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.

Approaching the Impossible

Working with psychic suffering one is often confronted with feelings of impotence. Yet this is not a necessary consequence of the impossibility proper to the professions of educating, analysing or governing. Throughout the essays of Imre Kertész, the impossibility – or the unthinkable – is conceived of as proper to the relation between experience and language. A specific example is encountered in what is called the negative experience. Speaking and writing are treated as two distinct possibilities in the encounter with the impossible.

Freud and the Metaphors of Writing

In this paper, our point of departure is Plato’s Phaedrus-dialogue, in which the role and meaning of writing for memory are assessed, focusing special attention on Plato’s evaluation of writing. The use of writing-metaphors in elaborating the model of the psychic apparatus in a number of Freud’s texts is also discussed. Relying on Derrida’s interpretation (1967), the Project (1950c [1895]) is our starting point and the Note on the Wonder-block of 30 years later rounds off the discussion. Tracing Freud’s development, it becomes apparent that the model of the psychic apparatus gains support as the notion of facilitation is further elaborated based on the metaphor of writing or letter. The Platonic distinction between writing as supporting memory and writing as a “true writing in the soul” is encountered again in Freud’s work.

A Forgotten Manuscript? M. Duras’ La Douleur

“J’ai retrouvé ce journal dans deux cahiers des armoires bleues de Neauphle-le-Château. Je n’ai aucun souvenir de l’avoir écrit. Je sais que je l’ai fait, que c’est moi qui l’ai écrit, je reconnais mon écriture et le détail de ce que je raconte, […], mais je ne me vois pas écrivant ce Journal. […] Je ne sais plus rien” (Duras, 1985a: 12). With these words, Duras ensnares the reader. With remarkable clarity, she describes waiting for Robert Antelme. How are we to understand her forgetting of this manuscript? Are we dealing with a Freudian forgetting? Has Duras really forgotten that she wrote her pain? Is it a simple lapsus or can we learn something new about forgetfulness here? Does something like a true forgetting exist, and if so, how should we characterize Duras’ manuscript, forgotten, but nonetheless recognizable? With these questions as signposts, the author moves from Duras’ book La douleur (1985a) to Laure Adler’s biography of Duras.