuton dogmatism”, “pansexualism”, “irrationalism”, ever since the beginning this has been the stuff with which to shock French Cartesian sensibilities. And what is one to say about the claim from abroad to judge our national use to which we were said to have put “the psychoanalytic method” and “Freudian teaching” ? Were we to accept subservience to Vienna or to any international “what’s his name ?”
Can you imagine giving in such a short space, an account of all these years of attacks, of make-believes, of a very French sort of resistance, even if one were to s the historical approach because il is still too ical, or by keeping resolutely eventful at the expense of theoretical and of clinical developments, with which psychoanalysis has been able to inspire the French ? Or at the expense of passions which it has managed to kindle in more than one individual, or of sacrifices and of work it has cost, of taunts it has brought to those who have loved psychoanalysis ?
“In Freud’s name”, “after Freud”, “ever since Freud”, “return to Freud” – these are the slogans which have never been wanting. But the man and his works have resisted, against all winds and high tides, just like his psychoanalysis, which has always managed to find some shelter in which to preserve its enthusiasm.
Charcot and Janet
And yet, there was, ever since the beginning… Professor, “boche”, Jewish and libidinous; Sigmund Freud lacked no foil to his image during those early years of the XXth century; what with the Dreyfuss affair, a cancer which dragged on from 1894 to 1906, the revenge for Sedan, the libertine vaudeville conventions allied to the pleasures of the “Pétomane”, the burden of a proud medical institutional tradition; all these decked out high French spirits with their certainties as contemptuous as they were thoroughly xenophobic.
He himself had viewed the Parisians, males and females alike, with a restless eye, inquisitive rather than critical, during his period of studies at the Salpêtrière, between October 1885 and February 1886. Only professor Jean Martin CHARCOT (1825-1893) had found favour in the eyes of the 30 year old researcher who was somewhat gauche, with a strong German accent and dreamt of one day equalling his achievements. Only Charcot, with his great displays of hysterics and self confidence as a scientist, had been able to upset Freud’s life by revealing to him that “one must apply to psychology in order to account for the neuroses”. This magical remark had finally made it possible for the poor student to synthetise contradictory tendencies with philosophical speculation and with experimental observation which his lively conquerors temperament had not hitherto brought together.
In 1886, 10 years after having left Paris, Freud was to make France a present in the form of an article written in French and published in the already then famous Revue neurologique; it was his “L’hérédité et l’étiologie des névroses”, in which a certain term was to make its first public appearance and of which nobody could forsee its subsequent fate, not even its author, for it was “psychoanalysis, the exploratory procedure by J. Breuer”. Three other or Freud’s articles were yet to appear in French, rapidly mentioned in some review articles.
Nothing more, or almost – but also no less. France, in those early days was in a similar situation to her neighbours. At the 1902 Congress of Neuropsychiatrists (Médecins aliénistes et neurologistes) of Grenoble, Freud is mentioned; the famous Geneva psychiatrist Théodore Flournoy, edited a note in 1903 on The Interpretation of Dreams”; the Psychopathology of Everyday Life gets quoted; but it would be fallacious to increase bibliographical references which would risk creating an illusion by their number. The latter is only matched by the few people who read them, their weak repercussion and the scant interest they aroused.
France placed Freud in its bibliographical files but without enthusiasm. From 1902 onwards, and until 1907, apart from some rare citizens of Vienna, there are a few, very few, from other places; then the following began to call at the Berggasse 19: Max Eitingon, Karl Abraham, from Berlin; Carl Gustav Jung and Ludwig Binswanger, from Zurich; Sandor Ferenczi, from Budapest; Abraham A. Brill and Ernest Jones came from America.
At that point, the division between France and her neighbours became more accentuated. That the whole of French Society ignored Freud at that point is less of a mystery than the fact that there wasn’t one single individual who said to himself: what that man in Vienna is talking about is mad but fascinating, so let’s go there to have a closer look! On the contrary, what happened in France was quite the opposite to what happened in other countries: French society, or rather the Parisian one, was to be carried along by its artists who have always been launching in France passing fashions and profound revolutions and who where to impose psychoanalysis upon it. But no true “pioneer” will have been among them.
And so, for the time being, there was silence. The french speaking Swiss, mobilized by their bilingualism and by the agitation which reigned around Jung in Zurich, made the first attempts at getting information available in French. Alphonse Maeder initiated readers in 1907, via the Psychology Archives of French speaking Switzerland, into the Interpretation of Dreams, then into the subtelties of parapraxes. This was not to be without consequences. Transmitted through the writings of psychologists, psychoanalysis was to become known mainly as a complementary method of clinical exploration. Often it would only be considered by virtue of its scientific and experimental seriousness which seemed to get attached to the practice of “inductive words” praised by Jung and his pupils: a word was thus given and the patient had to give his associations to it, whilst the operator used the chronometer; if the interval was too long, a “complex” was diagnosed, to be interpreted and treated. Freud was to repeat in vain that this procedure is contrary to “free associations” and to psychoanalytic technique.
In the eyes of many French men and for many years to come, what was ultimately least offensive in “le freudisme”, was Jung! As for the rest, it seemed to them as if an otherwise serious psychologist had already said all there was to it: professor Pierre JANET (1859-1947), another pupil of Charcot’s, titular incumbent of the chair of Psychology at the Collège de France. A dispute over priorities had put him into opposition to Freud, since he had claimed to have discovered before Freud the pathogenic action of forgotten memories as well as the need to give them back to their patients by putting the latter into a state of somnambulism. Even if the researches of Joseph Breuer and of Freud had preceded and then run parallel to his own, Janet did not want to give up his claim. No more than he wanted to take into account the evolution of Freud’s ideas since the Studies on Hysteria, dating from 1895. He ignores or pretends to ignore, the dynamics of regression, the discovery of the “fantasme”, (fantasy) the description of psychic conflicts, all notions which are absent from his own theories as well as from the number of French critiques which will follow suit. Just as they will employ the term “subconscious”, never used by Freud himself.
When Jung, then a very recent adept of Freud’s, went to Paris in 1907, there intending to meet Janet, Freud warned him: “With the French, the obstacle is doubtlessly and primarily one of nationality; any importation into France has always presented difficulties. Janet has a subtle intelligence, but he has set out without sexuality and at present he cannot advance any further”. At the Congress of Psychiatry, Psychology and Social Assistance to the Insane, which took place in Amsterdam that year in September, it was precisely that sexuality with which Janet reproached the Freudians in an address whose massive irony did not mask his total ignorance of the theories, which he pretended to discuss.
There was not a trace of a Frenchman in April 1908, at the Ist International Congress of Psychoanalysis at Salzburg, not even at that at Nuremberg which was to see the birth of the International Association of Psychoanalysis (I.P.A.) in 1910. We had to wait until December of that year before Freud was at last able to rejoice: “I have received a first letter coming from France from a certain Dr Morichau-Beauchan, professor of Medicine at Poitiers, who reads, works and is convinced.”
A year later, on the 14th November 1911, there appeared in La Gazette des hôpitaux civils et militaires what Freud, Jones, Ferenczi and Abraham welcomed as “the first article on psychoanalysis written in France” and under the title “Le rapport affectif” in the course of the treatment of the psychoneuroses. We have to remember that the word “rapport” then traditionally stood for the relationship created between hypnotizer and hypnotized, which goes to explain its use when translating Uerbertragung, subsequently translated by “transference”. This odour of hypnosis, with all its nuances of charlatanism and the ridiculous, which it has for those of the French who had, since 1893, brought about the fall of Charcot from his pedestal was to permeate unfavourably and for a long time to come, the image of psychoanalysis which they had made for themselves.
There were two more articles of Morichau-Beauchant, but our first adept was soon to ally himself, together with Alphonse Maeder, to the clan of Jung. The latter was to distance himself from Freud towards the end of 1913, before the definitive break in July 1914.
The field was to remain clear for criticisms and for attacks which became ever more frequent and which were directed, above all, at the “pansexualism”, of psychoanalytic theories, and continued to be repeated for a long time. “No doubt”, wrote P.L. Ladame in L’Encéphale, a very valued neurological journal, “Freud’s reputation brings him mainly patients of that order. Those who consult him will know in advance what sort of questions the professor is going to ask them” […] By dint of deforming the observations, one comes to see in the innocent baby a moral monster, “polymorphe perverse”, using Freud’s terms […]. One commits a gross error in thinking of preventing and of successfully treating the neuroses by the purely animal practice of mating. The sexual functions of man find their complete satisfaction only through the founding of a family”.
Angelo, Louis, Marie HESNARD
It is at that moment in time and in that context of sufficiently clear rejection that a personality emerges who was to become the considered sponsor of psychoanalysis in France, to be mixed up in its hazards for more than half a century, to be placed, in spite of a strong and persistent ambivalence, in the forefront of its history throughout the whole period between the two wars (1914/18-1939/45). In January 1912, when not yet 26 years old, he was writing to Freud “in the name of French psychiatry”, so as to present to him “apologies for the scorn in which psychoanalysis has been held until the present time”.
Angelo, Louis, Marie HESNARD (1886-1969), assistant to professor Emmanuel Régis at the Clinique for Mental Illness at Bordeaux, was a young naval physician. Tall, lively, mimetically expressive, an active man who with the assistance of his brother, a teacher of German, and with the encouragement of his chief, professor Régis, first began to read, then to translate and to write comments on the rudiments of the “doctrine of Freud and of his school”. But if he has become the great Freud specialist of psychoanalysis, he did not claim to be its champion when, at the beginning of 1914, he brought out, together with Régis, the first important book – of 400 pages – at last dedicated to “the psychoanalysis of the neuroses and the psychoses”. For over 10 years his work was to remain the only reference for all those who either could not or did not want to, read Freud in the original.
The preface to the first edition (for there was to be another one in 1922 and a third one in 1929) is explicit: “Perhaps some will be surprised to see this vulgarisation of a German theory, at one and the same time so extolled, so contested and, in some of its aspects, so strange, taken on by French psychiatrists who are not renowned for their excessive devotion to the present fashion of scientific Germanism […] The independant impartiality vis-à-vis the stranger is not to be confused with xenophobia”. To say it outright: “In spite of his exaggerations, his excess, his mystical stances, vide his quaintness, this doctrine is far from lacking grandeur”.
Freud never forgave Hesnard these reservations and qualified the latter’s word of “introduction which frequently lacks clarity and which mainly attacks symbolism”. In fact, if three quarters of the work constitute an account of psychoanalysis, the merits and misunderstandings of which Ferenczi was to emphasize in 1915 in the Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, the last 100 pages display a distressing level of textual criticism. “Dogmatism”, “pansexualism”, “a doctrine which owes more to the novel than to scientific doctrine”, or “what is one to think of a method of treatment – whose aim it is to relieve the patient of his neuro-psychic complaints, by demonstrating to him that they are the distant result of sexual misdeeds, more or less loathsome, i.e. incestuous, going back to early childhood and completely ignored by him ?”. In 1929, Hesnard attributed the majority of these attacks to Régis, who had died 11 years earlier, and acknowledged in the preface of the 3rd edition as follows: “We have personnaly put 10 years into the effort of understanding theoretical psychoanalysis and 5 years into the acquisition of sufficient practical knowledge”, without, however, accounting for his persistent refusal to submit himself to a genuine didactic analysis.
Let us admit that nowadays, we must refrain from ridiculing his attempt, unique in his time and covering a great number of years. It would be equally easy to dwell on his “resistances”, even where they proved themselves undeniable, continuing to manifest themselves in diverse forms unto the end of his life, his rallying with Jacques Lacan going hand in hand with his preference for a phenomenological psychiatry. In 1913, Hesnard was, nevertheless, the first to try and approach the happenings in Vienna, a certainly much less harmless step than we imagine it today.
Eight years later, in an article on “The actual standing in France of Freud’s Psychoanalysis”, it was he who pointed out its limitations and some observations, which one may take as perfectly representative of psychiatrists of his time: “Psychoanalysis has many merits for sure […] but the “Esprit de système” and the imprint or Germanic philosophy in it are too marked: it will not come to much in France until it has been much modified”. His conclusion carries great weight if one is to understand the future. “And yet, one ought not to put it, through frivolity, systematically, on the index. That would perhaps be the surest way of allowing it to take roots with us, so much more dangerous for thus escaping from all truly scientific control […] It is to this task of discrimination and of correction that we have personally devoted ourselves these past ten years.”
So Freud has to be distilled before being safely assimilated; he has to be prevented from being read in the original; it is a fact that neither Hesnard, nor his brother, have ever undertaken to translate him or to have even the least of his works translated.
Besides, it seems there has unfailingly been someone in France, who has lent himself to appear as Freud’s spokesman. Unlike the Germans, the Anglo-Americans or Spaniards, we still lack in 1982 a critical edition of Freud’s collected works and this we owe to the absence of an authentic will between French psychoanalysts rather than the editors’ quarrels or to the legal rights pertaining to translations, judging from ideological differences between rival psychoanalytic societies. Princess Marie Bonaparte alone or almost alone – in the thirties, (whatever may have been her motives and the reproaches which one can actually level at her) was trying to present to the French readers those texts which each one appears to prefer to taste through the intermediation of a professor who does the exegesis.
Later, at the end of the second world war, Sacha Nacht and his collaborators from the Institute of Psychoanalysis in Paris, were to repeat this curious and specific French “resistance”. Far from profiting from the success and the ambitions of their training in order to lead a vigorous policy of translation and of diffusion of Freud’s still little known writings, they undertook the publication of a vast and ephemeral “Treatise of Psychoanalysis”.
A few years after having left the Paris Psychoanalytic Society in company with Daniel Lagache (who was preparing to build up a dictionary) and shortly after having preached a necessary “return to Freud”, Jacques Lacan was to re-edit, undoubtedly in spite of himself, the customary sleight of hand. He was to deploy progressively a code of reading Freud and an entirely personal grid whose originality and growing complexity would see to it that a certain number of his disciples would only be reading the Viennese founder father as little as is absolutely indispensable for getting their bearings among the allusions of their new master.
Reflecting on this repetition, it seems quite useless to regret the absence of someone who might have been available in France around 1910, someone with guts who would have jettisoned his Cartesianism in order to rally “the savage horde”, instead of having all those worried rationalists.
During the first world war
We can guess, moreover, that declaring war on “la Bochie” was not going to promote the diffusion of psychoanalytic ideas. Here we must add that before “Germanism” had become an insult evoking the “dead for France” soldiers, Freud has never taken nationalist insults as being either the most essential of the most authentic ones. Nor did it escape him that captain Dreyfuss had not been rehabilitated until 1906, not until it had for 12 years torn France into two irreducibly opposed camps, often even within one and the same family. Freud wrote to Abraham in 1908: “You can be sure that had my name been Oberhuber, my innovations would, inspite of everything, have encountered a much smaller resistance.”
He returns to it in 1914: “We have all heard about the theory which sought to explain psychoanalysis through the specific conditions of the Viennese milieu. An interesting theory which Janet did not mind using as far back as 1913, although he was certainly proud of being Parisian and Paris has no right to consider itself superior to Vienna with regard to its purity of morals […] I am no parochial patriot myself, but I have always found this theory perfectly absurd, to the point of feeling tempted on more than one occasion to admit that this reproach addressed to the Viennese milieu was nothing but a euphemism destined to dissimulate another, which one was at pains not to formulate publicly”.
Nobody, in fact, breathed a word at that time about crudely racist motivations, tending towards the rejection of a discovery, which Jung, at the height of Nazi glory, was to deem connected with a “Jewish psychology”, different from an Aryan one. But behind this silence, there does not fail to be active some profound reflex of the French medical milieu with its hospital – university – hierarchy, generally derived from the great bourgeoisie, traditionally of the “Right” and identifiably anti-Dreyfuss.
In any case, the 3rd of August 1914, the noise of cannons and death which was to come to millions of men, had put psychoanalysis into the background; fearing last ” this new psychosis which threatens to invade France after having contaminated Europe”, Yves Delage, the known biologist, was to add: “The psychoanalyst is an examining magistrate, an inquisitioner to whom is added an erotomaniac, because he finds in psychoanalysis the satisfaction of his erotomania and he loves his curse just as the alcoholic or the cocaine addict or the morphinist, tove their poison”. So with those 4 years of war went the disappearance of psychoanalysis from all journals and from the French scientific meetings, while German armies took an interest in those studies which were devoted by analysts who had been called up to the war neuroses and to therapeutic results which they had achieved.
After the armistice of 1918, it was once again the Swiss who were to start their “assault on France” from Geneva, as Freud had originally hoped for, in 1911. Henry Flournoy, Charles Odier and Charles Baudouin are among the first, whilst an event was taking shape, which, incredible as it may sound, had not yet taken place: in December 1920, the Revue de Genève published the first ever translation (into French) of a writing of Freud. Under the title “Origin and Development of Psychoanalysis”, a Swiss psychologist, Yves Le Lay, finally made the Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis accessible to the French, the ones which Freud had given in 1909 on the occasion of his journey to the U.S.A. In the face of this great triumph, Freud was exultant and hoped that “more cautious contacts with Paris will soon allow us to find an audience in this reticent France”.
Paris, always Paris… for until now, only provincial France had manifested any interest. But has anyone ever conquered France without being recognized by Paris ?
Sacha Nacht, surrealism…
As in a game of bras-de-fer, one gets the impression of French repudiation losing ground ever since 1921 and of a developing movement which was to win the capital over to “Freudian ideas”. In the April number of the Nouvelle Revue Française, a harbinger of good tidings appeared in the form of Albert Thibaudet, who highlighted the possible application of analytical theories to literary works and spoke ironically of official French psychology as of a “science wich every so often cuts a curiously nationalist figure”.
In October 1921, André Breton went to Vienna in order to meet there “the greatest psychologist of our times”, but returned disppointed by his contact with “one of the most prosperous agencies of modern flashy (foreign) adventurism”. In place of the hoped for God, he only found a “small old man without any bearing, receiving (visitors) in his poor local practitioner’s consulting room. Ah! he does not much love France, which has remained alone in showing indifference to his work […]. I have tried to get him to talk by throwing names into the conversation, like those of Charcot and Babinski, but whether because I was appealing to memories of too long ago or because he found himself reticent with a stranger, I was unable to get anything but generalities out of him.”
This was the beginning of a very ambivalent “rapport” to be sustained between the Surrealists and Freud, who, in 1938, would laugh because “they had apparently chosen (him) as their patron saint” and he would recognize them “for complete fools (let us say, 95%, as for pure alcohol)”. Nothing brought them any closer, the one and the other, inspite of appearances. “Revolution” and “scandal” are objectives or procedures diametrically opposed to the temperament of a scientific researcher, Freud’s ideal. The Surrealists’ proclaimed infatuation with dreams could only irritate him, for, as he had expressed it to André Breton: “A collection of dreams without associations and without knowledge of context in which they have been dreamt, does not tell me anything, and I can hardly imagine that it could mean anything for who ever it be”. As for automatic handwriting, of which André Breton was to say in 1945 that it was “a method of Freud and of his disciples”, in order to obtain from their patients “a relatively uncontrolled mental production”, wasn’t it, in fact, inherited from the ancient practices of hypnotists, a method more used by Pierre Janet or by the experimental psychologists ?
In December 1932, Freud did not mince his words: “And now to a confession which you must accept with tolerance! Though I receive so many testimonies of interest which you and your friends bring to my researches, I am personnally unable to gain clarity on what is surrealism and on what are its aims. Perhaps I lack what it takes to understand it, since I am so far removed from art”.
This remained as before until 1921 – thereafter, be it thanks to or through the fault or their emerging movement, (André Breton having published in 1924 the Surrealist Manifesto) Freud’s name was mentioned more and more frequently, whether or not associated with their productions and their extravagances, repeated and amplified in intellectual circles and in literary reviews.
But the Surrealists were no longer the only ones and chance was to accentuate this diffusion of psychoanalysis through extra-medical circles. In the image of those eternal invasions from the East, there arrived in Paris the first ambassadress sent by Freud, one Eugenie SOKOLNICKA (1884-1934), of Polish origin, first analysed by Jung, then by Freud, a pupil of Ferenczi’s. She had numerous contacts among the litterary of the N.R.F., which all went to contribute to the curiosity and animation which prompted cultured Parisians that winter of 1921-1922, to get interested in psychoanalysis. It was the first episode in an uninterrupted series of blazes of interest alternating with eclipses, with a confirmed definitive disappearance. “At present”, wrote Jules Romain in January 1922, the “repressed tendencies” are beginning to make some noise in tea salons. The ladies tell their latest dreams, in the fond hope of some audacious interpreter who is going to discover in them all sort of abominations”.
On February 1st 1922, George Pitoëff’s company gave the first performance of a play in Paris, written by the then fashionable author H.R. Lenormand. It was The Eater of Dreams and put on Freud the searchlights of actuality. The hero of the play is an analyst who allows his woman patient to rediscover the dramatic childhood memory which is at the root of her troubles but which cannot prevent her from committing suicide in consequence of this discovery. It was a great theatrical success and, to do it justice, the critics were out to transform themselves into professors and commentators of “the Viennese doctor’s subtle doctrine”, as it was defined by Adolphe Brisson. Among the spectators, a certain Sacha Nacht drew from it the decision as to his future vocation.
Three days later, André Gide, perhaps deliberating on the ambiguous portrait of the “female doctor Sophroniska” which he was to sketch out in Les Faux Monnayeurs, noted in his diary: “Freud, le freudisme… For ten, fifteen years I have been doing it without realising it […] It is high time to publish Corydon!”.
All this hullabaloo was to do no good to Eugénie Sokolnicka, and to psychoanalysis, for French medical circles do not in the least appreciate an uproar, witness the model of discretion put forward in “the Medical Progress”: “I consider that in the presence of the patient one must practice psychoanalysis without crying it from the roof s, without even telling the patient about it (sic!) one must always keep this therapeutic procedure in mind, to use it sometimes and to talk of it never!”.
During the winter of 1922-1923, Eugénie Sokolnicka, introduced by Paul Bouget, met Dr Georges Heuyer, the psychiatrist who was working as Locum tenens in charge of the Department for Mental Illness at the Hôpital Sainte Anne. He invited her to exercise her skills among the ill in his care, but this experiment was not crowned by success. Not having any medical background, she rapidly found herself overwhelmed and soon dismissed by the titular chief, professor Henri Claude, who was at all times willing to support the activities of analysts in his unit, under one condition: “I demand that this psychoanalytical practice, so shocking from some angles, remain strictly confined within the scope of medicine and I resolutely reject from these investigations anyone who is not imbued with that sense of responsibility to be found in any physician worthy of this name”. These formulations belong to 1924. Soon, Sacha Nacht was to make them his. He was appointed in 1931 (by the same professor Claude) as chief of the “Laboratoire de psychanalyse et de psychothérapie” at the Faculty of Medicine in Paris. Nor was Maurice Bouvet able to ignore this distinction, many years later, when it was practised by his teacher, Laignel-Lavastine, at the Congress of Besançon in 1923; to the effect: “the conscientious physicians who are more or less disciples of Freud” and “the non-medical votaries of Freudian views, such as philosophers, literary men, clergymen, schoolmasters, blue stockings, students other than medical students, nurses, masseuses, old maids in search of jobs, etc.etc., who have become attracted by Freudian ideas for multiple motives and who can extract from them happy effects from the literary, philosophical and social point of view, but who may also use them at times as a vehicle for erotic ideas, looking in them for a facile means of success with crowds, or else for profit by practising illegal medicine, at times with the worst consequences for the patient, and, in turn, for the good name of psychoanalysis and of Freud himself”.
It was not the special number of a Belgian review Le Disque Vert, devoted in 1924 to “Freud and Psychoanalysis”, which was responsible for changing the opinion of said professor and of all those who hold and continue to hold even unto today, this same sort of discourse. Here is a small summary: Marcel Arland, Jacques-Emile Blanche, René Crevel, Georges Duhamel, Luc Durtain, Edmond Jaloux, Valery Larbaud, René Lalou, H.-R Lenormand, Henri Michaux, Jean Paulhan, Jacques Rivière, Philippe Soupault, Albert Thibaudet… Reading all this in the train to his country home in Cuverville, André Gide grumbled: “Ah! what a nuisance this Freud is! It would seem one had managed so well without him to discover his America! How many absurdities in this imbécile genius!”.
As for Freud, he made it quite clear to everyone in 1925, in My life and psychoanalysis: “The interest shown to psychoanalysis in France began with men of letters. To appreciate this fact, we must remember that psychoanalysis has, with the interpretation of dreams, crossed the confines of a pure medical speciality”.
René ALLENDY, René LAFORGUE and Marie BONAPARTE
“Conscientious physicians”, even when they do not lie fallow, display serious reticences. After Hesnard, there came René LAFORGUE (1894-1962) who asserted himself by degrees as the promoter of psychoanalysis; his “Frenchness” was to define itself over many years, which, in view of his origins, was nothing if not paradoxical.
Born in Alsace when it was still German, he was completely bilingual, even where his Alsacian accent could still be remembered by those who had known him. During the 1914-1918 war, he had fought in the German ranks; after having done his medical studies in Berlin, Paris and Strasbourg, he had chosen to establish himself in France. Having discovered Freud – not without reservations – he nevertheless decided in 1923 to undertake a didactic analysis with Eugénie Sokolnicka, but his strong personality could not be brought to heel. So he fairly rapidly brought an experience to an end which he then continued to urge, nevertheless, on certain of his colleagues, such as René ALLENDY (1889-1942) the first among the group of “Laforgue’s analysands” who were later to play such a big role in the organization of psychoanalysis in France.
Ever since his first letter to Freud, dated October 25th, 1923, – they are 29 years and 67 years respectively – one senses what it is that separates them. “Unfortunately, Freud writes, the Frenchman has quite a different attitude from a German, when it comes to books. He demands that everything be stated with brevity and clarity […] Any difficulties get reduced to those of form”.
In years to come, what Freud was to hear about were compromises, arrangements, sweeteners. It annoyed him; he had already come across many similar evasions. He thus wrote in 1925: “Today I observe from afar by what reactive symptoms the entry or psychoanalysis is accompanied in a France, refractory for so long in the past. This evokes the reproduction of things already lived through, but there are particular features to it nonetheless. Ojections of an incredible silliness make themselves heard”. Is he making reference here to the content of the preface drawn up by Henri Claude for Laforgue and Allendy’s book La Psychanalyse des névroses, which had appeared in 1924: “Psychoanalysis is not adapted yet to the exploration of the French mentality. Certain investigative procedures which shock the delicacy of intimate sentiments and of certain habitual ways of looking at things, by means of an extremist symbolism, applicable perhaps with subjects of another race, do not strike me as appropriate in a “clinique latine”?.
Freud’s own attitude did not waver and all his correspondence exchanged with René Laforgue only elaborates on the theme so clearly expressed on and after, November 14th 1923: “One will not obtain anything more by concessions to public opinion or to reigning prejudices. Such conduct would be completely contrary to the spirit of psychoanalysis whose technique never aims at camouflaging or at attenuating resistances. Experience has also shown that those people who take the path of compromise, of attenuations, short of diplomatic opportutism, will in the end find themselves side tracked from their proper route and unable to contribute to the ultimate development of psychoanalysis”. And so he prophetises: “I hope my warning will meet with some success with you, but I am unfortunately not sure”.
These words were equally relevant to another personality, one with a somewhat rigid personality, Edouard PICHON (1890-1940). A man of culture, a follower of Charles Maurras, an active sympathiser of the “Action Française”, co-author with his uncle Damourette, of a voluminous Dictionnary of 7 volumes, he had had a brilliant hospital career which had earned him, in 1931, the much coveted title and functions of “Médecin des Hôpitaux de Paris”.
In 1923, he undertook a didactic analysis with Eugénie Sokolnicka, which, rare in those days, had lasted for 3 years. It is not in the least paradoxical that this fervent, Catholic and fastidious Frenchman and, morever, son in law of Pierre Janet, should get involved with psychoanalysis by repeatedly stating that he only intends to take from “Monsieur Freud” what he deems appropriate to the national spirit, treating “le freudisme” in a somewhat haughty, mannered and caustic paternalistic tone, beloved by so many of the “chiefs” of Paris Hospitals of that period.
In February 1925, René Laforgue was exultant: “At the moment I have two psychiatrists in didactic analysis. I think the group has made “great progress” in their understanding of analytical problems. Likewise, the resistances of chauvinism are seriously beginning to recede”. “The group”, in fact soon got structured into a Society called “L’Evolution Psychiatrique”, publishing under this title a journal whose first issue appeared in April 1925. Was this organization as “anti-analytical” as has been claimed meantime ? From the embittered confidences of a Laforgue, rejected in 1954 by a number of analysts, this can only be assumed: “To tell the truth, I was very attached to our Evolution Psychiatrique. I had been struck from the beginning by the fact that something did not seem to be “working” in the mentality of the psychoanalysts around Freud. The movement “L’Evolution Psychiatrique” allowed one to escape a little from the psychoanalytic dogmatism whose causes I did not clearly understand”.
Initially, “L’Evolution Psychiatrique” only contained psychoanalysts or sympathisers, but it markedly distanced itself from Freud’s theories by taking an interest in “facts”, in order to “submit them to a strictly scientific control”. As far as the journal was concerned, “it shared not a single common point with foreign psychoanalytic journals”, placing itself deliberately outside any allegiance to Vienna or to the International Psychoanalytic Association, something which Freud perceived quickly without being able to affect it. Soon the group was to separate from the French psychoanalytic movement, having at first progressively, then definitively in 1929, got rid of all its non-medical members. It was firmly taken in hand after the 1939-1945 war by Henri Ey, whose organodynamic psychiatric theory owed more to phenomenology than to psychoanalysis. “L’Evolution Psychiatrique” was, however, to continue to play for many years, its former and original role, i.e. that of a psychoanalysts’ seed-bed.
But history was beginning to move. In April 1925, René Laforgue passed an evening with Otto Rank at the home of a certain Princess George of Greece, advising her strongly to have an analysis with Freud, one which she was to embark on in the autumn. The following September, at the International Congress of Psychoanalysis, at which he established contacts with a view to becoming elected member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, he met a colleague of Polish origin, who intended to establish himself in Paris, having studied medicine in Zurich. His name was Rudolph M. LOEWENSTEIN (1898-1976). He spoke fluent French and had been analysed in Berlin by Hans Sachs – and not by Freud, as was subsequently propagated in France by a legend which thus falsely inscribes in the most prestigious analytical filiation his future analysands: Lacan, Lagache, Nacht, not to mention Adrien Borel, Henri Codet, Georges Parcheminey, Michel Cénac, John Leuba or Pierre Mâle…
Ever since his arrival in Paris – favoured by the Princess with whom he was to remain closely befriended – he did indeed undertake didactic analysis of future foundation members of the Psychoanalytic Society of Paris. He was to express it one day as follows: “It must be remembered that the task was an extremely difficult one among members of this small and very narrow group. To ambivalence vis-à-vis the analysis itself you can add xenophobia, antisemitism as well as – at times and with some of them – pronounced chauvinism. When they began to be a little less suspicious of me, a friend once confided that in the beginning I used to be refered to as “the eye of Moscow”.
“Moscow” itself, a little apprehensive about the irreverent spirit of the French, nevertheless took comfort from the analytical progress of the Princess, “who will most certainly become a zealous collaborator”.
Marie BONAPARTE (1882-1962) returned to Paris in 1926, hallowed for ever by being the one and only ever to have been analysed by Freud (Raymond de Saussure, even though he participated very closely at that time in group activities, remained essentially a citizen of Geneva; as for Sacha Nacht and his brief transit in 1936 across Freud’s divan, his analysis with Loewenstein and his “slice” with Heinz Hartmann, he seems to have restricted himself to stating incompatibility of temperament with Freud). The Princess herself had established with Freud ties of esteem, then followed by a warm friendship whose great moments were to be the acquisition of his correspondance with Wilhelm Fliess and above all, the obtaining in 1938, with the help of the U.S.A. ambassador W.C. Bullitt, of Freud’s exit visa when Austria was overrun by the Nazis.
She was someone on whom one could count, as Freud had quickly understood, apart from the fact that her rank, her contacts and her worldly goods brought a precious aid to the “cause”. Her enthusiasm for analysis and her personal attachment to Freud’s person were to affect singularly the attitudes of disdain and haggling over trifles among those specialists of “Latin genius”. She was to become the propagator of his writings by increasing the translations, following on Blanche Reverchon-Jouve and above all, Simon Jankélévitch, who had since 1921, translated some of Freud’s important words for the Swiss editions by Payot.
There is undoubtedly some injustice involved in prefering in her personal work that of modest translator, but history’s glance is sometimes cruel with the passage of time: if we recall her books on E. Allan Poe (1933) or that of sy (1936), both of which Freud had wanted to translate himself into German, one does not refer any longer to her works, although supplied.
Besides, does the same not apply equally to the considerable mass of books and of articles published by French psychoanalysts between the years of 1925 to 1940 ? Whereas Freud elaborated the essential contributions which characterise the last period of his life, René Laforgue, Angelo Hesnard, Edouard Pichon and René Allendy, though of considerable scriptural productivity, will never leave any lasting traces. Perhaps we are here dealing with only a “purgatory”, linked to the effects of fashion. Perhaps we are also dealing with too much moralism and with too many concessions to the taste of a period, with too much industriousness and not with enough inventiveness in all those French concepts which are doomed to be swallowed up in forgetting, for example “la scotomisation”, “l’oblativité”, “la shizonoïa”, etc.
As for Marie Bonaparte, what incited her to this work of translation is the fact that she, not being a physician, had no chance of publishing “clinical cases”. Soon, her “lay-status” was to have other, equally important repercussions. In Vienna, she had followed the action at law brought against Theodor Reik, for illegal exercise of medicine and she had read what Freud had to say in favour of analysis practised by non-medicals. She needed a professional caution in order to be able to practise psychoanalysis without danger, knowing that the group of Psychiatric Evolution would remain closed to her. The example of Eugénie Sokolnicka had clearly shown the vested hostility of the French medical milieu.
What was she to do to become the “equal” of her medical colleagues; she who had become Freud’s unofficial representative, his “herald” ? On this point, Freud himself probably wondered how to arrange things so as to bring those psychiatrists or psychoanalysts who were too little committed at the doctrinal level, within the ways and customs of the international psychoanalytic community.
“On the 4th November 1926, Her R.H. The Princess Georges of Greece, born Marie Bonaparte, Mme Eugénie Sokolnicka, Professor Hesnard and Doctors R. Allendy, A. Borel, R. Laforgue, R. Loewenstein, G. Parcheminey and Edouard Pichon, have founded the Psychoanalytic Society of Paris”. Its objective was the formation of a group of “all French speaking physicians who are practising the Freudian therapeutic method” initiated in August 1926 by the “Conference of French speaking Psychoanalysts”, the origin of those “Congresses for Psychoanalysts of roman Languages”, then of “French Language”, which have alternated yearly down to our present day.
The newly formed society had other ambitions: to insure “the indispensable didactic analysis”, hence its affiliation to the “International Society of Psychoanalysis” (sic), above all to found its own journal, the Revue française de Psychanalyse, whose birth was to give rise to very significant bargaining.
Was it going to be called journal of “psychoanalysis”, like in the other international journals, or was it to be “psychanalysis” ? Mireille Cifali was to give away the gaining stake: for Vienna, “the term psychanalysis was a token of “Jungisme””. Yet it was the latter spelling which was retained. Could one write on the cover of the Journal “under the patronage of professor Freud ?” Laforgue recognized that the group was opposed to it under the pretext that one would also have to add professor Claude, which came as a surprise to Freud, who added ironically: “he (Claude) could certainly not make himself any illusions about his feeble participation in psychoanalysis”. Psychoanalysis is possible without Freud, as he would sometimes admit, but on condition that its essential tennents would be preserved, i.e. that the Journal would be declared as “organ of a Society which is itself the member or group which belongs to the International Association of Psychoanalysis”.
Instead and in place of, the name of Freud, and at his formal request, the International Psychoanalytic Association was to come to hold a tutelary rôle in the life of the French institution. This was so far the first but not for the last time; a comment not aiming to legitimize the future but tending to remind us of an often forgotten past. The French members eventually opted for Revue française de Psychanalyse, organe de la S.P.P., section de la Société Internationale de Psychanalyse [sic] [in fact, this declaration of allegiance was not to figure until after the 2nd number] published under the patronage of professor Freud”. Its first number finally came out on the 25th June 1927.
All these tensions had been predictable from the very beginning of the Society; physicians-psychiatrists and non-medicals, princess-bonapartist and monarchist à la Maurras, nationalists and émigrés, Catholic alienists and Jewish didactitians, a professor from the Hôpitaux de Paris and French Swiss passing through Paris, convinced Freudians or amateurs rather attracted towards astrology and homeopathy, like René Allendy; fourteen full members and five associate members were to meet in 1928 and to live rather cramped, ambivalent in regard to Viennese authority, without any great creative breath to truly mobilize them.
Time passed in squabbles over words, for a “linguistic commission” had been created in August 1926, with the aim of translating Freudian terminology, so offensive to French ears. To translate “das Es”, Hesnard had proposed “le soi”, (per. pron. – oneself, himself, herself, itself), Codet “le cela” (dem. pron. neut. – that thing, fact), Laforgue “le ça” (see cela), Odier “le prothymos”, Pichon “l’infra-moi”. On the other hand, Hesnard obtained unanimous support for “pulsion” instead of “instinct” for “Trieb”, which was yet to provoke a discussion in 1967 in the columns of the journal Le Monde, between Marthe Robert, who regretted this choice, and the authors of the Vocabulaire de la psychanalyse, who approved of it.
If it was René Laforgue’s idea to found an “Institut Freud”, he lacked the fire to bring this project to a successful outcome. Was he perhaps suffering from the privileged bond which had developed between Freud and his princely analysand ? Was this the reason why he took some liberties with prescribed technique ? He recommended in all cases “a human attitude” and “intuitive apprehension” which were not at all appreciated in Vienna.
Such things as technical rigour, lay status, problems of belonging to the International Psychoanalytic Association, conflicts between the different French psychoanalysts, have turned up early and with monotonous regularity since 1929, when “an active minority” was to proclaim itself “against the I.P.A. and against lay analysts”, according to Laforgue. One can readily guess who they were: Pichon, Codet, Borel and undoubtedly Hesnard – curiously enough, the last three were one day to leave the S.P.P. The Princess was entrusted by Freud with the settling of this tentative revolt, which had aimed at taking over the direction of the journal; besides it had occurred three months after it had been decided to take up contacts with those Institutes of psychoanalysis which existed abroad, with the view to organizing in their image a training worthy of this name. It was, moreover, in that troubled context, that Sacha Nacht was made a full member of the Society.
Two years later, in October 1931, on the occasion of the “VIth Conference of French Speaking Psychoanalysts”, that all these points of view came into confrontation with each other. There was, on one side, René Allendy, seconded by Hesnard, who proclaimed that “Psychoanalysis, at least in France, will remain subordinated to general medicine, neurology, and psychiatry, or else will be nothing”. On the other side, there was Marie Bonaparte, accompanied by Loewenstein and by Odier, who replied: “Psychoanalysis has two aspects: on one side the clinical one, on the other the psychological one, with the psychology of the unconscious as the immense acquisition”. In 1937, the success of the book of Roland Dalbiez, La méthode psychanalytique et la doctrine freudienne, will emphasize this dichotomy.
Two young congress attenders present in the hall at the time, witnessed the duel, Henri Ey and Jacques Lacan, in the company of non-medical personalities like Jean Rostand (analysed by Georges Parcheminey), close to René Laforgue. It remained true for literary Paris to continue its interest in psychoanalysis. Georges Bataille was in 1926-27 groping his way via Adrien Borel’s couch; Pierre Jean Jouve had published Vagadu in 1931 and Raymond Queneau was not slow to undertake the cure versified in Chêne et Chien (Oak and Dog). In April 1932, Anaïs Nin wrote in her legendary diary about her first meeting with René Allendy: “He is heavily built and his beard gives him the air of a patriarch […] and one would rather have expected from him that he casts horoscopes, or prepare an alchemical formula, or else read from a crystal ball, for he resembled a magician rather than a physician”. Indeed, he was that all the more because of his profound interests, according to Anaïs Nin; it only took her a few months to seduce him and to bring an analyst to her feet who had in any case the reputation of doing so unaided.
During the second world war(I)
What did Freud make of all those Parisian eddies ? His as yet unpublished correspondence with the Princess will allow us one day to judge for ourselves, but it is known that Edouard Pichon was taken aback by the proclamation of his letter of March 1932 to the presidents of the diverse psychoanalytical associations: “The analyst must not want to be English, French, American or German, before becoming an adept at Analysis; he will have to place the common interests of the latter above national interests”.
Besides, Freud had other worries elsewhere: there was Sandor Ferenczi’s death in May 1933, but above all else, there was Adolf Hitler’s nomination as German chancellor, on the 30th of January 1933. Freud’s books were burnt in Berlin “in the very best company”, as he remarked ironically, citing Heine, Schnitzler and Wassermann among the Jewish writers who were sent to the stake like himself. In October (1933) he was to confide in Arnold Zweig, that with the exception of his “very dear and very interesting princess, I have no friends in Paris, only pupils”.
The latter continued to busy themselves around the birth of the much anticipated Institute of Psychoanalysis, which was to see the light of day on the 10th of January 1934, “thanks to the magnificence of H.R. Highness, The Princess Marie of Greece, b. Marie Bonaparte”, to take up the terms of the address delivered by Edouard Pichon. Hailed as “animatrice et Mécène” (quickening spirit and sponsor…) she was nominated the director of this Institute, which situated at 137 Boulevard Saint Germain, and containing a library and a meeting room, offered to students course of instruction; this had been carefully “dosed” before being shared out among different members of the Society. Two years later, in April 1936, a Policlinic, functionning under the auspices of the Institute, was founded by John Leuba and Michel Cénac.
The Society did not elect any more new full members between 1932 and 1935, a sign significant of the tensions within it. A candidate with the title of associate member, Jacques Lacan, was elected in the October of 1934, but was to wait until December of 1938 before becoming a full member, overtaken meanwhile by the lightening speed promotion of Daniel Lagache, associated in 1936 and made a full member in July 1937.
All the same, Jacques-Marie Emile LACAN (1901-1981) rapidly came to impose his non-conformist personality, which has intrigued, seduced and disquietened his colleagues since then. Coming from a Catholic bourgeois family, (with one brother and one sister in holy orders) he took his humanistic grounding at the religious Collège Stanislas. His taste for literature and for Art soon inflected his medical studies towards psychiatry. In 1927 he was appointed “interne” of Asylums and came to be attached to the teaching of Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault, the original psychiatrist lover of fabrics, whose case presentations were attracting a crowd under the dirty vaults of the “Infirmerie du Dépôt”. Chef de clinique in 1932, Lacan that year devoted his thesis to “Paranoid Psychosis in its relation to personality”, thus demonstrating his interest in psychosis, his attention to the language of mentally ill patients and his curiosity in criminal behaviour which shook his time: the case of “Aimée” of his doctorate, the sisters Papin, etc.
He could be described as baffling, a charmeur, provoking, with numerous friends in the surrealist movement; he wrote from time to time for the review Le Minotaure. Less “physician” than Sacha Nacht, not in the least “academic” like Daniel Lagache, he seemed to align himself mainly among those “borderline types” of the period, the mental hospital psychiatrists, even if he himself does not pursue that career which could have given him the title of “asylum physician”, yet which he obtained in 1934, a year after Nacht and a year before Lagache. Like these two colleagues, he had early become interested in Freudian theories and had embarked on a didactic analysis with Rudolf Loewenstein. But, more than they, he was an origianl and did not tolerate being trapped in these French quarrels about “the two psychoanalyses”. He was soon to differentiate himself clearly from those analysts who were his contemporaries, by advertising his tastes for philosophical speculation. This he did by joining Raymond Queneau, Raymond Aron and several others at the seminar group held by Alexandre Kojève at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes and devoted to an “Introduction to an reading of Hegel”.
In May 1936, the day after the victory of the Front Populaire, Lacan was less attracted by the ceremonies held at the Sorbonne in honour of Freud’s 80th birthday, than by the forthcoming XIVth International Congress of Psychoanalysis, scheduled for that August in Marienbad. There he presented a conference-discussion on “Le stade du miroir” (The mirror stage) whose original propositions were taken further in 1949 in “The mirror stage as moulder of the “je””, to display the audacity of the young associate member of the S.P.P. vis-à-vis the ancients of the international community. It was the first time a French psychoanalyst renounced the paraphrasing of Freud and took to innovating instead, no longer in the domain of the clinical or by explaining genius by neurosis, but by following on Henri Wallon’s research work at the theoretical level on the stages of psychic development and in Freud’s lifetime at that! We do not know yet whether the latter had understood it and what he made of it.
Lacan’s participation in 1938 in the “Encyclopédie française”, directed by Henri Wallon, in the form of an article devoted to “The Family”, was to bring him in January 1939 an ironic – indulgent admonition from his chief and friend, Edouard Pichon. It is at the same time a public token of gratitude of which the opening phrases are often cited: “Here is Mr Jacques-Marie Lacan, elected to professional membership of the Psychoanalytic Society of Paris; this certainly makes him into something but, luckily for him, he has not waited for universal approbation, to be someone”. Evidently, this opinionated follower of Maurras, then a few months before his death at the age of 50 years, deplored the style of Lacan’s paper, for we read: “to read Mr Lacan is for a Frenchman, colloquially speaking, “du sport”. The “little Germanic gloss with which he coats himself ad lib, the bizarre touches of vocabulary, the recourse to the improper word, as much as the motifs of reproach, well tempered by an amused complicity”, are all there. “Lacan’s thought advances under a column of dark but laden clouds, in which a rent brings forth and shoots here and there a spark of light”.
Edouard Pichon felt tenderly for this young and brilliant colleague, so close to him by virtue of his origins, his insolence, his culture, his preciosity. Jacques Lacan was not mistaken in it and sixteen years later, in Rome, he was to pay homage to the “Edouard Pichon, who is much missed as much for the pointers he gave on the birth of our discipline as for those which guided him through the darkness of people, showing a gift of divination which can only relate to his exercice of semantics”.
In fact, for anyone reading this article between the lines, there is no doubt that between Lacan, Lagache, Marie Bonaparte and Nacht, not to mention Freud, Pichon had very soon made his choice of heart and of spirit, just as he had been very interested in the young analyst Françoise Marette (future Dolto) whom he had taken into his wards and who wasn’t going to forget him either.
During the second world war(II)
Dark years were in store. On March the 11th 1938, we witness the Anschluss in Austria. Soon, the Nazis were to invade the Berggasse and Anna Freud was retained by the Gestapo. Freud, accompanied by his wife and daughter, finally decided to emigrate, thanks to the intervention of the Princess. His short stay in Paris on June the 5th 1938, brought him an afflux of photographers. He fled them, to get a few hours rest, in Marie Bonaparte’s villa at Saint Cloud, without direct contacts with the psychoanalytic Society, “by reason of the fatigues of the journey”. That very evening he sailed for England.
Ever since March 1938, the S.P.P. had protested against “the persecutions of which the victim is professor Freud” whom it made on 16th of May, together with his daughter Anna and with Ernest Jones, “honorary members”. Ever since June, the S.P.P. had intensified her friendly reception of emigrants who followed on René Spitz or Heinz Hartmann, even planning with Paul Schiff to create for them a special category of “foreign associate members” which would assure them a professional guarantee which French medical protectionism was not to offer then.
The XVth International Congress of Psychoanalysis was held in Paris on the 1st of August, marked by lively dissentions between the Europeans and Americans over the practice of non-physicians. “By chance – as Ernest Jones was to write with artlessness – the whole problem was relegated to second place by the imminent outbreak of the war and, ever since, relations between the two continents have been of the best”… Ties between the S.P.P. and the British Society had also been getting closer and in April of 1939, members of both groups met as guests of the Princess. But yet another type of alliance was to sweep away all plans.
In August 1939, the German-Soviet pact was signed. On September the 1st, Hitler invaded Poland and on the 2nd, France mobilized totally and on the 3rd, at 17 hrs, France declared war on Germany.
“This will be the last war” – so declared the radio bulletins. “My last war” said Freud ironically in London, where he died on the 23rd September 1939. And this is how Le Figaro commented in its columns: “We do not know what the future has in store for Freud’s pansexuality. In France and in the entire world, it has been the object of an infatuation which has not left a brilliant memory. Repression, complexes, the analytical dream game, have often led to a literature and to practices which were degrading. If Freudian thinking gas healed neuroses, it seems to many psychiatrists that it has also created them and that it has produced casualties”.
For once, historical reality seemed to confirm Cassandra’s habitual prophecies: psychoanalysis, “Jewish science”, must disappear for those thousand years the new Aryan order was to last…
In France, the “drôle de guerre” unfolded. In May 1940, the premises of the Institute of Psychoanalysis were closed, books and documents put away into safety. On the 13th June, the evening before the Germans entered into Paris, Sophie Morgenstern, one of the first child analysts, committed suicide. Psychoanalysts were mobilized everywhere: “batallion doctor to an obscure “Regiment for hard labourers”, “like the majority of naturalized doctors” – as Rudolf Loewenstein was to recall. After the armistice, he was to take refuge in the Midi where he did a little teaching at Marseille. In 1942, he emigrated to the U.S.A. to rejoin René Spitz and Raymond de Saussure. Nacht was at Saint-Tropez, and so was the Princess, who embarked for Greece to rejoin her son. René Allendy, a refugee at Montpellier, died there on the 12th July 1942, after an agonizing time to which his Journal of a sick physician bears testimony.
Paul Shiff managed – not without difficulty – to rejoin the Gaullists in order to enrol in the Free French Forces in which he was to see action up to the time of the defeat of Hither’s arms. As for Daniel Lagache, tucked away with the University of Strasbourg at Clermont-Ferrand, ever since the fall of France, he there organised a medico-psychological Outpatients Department for Maladjusted Children and Adolescents. Thus he managed to diffuse into a rather hostile medical milieu his concept of “clinical psychology”, which was already the basis of his first “licence libre” in psychology, created by him at Strasbourg and the one to serve in 1947 as the model for the “licence nationale”. His prolonged isolation in the provinces, the result of the war and its aftermath, since he returned to work at Strasbourg after the Liberation, were undoubtedly not without consequences for his peripheral position and for his future options within the Psychoanalytic Society of Paris.
Meanwhile, Paris was under the Occupation. Professor Laignel-Lavastine had entrusted Georges PARCHEMINEY (1888-1953) with the re-organisation of the psychoanalytic department of the Hôpital Sainte-Anne. “In his first lecture on psychoanalysis given at Sainte-Anne, in the presence of several German officers, he spoke of his master, Freud – according to Rudolf Loewenstein. Apparently the German officers did not return”. John Leuba was also giving regular consultations there, like Philippe Marette, Françoise Dolto’s brother. Soon, professor Jean Delay took over the Chair for the duration, maintaining the staff of analysts – “in spite of German disapproval”. And so psychoanalytic impregnation continued in a low key, inducing young interns to undertake their didactic analysis discreetly.
In 1942, Romain Rolland broke the obligatory silence by publishing Le Voyage Intérieur (Albin Michel), enclosing the following sentence in tribute to Freud: “Ever since Freud himself and ever since the constant evolution of his personal teaching, psychoanalysis has rapidly demonstrated that it was a cultural movement rather than a discipline with a predetermined and closed goal”. Jean-Paul Sartre, on the other hand, in L’Etre et le néant (1943) remained much more reserved with respect to Freud, whom he found deserving of strong criticism from the philosophical point of view, though at the same time crediting him with the intuitions of genius. Thus he paved his way towards his disclaimer of the Freudian unconscious, in paradox to Husserl’s concept of consciousness, which he defended, with the same notions of “freedom”, of “choice”, and of commitment, which characterize his own approach to man. In fact, from then onwards he inaugurated those ambivalent relationships which he was to maintain for the rest of his life with psychoanalysis and with psychoanalysts.
Should anyone be looking through the Annales Médico-Psychologiques (1941-1944) – for l’Evolution psychiatrique had ceased to appear, like the Revue Française de Psychanalyse – the word “psychoanalysis” only appears a single time in the title of an article courageaously named by Michel Cénac: “Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis. The relevance of psychoanalysis to psychiatry”. Against this, the text figures in the list of contents under only one word: “Psychiatry”… One did not quite know how one knew it, but psychoanalysis was proscribed. Because of it, it is important to note that throughout the years of flourishing collaboration, not a single person was to be found in France to form any kind of “Society” for salvage, such as that “German Institute for psychological research and for psychotherapy” founded in Berlin in the 30ies by professor Göring, kinsman of the Reichmarschall and obligingly sponsored by C.G. Jung.
The rôle of René Laforgue alone remains hard to assess and if today his critics appear to be less virulent, his pro-German leanings continue to be held up in reproach. His friends will have it that his home in the Midi was a refuge for numerous members of the Résistance, thet he managed to supply food to Jewish friends in hiding in Paris. His enemies accuse him of having – among other acts of obligingness – participated in one of those “travels to Germany for French intellectuals”, organized at the end of 1941, by Hitler’s favourite sculptor, Arno Brecker. It is still very difficult to come to a precise opinion about these terrible years in which what was left of the little analytical circle did not altogether escape from a mixture of shameful secrets, envious and shabby acts and passionate revenges so characteristic of France in those years. One can see for oneself that the name of Laforgue only very rarelyl appears after 1945 in the published proceedings of the S.P.P., even if he still figures on the lists until his resignation in 1953, when, after the split, he joined the ranks of the French Society of Psychoanalysis (S.F.P.). He continued to publish and to be active elsewhere, both before and after his visits to Marocco, in the group Psyché, at the French Society of Psychoanalysis and at congresses, right up to the time of his death in 1962, but in the immediate post-war years, analysts from the Psychoanalytic Society of Paris, inspite of a number of his former analysands among them, had manifestly left him on the side. [Since the publication of this text, an unknown correspondence between René Laforgue and Pr Göring has been published in France (Confrontation, 16, Automne 1986), of which I shall discuss in my paper on “French Psychoanalysts and Psychoanalysis in France from 1939 to 1945”, read during the “First International Meeting of the International Association for the History of Psychoanalysis” (Paris, 1st, 2nd and May 3rd, 1987), and to be published in the first number of the Revue Internationale d’Histoire de la Psychanalyse, January 1988.]
One must also keep his personality in mind, the hates and the loves it could provoke, the jealousies called forth by the close contacts which he would sustain with his former analysands. Did not a certain number of these form the “club des piqués” (the batty ones, the crack-brained ones) as they called themselves, when joyously assembled, both before and after the war, on Lagorgue’s estate, where, during their holidays, they would pursue their analytical sessions between two meals or two dips in the swimming pool ? They were not short of celebrities between 1926 and 1962, from Jean Dalsace, Jean Rostand, the editor Denoël, Maryse Choisy, to Alain Cuny or Ménie Grégoire, among many others.
Likewise, there succeded one other on Laforgue’s couch elements of analytical filiation whose definite positions adopted in matters intellectual, moral, religious and institutional cannot be dissociated from the principal person in their training. Their names will constantly reappear in years to come and their friendships will be decisive: André Berge, Françoise Dolto, Juliette Favez-Boutonier, Georges Mauco and Blanche Reverchon-Jouve.
If Laforgue lived on his provincial estate during the occupation, his analysands were to sit it out in Paris, where, inspite of the curfew, they managed to meet ant to organize psychoanalytic discussions attended in friendship by Marc SCHLUMBERGER (1900-1977) a nonconformist spirit, subtle and full of humour, son of a co-founder of the N.R.F. (Nouvelle Revue Française with André Gide), likewise John LEUBA (1894-1952) Swiss by origin, a geologist before he began his medical studies and the first after the war to be president of the S.P.P.
In the Annales Médico-Psychologiques, the following names appear: Maurice Bouvet, a pupil of Laignel-Lavastine, soon to go into analysis with Georges Parcheminey; René Diatkine, student at the faculty or Marseille before returning to Paris into the wards of Heuyer and before beginning his analysis with Jacques Lacan; Georges Favez, analysed by Hartmann, then, later and for a short period, by Nacht; Pierre Marty, a future analysand of Marc Schlumberger, who was to co-sign in 1943 a study on “Resurgence of alimentary instincts in psychopaths in favour of starvation”…
The group “Psychè”(recovery)
In 1945, great was the euphoria of victory and the upsurge of analytical meeting in broad daylight.
Jacques Lacan, who, like Odette Codet, was said to have – according to John Leuba – “maintained his practice” during the occupation, was asked in March (1945) to write an article for the opening number, designed as “1940-1944 issue”, of the review Cahiers d’art. On that same occasion he edited one of those harbinger texts on the evolution of his thinking: “Logical time and the assertion of anticipated certainty. A new sophism”. That same September he spent several weeks in England and returned dazzled by the group techniques which Bion and Rickman had elaborated for the psychological training and officering in the British army. In a fine lecture, under the title “English psychiatry and the war”, he wrote that they had allowed him to experience something “in the nature of a miracle of those earliest Freudian steps: to find even in the very impasse of a situation the dynamics for intervention”. One may believe that Jacques Lacan was to remain faithful to this principle until the very end. One can also discern in his interest for these psychotechnical researches on the handling of groups the origin of some of his own involvements (“comportements”) and of his own interventions in the psychoanalytic societies or schools which he was subsequently to frequent, establish and, so often, offend.
In Paris, training analyses began again or else were loosing their clandestine character. There were six of them, shared out between Parcheminey and Leuba, with “two of them near their termination”. Sacha Nacht put away his uniform in which he had joined the Résistance and got to work, inaugurating a daring technical modification, in response to a demand which was as frequent as it was unfortunate: to reduce session time from 60 minutes to 45 minutes and their frequency from 5 times a week to 4 times a week. Serge Lebovici and S.A. Shentoub were among the first analysands of a series who, together with Henri Sauguet, were soon to constitute the nucleus of the future Institute of Psychoanalysis.
The headquarters on Boulevard Saint Germain and the Institute, had disappeared and were greatly missed by French analysts after 1945. They had nowhere to meet, even if Gaston Bachelard (whose The psychoanalysis of fire, issued in 1938, had revealed the original dread of a psychoanalytic fact, even in a jungian view rather than in a freudian one) was to offer them hospitality for 3 years at the Institute of History of Science and of Technology, an annexe to the Sorbonne. They were obliged to wander on, for their meetings, from the flat of John Leuba to the halls of the Ordre des Médecins or to the Hôpital Henri-Rousselle, increasingly more convinced of the importance of and of the urgency for, creating a new Institute.
This became all the more so in the ensuing new world in which psychoanalysis seemed to be needed as a method of choice. The allied armies, at least in the West, had made ample use of analytical notions and repatriated soldiers were to contribute to their diffusion. In France, young psychiatrists like Lucien Bonnafé and François Tosquelles, working at the Hôpital de Saint-Alban, then attending the Journées psychiatriques nationales of March 1945, became interested and tried to shatter the heavy asylum structure and the therapeutic passivity which pervaded them. Open units were to be set up, the notion of “psychotherapy” was becoming ever more familiar. Psychoanalysis, because of its racist proscription during the occupation, had an odour of victory about it.
Envy rears its head once again and for a psychoanalyst it is nothing if not indication of some process of rejection, that none of the works dedicated until this day to the history of psychoanalysis in France, have so far mentioned the existence and the rôle of a group, founded immediately after the Liberation, even before the rebirth from its ashes of the Psychoanalytic Society of Paris. Its foundation, thanks to the funds of René Laforgue and of Bernard Steele, as well as its composition, testify nevertheless to a profound split (“clivage”) the marks of which will become obvious on the occasion of the future two splits (“scissions”) of 1953 and 1963.
Something need be said here about this “Centre for the Study of the Sciences of Man” whose journal Psychè was coming out monthly after November 1946. It was edited by Maryse CHOISY (1903-1979) an unusual personality whose rôle in those days was more important than is admitted today. Already in the first editorial of her review, she states her programme clearly: in search of the “supplément d’âme” recommended by Bergson, psychoanalysis is showing itself to be adequate to the task for “it is moving towards its constructive phase. According to the works of Jung and of Baudouin in Switzerland, of Laforgue in France and the researches of the British and American Schools, psychoanalysis offers interesting outlets into pedagogy, sociology, vocational guidance. Psychoanalysis allows one to glimpse, in some sort of a way, an unsuspected path towards collective happiness vainely beggared by moralists”.
Those on the commitee of honour of this vast programme: Prince Louis de Broglie from the Academie Française, Angelo Hesnard, Charles Baudouin, Gustave Cohen, professeur at the Sorbonne, Pierre Janet, René Laforgue, Charles Odier, le père Teilhard de Chardin, etc. Daniel Lagache and Professor Jean Delay were soon added. Of other authors writing regularly for that journal, some were already familiar names or else were becoming so: André Berge, the abbot Paul Jury, Octave Mannoni, ethnologist, father Louis Beirnaert. They participated actively at meetings at the Center and during their “Semaines (weeks) de Royaumont”, during which such serious ics as, for example, “The Destiny of mankind” (October 1947) were tackled.
That very same month, the editorial of Psyché pointed out “The wise are disquietened everywhere by the lack of remedy for collective paranoia”. It has become necessary to turn towards the group-soul […] We believe in the virtue of small numbers and that the world will be saved by a few”. Their moral, religions, (see mystical) preoccupations were widely discussed and the participation of numerous priests belonging to diverse orders: Jesuits, Dominicans, etc. etc., head these audiences which psychoanalysis was to acquire slowly in R.C. circles. Besides, the latter remained generally faithful, after the split of 1953, to the group of Laforgue’s analysands and, at the French Society of Psychoanalysis, they will, if anything, be found among the pupils of Jacques Lacan.
That journal spoke in fact to that whole French bourgeois intellectual public, inspired by the example of the Freudian Imago, which had disappeared before the war. Who would actually have dared to present every month, beside the articles of psychoanalysts already cited, some studies on acupuncture, or graphology or Adlerian and Jungian articles, who else would have published writtings by Colette Audry or Alain Cuny, the Proceedings of the World Congress of Spiritualists, the analysis of the Review of Carmelite Studies, or have kept regular sections on literature, the cinema, on exhibitions, the theatre; who else would have offered the French a mixture of Schoenberg, Chostakovitch and Luis Bunuel, not to mention the latest books on psychoanalysis or else recent acquisitions of “mystical psychology” or of characterology ?…
In that breathtaking hotch-potch, of which few traces have curiously enough been preserved to this day, we find the example of a permanent duality in the spread of psychoanalysis in France. We have, on the one hand, the closed societies, carefully filtering their members, often with the latter arraigned against one another. On the other hand, we have the vast movements which attempt to gather together opposing tendencies, opening themselves up to the public and neglecting neither the support of the media nor the infatuation of the intelligentia.
That the former should sometimes have need to mistrust the latter, can be imagined if one recalls the Congress of Psychopedagogy, organised in October 1948, by “Psychè”, in the course of which an English participant was to propose the creation of a vast association, in which were to be regrouped Freudians, Adlerians, Jungians, disciples of Robert Desoille, the promoter of the rêve éveillé, of Otto Rank, of Karen Horney et al. What was called for was the foundation of a training for psychiatrists and psychologists on a three tier system, of which the superior tier would consist of something of the order of a university doctorate. Georges Mauco, the non-medical director of the Psychopedagogical Centre Claude Bernard, (where Françoise Dolto gave consultations and whose first “medical director” had been Juliette Boutonier in 1946, before she left this post to André Berge, to succeed Daniel Lagache in 1947 at the Faculty in Strasbourg) was present at that Congress, surrounded by the halo of his prestige of having been in general de Gaulle’s cabinet until his resignation in 1946, the apostle – and one to remain such for many many years – of an official status for psychoanalysts, the future creator of a syndicate for non-medical analysts.
This project, even if it had no effective outcome, disturbed the Freudian analysts nevertheless. In other respects, the group “Psychè”, in addition to all its contracts, was looking for innovation, witness the first “Dictionary of Psychoanalysis and of Psychotechnique”, which came out in instalments as from 1949. It was the forerunner of the actual Vocabulaire and counted among its editors the habitual team of Laforgue’s analysands, aided by Octave Mannoni, by specialists in the “Adlerian and Jungian terminology” and by Simon Jankélévitch, for German translations.
And yet, the group “Psychè”, was rapidly going down hill during the fifties: the extension of its interests and of its ambitions took place at the expense of rigour. Moreover, the Psychoanalytic Society of Paris had progressively reorganised itself and was once more offering to analysts the pages of its journal. Soon, the schism of 1953, by regrouping around Daniel Lagache and Jacques Lacan a certain number of Psychè’s contributors, was to precipitate the end of this misunderstood force in the history of psychoanalysis in France, whose rôle is no more than sketched out here. The veil of forgetting fell upon this oecumenical dream, as if it had become shameful ever to have believed in it and even participated in it.
Ideological wonder about psychoanalysis
Since 1946, as we have seen, the meetings of the Psychoanalytic Society of Paris (S.P.P.) had found once more their monthly rhythm, under the presidentship of John Leuba. The traditional “Congresses of French speaking psychoanalysts” began once more with that at Montreux, on the 25th July 1946. Two months later, Henri Ey, who had taken over the direction of “L’Evolution psychiatrique” – reconstituted since the Liberation – had allowed, during the “Journées de Bonneval”, the broadcast of the paper by Julien Rouart on the psychic origin of mental illness and of a conference discussion by Jacques Lacan under the title: “Remarks on psychic causality”.
On the occasion of the first officially minuted meeting of the S.P.P., in November 1946, Angelo Hesnard, symbolizing a continuity with pre-war, gave an account. This was soon followed by the election of five new members to full professional status: André Berge, Juliette Favez-Boutonier, Serge Lebovici and two Belgian colleagues, Fernand Lechat and Maurice Dugautiez, who joined the thirteen survivors from the 30ies. Twenty associate members completed the list with, among the recently promoted ones, Maurice Benassy, Maurice Bouvet, René Held ans S.A. Shentoub. In July 1947, the Presses Universitaires de France become editor of the Revue française de psychanalyse, with its first isue published in 1948.
It all pointed to a new beginning, including the quarrels, but nothing was ever to be quite the same again. The more so as the cold war in the external world succeeded the victory celebrations. In 1947, the French Communist Party undertook to fight against the new enemy of the Soviet Union, American imperialism. As the result of a speech made by Zdanov before the Komintern, the Nouvelle Critique, directed by Jean Kanapa, followed by L’Humanité and Les Lettres Françaises, were to mark psychoanalysis as ranking with the dollar and with Coca-Cola, a corrupting agent destined to anaethetise the class struggle. From March 1948 to May 1949, there was the Berlin Blockade by the USSR. Then, on April the 4th 1949, Washington signed the treaty of the newly formed N.A.T.O.
Whoever does not know the atmosphere during the war, during the occupation, during the Liberation and during the immediate post-war years, will not understand the conscience debate which then took place among the newcomers to the S.P.P., who had themselves learned part of their humanities in the Resistance and who continued to be active members of the French Communist Party (P.C.F.) While scientific meetings took on once more their cruising rhythm and professional members Pierre Mâle and Maurice Bouvet were being elected in 1948, pressures were being exerted; The Party apparatus demanded it.
In June 1949, the Nouvelle Critique published a shattering article against psychoanalysis, from which it was quite clear that its psychoanalytical subscribers had to be compromised, a successful operation which continued to be waved about in order to reproach them, forgetting the time of its appearance, their age (by then around 30 years), their years of companionship and their clandestine fight against the occupant.
Evidently here one met again the old arguments employed by Georges Politzer before the war, when his enthusiasm for psychoanalysis had followed on a tart critique. Ever since 1929, his ephemerical Revue de psychologie concrête had been publishing some echos of his polemical exchanges with Angelo Hesnard, but his condemnations of psychoanalysis from a marxist point of view had since become much more categorical.
In 1949, its title was one of “Reactionary ideology”… Born in Vienna, bound up with the needs of a paternalist bourgeois family, treating a minority of carefully selected patients for money, based on irrationalism and individualism, psychoanalysis perverts the young underpayed psychiatrists. Worse, it leads them into the “myth of self unawareness”, the “thing-ness” of the instincts, an “Oedipus” complex which is neither universal nor constant, a “pseudo transcendance of complexes” Clearly “this individualism amounts to a denial of all possibility of transforming the social order”.
The asylum psychiatrists who signed this manifesto preached to the converted by recalling credits and accumulated powers. As for the signatories, Jean Kestemberg, analysed by Lacan, his wife Evelyne, analysed by Marc Schlumberger, Serge Lebovici and S.A. Shentoub, did not delay dissociating themselves from this text by leaving the Party in which they had fought since the Occupation.
In 1950, La Pensée Catholique, as if to demonstrate that the seductive manoeuvres of “Psychè” had not altogether succeeded, was to remark: “It is sad to have to establish that certain reactions against Freudian thinking (“le freudisme”) – judicious ones as far as one can see – are the work of marxist psychiatrists of real competence”.
In the event, the anathema launched against psychoanalysis, was to be forgotten 20 years later by a Communist party which was trying to re-approach this once so abused bourgeois ideology across the skew of Lacanian theories, rebound by Louis Althusser. As for religious circles, those were not slow to invade couches and to open psychoanalytic seminars, after an incubation period and in small discreet groups.
Buried but prompt to reappear, dusted and put back into the prevailing tone of the day, the critical arguments used in 1914, 1926, 1938, 1940, 1949… were to bloom again in certain post 1968 left-wing movements, to denounce once again the “power” of the psychoanalysts, their reactionary thought, the decidedly unassimilable “Oedipus complex”, soon to come back in the name of a certain “feminism”, about the misogyny of that puritan-Jew-Viennese-petit bourgeois Freud.
I.tree different tendencies(Nacht, Lagache and Lacan)
The article of La Nouvelle Critique referred to Jacques Lacan. It was in keeping with the times and it was an acknowledgement of that lacanian style which was progressively to take pride of place in French analytical discourse and for the next thirty five years at least. Just as it had done before the war, his personality seduced and irritated. It did so increasingly with the weight of advancing years and maturity: he was approaching fifty, with Nacht and Lagache following a short pace behind. The war had turned the rules of the institution game upside down and it was up to the generation of these three men to influence the direction of the psychoanalytic movement in France, before the young wolves trained in combat were to come and take over.
Whereas Lacan had distanced himself in relation to the mental hospitals, turning towards the clan of the philosophers, Sacha NACHT (1901-1977) was to remain resolutely faithful to his vocation of physician which he had proclaimed ever since his earliest childhood. His manners were brusque, he was an obvious authoritarian, to which he owed his nickname “the Satrap”; it was with force, determination and, at times, brutality, that he came to take over first the affairs of the Society, then those of the Institute created by him – for a matter of thirteen years. He was little loved, unless, perhaps, by Jacques Lacan, his very close friend, but he was admired and feared and respected for his good sense. He inspired confidence and even if at times, she treated him like a “gangster”, because of his dictatorial manners, the Princess came round to prefering him to the shifty and untrustworthy Lacan, the man who promised everything in order to get himself out of difficult situations, without honouring his undertakings.
To Lacan, the kingdom of words, of the utterance. To Nacht, that of the “presence”, that quality which he demanded of psychoanalysts more than some “goodness”, a requirement which brings smiles to those who have known only his rough outside. Nacht was more complicated and more uncertain than his manners would suggest. Protected by the “ukases” and by his biting, cutting words, he hid behind his abrupt and – for some people – terrorising demeanour, a mischieviousness and a sensibility to which he was not to give – an almost mystical – course, until the very end of his life.
His rupture with Lacan was not to be easy, but once deemed necessary by him, he carried it out squarely, even if it meant a brush with death one day, in an accident. But for the time being, they remained very close friends, both co-chairmen at the “XIth Congress of French speaking Psychoanalysts”, held in Brussels in 1948, (for the majority of Belgian analysts entertain very close links with the S.P.P.) on the ic – so often trumpeted – of “Aggression in Psychoanalysis”.
Daniel LAGACHE (1903-1972) felt himself to the peripheral to this couple and suffered from an isolation which the war had accentuated. He loved neither the one nor the other and was little appreciated by either, so he looked for support in the group of Laforgue’s analysands who were themselves left in the wilderness through the fact that their analyst had suffered an eclipse. Besides, a common career bound him to Juliette Favez-Boutonier, who was to follow him in Strasbourg to the chair of Psychology and who was to take up his own former post at the Sorbonne, when he came to create a chair in psychopathology in 1954.
Externally, he was a demanding academic, rather rigorous, if not rigid, anxious to keep his distances by means of a slightly cold irony, which cut short any affective outpourings. He knew he was a master and expected to be recognized as such, the seriousness and the weight of his contributions assuring him quite a different audience from the one who valued the vivacity of Lacan’s intelligence and his constantly surprising theoretical creations. Lagache studied his ics in depth, such as jealousy, transference, psycho-criminogenesis. He wrote in an ordered style, citing his references. He was quite different from Nacht, who pretended to neglect the “trop theorique” and who strove to speak with simplicity of the daily clinical events which every analyst and every analysand could share. Where Nacht presented the evidence, Lagache defined the possibilities for research. Where Nacht strove to “cure”, Lacan to “create”, Lagache tried to understand and to explain.
The three directions, among which psychoanalysis has been extended ever since it had first penetrated into France, find their representative in each of these men: (1) the medical one, so dear to the hearts of the founders of the S.P.P. in the 30ies, found Nacht, with his preference for medically trained candidates who encouraged psychosomatic research and who recommended a codified and hieratically constructed training, complemented by obligatory hospital appointments. (2) The psychological one, formely represented by the French speaking Swiss, had come to find in Lagache one of the artisans of the prestigious development of the “human sciences” within intellectual circles; he was also a stubborn promoter of a psychoanalytic qualification, obtained in a setting of rather academic character. (3) As for Lacan, he came to join the philosophical and literary current, after the surrealists and the N.R.F., accompanied by Merleau-Ponty and by Jean Hyppolite, armed with Kojève’s teaching and with that of Ferdinand de Saussure. Thanks to his prodigious assimilative capacity and to his talent for handling ideas and crowds, he will achieve, in the 60ies and 70ies – all in the name of Freud – to spotlight his own vision of psychoanalysis in French cultural life – a unique phenomenon in its world history.
Each of these three tendencies holds its own creative dynamism and yet they also threaten analysis with the grave risks of isolation and of degradation, if they didn’t interpenetrate one another. Where other countries have attempted a synthesis or some sort of federative solution, the French were to choose separation, helped in it by the divergent personalities of Loewenstein’s three analysands in whom the passage of years was only to harden the oppositions. Years and success, for each one of them were to keep towards the other tendencies a more ambiguous stance than each man’s mask would lead one to expect. The latter was congealing very slowly under the pressure of personal ambition and the manicheism of audiences intoxicated with transference.
II. tree different tendencies (Nacht, Lagache and Lacan)
The avidity for “la didactique” (training analysis), that “psychanalyse pure” as it even came to be designated by Lacan in 1964, progressively took the place of the interest during the 30ies in “la psychanalyse” or “la méthode Freudienne”.
On the 17th February 1948, the S.P.P., of which Nacht was to become president in January 1949, set up a Training Commission, soon followed in its Revue by a detailed text, concerning its “Regulations and doctrine”. Edited in easily recognizable lacanian style, it represented a synthesis of the conceptions of the didacticians of that period, concerning the training of future analysts. The latter found themselves “entirely put under the tutelage of their analysts”, until such time as the latter would give permission for starting seminars and for undertaking therapy under supervision. At the end of the training – and according to the published text – the analyst “will even have to answer for the personal qualification of the candidate, freed, as he will be (by then) of a confidentiality, which aims – in the ordinary case – not to encumber the conditions of the analysis”.
Such a candidate was to be free from too evident physical and mental defects, and needed to be “master of the particular language system in which he will be committed to that which deserves to be called the psychoanalytic dialogue, to such an extent that it becomes a single voice (here again, one recognizes Lacan), more appreciated if he can show a solid clinical background (here Nacht emerges), the candidate must commit himself not to practise psychoanalysis before “consent of his psychoanalyst”. The editor further indicated that “common practice upholds the principle of 4-5 sessions per week, of which 3 represents a minimum, and a total length of 2 years, as the aims of a training analysis”.
Within less than two years, Lacan was already accused of not respecting this agreement which he seemed to have given to the above “principle”, by connecting it with “common practice”.
In 1950, Nacht and his council were turned out and everyone was concentrating on the founding of an Institute. Furthermore, an appeal for funds had already been launched to complete the one and a half million collected from former colleagues who had emigrated to America. Each full member of the Society had to pay one hundred thousand Francs (to give an idea: the annual subscription was three thousand Francs at that time) and here it must be stated that none of the secessionists were later to demand the reimbursement of this initial contribution after their resignation form the S.P.P. in 1953.
The first “affrontements” in relation to the running of the Institute became obvious with a view to putting in a plea in bar eg in November 1950, to the proposals of Lagache who had thought he had found adequate premises. In return, he was elected the new chairman of the Society in January 1951, even though he was privately somewhat indignant at this third mandate of president, solicited by Nacht, under the pretext of secret deals with the “Ordre des Médecins” and the professors of the Faculty of Medicine. All this smelled a little bit too much of the medicalisation of psychoanalysis as far as he, Lagache was concerned…
It was in the course of 1951 that the Training Commission demanded of Jacques Lacan officially, and for the first time, a solemn promise to regularise not later than May, the management of his didactic analyses. Lacan, immediately gave this assurance, but this promise was not kept for a reason which was not to be declared until June 1953: sometime after these demands by the Training Commission had been made, Nacht proposed to Lacan to present his theories “on the technique of psychoanalysis” in the course of a meeting of full members, in December 1951. He had, from that time onwards (as he subsequently was to assure) come to believe that such a request would tacitly release him of his previous commitments.
There is a mystery in all these different behaviours, which complementary historical data will perhaps one day allow us to penetrate. Lacan promised and promised again yet never kept his promises. When driven into a corner, he would promise anything but without ever following in through, invoking after the event any excuse which presented itself. Was this attributable to his volatile moods ? To a kind of indecision which could have pushed him always to withdraw the fixed date for settlement of his choices ? Ten years later, when these same evasions were to be replayed, one could be excused for assuming that he was playing for time, because he then knew how to draw week after week the sort of audiences and the sort of fame which were to let him be the solo rider – but in 1951 ? “One could not trust him” was to be the leitmotif of the majority of those who had supported him at a given moment and who were reduced to leaving him.
The battle was not waged in pure form: the report of the S.P.P. for 1951-1952 to the International Psychoanalytic Association mentions 70 students in training, or 100 analysis under supervision, while 3 seminars/week were held to insure formal instruction: that by Nacht on technique, that by Lacan on Freudian texts, that by Lebovici on child analysis.
In January 1952, Nacht obtained his fourth presidential mandate for a year that was to prove decisive. An action brought against the illegal exercise of medicine in the case of a non medical analyst, Mrs Clark Williams, though it led to an acquittal, had brought into the open the ic of collective responsibility of members of a psychoanalytic society and the necessity for rigorous criteria for their cooption. At the international level too, it was time for French students to find back the sort of training organisation which they had been able to enjoy until 1940.
On the 17th June 1952, Nacht got going and launched the first offensive in a battle which was to last exactly one year. He proposed to the full members who alone had the right to speak and vote on anything concerning the running of the Society, the election for a period of five years of a Governing Committee for the Institute, putting himself forward as candidate for the post of chairman, with Maurice Benassy and Serge Lebovici as scientific secretaries. Their election was carried out by raising of hands. Nacht then designated Henri Sauguet as administrative secretary; he was another one of his analysands who was not yet associate member of the Society at that time, but was very devoted to the establishement of the Institute and showed himself to be a remarkable organiser.
Once people had recovered from their surprise, some, including Lagache, were to protest: that the length of the mandate was excessive, that Nacht was at one and the same time director of the Institute and president of the Society, that only his analysands had been proposed for the chief posts, that the election “by a show of hands” was contestable etc.etc.
With the holidays looming ahead, it was all of no avail; during the holidays the building, miraculously found by Nacht at No 187 rue Saint Jacques, was being made ready.
During that same time, Sacha Nacht celebrated his second marriage and stayed with the painter André Masson, brother in law of Jacques Lacan. The latter had been his witness, whilst his future wife, Sylvia Bataille, was that of Edmée Nacht. Who could thus have forseen the definitive rupture which was soon to separate two couples bound together in such friendship ?
I.P.A decides on the fate of lacanian groupe
In November 1952, the statutes of the Institute of Psychoanalysis, edited by Nacht, were distributed, together with the programme planned for the training, so as to be discussed and voted on. Psychoanalysis there found itself placed under “neurobiology”, to be considered as a “branch of scientific activity […] useful and necessary in psychopathology, as well as medicine, as is borne out by the whole development of psychosomatic medicine”.
The Princess recognized in this the old attacks carried out against non-medicals, and took up her position among those who fought against these propositions, the more so as the power which the director and his circle had arrogated to themselves, seemed excessive to her. She thus found herself, paradoxically, if past discussions are recalled, in the same group as Angelo Hesnard, who, from Toulon, encouraged Lacan to oppose those propositions.
The programme proposed three successive annual cycles of “general theory of psychoanalysis”, of “psychoanalytic clinical lectures” and of “technique”, the course teaching and the seminars being, except for the last one, which Nacht had virtually reserved for himself, divided up between the various full members. Clinical appointments in psychiatric and paediatric hospitals, were considered to be a complementary part of the training course. There was also a seminar in this programme devoted to “Vocabulaire et bibliographie en psychanalyse” attributed to Lagache, the forerunner of that Vocabulary of Psychoanalysis which Jean Laplanche and Jean Bertrand Pontalis were to bring to term in 1967. As for Jacques Lacan, put on short allowance of a weekly seminar on texts for 1st year students plus few courses on the ego mechanisms, sexual perversions, character neuroses and Paranoia, he was to find himself billed for an “extra-ordinary conference” on the theme of “Psychoanalysis and Folklore”, which, given the circumstances, did not lack spice…
It was at that point that the group, calling themselves “liberals”, composed by Lagache and by Laforgue’s former analysands, joined also by Marie Bonaparte and by Maurice Bouvet, were trying to break the “resistible rise” of a Nacht, who was resolved on pushing the movement. On december 2nd 1952, the vote of raised hands taken on the 17th June, was contested by Lagache as invalid, having as its sequence the resignation of Nacht and of his steering Committee. They were immediately reappointed, nevertheless, but “provisorily”. In any case, Nacht remained the President of the Society.
The General Assembly of full members, held on 16th December, was to bring thing to a head. Nacht was trying to bring forward the date for voting on his statutes, deeming it necessary to come to the end of these discussions before the election, planned for January, of new members of office. According to tradition, it was the vice-president, Jacques Lacan, who was to be elected.
Nacht, supported by the group of his faithful, Benassy, Diatkine, Lebovici, Mâle, Pasche and Schlumberger, was faced with the hostility of the others and so proposed that only the important and contested articles be rapidly submitted to the vote. This was met with refusal from the group Berge, Françoise Dolto, Juliette Favez-Boutonier, Lagache, and Blanche Reverchon-Jouve, who were in the majority thanks to the support from the Princess, from Bouvet, Cénac and Odette Codet.
Faced with this opposition, Nacht and his committee again tendered their resignation. At this point, Lacan presented himself as temporary director. Elected on the second round with 9 votes /8 + 1 blank vote, he preserved only Henri Sauquet as administrative secretary from the former committee. In view of the figures on that ballot, compared with those of a certain number of others, it was whispered that the abstention votes, the “bulletins blancs”, were often the word of Maurice Bouvet, obliged to remain neutral, for Daniel Lagache was precisely during this disruptive period having a “slice of analysis” with him. (“une tranche d’analyse”)
Discussions were to follow, from then onwards, off stage, around those statutes which one had to decide to vote on, for the opening of the Institute had been announced for the month of March. This was the point at which Jacques Lacan was to present his own plans. Substituting for the “neurobiological” exergue of Nacht – as had been suggested by the Princess – Freud’s own descriptions of an ideal Institute, cultural rather than medical, he underlined the two dangers to be avoided in such an enterprise: “personal politics of the governing body and formalisation of the studies”. In that sense, his amendments tended to make for more supple procedures and for a division of powers.
Marie Bonaparte had herself elaborated amendments which, including a citation from Freud, somehow opposed those statutes of Nacht; if she had no love for the latter, she detested Lacan even more and was to leave those of her friends of the Lagache group in the lurch, when they decided to favour Lacan for the presidency.
The Training Commission, on their part, returned to the problem on January 10th 1953, again fixing the rhythm and the duration of training sessions: 4-5 times a week, 45 minutes at least, for a minimum of two years… Everybody knew that Lacan, in spite of his promises and his affirmations, continued his practice of varying the time, for his adversaries had been doing their bookkeeping: Lacan would need a day with more than 24 hours to do justice to all his activities and his analyses of which one knew, were he to respect the concensus. Was he not carrying a third of the ongoing training analyses in the Society ?
Between one deal and the next, there was an attempt to erode Nacht’s powers; he in his turn, compromised: the governing Committee was to be elected for only 3 years, the Training Commission was not to be automatically presided over by the director, with casting vote, but was to elect its chairman (who, according to parley, was to be… no other than Nacht, at least for the first time). In turn, the scientific secretaries of the Institute would become full members, which was to ensure for the governing Committee a high hand over that essential organ of training, which was to discuss and decide all the problems brought up by candidates’ training course: acceptance or rejection of training analysis, of supervision, the final permission to practice psychoanalysis under that label, to become an associate of the Society, etc.etc.
One begins to understand the tenacity of Nacht’s clan, trying to organise for itself a majority which could alone permit, in the reigning climate of oppositions, working order, otherwise doomed to paralysis. One can likewise understand that the other currents of opinion, who thus see themselves excluded, would cry “dictatorship”, not contenting themselves with administrative power which was accorded to them in general assembly. Besides, everybody knew that it constituted a serious bottle neck and strangulation for Lacan’s analysands.
On the 20th of January 1953, predictably, votes were being taken on the statutes of the Institute, with a certain number of amendments by Marie Bonaparte, who was made honorary president, bringing her into close contact with the work of the governing Committee. The latter was also elected on the same day, with Nacht at its head.
It has been suggested that the imposition of an honorary title had been decisive for the Princess’s change of camp; when followed by her close associates, she was from then on going to keep her distance from the Lagache group. In fact, everything went well for her during that very evening, with Lacan in for the presidency of the Society. She was against it and it set off the others. She had decided to support Michel Cénac, who had presented himself as the opposition candidate. On the first ballot, they were in a tie, 9:9. There was a third vote and Nacht’s absence (no proxy votes) as the result of a serious riding accident a few days earlier, was to decide in favour of Lacan, whom Nacht have opposed. In fact, the third ballot gave Lacan the necessary 10 votes he needed in order to be elected, with Lagache as vice-president, Pierre Mâle as assistant and Pierre Marty as secretary and Maurice Bouvet as treasurer.
A Pyrrhic victory, which was to accelerate the process of division. As from the 3rd of February, on the occasion when the Institute’s administrative council met, Lacan’s technique was once more under attack, occasioned by certain of his candidates’ presentations before the Training Commission. Lacan was justifying the “liberties” he had taken, by the fact of considering as beneficial “the effect of frustration and of rupture occasioned by the reduction in the duration of sessions, as well as of their greater spacing out”. In turn, Nacht, Marie Bonaparte, Mâle and Parcheminey protested whereas Lagache was the only one to plead in Lacan’s favour. At the end of the session, Nacht got a unanimous acceptance – hence, once more also by Lacan – for the maintenance of fixed norms for which prior agreement had been given.
The hardening of the positions concerning the training analysis had its repercussions on the “students”, for whom the Institute was to open its doors. They had to be selected and divised up into the 3 cycles of training as planned, for some of them had been “in training” for several years already. This was thus to be an occasion for getting rid of some undersirable ones…
The training regulations were sent out to them, they were submitted to meddling requirements considering they were already accepted. Physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, sometimes with a long analysis behind them, they were “students” by name only and they resented the procedures as an intolerable infantilisation that was being imposed on them. This is not to mention the enrolment expenses, which were excessive by far: 15.000 Fr for each cycle, to which had to be added 500-1.000 Fr for each seminar session, and 1.500 Fr for each weekly session of collective supervision.
A great number of them were close to Lacan and to his teaching: if his evasions made him increasingly less bearable among his peers, his public and private stands against the authoritarianism of the Nacht team brought him, in return, a clear popularity among the trainee analysts. A former analysand of Nacht, Jenny Roudinesco, protested against Lacan in an open letter, of which she sent a copy each to Nacht and to Lacan, which was to set fire to the gunpowder. She had sent off her letters on the 15th May 1953. A month later, the split was to be accomplished.
On May 17th, a meeting of trainees came to the “resolution” with 51 of them (a little more than half of their number) “to delay provisionally any new engagement, while waiting for the communication of the statutes and internal regulations of the Institute”. On 19th, Nacht made a dry reply to Jenny Roudinesco, to the effect that: “The problems presented in her letter do not depend on either the Society or on her President”. Lacan, on his part, much depressed – if Françoise Dolto may be believed – did reply to her on 24th, expressing fairly clearly behind ironic allusions, and sharp hints, his opposition to Nacht, to the Princess and to the organisation of the Institute.
On 31st, a new meeting of trainees was to offer the pretext for the final attack against Lacan; alerted by telephone that the “Nachtians” were going to summon him, he jumped into a taxi in order to turn up and explain himself. This he did in the street, rue Saint Jacques, at the end of the meeting, having an animated discussion with the “students” of whom many were his analysands; this constituted an important “transgression” against the rule of discretion supposed to be prevailing at that time. The tone was violent on all sides; some almost came to blows.
The crisis was inevitable. On the 2nd June 1953, an administrative session of the Society took place, whose passionate tone was a forecast of the rupture to come. Michel Cénac reproached Lacan for being present among the students, in contempt of his function of president and of didactician, and foud himself supported by Odette Codet, who proposed the vote of no confidence. There upon Sacha Nacht reported the debate on the practice of short sessions, which induced Lacan to reply that: “all his training analyses (bar one) had been regularised since January with reference to length of sessions. As for the frequency, no obligation had been accepted by him.”
Pierre Marty, who, as secretary, wrote into the “Black Book” the official minutes of Society’s meetings, noted on that evening: “Lacan recognizes he has been careless. He has taken very dangerous liberties”. Then, following on new discussions: “In conclusion, Dr Lacan appeals to the understanding of the assembly. For five years he has been giving the best of himself in the interest of psychoanalysis; he has also given the worst, he has acted with a passion which, certainly, could at times have been unskiful. If he is not one to be readily disciplined, he yet desires only one thing, namely to work in friendship with all colleagues, for the Institute to flourish and himself to go on working in it. He asks to be given a vote of confidence, the malaise not being so grave. He undertakes to do all he can”. Must I remind you that the text of this procès-verbal was adopted unanimously after discussion, on the occasion of the next meeting, by Jacques Lacan himself included ? Is one to find better evidence for his not wishing for a split, of not having, as one sometimes reads, carried the others along into it ?
His suggestion of an arbitration commission was rejected, likewise the vote of confidence was adjourned by 15 votes to 3, as reported at the session of 16th June.
The three opponents of that motion, unique in history of the S.P.P., were Daniel Lagache, Françoise Dolto and Juliette Favez-Boutonier. They had not adopted this line out of simple sympathy for Lacan, for, with the exception of Françoise Dolto and, less closely, Juliette Favez-Boutonier, they did not appreciate him at all, but had done so in order to oppose the increasingly stifling pressure exercised by Nacht. They did not subscribe to the desire – expressed by Lacan – “for the Institute to thrive”, having an ever diminishing desire for working in it. In actual fact, they were increasingly meeting with André Berge and with George Favez – whose candidature for full membership had been by passed – in order to elaborate this project, still being kept very secret, of a new Society, of a “free” Institute, of a training which was to model itself not on the medical one but on that of the Universities in which it would find an optional place. Furthermore they were afraid personal conflicts had reached such a point that they themselves risked feeling condemned, for a long time to come, to be under the thumb of Nacht’s team. The dream of creating another set up became more concrete every day, assured as they believed, of the support of a good number of influential members of the I.P.A. who had known and appreciated them for a matter of twenty years or so.
It is not quite clear whether they had spontaneously informed Lacan of their plot or whether alerted at the last moment, he had somewhat forced their hand in order to join, having come to realise that the situation was desperate, for there is still a total mystery as to what did happen on June 16th 1953, in the nature of a theatrical coup.
On June 6th, Pasche, Benassy, Lebovici, Diatkine and Cénac, called for the withdrawal of the presidential mandate from Lacan, but their motion was deemed legally unacceptable.
On the contrary, in the meeting of the 16th, the motion of Mme Codet had to be put to the vote. In it she denounced the profound disagreement between the meeting and its president, demanding that the vice-president take over until such time as elections for a new office could take place. All the professional members, with the exception of Laforgue and of Hesnard, were present.
Discussions had gone on for some time, when Lagache among others tabled a complaint of Benassy; Marty’s minutes, like a news report, enumarated the decisive moments of the rupture:
“Lacan says he presented himself in January to the chairmanship in order to expose himself to the judgement of the Society, both with regard to the value of his teaching as for his opinions on the statutes of the Institute of Psychoanalysis.
“He does not contest the legitimacy of a vote of confidence, but emphasizes that the accusation concerns the Institute much more than it concerns his part as the President of Society. He thinks that today a phase of the evolution of the Society is coming to an end and he emphasizes that there is no statutory obstacle to Mme Codet’s proposed vote of confidence being taken by the raising of hands and asks to proceed accordingly.
“Mme Bonaparte objects to it.
“Lagache declares that a proposal by a single member is sufficient to make voting by secret ballot obligatory.
“The vote: The secretary indicates 3 times that the vote “yes” means approval of the text proposed by Mme Codet
Voters Yes No Blank Abstention
18 12 5 1 1 (Lacan)
“Lacan offered his resignation from the Presidency and stepped down from his office on behalf of the Institute. He left the “bureau”.
“Lagache was invited take over the presidency.
“Lagache in the Chair read the third point of the Minutes and the legal controversy raised by the council. He declared he was putting his foot right into an illegality. According to him, Cénac had used the word “malaise”; one is dealing here with a chronic indisposition in a superacute phase, which brings with it the decision tabled in a text thus formulated:
“The Undersigned, Members of the French Society of Psychoanalysis, Group for Freudian Studies and Research, herewith announce their resignation from the Paris Psychoanalytic Society.
“Paris, 16th 1953
“Signed: J. Favez-Boutonier
“Lagache invited Mme Favez to distribute among the assembled a 3 page roneotyped memo she had written – (available in Archives)
“Lagache invited Mâle (associate member) to take the Chair of the Meeting before he himself left it, then the hall, followed by Mmes Favez, Dolto and Reverchon-Jouve (the latter having meanwhile signed the text of the resignation)
“Lacan, standing in the hall, announced at that moment his own resignation from the S.P.P.
“And so Mâle took over the Chair. Moved by these dramatic events of the meeting, he proposed Parcheminey for nomination as the next President by virtue of being the oldest, by reason of his authority conferred on him by his years”.
Georges Parcheminey (who was to die two months later), the fourth president of that memorable evening, was to stress before the end of it that resignation from the Society determines ipso facto that from the Institute.
Yet he did not think of pointing out the most important aspect of it: namely that it carried with it likewise the resignation from the International Psychoanalytic Association, a consequence which the dissenters had not apparently entertained, doubtless so as to guard their secret completely. Such an imprudence conveys very well the climate of blind passions in which these last events had taken place: it also meant they had forfeited the vital support of the Princess, for the latter, on an evening when she was enraged by Nacht, had apparently told Lacan she had Anna Freud’s assurance of being recognised by the I.P.A., if ever she and her friends were to form a schismatic group.
After the 6th July, Ruth Eissler, the Secretary of the Executive Committee of the I.P.A., was to write them a letter, announcing their exclusion from the meetings of the International Congress of London where their fate was to be discussed on the 26th of July. In spite of an intervention of Loewenstein, the “Société française de Psychanalyse” (S.F.P.) was not recognised, at the request of Hartmann, Marie Bonaparte, Nacht, Jones, but above all, Anna Freud, who concluded that “they have created their own statute by resigning”.
Such was the beginning of 10 years of, at times, humiliating representations and vexatious procedures which were to lead in the end to a new split, every bit as harrowing and as empassioned as that first one.
It was one of history’s ironic coïncidences thet the 5th of January 1953 was also the day of the première of Samuel Becket’s “Waiting for Godot”… During that stormy month of June, Pope Pius XII while giving an address before the participants of the Vth International Congress of Psychotherapy and Clinical Psychology, was making a step towards the acknowledgement by Catholics of psychoanalysis, with serious reservations, all the same: the psychic processes described are “in the soul but not the soul”, only absolution could hold power over “real culpability”, the rule of free association being insufficient to free one from the confidential relationship of confession etc. etc.
So the newspapers threw up headlines, according to their opinions, “Armistice between Freud and the Vatican (La Dépêche de Toulouse) or “The Pope speaks out against the abuses of psychoanalysis” (Le Figaro). The Revd Fr. Beirnaert, one of the signatories of the Resolution of the 51″ and one of the first to have become integrated in the vew S.F.P., tried to show in his commentaries that there was no incompatibility between religious practice and analytical cure.
And yet, the previous year the Revd Fr. Gemelli, a psychologist, member of the Pontifical Academy, had been very explicit: “Psychoanalysis is a malady of our times, like Communism […] As a means of treatment it is not only a school for irresponsibility, but also an instrument for man’s deshumanisation” […] For all these reasons, a Roman Catholic cannot adhere to psychoanalytic doctrine, he cannot accept it, he cannot undergo psychoanalytic therapy; a Catholic must not entrust his own patients to treatment by psychoanalysts. Psychoanalysis is a danger, because it is the fruit of Freud’s coarse materialism”. An article published in 1953 by La Pensée catholique will go further in its denunciation: “A collection of disgraceful complexes thought up by the scrapers of psychic dustbins, such are those pleasant things currently so much spoken and written of…”
If Catholics have been warned, Communists were by no means behind; The Nouvelle Critique of June 1951 had gone very far in making itself odious: thus “Idealistic with regard to method, psychoanalysis has rejoined the family of the ideologues founded on the irrational, as far as , and including, Nazi ideology. Hitler did nothing else by cultivating myths of race and blood, a Nazi version of the instincts’ irrationality”. For their part, the female militants had been warned two months earlier by the same review, “how much more harmful psychoanalysis is when it presents itself to women as a liberation […] in it eroticism becomes a scientific phenomenon and abnormal and deprived moves are described in it in all abjectivity”.
In spite of this ideological curtain fire, psychoanalytic fact did not cease to penetrate into French society, sometimes in fictional forms. “Psychoanalysis takes aim at astrology”, as the journal Elle of the 4th August 1952 assured as, whilst Marie-France praised before her readers the merits of a cream christened “Complexed”…
A series of articles by Jean Eparvier in France-Soir in the autumn of 1952, was more serious in its aims of vulgarising, trying to present to the great public the psychoanalytic notions to which more and more reference was being made in daily life, in conversation, in books, the media.
In February 1953, Liberation stated regretfully: “Psychoanalysis is a fact, it is in fashion; it has not ceased to advance with lightening speed. After the aesthetes, the artists, the femmes du monde, the infatuation has reached the bourgeoisie; we cannot be absolutely certain that (directed) psychoanalysis will not one day, lend its support to the slight excuse of pain between the ribs”. As for the serious Le Monde, it had no doubt about the importance which psychoanalytic ics would carry in its columns in decades to come, ironising thus on the 13.3.1953: “We knew that psychoanalysis was the “tarte à la crème” of our time. When you are undecided about choosing a profession, a woman or a tie, try psychoanalysis […] and you will find your evidence, with a complexion “à complexe”: psychoanalysis, I say, psychoanalysis! It is the new key to dreams, the therapeutic magic”.
Might one not think of being back in 1923 ? No, to tell the truth, for behind this façade there are perceptible real changes. The Pope has been heard by his faithful and, in October 1955, the Informations catholiques internationales could make the following acknowledgement: “Psychoanalysis has that in common with Existentialism and with the Language of Aesop! […] Just as the atheist exercises of existentialist philosophy do not contradict in any way the value and the quality of a Christian existentialism, so one can also admit without doubt that the grave risks entailed in a psychoanalytic view of man do not exclude a Christian use of psychoanalysis […] As long as the hieratic authority shows its concern by warning Christians against dangerous abuses, it is quite clear that this warning does not carry any condemnation of principle of psychoanalytic methods”.
As for the Communist side, one had to go on waiting for the French Communist Party to admit to those revelations made by Kruschev at the XXth Party Conference in 1956, pertaining to Stalin’s crimes; later on, about Russian tanks having crushed the Rising in Budapest in November that year. In due course, there was to be a change of direction, already started in La Raison of September 1957, by way of subtle distinctions, almost as subtle as those of theologians or, of old, of an Hesnard or a Pichon. In the former, a distinction is drawn between “the explanatory conceptual apparatus “du freudisme”, “its extension into sociology, history, philosophy”, or else its “political use” and the importance of facts discovered by Freud, “the gravity of problems raised, in particular by the social determination of that which is sexual”. In it, hope was expressed for a “common language, enriching psychiatric clinical studies, which cannot effectively be anything but psychotherapeutic in application, for the greatest good of our patients”.
First split of French analytical community
“Think of parents who divorce” – this is what some analysts had said to their distressed patients after the split… The tear went deep, some of yesterday’s friends were not to meet again. Here and there, in spite of measures taken, there were some who left their supervisor, others who s ped to attend a seminar which had previously interested them. Training analyses got interrupted.
And as in a divorce, one made accounts. Not over money, of which there was apparently to be no question, but over the analysts in training. “Around 25 out of 83” of them will stay at the S.P.P., as Lacan wrote to Loewenstein, who, having repeated this in front of members of the International Psychoanalytic Association at the Congress in London, was to be contradicted by Nacht. In fact, there was to be a more or less 50:50 representation, with a slight advantage for the new “Société française de Psychanalyse”. On its very first ever published list of the 23.6.1953, we read the following names: Didier Anzieu, Jacques Caïn, Jean Clavreul, Wladimir Granoff, Serge Liebschutz (future Serge Leclaire), Octave Mannoni, François Perrier, Jenny Roudinesco (future Jenny Aubry), Mustafa Safouan, as well as many others among them who were subsequently going to leave their mark on French psychoanalytical life.
A breath of liberalism was blowing, witness the text which the provisional Council announced to the public on the objectives of the new Society: “We are fighting for the freedom of science and for humanism. Humanism is without power unless it is militant”. Nothing being simple, this conclusion was preceded by an introduction by Daniel Lagache, which was meant to be reassuring: “with reference to the S.P.P. which we have just left, we recognise no doctrinal difference regarding theory and technique of Psychoanalysis […] We are, on the other hand, divided by profound differences of a moral order […] Our aim is to create a Society and an Institute in a climate which is both democratic and free with mutual respect and mutual help”.
In June 1964, exactly eleven years later, Jean Clavreul, underlining the deep cleavages which had been perceptible ever since the formation of the S.F.P., was to criticise the vagueness of these preliminary declarations and the absence of any organised thought behind it. He likewise criticised the soothing announcement on “theoretical and technical conformity”. “Political adroitness no doubt and appropriate for handling the future. But it is nevertheless a very curious way for a Society to announce its new position, saying that nothing – or almost nothing – distinguishes it from the other Society from which it is separating”. He has a good point when he goes on to say: “Confusion in its training, absence of a directive, this disorder was like that which manifested itself in the heterogeneity of its leaders. For there was really not much in common between a Lagache and a Lacan, between a Juliette Favez and a Françoise Dolto. One could say the same about the haphazard recruitement of students who did not quite know why they were there for the best part of time”.
In 1953, Jean Clavreul was still one of those pupils, and, as everyone had believed would from then onwards have the possibility of signing on for those seminars or courses of his choice, that no “cycle” would compel him to ressemble a schoolchild, that he would be able to belong to “study-groups”, all more or less specialized. These latter were to be represented by a Committee which would even participate at so called “enlarged” meetings of the Committee of professional members.
The first scientific meeting of the Société française de Psychanalyse took place on the 8th of July 1953, in the big amphitheatre of the Clinique des Maladies Mentales et de l’Encéphale, under the direction of professor Jean Delay at Sainte Anne. This venue was not without tactical importance, as it placed the teaching of the Society – and that of Lacan, in particular, under the shepherd’s crook of the Faculty of Medicine. In his letter to Loewenstein of the 14th July 1954, Lacan put it as follows: “If anyone is going to tell you that we are as near as makes no difference, to being the representatives of the clan of psychologists, don’t believe it: we shall show you, lists in hand, that we have among our pupils more physicians than the former Society, and the best qualified ones, at that.” For the time being, “in front of an audience of 63 people, of whom 45 have already given us their adherence as candidates in our training and work”, he gave an address on “Le symbolique, l’imaginaire et le réel”. Let us note, all the same, the manner in which Lagache, as chairman of the meeting, introduced him: “We have asked our friend Lacan to speak, for everyone knows, in spite of his little faults, of our admiration and our attachement to him”…
Daniel Lagache began his courses and his seminars at the Sorbonne, putting himself under the banner of the University. He did not appreciate Lacan in the least, and it had escaped no one that these sentiments were mutual, and yet they both tried to present a common front and to put a brave face on things during the early hopeful years of the S.F.P. With the war of attrition conducted by the I.P.A. and carefully fuelled by the S.P.P., the varnish of their relationship was to crack; but one cannot suspect Lagache of having played towards Lacan some double game from the beginning, though the latter was to accuse him one day of “forfaiture” (breach of honour). Does he not attribute to him, in his comments on the split, the rôle of “sacrificial goat” ?
At the end of September 1953, the XVIth Conference of French speaking Psychoanalysts took place in Rome, with Lacan chosen the previous year by the S.P.P. as their representative. He had been replaced by Francis Pasche, who was to have his debut in the rôle he was to play henceforth as spokesman of Freudian orthodoxy, with: “Anxiety and the Freudian theory of instincts” (let us remember that “instinct”, like “impulse”, are not anodyne words in theoretical quarrels) and Serge Lebovici presented with René Diatkine “A Study of Hallucinations in a Child”. All the same, professeur Nicolas Perroti had kept open the invitation which had been sent to Lacan and a day had been set aside for supplementary work for the recently signed up members of the S.F.P. Beside the anticipated address by Emilio Servadio and one which both rival societies had in common, on the cruelly appropriate subject of “The rôle of pre-oedipal conflicts”, one could also hear René Spitz, over from the U.S.A. and, above all, Lacan (once the “others”, led by Nacht, had left the premises).
“Function and dimension of speech and language in psychoanalysis”, or what was to become known as “The Rome address”, was certainly to become a landmark on account of the historical circumstances in which it was delivered, but, above all, because of the doctrinal distinctions expressed. Retrospectively, it seems to stand in place of programme or of policy keynote for the new Society, with all the theoretical and technical consequences and sources of conflict, which were to follow on from it: “Whether it sees itself as an agent of healing, of training or of exploration, psychoanalysis has only one medium: the patient’s spoken utterance […] We shall demonstrate that there is no spoken word without a response, even if it were to meet only with silence, provided it has a listener and this is the center of its function in the analysis”.
This paper, which had made a great impact through the insights it had opened up, and through the passionate discussions it had excited, subsequently appeared in 1955 in the first number of La Psychanalyse, that new journal of the S.F.P. (whose 8th and last number was to accompany the secession of 1964) and which was published, like the Revue française de Psychanalyse, by the Presses Universitaires Françaises which also brought out the “Library of Psychoanalysis and of Clinical Psychology”, directed by Daniel Lagache, to be taken over one day by Jean Laplanche.
Lacan’s initiative to throw open to the public his Seminar was as innovative as it was audacious. Its ritual meetings every Wednesday at 12.15 pm were to punctuate the French psychoanalytical scene for a quarter of a century. It was the first time such teaching was not reserved only for analysts or for analysts to be, but was made available to all, even to the non analysed. For the first time, Lacan was showing off his own “analysands”, when he began the new term which he was to laungh successfully on the 9th October 1967; he even came to believe, before long, that they were to find in these sessions the natural complement for their analytical sessions with him.
It was thus in the Unit of professor Delay that Lacan started on the 18th November 1953, his commentary on the “Technical Writings of Freud” (published 22 years later, thanks to Jacques Alain-Miller) also assuring every Friday the traditional “case presentation”, inherited from his master Clérambault, before an amazed public.
Daniel Lagache, called in 1954 to the Chair of Psychopathology at the Sorbonne, there dispensed instruction on ics such as “The initiation into psychoanalysis” or on the “Theory of the Transference”, more classical and less spectacular than the one given by Lacan. In this he was subsequently followed by George Favez who taught psychoanalytic technique to those candidates admitted to do their supervised analyses. Other study groups were devoted to the psychoanalysis of children, to group psychotherapy, to the psychoses.
Apart from extraordinary address given by guest speakers, such as George Bataille, Jean Hyppolite, Claude Levi-Strauss, Maurice Merleau-Ponty or Jean Rostand – papers from the Society members were presented and discussed every month, at least until the personal quarrels had thoroughly scattered their audiences. There were those “Journées Provinciales” or other meetings which allowed for larger groupings, of which the International Colloquium was one, organised at the Abbey of Royaumont from the 10th-12th July 1958. At it, a paper of Lagache was discussed on “Psychoanalysis and the Structure of the Personality” as well as another one by Lacan on “Management of the course of treatment and the mainspring of its influence” (“La direction de la cure et le principe de son pouvoir”).
A psychiatric day conference – organised by Henri Ey, who played the rôle of “middle man” (“Monsieur bons-offices”) a little ambiguously between the two societies – met on the 21st November 1954. Its central theme was “Depressive States” and contributors such as Serge Lebovici or Jean Mallet from S.P.P. and Julien Rouart, at that time still member of the S.F.P., were all brought together.
Daniel Lagache, in this rôle of Chairman of the group of “Evolution psychiatrique” presided over the morning’s work while Pierre Mâle chaired the after lunch sessions. During these, the contributors were: Pierre Marty, Marie Bonaparte, Cyril Koupernik, Henri Ey, Daniel Lagache, Paul Claude Racamier, René Held and Jacques Lacan. There is “confrontation of different points of view”, wrote Pierre Marty, who limited himself to expressing in a brief summary, the hope of “centering the discussion increasingly around clinical cases […] and then perhaps it (this confrontation) may become the desirable interpenetration”.
There was to be none of it the time being for the wounds of the rupture were not healed yet and the growing success of Lacan’s teaching accentuated the separation which divided the French psychoanalysts. There was of course, that break between the S.P.P. and the S.F.P., but there also developed, fairly rapidly, one between the members of the S.F.P. themselves. There already were and increasingly there were to be “lacaniens”, recognizable by certain mannerisms or also through language ties, borrowed from the master, different from those others whom they pretended to ignore. Lacan was ready to give an example of ferocious irony, with which he would lash his adversaries, but his pupils, repeating his sarcasms, were soon to direct these traits against all those who did not convert in their own Society to the lacanian message.
On the occasion of a conference held at the Neuropsychiatric Clinic in Vienna on November the 7th 1955, the ic of the lacanian message was: “the return to Freud”. The success of this mobilising formula was prodigious, to be surpassed yet by that other phrase drawn from the same conference on “La chose freudienne”, reporting “that world from Freud to Jung from whose mouth I have it, when both were invited to Clark University and when they came in view of the port of New York and its famous statue lighting up the universe: “They do not realise we are bringing them the pest”. “A whole romantic and revolutionary imagery of psychoanalysis was to take off from it, recaptured and magnified after the explosion of May 68”, reassuring Lacan, who became its symbol, an undeniable political success.
Beside those famous aphorisms, such as “the unconscious is structured like a language” or “the unconscious is the discourse of the other”, another lacanian trait was to make headway in France. One will attribute it retroactively to Freud who had no such neatly expressed opinion on this matter, whereas Lacan very justly asserted his rights of paternity on the 5th February 1957, occasioned by a lecture by George Favez, when he declared: “A therapeutic analysis has always something fairly limited about it. All the same, there is always something in the nature of a gift in excess about any recovery (“la guérison y a tout de même toujours un caracrère de surcroît”)- as I have said before to the horror of certain ears”.
Besides, as time by, numerous remarks of Lacan seemed to be obstinately intended for the ears (known and wanted by him in his hiding place) of his friends of yesteryear, images frequently sooked of adversaries whom he is missing and who consequently still exalt him. In spite of their reciprocal pretence at ignoring one another, many a secret correspondence connected Lacan, Nacht and Bouvet in the vault of their denied affinities and of their disillusioned loves.
competition between the societies(SPP versus SFP)
The day after the secession, the rank of the S.P.P. needed replenishment by way of electing new professional members. First, there was Bela Grunberger, in November 1953, then Jean Favreau, Michel Fain and René Held, at the begining of 1954, but above all, the litigious Institute needed to get off with a smooth start, many eyes upon it watching out for signs of failure. Sacha Nacht was its director and was to remain so for further 9 years which assured for his policy the wished for stability, so much desired after these storms.
The programme had been modified as the result of the defections and the recent promotions, but the principles had remained unchanged: 3 cycles (of programme), facultative options and extraordinary conferences. In January 1954, the Institute of Psychoanalysis announced “the opening of a Centre for Psychoanalytic Diagnosis and Treatment for patients of slender means. The conditions of treatment are those pertaining to cnsultations in Public Hospitals”. Michel Cénac and René Diatkine were in charge and this centre was soon integrate into the set up of O.P.D’s under the public office of the department of Social Hygiene in the Seine prefecture, which made it possible to offer free psychoanalytic treatment and which, a few years later, allowed for a certain number of non-medical analysts to work there.
After so much expenditure of effort and fighting, an official inauguration of the Institute came to function on the 1st June 1954, with its share of addresses as stuffed with double meanings as in those of 1934. Pierre Mâle, president confirmed of the Society, spoke first, followed by Sacha Nacht. One could hear Edouard Pichon all over again, in the hymn intoned to Medicine. The teachers – with one exception – and one can imagine the gasp given by the Princess – were all, garantie suprême – “physician-psychiatrists, former residents in teaching hospitals, former consultant-psychiatrists” etc. etc. The shadow of professor Claude was invoked by a citation: “Our pupils will henceforth be initiated, not only in practice, but also into the exact knowledge of Freudian doctrine”.
Monsieur André Portal, chief cabinet minister, presented the apologies for unavoidable absence on behalf of André Marie, minister of National Education, “called away to the President of the Republic” and desirous, above all else “to remain a stranger to the polemics which can divide the leaned of psychoanalysis”.
This was followed by congratulations and by ministerial fair words, giving the set to a declaration which confirmed Nacht’s fears and which appeared to justify the latter’s policy of rapprochement to the International Psychoanalytic Association, avoiding an official status for psychoanalysis. “We wish to remind you that the teaching to which you attach such importance, is alreay in existence at the University and in particular, in the Faculty of Medicine in Paris. […] There you can find multiple approaches to psychosomatic medicine, there they apply different methods of clinical exploration of the unconscious, there too the teaching of Freudian psychoanalysis is both theoretical and clinical, there too training analyses are undertaken, as well as supervised analyses, such as prepare for the exercise of psychoanalysis”.
Everyone understood that in the face of the traditional French institutions, the Institute had no other support but its recognition internationally. Princess Marie Bonaparte did not fail to remind them of it, accustomed, since the death of Freud, to slip in the glorious allusion which lent authority: “Pupil of Freud himself, with whom I have spent so many months each year in Vienna”… Ernest Jones, a former president of the I.P.A. and especially over London, announced quite unambiguously: “The Institute which we are opening today is the only one which the I.P.A. recognizes in France as qualified to give the necessary training for the practice of psychoanalysis”. A defeat no doubt, for the academic sections of the S.F.P., but the latter was yet to give proof and impel recognition.
Thus, for all the years to come, there was competition between the societies, each of them looking for openings in which to gain a footing for psychoanalysis. In the field of psychiatry, it was the experience of the Association of Mental Health of the XIIIth ward of Paris, set up in 1958 by Philippe Paumell, Serge Lebovici and René Diatkine, with the support of Henri Duchêne at the Centre of the Seine Prefecture, which instituted the training of medico-social local teams with a strong psychoanalytical colouring; this all had to be organised and integrated. Such an extension of the powers of psychoanalysts in the field of prevention and care was to create one day the fear of the imperialism of “psychanalysme”, to speak with Robert Castel.
As far as the psychoanalysis of children was concerned, its representatives from the side of the S.P.P. were mainly Serge Lebovici, who published in 1960, together with Joyce McDougall, A case of infantile psychosis; another one was René Diatkine; soon followed by Roger Misès and by Michel Soulé. Then there was Pierre Mâle, author in 1964 of his Psychotherapy for Adolescents, the fruit of his experience at the Hôpital Henri-Rousselle, where he had been working with Jean Favreau; there were further Ilse Barande and Pierre Bourdier. From the S.F.P. side, there was Jenny Aubry, offering analysts the opportunities of her hospital unit in “L’hôpital des Enfants Malades”; there was the O.P.D. at the Hôpital Trousseau, a lively teaching centre, run by Françoise Dolto, who had published in 1961 Psychoanalysis and Paediatrics. In 1964, Maud Mannoni had brought out The Backward Child and its Mother and Victor Smirnoff, in 1966, his Child psychoanalysis.
To begin with, Melanie Klein’s theories had not been, on the whole, well received in France. By and by, a certain number of analysts were to quote her authority, without making privileged use of her ideas in their practice. One had to wait in fact, until 1965, when James Gamill, an American analyst trained by Melanie Klein herself in London, then Jean and Florence Begoin, trained in Geneva, were to become her spokesmen in the bosom of the S.P.P. Instead, the increasingly developing contacts with the English Society allowed Winnicott’s concepts to become popular reasonably quickly in French analytical circles.
We have seen that psychosomatic medicine had become an early ic of interest, but the French, refusing to follow in the steps of Anglo-Saxon authors were trying out an original approach in this field. Jean-Paul Valabréga brought out since 1954 Psychosomatic Theories and, in 1962, The Therapeutic relationship, the patient and the physician. On behalf of the S.P.P. the team formed around Pierre Marty by Michel Fain, Michel de M’Uzan and Christian David, were to expose their own very personal ideas in 1963 in Psychosomatic Investigation – not without previous numerous publications.
Serge Lebovici, Jean and Evelyne Kestemberg,later Jean Gillibert and Robert Barande, had tried out psychodrama; Didier Anzieu together with Angelo Bejarano, René Kaës, André Missenard and Jean Bertrand Pontalis, were, in their turn, studying Psychoanalytic Work in Groups (1972). To researches on the psychoses illustrated in 1958 at Brussels at the Congress of French speaking psychoanalysts, with “The Psychoanalytic Theory of the Confusional States” – a report by Sacha Nacht and by Paul Claude Racamier, the latter following up his reflection in this field with The Psychoanalyst without his couch (1970) – corresponded a special number of La Psychanalyse published that same year, with contributions by Lacan – the latter had devoted his 1955/56 Seminars to the Psychoses – and other, such as Jean-Louis Long, Serge Leclaire, Michel Schweich, Guy Rosolato and Daniel Widlöcher.
There would be no end to citing such publications, all the more interesting when you consider that every clan affected to ignore the other’s output, inaugurating a kind of ostracism of bibliographic references, which was only hardening with time.
These comments apply equally when we come to psychoanalysis proper with its champions in each of the two societies. There was, however, one at the S.P.P. on whom Lacan would, behind his mockeries, bestow a certain amount of attention: this was Maurice BOUVET (1911-1960) “He is an honest and a generous man”, Lacan was to write to Loewenstein in 1953 under the anonymous description of “the one who in the beginning was faithful and devoted to us because of the very sensibilities of a delicate personality, but one who, physically too fragile, has finished up spent, not wanting to hear anymore of the tensions which only made him worse”.
In fact, Maurice Bouvet was gravely ill, but, an obstinate worker unto his very end at 48 years, he was the only theoretician who was capable of matching Lacan’s mobilizing hypotheses. The latter maintained across publications – be it said – a sort of dialogue, perceptible via the concordances of dates and themes. In 1952, on the occasion of the XVth Conference of French speaking psychoanalysts, Bouvet had presented a paper on “The Ego in the Obsessive Neurosis. Objet relations and defence mechanisms”. Lacan again wrote to Loewenstein that “by contrast with Nacht’s lack of lustre, a certain number of personalities, the carriers of an authentic experience and of a veritable power of expression, had manifested themselves at the last Congress”, before confiding: “This year has been particularly fertile and I think I have been able to give an authentic turn forward to the theory and technique specific for the obsessional neurosis”. In 1954, Bouvet brought out an article in the Encyclopédie médico-chirurgicale on “La cure type” (the classic way of analytical treatment). The following year, Lacan published in it one on “Various forms of treatment”. In his turn, Bouvet replied on the occasion of the International Congress of 1957 in Paris, with his contribution on “Changes in technique (distance and variations)”. If Lacan’s seminar in 1956-57 was devoted to “Object relation” was it entirely unconnected with the chapter entitled “La clinique psychanalytique – La relation d’object”, which Bouvet has edited for Psychanalyse d’aujourd’hui, that catalogue whose two volumes, issued in the course of that same year, 1956, had contained doctrinal contributions from the principal members of the Institute ?
Edited at the Presses Universitaires Françaises, under the direction of Sacha Nacht, that work ushered in a new collection called “Psychoanalytic actuality, Library of the Institute of Psychoanalysis” destined to compensate for the loss of the one kept by Lagache. A great number of titles were anticipated, of which only very few were to see the light of day; the grandiose project of a Treatise of Psychoanalysis did not go further than its 1st volume. Small matter, the P.U.F. maintained their oecumenism by accepting, as from 1973, another collection, linked with the S.P.P., “The Red Thread” whose “general section”, depended on Christian David, Michel de M’Uzan and on Serge Viderman, whilst the “Section of psychoanalysis and of child psychiatry” depended on Julian de Ajuriaguerra, René Diatkine and Serge Lebovici.
In 1958, Nacht created a complement to the cycles of training at the Institute in the form of a “Post Training Seminar”, reserved for psychoanalysts living in the provinces or abroad; it continues to be held annually. In fact candidates turn up from every direction for a teach-in and so do requests for training, to which the Institute is alone capable of responding at international level.
Numerous members take the train or the plane, some monthly, other less frequently, to avail themselves of courses and of supervision outside Paris or even outside France. In the provincial cities, the students of the two societies were attempting to organise themselves, each in their way. In the archives of the S.P.P., one can find the record of a Strasbourg group under Juliette Favez-Boutonier, as far back as 1952, before the break-away; we have to wait until 1958 for the birth of a Lyons group, which, set up by Maurice Benassy, was to come to occupy a particulary important place in France with the contributions of Jean Bergeret, Jacqueline Cosnier and later, Jean Guillaumin.
The traditional Conference of French speaking psychoanalysts, organised by the S.P.P., had, after 1954, opened the doors of its management committee to representations of the Belgian, Italian and Swiss, Psychoanalytic Societies. In 1958, it was to be the turn of Canadian Society, (several of whose founder members had been trained in Paris) where French speaking pupils had come to stay and work during their training analyses. Soon, small groups were to achieve the status of the Societies, those which had been working under the guidance of Parisian training analysts, eg the Portuguese-Spanish Study Group, regularly visited in Barcelona by René Diatkine and by Pierre Luquet in Lisbon. Regular contacts were maintained with Switzerland, for example through the Seminar in Child Psychoanalysis, animated through Diatkine, (who was a great traveller), and Lebovici (whom we also find in Greece in 1957, in Copenhagen in 1958, etc. etc.)
This special place of the S.P.P. at the hub of the international movement can also be deduced from the fact that Paris had been chosen on three separate occasions as the venue for hosting the International Psychoanalytical Congress, i.e. in 1938,1957 and 1973. Likewise, the importance of French participation was confirmed by their representation on the Executive Council of the International Psychoanalytical Association (not without consequences for the tribulations of the S.F.P.) on organisation in which the Anglo-Americans were in a large majority after the 2nd world war: there was Marie Bonaparte, post-war vice-president, then honorary president after 1957, there was Sacha Nacht, vice-president from 1957-1969, then there was André Green, vice-president from 1975 to 1977, above all, there was Serge Lebovici, vice-president from 1967-1973, the only French so far ever elected president of the I.P.A., i.e. from 1973-1977. After the recognition of the A.P.F., Daniel Widlöcher was to occupy the post of General Secretary of the central administration of the I.P.A. from 1973 to 1977.
As for the European Federation, founded in 1969, France holds in it the place it merits, but it does not look as if the French analysts had really invented in that organisation, whose works do not excite much attention. It is noteworthy all the same that its constitution has induced the S.P.P. to create a supplementary category by way of an emergency, that of “affiliated members”, in order to swell the establishment of its subscribers. Indeed, the number of delegates representing the diverse societies had to be proportional to that of its members. This departure from a hitherto rather Malthusian policy was to have important consequences, giving right of presence and of word at the meetings, ever since the disputes of May 1968, eg to a certain number of young analysts who would otherwise have been left in their status of ex-students without any real status. Moreover, this numerical increase was to put pressure on the Society, which by 1967 had remained somewhat homespun, to transform itself progressively into an institution with a home of its own, with all the administrative and bureautic weight which such changes do not fail to engender.
In the “50ies”, the essentially formative international activities of the S.S.P. further represented a kind of counterpoint to the seduction exercised by Lacan’s teaching, whose originality was to assert itself year in year out on the intellectual circles and on the young-psychiatrists. The growing vogue of structuralism to which he appealed – a famous cartoon of Maurice Henry represented him in a loin-cloth, side be side with “savages”, among whom were to be recognised Michel Foucault, Claude Lévi-Strauss and Roland Barthes – as well as the borrowings made from linguistics, all went to endow him at that time with a scientific halo within the empirical human sciences thereby assuring his success. But this was not only a phenomenon of fashion: it obliged one to a rethink, to a re-evaluation (“remettre en question”) as it was to be called before long, of pseudo-certainties with which a certain French analytical discourse was decked out, even if it was to eclipse a little too soon the work of Bouvet (whose memory is nevertheless perpetuated in the annual award of a Maurice Bouvet Prize in Psychoanalysis, founded in 1962) or the “genetic perspectives”, whose quasi final synthesis was presented in 1965 by Jean and Evelyne Kestemberg. That same year, Paul Ricoeur published his much disputed work On interpretation, an essay on Freud, and came close to that which attracts philosophers and academics to psychoanalysis.
In October 1960, Henri Ey organised the VIth Colloquium de Bonneval on the theme “The Unconscious”, winning his bet of bringing together Jean Hyppolite, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Eugène Minkowski, Henri Lefèbvre, Paul Ricoeur, Alphonse de Waelhens and several psychiatrists, supporters of both Societies. Lebovici and Diatkine were the older representatives for the S.P.P., the new generation being represented by André Green and Conrad Stein. Laplanche, Leclaire, and Perrier belonged to the S.F.P. But Jacques Lacan turned up and, as sure as ever of his audience, he contributed through his interventions directed at his former colleagues, to turn the Symposium into a “Circus”, as Henri Ey was to remark bitterly.
At the same time it was obvious that the younger analysts were not really interested in the rows of the past, weaving their own ties of respect and of friendship between one Society and the other.
Conrad Stein, anxious to escape from the Nacht-Lacan dilemna, was even to form in 1961 a weekly seminar, not reserved only for pupils or members of the Institute. Among the first to participate in this almost revolutionary initiative were Nicolas Abraham, Julien Bigras, Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel, Jean-Luc Donnet, Dominique Geahchan, Joyce McDougall, René Major, Michel Neyraut, Lucien Sebag, Maria Torok, etc. Furthermore, Stein, Piera Aulagnier and Jean Clavreul were to found together in 1967 the journal L’Inconscient, which was to earn for all three of them Lacan’s disapproval.
Lacan had even sought a few years earlier to attract those young analysts of the S.P.P., whose qualities he had intuited, and ever whose presence at his seminars he had rejoiced, including André Green’s comments and arguments over his theories. Without having achieved yet the popular appeal which was to come, he continued to extend his influence, to the great injury of some members of the S.F.P. He upset established rules, invented tricks with bits of paper and string, only to be repeated with febrile haste on the wards; thus he knew how to have laughter on his side and at the same time, how to stimulate reflection. But his hasty teaching practice greatly increased at the S.F.P. the number of his pupils, just as his public lessons reinforced his power.
He threatened to become a State within a State, and only recourse to the I.P.A. could avoid asphyxia, according to those who, faithful to the ideals of the inception of the S.F.P., no more wanted to fall back into the presumed tyranny of Nacht than comply with the arbitrariness which Lacan tended to bring increasingly into his attitude to analysis.
Lacanians’ attempt to be recognized by IPA, Lacan is betrayed
“There is no reason why the S.F.P. should not be recognised by the I.P.A. on the occasion of the next London Congress” – Daniel Lagache had declared the day after the secession, the 18th of June 1953, with an optimism which was speedily given the lie by the announcement of his personal exclusion and by the non-recognition of his group during the London Congress, on the 26th of July the following year.
A Committee of five members, among them Phylis Greenacre, Jeanne Lampl de Groot and Donald W. Winnicott, were elected by the Executive Committee, then presided over by Heinz Hartmann, “to establish the facts and to present a report”. As soon as they all got back from their summer holidays 1953, the Committee members set to work. That July, Lagache had brought out a memorandum whilst a report drawn up by Schlumberger, Benassy and Marty gave the S.P.P. version of the split. The members of the S.F.P. were afraid of the slender power with which the Committee of enquiry was endowed, bearing in mind the hostility of the Princess, who, both as vice-president and as Anna Freud’s personal friend, had a seat on the Executive; they nevertheless agreed to submit to an enquiry of which Wladimir Granoff reminds us as follows: “In that series of interviews, an equitable dynamic distribution was arrived at, which means – if I may so express it – that the responsibility for interviewing the hardest heads was given to the hardest – here, in this case, to Mme Lampl de Groot, as the emanation of central power; above all, for the leaders of the rebellion, as it was then called, at student level”.
The result of these interrogations revealed itself as unfavourable to the S.F.P. and, as from May 1954, the Revue française de psychanalyse could publish the news, again repeated in June, when the Institute had its opening, and once more in July: “The Office of the I.P.A. has unanimously refused his affiliation”. Only the teaching at the Institute of Psychoanalysis, formed under the aegis of the S.P.P., is recognised as valid by the I.P.A.
A vote by members of the I.P.A., united in an administrative plenary session during an international congress is statutorily absolutely essential before a new component society can be admitted. Thus, the S.F.P. was to go on hoping for its affiliation for twelve years, at two yearly intervals, from city to city and from congress to congress. The Commission’s refusal of 1954 was thus to be ratified the following year, at the XIXth International Congress in Geneva “on account of the group’s insufficiency in its training and in their teaching capacities”. The members of the S.F.P. did not consider it timely to renew their demand when the XXth Congress was held at Paris, organised by Nacht, at the end of July 1957, and to see his election to the vice-presidency of the I.P.A.
Nothing official, in fact, arrived before the 11th May 1959. We read: “The principle for a new request for affiliation has been taken unanimously during the meeting of the enlarged Council of the S.F.P.”, a decision followed by the establishment of a detailed memoir edited by Serge Leclaire, the Society’s Secretary, and addressed to the I.P.A., the 4th July, in the name of the president, Angelo Hesnard, by Daniel Lagache, vice-president.
“15 full members (13 medical) 17 associates (11 medical)… 28 trainees (20 medical/8 non-medical) 22 not accepted for training (7 medical/15 non-medical) 15 admitted to analyse under supervision (13 medical/2 non-medical), a training which is “dispensed to a large extent in the settings of the Clinique des Maladies Mentales et de l’Encéphale”, nothing being neglected to reassure the Americans, savage partisans of an exclusively medical psychoanalysis, showing oneself to be at least as “orthodoxe”, on this point, as the S.P.P. Regretfully, on the 28th of July 1959, Dr W.H. Gillepsie, presiding at Copenhagen over the fateful congress session, declared himself not to be convinced. He proposed the nomination of a new Committee, so as to hold an enquiry on the spot, as had been done 6 years before, prior to any possible recognition.
On the following 1st of December, a General Assembly of the S.F.P. approved of the steps undertaken over the affiliation inspite of the prospect of another inquisition and not withstanding the possible repercussions on those analyses already in progress and inspite of the need of extracting new promises from Lacan to apply at last those international norms with which he was playing around and which he had been mocking for the past 8 years. Be it said that this approval was not given without serious debate.
With the euphoria of “freedom” well past, the S.F.P. was to feel the ever growing internal tensions and splits in its ranks; they were cleavages whose precocious origins had been identified by Serge Leclaire even before Clavreul. An international Colloquium, assembled at Royaumont, in July 1958, had shown up the relative exile into which its members had found themselves plunged, even if friendly tokens from abroad reached individual members privately. Members were anxious to discuss with other colleagues the new Anglo-Saxon theories which agitated the psychoanalytical world, and which did not confine themselves to that ego psychology of Hartmann, Kris and Loewenstein, and which made Lacan so indignant. Moreover, a whole group around Lagache considered themselves abusively invaded by the growing notoriety of Lacan. His doctrine tended to impress the public as representative of the thinking of the whole Society. There was nothing to it, everyone knew it. The recruitment of new trainees was to suffer from it, many of them applying because exclusively attracted by Lacan’s teaching. There were some, like Leclaire, who deemed it a pity that Lacan did not have his justly deserved place inside an International association, so that he could shift its members from their positions (judged to be hardened); this would further assure him before the wider world of a hearing they thought he well deserved.
On that point, Lacan was in total agreement with them, because one often forgets, on account of the lively trace of his anti-American railler, that he had shown himself ever since the beginning of the negociations to be very anxious for a conclusion to the demand for affiliation. He had gone to several international conferences, well present in the background, increasing his personal contacts with influential members of the I.P.A. He very much wished for the “Lacanians” in Paris to negotiate with the Central Executive.
For the time being, efforts were united between the partisans to the introduction of that “Trojan Horse” into the body of the I.P.A. and those, who hoped to find outside the Society a theoretical and institutional alternative to Lacanian exclusivism. The latter were represented on the Council of the S.F.P. by what had come to be dubbed “the troïka”, formed by Wladimir Granoff, Serge Leclaire and François Perrier, a “courageous and desperate attempt to marry water with fire, to permit the S.F.P. to live, inspite of its incurable malady which has been afflicting it ever since its inception” – thus wrote Jean Clavreul in 1964. And yet he does not let on that at other times others were joining the “troïka” to form the “soviet”, such as the three student delegates Jean Laplanche, Victor Smirnoff and Jean-Paul Valabréga, all very close to Lacan.
The small committee which had been set up in Copenhagen, consisted of Paula Heimann, Ilse Helman, P.J. Van der Leeuw, with Dr Peter Turquet as their secretary. That latter, hailed by Lacan in 1945 on his return from England, as “the psychoanalyst who is my friend Turquet” – and whom he was to describe in 1967 as: “called turkey, whose improper propositions I had to bear with in July 1962”-, was to take up first contacts with members of the S.F.P. in June 1960. The negotiations began and perhaps this partly explains the rather provocative attitudes which Jacques Lacan was to display that October vis-à-vis training members of the S.P.P. present at that Colloquium of Bonneval. They were aimed above all at Serge Lebovici, singled out as enemy N°1 of the S.F.P. within the I.P.A., ever since the retirement of the Princess.
In may 1961, the situation seemed to relax and a few negotiators seemed to lay the bases for an agreement behind the scenes of the XXIIth International Congress in Edinburgh: the S.F.P. was to withdraw its candidature of constituent Society and was to accept the more modest rank of “Study Group under the sponsorship of the I.P.A., acting through an ad hoc Committee”, formed by members of the previous Committee to which had been added Wilhelm Solms, a Viennese analyst, immediately designated at the S.F.P. as Lebovici’s right hand man. This sponsorship committee was to be the particular watch dog over training problems and over the right usage of very precise “Recommendations”, accepted by the official representatives of the S.F.P. Since, according to the statutes, every Study Group had to have 3 members at least, belonging to the I.P.A., the statute of member “at large” (direct and personal) was accorded on the 2nd August 1961 to Daniel Lagache, Juliette Favez-Boutonier and Serge Leclaire.
These Recommendations had an essential bearing on the training of candidates. As in 1953, Lacan’s way of conducting his training analyses was found inadmissible by the international authorities; the latter stipulated: a minimum of 4 sessions of 45 minutes each, therapy to be carried on for more than a year after the beginning of the first supervised case, etc. etc. In other respects, the working out of a stricter programme of training was demanded; likewise, the need for great circumspection was emphasized in regard to any envisaged training of foreign candidates, so as not to get into competition with local societies.
In a nutshell: everything which could possibly go against Lacan’s style of behaviour, had been lined up, matched by reinforcement or the powers of the Study Commission, chose mottley composition guaranteed non-allegiance. The negotiators of the S.F.P. had to accept that both Hesnard and Laforge were to be kept out of the training on account of their very personal work-style. But from the moment of landing at London airport, (so they said) they were informed of a supplementary Recommendation which they had not expected. It bore the number 13 and it stipulated: “That the doctors Dolto and Lacan distance themselves progressively from the training programme and that they are not to get any new cases for either training analyses or for supervision”.
This time, things were clear and names were given. Everybody could draw his own conclusions. On the 28th of September, the Society’s president, Juliette Favez-Boutonier “regrets that the Recommendations do not limit themselves to the stating of principles, instead implicating personalities” and concluded “Article 13 does not seem to us acceptable”.
And yet everything combined to make it acceptable. Time passed, passions got overheated, there were accusations of treason. The so-called airport “surprise” was not really one; nobody was in any doubt that Lacan was meant and not only by the members of the Executive Committee of the I.P.A. Those best disposed towards him, such as Serge Leclaire, wished to preserve his teaching and his freedom of speech, without being under any illusions: Lacan would have to be controlled and his didactic activity would have to be reduced as much as possible. But would this be possible with his own agreement ? New negotiations were begun, to last two years, with promises from Lacan, not kept, to be sure, followed by rages, civilities, insults, rapprochements, ruptures. During all that time, the Wesdnesday Seminar audiences went on growing, every week so gained making for new adepts.
At the beginning of 1962, such symbolic gestures as Lacan’s election to the presidence of the Society, with Françoise Dolto as vice-president, flanked by Lagache and by the “troïka”, did nothing to s the political realities. Serge Leclaire, the general secretary, wrote to Françoise Dolto on March 21st: “Once more I take the liberty to tell you quite simply that we do not, for the time being, wish you to take charge of new training analyses”. The application of at least half of “Article 13” had been launched…
Since there was no international congress what so ever in 1962, nothing very clear was to emerge from the underhand dealings, unless it was the “persistent rumours” in July, according to which the statute obtained in Edinburgh was to be put in question. In any case, why not, since the Recommendations had in actual fact remained a “dead letter”. Were these misgivings not also linked with the election, in February, of that “mortal enemy”, Serge Lebovici, to the post of Director of the Institute, after the difficult eviction of Sacha Nacht who, after 9 years, had still wanted to stay in that post ?
On the 6th January 1963, the Committee of Council of the I.P.A. met up with the members of the S.F.P. and its pressure was seemingly tougher since on January the 21st a motion from the Council of the Society “affirmed that the placing into position of exclusion of one of the founder members of the Society was not to be envisaged for whatever political reason”… Serge Leclaire was the president at that time, but such a solemn affirmation had all the airs of denial about it. Ten months later, everything was settled and done with.
On May the 19th 1963, Peter Tuquet gave the members of Council of the S.F.P. an outline of the report which the Advisory Committee had intended to submit to the Central Executive during the next Congress to be held in Stockholm. François Perrier took down extracts from it which, when presented to all the members of the Society that following November, provoked a stir and indignation. It said: “For the time being, that which in view of the Advisory Committee holds pride of place, is “le problème Lacan”. As a problem it even exceeds the internal affairs of the S.F.P. before one can get back to the question of the development of psychoanalysis in France. The fact that Lacan is unacceptable in the eyes of the I.P.A. does not appear to have been well understood by the Council of the S.F.P. It must be understood that he has to be excluded from all activity in relation to training and this forever […] It is very dubious whether the majority of his pupils have ever been analysed. He handles transference analysis without rhyme or reason. “He manipulates it”. Other grievances were to follow: “about studying Freud like mediaeval scribes, neglecting the works of contemporary psychoanalysis, negative transference is being ignored, the theorising prevails over what is experienced, there is not a word about phantasy; as for child psychoanalysis, everything needs revising (and this, moreover, in both Societies)” etc. etc. Conclusion: “To exclude Berge, Lacan and Dolto from the list of training analysts”. And let Lacan “work in peace and in his fashion as a simple member of the Society”. André Berge was indignant when he heard a few months later of this demand for his exclusion, which he attributed, after a correspondance with Turquet, to Serge Lebovici. Would the latter have wanted to offer up one more sacrifical victim to create a screen to Lancan’s sacrifice ?
A general meeting of the S.F.P. on July 2nd , 1963, reunited its members and, for the first time ever, the trainees, who had never before participated statutorily but of whom a large pro-Lacan section were lending a different colour to interventions and debates. Serge Leclaire reminded them all of the history and principles of their Society: of its style of relative freedom, free choice of analyst and of supervisor, of courses or of seminars. “There never have been any compulsory attendances, or compulsory examinations on the supervision. There never has been any entry check.” Besides, these practices had already by then lost a lot of their former virulence but it was the image of the Institute which was being invoked here. This freedom had also brought its own drawbacks with the “creation of closed circles within the Society”, the turning out of “pupils with a very one-sided training”. “One sometimes hears – in fun only, of course – how a certain supporter of a little circle would formulate what goes on in a certain other circle by dismissing it as of not the slightest interest, that it wasn’t even analysis”.
As for the Society meetings at which opposing tendencies could or should, be reconciled, they no longer attracted either speakers or audiences. Although negociations had come to the point of rupture, Leclaire went on to say that “one had to maintain and support the demand for application to the A.P.I., to restore and develop the exchanges with the Psychoanalytical movement”.
Was not such a motion, voted for by 17 against 4, with 1 blank vote, (or only half of the members of the S.F.P.) at the end of a long discussion, only another one of those temporising manoeuvres behind which everyone shelters their doubts and their bad consciences ? Could one really remove Lacan with a stroke of the pen ? Why did he not accept any concession ? How was one to get him to comply ?
On July 14th, some of the members came to a decision: Piera Aulagnier, (who did not fail before long to dissociate herself from that move) Jean-Louis Lang, Jean Laplanche, Jean-Bertrand Lefèvre-Pontalis, Victor Smirnoff and Daniel Widlöcher. They published a motion, so called “of proposers”, which accused the Commission for studies of laxity in the face of the required norms of training, protesting against their application in order to safeguard the actual statute of Study Group agreed on by the I.P.A. Some of them were at that time animated by hope; perhaps it accounted for Piera Aulagnier’s temporary presence: was that definite stance of theirs not going to make more of an impression on Lacan than Leclaire’s ambiguous game ? Might it not influence him to negotiate ?
Their motivations were indeed complex, in fact, they were extremely contradictory; analysed by, or pupils of, Lacan, they sought to gain the affiliation of the S.F.P. with Lacan at its hub, whilst maintaining that there is (to take up a remark of Jean Laplanche) “incompatibility between the functionning of a Society of analysts and the maintenance – such as it is – of Lacan’s position in our group”.
But Lacan knew he was in a strong position, menacing those who were hatching his exclusion or else promising support and prestige to those who were supporting him, always with that same alternation of charm and of violent rages which had already been experienced 10 years earlier. Once again there were rumours circulating of his depression, of his iminent suicide. One could not ignore the fact that a number of his analysands were to find themselves henceforth in the position of “Brutus”, of which they were unfailingly reproached as if they could ever forget it; they, moreover, who still relive 20 years later those moments with such intensity whenever one tries to speak to them about them.
Wladimir Granoff does not belong to them; his own former anlyst, an erstwhile great friend of Françoise Dolto and of Juliette Favez, had managed to stay inside the S.P.P. when the first secession had taken place, he had even been its president for two years. A discreet diplomat, gladly dealing in secrets and in hints, Granoff kept a low profile during those years, leaving the front of the stage to his two partners of the “troïka”. But he did not remain inactive, writing readily to the ones and to the others, telling them what he thought of the situation. If he was influenced by Lacan’s teaching he showed him no partiality and everything prompted him to play the international card.
At the administrative meeting of the XXIIIth Congress held in Stockholm in July 1963, Granoff was nominated, proposed by the Advisory Committee, as the 4th “Member at large” of the I.P.A. Contrary to Leclaire’s pessimistic premonitions that July, the Executive Council likewise decided to maintain the Statute of “Study Group” of the S.F.P. A very clear precise directive (“Minute”, in the original text) of 9 points, stated the conditions of this prolongation, nevertheless. “Henceforth, Dr Lacan is no longer recognised as a training analyst. This notification is to be effective by the 31st October, 1963 at the latest”.
This was an ultimatum. A brutal one and as inadmissible in its demand for the “candidates” to interrupt their ongoing analyses, as were the ruses and delaying manoeuvres of Lacan himself, who had provoked it. From then onwards, everything was to go very quickly, with once more, bad luck for the trainees who had been dragged by either the one or the other, of the two parties, into an affair which had nothing psychoanalytic about it but its name.
Two important meetings took place on Sunday, the 13th of October 1963. The one, at the instigation of the “motionnaires” (minus Piera Aulagnier) and in order to let Peter Turquet know of their existence, and of their analysis of the situation, and to consider with him the possible actions open to them. Serge Leclaire was indignant because the secretary of the Advisory Committee had accepted a private invitation, outside the Society, but he was unable to s him. As for the other group, it consisted of Juliette Favez-Boutonier, Daniel Lagache, Wladimir Granoff and Georges Favez; they composed the following motion to be presented the next day to the Study Commission for voting: “Dr Lacan, as from this day, no longer figures on the list of professional members entitled to conduct training analyses and supervisions”. The Rubican had been crossed…
A week later, during the “Autumn Days” of the S.F.P., the atmosphere was particularly bitter, with the schism weighing on everybody’s minds. Serge Leclaire had called for a General Meeting on the 10th of November in order to lender (so he thought) the collective resignation of the Council, henceforth to be split into two. He decided in the end to devote that meeting to an ultimate attempt at reflection and discussion, but by then it was too late. The following day he published the “decision” of the Office: “to see to it that the motion of the Study Commission, dated 14th October, will not be brought into effect”. As a simple “decision”, this text is a kind of motion of confidence, which needed to be approved of by a new general assembly, a two time process which reminds one of the motion by Mme Codet, 10 years earlier.
On November 19th 1963, the General Assembly disapproved of the “decision” by 22 votes/16 with 1 blank vote. That evening, all members had voted. The president, Serge Leclaire, Françoise Dolto, the vice-president and François Perrier, the scientific secretary, gave their immediate resignation.
The next day, the 20th of November, in the amphitheatre of professor Delay’s Department, Jacques Lacan was holding one of his Seminars. He opened it with the following words: “I have no intention of surrendering to any game which ressembles a sensational turn of events. I shall not wait until the end of this seminar in order to tell you that it will be the last one I shall hold […] I ask you to keep absolute silence during this meeting”. This seminar, under the title “Des noms-du-père” was in fact the only one on this theme and the last one to take place at Sainte-Anne, for profesor Delay took advantage of the circumstances to withdraw from Lacan any further hospitality.
“To find even in the impasse of a situation the vital force for intervention”… The old 1945 shiboleth had kept its efficacy. Two months after this adieu and banishment, Lacan had gone back on his decision and was opening his next seminar at the Ecole Normale Supérieure; it was on the 15th of January 1964 and it was on the new theme of “Four fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis”. For the first time, he was to move away from the institutional structures within which he had until then dispensed his teaching, in order to enter into his times, to take up his place beside the philosophers. His manner of speech, addressing himself increasingly to non-analysts, was to favour a form of theorising destined for the intellectuals who were to assure him of a considerable cultural repercussion. As for the “clinical” aspect, evident all the same by the presence of his analysands in the hall, it was to manifest itself only secondarily, being mainly represented by allusions, which he multiplied on the basis of all sort of silly sayings by others (his judgement) and under that heading. With time, the myth of “an analysis with Lacan” was to make of this initiatory trial the guarantee and the patent of a practical and theoretical qualification unlike any other; a good many years later, under the influence of predominantly non-analysts, the accent placed on pure theory was putting analytical therapy almost in the position of a “surplus” training.
At the end of 1963, there were those unable to imagine such a future and who thought they were still able to save the moribond S.F.P. Such was the case of Juliette Favez-Boutonier, who, after the resignation of the Office, repudiated by Leclaire, was to accept the presidency, with Berge and Lagache as vice-presidents and with Granoff as secretary general, Lang as scientific secretary and Didier Anzieu as treasurer. She loved this Society, whose most ardent foundation member she had ill supported. She continued to hope to get things right. Certainly, Leclaire and Perrier had cancelled meetings of which they had been in charge, her old friend Françoise Dolto had asked not to figure on the training programme and Maud Mannoni had cancelled her lecture for the 30th December, but she did not see the game as quite lost.
After all, Lacan had not been excluded, his seminar was not in question, he had not resigned. If only he could, as Leclaire had reckoned, consent to let go of the supervisions to devote himself entirely to magisterial teaching, time things settled down… A final attempt at secret negotiations was thus confided to Daniel Widlöcher, who approached his old analyst, all smiles at first, then saddened: “To do that to me at the very moment when I am about to make public my theory on my technical attitudes”… only to break off, finally threatening, assured of a success whose growing rumour he was able to perceive.
Others spoke and wrote in his place. A new chess piece advanced on the board pushed by Jean Clavreul. Its name is “Groupe d’études de la Psychanalyse” (G.E.P.) aiming to regroup as from December 1963, all those who are desirous to follow “work which is strictly psychoanalytic”. To be understood: “the Lacanians”.
Its creation was to serve in lieu of a declaration of war on the office of the S.F.P. which responded by denoucing the “embryo of a Society” and “the competition” thus organised under it own seal and in its very bosom. Another counter followed: the rejection of Jean Clavreul’s candidature to full membership on the 14th February 1964, “by virtue of his activities at the G.E.P., judged by the Office as contrary to the Statutes of the Society”. And finally a counter-attack: that same month of February, the “enlarged” office made a journey to London in order to discuss there with the representatives of the I.P.A. the new conditions which hold good in the Society as well as the means of preserving them.
A solution was being worked out which Maxwell Gitelson, the I.P.A. president, telegraphed to Wladimir Granoff, on May the first: “The International Association withdraws its laber of Study Group from the S.F.P., which can be done by simple decision of the Central Executive and does not necessitate a “plenary administrative session” whilst according to it a new one of “French Study Group”, directly placed under his control. Daniel Lagache and Peter Turquet were to have copies of the letter of confirmation which Granoff was to receive the following day. Henceforth, the following were recognised: Anzieu, Berge, Georges and Juliette Favez, Granoff, Lagache, Lang, Laurin, Mauco and Pujol. Among the 16 associate members also recognised, were: Jacques Caïn, Marianne Lagache, Jean Laplanche, Jean-Claude Lavie, Jean-Bertrand Lefèvre-Pontalis, Michel and Jacqueline Schweich, Victor Smirnoff, David Widlöcher.
The news was not given out officially until the 9th of June, at the General Assembly of the S.F.P. which had really ceased to exist. Lagache resigned from his functions of vice-president in order to become, henceforth, the president of the new group, whilst Widlöcher launched an appeal to anyone who would wish to join those who had already been accepted by the I.P.A. François Perrier was in revolt, stating that “the only proof of resolution of transference is summed up in the ex-pupil’s capacity to take an active part in the condemnation of his master”, thus highlighting what makes this split even more pathetic and almost less “political” than the previous one; a certain number of those members invested with the label international, were former analysands of Lacan, condemning their own teacher to whom they owe part of what they are when practising as analysts. Their teacher was to challenge them in vain: do you consider yourselves badly analysed ? Piera Aulagnier was indignant that they had dared to propose to Lacan to submit “to the approval of Chicago”, doing her utmost to participate in work groups organising aroung the G.E.P. rue d’Ulm, where Lacan was holding his seminars, or else at the Hôpital Trousseau or at Sainte-Anne. Jean Clavreul proclaimed: “What is it which accounts for our originality ? On this subject there is no doubt; it is because we are Lacanians. Let us not be bashful in proclaiming it, one may just as well be a follower of Lacan as one may be a follower of Klein”.
Whilst others were busily discussing “Societies”, Jacques Lacan was preparing his new “coup de théatre”, which took place on the 21st June 1964, midsummer day, with the announcement which has since become famous: “I am founding – as alone as I have always been in my relation to the psychoanalytic cause – the French School of Psychoanalysis, of which I shall personally take on the direction for the next four years, with nothing at present preventing me from making this committment”. One has to remember those terms, for they contain the germ for the future of the foundation, soon to be rechristened “Ecole freudienne de Paris”, to last under this name until its dissolution decided on in January 1980 by Lacan “as alone” in spite of his appeal “to the thousands”, as he had always been in his intimate relation with psychoanalysis. Whoever does not understand this fundamental solitude and what it hides, runs indeed the risk of misjudging the “autocratic” constitution of the Ecole freudienne de Paris, mistaken about Lacan’s stubborness in maintaining an analytical practice which he does not, in reality, propose to anyone other than himself, mistaken about the strange mixture of opportunism and pigheaded strictness which he displayed, together with the relations of wheedling and contempt maintained by him with successive waves of his pupils, whilst never ever admitting anyone over the years from among the faithful except Gloria, his housekeeper, Judith, his daughter and Jacques-Alain Miller, his son-in-law.
Atomised into small groups named “cartels”, to put paid to any ambition of “head-man-ship”, the organisation of the E.F.P. anticipated three sections. The first one, of so-called “pure psychoanalysis, or praxis and teaching of psychoanalysis proper, which is and is not anything other – and which would be confirmed in its place – than didactic psychoanalysis”, bears witness to a discrimination which, four years later, was to push Piera Aulagnier, François Perrier and Jean-Paul Valabréga, into leaving Lacan in order to found the “Fourth Group”. Two other sections were described, that of “applied psychoanalysis, which is meant to be therapeutics and clinical medicine” and that of “A census of the Freudian camp” comprising the linking of psychoanalysis to “kindred sciences” and its “ethics”,which is the practice of its theory”.
Devoted to the transmission of that interpretation which Lacan gave to Freud, the E.F.P. was open to analysts as well as to non-analysts, to philosophers, writers, linguists, historians, etc…, an original idea and one often wrongly understood, on account of its ambiguity, settling from the outset the problems of entitlement: “The psychoanalyst is authorised by himself alone”. A “Yearbook” was to be published regularly pretending not to respond to the analytical qualification of those who demanded to be represented in it but, swelling over the years and reaching up to a thousand by the time of the dissolution and containing the names of all the adepts of him whom one began to refer to as “The French Freud”.
Shortly after the announcement of that foundation, in July 1964, came news of another one, that of the “Assocition psychanalytique de France” (A.P.F.), the new title adopted by the members of the “French Study Group”. Its programme highlighted inversely the principle of “maintaining certain norms within the fields of training” while at the same time preserving a great elasticity in the teaching dispensed by the Training institute which, contrary to that of the S.P.P., simply remained subordinated to the Association. It was hoped by its founders that the latter was shortly to be recognised by the I.P.A.
This in fact, was to happen soon afterwards, but first, the past had to be liquidated and so too the group of adherents of this second “divorce”, carried out by both sides in a fairly dignified way, inspite of the violent reactions by some. On the 6th of October 1964, Wladimir Granoff and Serge Leclaire addressed a letter each to the president, Juliette Favez-Boutonier, demanding the dissolution of the S.F.P. This was pronounced on the 19th January 1965, by General Assembly, accompanied by a division of assets between the E.F.P. and the A.P.F.
That latter became recognised as a constituent society on the 28th of July 1965, at the XXIVth Congress at Amsterdam, choosing Daniel Lagache for its first president.
Three months later, at the end of October 1965, Rudolf Loewenstein, over from the U.S.A. to participate in the XXVIth Congress of French Speaking Psychoanalysts taking place in Paris, was at last to find reunited there, after twelve years of fighting, members of the S.P.P. and of the A.F.P., in the persons of his two old analysands, Sacha Nacht and Daniel Lagache. As for the third, Jacques Lacan, it was said he would not appear at the soirée organised to celebrate “Loew” in the company of Pierre Mâle…
Lacanian psychoanalysis prospers
In 1956, shortly after the devise of a “return to Freud” had been launched, the publication of “La naissance de la psychanalyse, (The Birth of Psychoanalysis), the French translation of Freud’s letter addressed to Wilhelm Fliess (and recovered, we must remember, thanks to the Princess Marie Bonaparte) had contributed to awakening French interest in Freud the man, previously so little known, either despised or bundled up, still and awkward, in the image of Epinal, as the bespectacled savant with the white beard. Almost twenty years after his death, it was doubtless also the hour of reckoning and of history resounding the world over, to start a mounting research into the early years and life of the founder of psychoanalysis.
Hollywood cinema got involved in its turn and in 1958, we came to learn – not without a certain astonishment – that Jean-Paul Sartre was working on the scenario of a film on Freud. He had got down to the work in a very businesslike manner, covering “about 900 pages of scenic instructions and of completely edited dialogues, two columns deep”, which, nevertheless, were not acceptable to John Huston, the producer. So the latter got this putebook to be rewritten by American specialists, to Sartre’s great fury, who thereupon withdrew his name from the credit titles. “Freud, désirs inavoués” (a very French translation of “Freud, The Secret Passion”) was then released for the screen in 1962 – without Sartre’s patronage – and with Montgomery Cliff in the rôle of Freud; but through this expedient, Sartre was made more familiar with a man and a work, which were to mark his approach to Gustave Flaubert in “L’Idiot de la famille”.
With a five years’ delay over the original, there appeared in 1958 the French translation of the 1st volume of The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, the biography written by Ernest Jones. The other volumes were to see the light of day, in 1961 and 1969, impatiently awaited by readers who were beginning to understand the privileged bond which united Freud with his creation and the example which such a relationship presents to psychoanalysts. In 1961, they were also moved in other respects by this “analytical biography”, made by Didier Anzieu into the central part of his book Self-analysis. In it he presents a human Freud, revealing in his dreams and through his correspondance of his errors, the discouragements and the enthusiasms of psychoanalytic discovery.
Between December 1962 and July 1963, a series of broadcasts were devoted to “The psychoanalytic revolution, the life and work of Freud”, by Marthe Robert, whom Lacan was to salute one day as “Freud’s best biographer”. These broadcasts mobilized the attention of numerous listeners and were to contribute to the spread of the image of a “revolutionary” psychoanalysis, opposed to the established order and fought by the traditional schools. The publication of their text by Payot, where in 1961 Gérard Mendel had founded the series “Science of Man”,was very well received.
At the same time, after February 1963, but in a much lighter vein, Freud could be seen and heard depicted by the Austrian actor Curd Jurgens, conducting with authority the treatment of Elizabeth Von R., on the stage of the Théatre de Gymnase. This American play by Henry Denker is called “Red Line” and its success is renewed almost dayly after fourty one years; that of “Eater of Dreams”, by H.R. Lenormand, shows well what has changed with the years: the analyst of 1922 was invented and his endeavour a failure, whereas that of 1963 is Freud himself and he discovers psychoanalysis under the very eyes of the spectator.
Six years later it was Octave Mannoni, whose note worthy article had appeared in June 1967, in Les Temps modernes, devoted to the Freud-Fliess relationship under the title “The Original Analysis”, who was to write for the collection “Writers forever”, published by Seuil, in 1969, a Freud, which was a precise as it was intelligently conceived. Soon, the collection “Freud and his time”, directed by Jacqueline Rousseau-Dujardin (Pbl. Denoël) was offering its readers something on the background of Vienna and the earliest years of psychoanalysis, which had been lacking hitherto.
Translations of Freud’s own writings are slow to become available, except the re-issue in 1963 by The Club Français du Livre of then already unavailable text of La Science des Rêves. With Freud’s reputation on the increase, the editors who retained the copyrights of his works decided nevertheless, as from 1966, to reprint works which had been sold out for a long time, for example the Cinq Psychanalyses. In this they are further encouraged by the success of the first volumes of “Correspondances”, presented in the new series “Connaissance de l’Inconscient”, directed by Jean-Bertrand Pontalis, published by Gallimard. Since the spring of 1970, the latter have also taken on for publication La Nouvelle Revue de psychanalyse and the translation of Freud’s Collected Works (for the first time) – in association with Payot and the Presses Universitaires de France. Unfortunately, because of endless discussions, changes of teams of translators in divers shilly-shallyings, caused also – as we have already noted – through lack of will or of sufficient enthusiasm on the part of French psychoanalysts, the rudiments of this so much hoped for critical edition does not manage to be forthcoming.
Small matter; Freud has become intesting and psychoanalysis has become part of French customs, as clearly shown by Serge Muscovici in 1961, when he published the results of his enquiries and of his sociological research, with his thesis Psychoanalysis, its image and its public, presented by Daniel Lagache in his collection. To the question: “What is psychoanalysis ?” the replies ranged from “A scientific study of the individual”… to “A method of therapy aiming at freeing humans from their complexes” etc. “A medicine without medicaments”, has likewise been suggested by some, which Jacques Gendrot and Emile Raimbault did not leave unmentionned, when in that same year, 1961, they began to organise in France the first Balint groups for doctors.
But it was not, in reality, until 1964, when the Ecole freudienne de Paris was founded, that the implantation of psychoanalysis in France was to enter upon a very different phase from all those which had preceded it.
Concerning the different psychoanalytic societies, their characteristics become more clearly defined and each one of them consolidated its public image. Serious and conservative Freudians at the “Institute” (for henceforth that description is to represent in public the image of a S.P.P. somewhat devoured by its subsidiary company), Anglo-Saxon and academic liberalism in the group restricted at the A.P.F.; graphs, figures, throngs and reputation of genius at the E.F.P., with meanwhile a well tempered fringequality in the Quatrième Groupe. Every French applicant can define himself through his choice, by means of these cartoon labels, but not without very quickly perceiving a more complex universe and more diversified personalities behind them.
“There is no doubt that in France it is Lacan and the Lacanians who, in the eyes of the intellectuals, are the psychoanalysts with whom it is interesting to speak”. Confirming this statement of fact made by Jean Clavreul two years earlier, the publication of Jacques Lacan’s Ecrits in the collection “Le champ freudien”, directed by François Wahl (édition Seuil) at the end of 1966, became an event whose repercussions were as considerable as they were unforseeable in their extent. We are speaking here of a collection of difficult essays, a certain number of which were incomplete, which other have been scattered until then in various reviews which had in the meanwhile become unobtainable. In those essays, Lacan makes no concession whatever to the great public, neither at the level of his thought, nor with reference to style, yet ever since its publication, this book had shown itself to be a bestseller. On November the 30th, Le Nouvel Observateur announced that the editor was reprinting “briskly the 900 pages of Lacan’s `Ecrits’, costing 50 Fr a copy and of which 5.000 had already been sold before the printers had even been given notice of the fact”. In June 1967, Le Jardin des modes went so far as to make the Ecrits the favourite reading for the fashionable woman on holidays on the Côte d’Azur, presented at the same time as the latest two-piece models…
It is true that the newspapers amplified the echo of the critics’ reactions going from enthusiasm to rejection, whilst Lacan the man, appeared month after month in some journal or other. The Figaro Littéraire, for example, showed the following in large headlines (29th of December): “Lacan judges Sartre” – and smaller, underneath it: “Jacques Lacan stresses his ideological difference from Sartre”. He asks: “Is it invariably indispensable to define oneself with reference to Sartre’s corpus and ideas ?” In turn, he was often asked to define himself with reference and structuralism, then at the height of fashion; all these were questions which fed the interview which Pierre Daix published in Les Lettres Françaises of December the 1st, as well as the long article by Bernard Muldorf entitled “How is one to read Freud ?” In those last two writings one must see the mark of chance undergone by the Communists in their views on psychoanalysis. A little more than a year earlier, at the beginning of 1965, Louis Althusser had brought out a work in La Nouvelle Critique on “Freud and Lacan”, by which the most prominent Marxist-thinker of that period had given sign of recognition of the Lacanian commentaries. The definitive coming round was a little delayed, as evidenced in L’Humanité of the 24th February 1970, in the following example “The Freudian concepts have been reformulated by Dr Lacan. Through him, psychoanalysis seems to take a decisive aspect of being the science of the unconscious”.
It is this kind of “reformulation which shocked Jean-François Revel, who asked himself in L’Express of December 18th-25th, 1966: “Where has Freud got to ?” concluding his article with: “It may be that Lacan’s philosophy is very important. But it seems to me to be arguable that it constitutes a return to Freud, or a prolongation of Freud”.
The unconscious is henceforth reputed to be structured, of its own accord, like a language; the Oedipus complex expresses itself in terms of phallus and of “signifiant”, while symptoms manifest themselves according to the laws of linguistics in form of metaphors and metonymics, to find themselves reduced to a set spoken word which needs to be unblocked etc. etc. etc.
These new ideas and news terms, as well as the fashion for Lacanian word-plays now came to invade not only the media and the salons, but also university, medical and – above all – psychiatric gatherings and gave rise to a linguistic terrorism which was at times hard to bear. More disquietening still was the proliferation of “psychotherapists” or of “psychoanalysts”, authorised only by themselves, with multiplying couches and consultations, technical innovations or varied and often imprudent therapeutic initiatives. In all this, analysis soon found again its old reputation of a not very rigorous practice, on the margin of recklessness…
Yet here, at the moment of continuing to write more about it, the hand hesitates. We have come to what is no longer historical time but that which belongs to personal memory, with its unconscious forgetting, its tenacious rancours, its faithful friendships, critical choices, as well as those others which deserve of criticism. May one favour this one, misunderstand that one, draw a kind of honours-board or keep to the conventions of an academic discourse which would know how to find the necessary and adequate little phrase for everyone, in both senses of the term ? To cite all the books, all the articles, all the ideas – for that would be the only fair thing – in so little space and without having left them the time to settle ?
On the spectacular level, there is no doubt that the E.F.P. largely occupied the front of the stage in the 20 years which followed. Front of stage also from the point of view of creating a lively bustle, but so many newspapers, journals, cultural broadcasts or books have discussed them all, that it would take a conscientious historian, who would, after having had the opportunity to go through them all, then concentrate with the same meticolousness, on the publications and researches of psychoanalysts of the other, less noisy societies. Does one ever know the secret path of hypotheses and of concepts ?
Moreover, a psychoanalyst cannot ignore it that no discourse whatever is universal or destined for oneself alone. Lacan has made no mistake about this, having over a long period of time supported his teaching on numerous references, in an ironic aside, addressed to the “psychoanalysts of today”, to those who fall into “psychologising”, to the champions of “human engineering”, otherwise members of that “confounded S.A.M.C.D.A.”, “The Society for mutual assistance against analytical discourse”…
He has had need of these imaginery partners; just as all the psychoanalysts in France have more or less consciously and more or less enviously, invoked his image to stimulate their interrogations on their own theory and practice. One way or another, one has no doubt, amidst all this “Latin genius”, something of Freud has got lost from sight and such a distancing is to be deplored. But is it not too early still to say so ? Could it not be that the French have secreted here some original means for doing the mourning work on Freud’s death ?
Over a certain period of time, the three French trends: medical, academic, cultural which had since the very beginning disputed amongst one another the hegemony in psychoanalysis, had succeeded more or less in counterbalancing one another, with a slight advantage in favour of the medical one. It is undeniable that in the last 20 years the two latter, especially the cultural one, have won over the former, even too much, so, for the re-establishment of an equilibrium, under one form or another, to be henceforth forseeable or even desirable. If one insists here on those interior forces, it is not out of contempt for social, economic or political forces which bear on analysis and its practice with a weight which may prove some day to become paralysing. This political dimension is also one of the principal characteristics of the history of psychoanalysis in France ever since that period of the 60ies where our provisional survery comes to a s .
There are the discovery of Lacan’s theories by the Ecole Normale Supérieure, with the creation of the Cahiers pour l’Analyse, in 1966, the passionate discussions provoked by “proposal of the 9th of October 1967”, instituting Lacanian procedure of “the pass” to indicate the “analysts of the Ecole”, the wave of Freudo-marxism which centered itself on Marcuse or Reich, soon to be followed by the explosion of May 1968, with its contest of hierarchies in the societies of psychoanalysis, the signatures gathered from a certain number of analysts for a motion of support for the students on the barricades, the foundation in the following October of the Department of Psychoanalysis at the University of Paris VIII at Vincennes, by Serge Leclaire and Jacques-Alain Miller, that of the Unité d’études et de recherches de Paris VII by Jean Laplanche, the publication of the Univers constestationnaire by Bela Grunberger and Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel, alias André Stéphane, of the Revolt against the Father by Gérard Mendel, also in 1968, at the root of the “groups of socio-psychoanalysis”, the success of Anti-Oedipus by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, quick to come and quick to go, the diffusion, in 1969, by Les Temps Modernes, of the text of “Man and the Taperecorder”, with comments by Jean-Paul Sartre, with protest from Bernard Pingaud and from Jean-Bertrand Pontalis who was to quit soon afterwards the Sartrian journal, the development, then the rapid decline of the movement named “anti-psychiatry”, the infatuation of the media for a psychoanalysis considered to be a laughing stock, another fact, sometimes spiced or a book of recipies for good living and for bringing up well ones’ children, the increase – after 1970 – of books, journals and collections of the “psy” type, the meetings and “Days” outside psychoanalytic societies, of the group “Confrontation” organised by René Major and Dominique Geachan since 1974, the joint making use and condemnation of, the abominable Freud by feminist-movements, the taking up of “freudo-marxist” positions à la Philippe Sollers, Tel Quel and the psychoanalytic culture of the “new philosophers”, the invasion of psychoanalytic meetings by political discourse taking the place of clinical discussions and often of theory, the “parades verdiglionesques”, the dissolution on Janurary 5th 1980, of the E.F.P. by Lacan at death’s door, the law suit which arose from it, the difficult birth of “La Cause freudienne”, then of the “Ecole de la Cause freudienne”, of the C.E.R.F. in competition, and at the other end of a “College of Psychoanalysts”, the new pass-word “clinique” launched by Jacques-Alain Miller, the ever reemerging menace of an official statute which the international powers may not be able to dispel anymore, agancies which French ridicule persiflage has contributed to devalue…
There would be no end to the chapter headings which a future author of “La Psychanalyse en France (1965-…)” could take up, but this march past of avents is also destined to present in the manner of a caricature the incompleteness of my own description of the preceding seventy years. By limiting myself voluntarily to events and by setting my face against a “digest” of ideas, theories or works to be dispatched in a few lines, my account might well appear confined to surface ripples, to being anecdotal history “told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”… Such reference to Shakespearean battles among analytical societies might nevertheless look a little unjust in its misreading of a psychoanalysis “à la française”, which has after all, for now almost 100 years, allowed so many people to see themselves and others and also see morals, mental illnesses, neurotic suffering, sexual miseries, in a new light, so too the existence of a body which could also be seen as an indwelling desire with a curiosity which is the source of life.
Beside the protagonists who have occupied the forefront of the stage, a modest piece of furniture has in fact remained, hallmarked, little mentioned in this story which it has influenced and which it will continue to do so as long as psychoanalysis – of which it is said today as it was a short time ago, that it has lost all credibility (and it is amusing to note the similar arguments used by the detractors in every generation), all “scientific” status or all therapeutic efficiency – will continues its ordinary everyday work, beyond cultural showbiz. This object is called… the couch. All the rest is perishable, yet necessary for the permanent transmission of the analytical process. Seminars, colloquia, meeting, radio and T.V. debates, books and articles in journals all bear it out and many are the psychoanalysts who, in the shadows of the oriflames of schools and scandals or of commotion of “historical” personages, are just passionately interested in what they are doing and living, constantly trying to deepen and to extend what they know.
The Princess Marie Bonaparte and René Laforgue, died in 1962; Angelo Hesnard in 1969; Daniel Lagache in 1972; Rudolf Loewenstein in 1976; Sacha Nacht in 1977 and Jacques Lacan in 1981. Macbeth would add: “Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player / that struts and frets his hour up on the stage / and then is heard no more”.
But can one really cease to listen where psychoanalysis is concerned ?