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Working and the Death Drive: On Literature and Children with Behavior Disorder

With reference to Mannoni (1979), it is argued that the clinical practitioner must, based on his own experience, continuously “retranslate” his theoretical language into his mother tongue. As an example, this paper focusses on how the author retranslates the Freudian notion of the death drive and Lacan’s category of the real, based on his educational and therapeutic work with children with behavior disorder. It is argued that these theoretical conceptions cover something that is not there but that nevertheless is operative. What is one to do when confronted with something that is not there but nevertheless is operative? The answer proposed is that one has to inscribe the subject in the sexual relation through the act of writing. This directive is illustrated via clinical work with children suffering from a psychically “silent” mother and is argued through a revisiting of the work of Fernando Pessoa.

“If only I could be able to write it all down”: Gerard Reve and the useless language of desire

In this article, the reader is introduced to the fascinating fictional universe created by the Dutch writer Gerard Reve. Far from searching for the person behind the work, we examine how Reve creates his personality through his fiction, how he forges a new language for his (homosexual) desire: a mixture of irony and religious piety, of romantic and vulgar idioms, of fairy tales and memories, a language that enables him to cope with his fears and his disturbed relationship with his parents. It is argued, with reference to the theoretical framework of Kristeva, that Reve’s work helps to assure his subjectivity, to protect him from “going mad” as he puts it, but at the same time also provides a place where, via the irony, the metaphors, the style, the humour, via everything that defies the symbolic law, the writer celebrates the jouissance of the Other, in the text.