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Lost to Desire. Stories That Refuse to be Dreamt. The Investigative Burden of the Psychosomatic School of Paris

Lassmann, Wolfgang (2019) Lost to Desire. Stories That Refuse to be Dreamt. The Investigative Burden of the Psychosomatic School of Paris. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

As psychoanalysis spread in post WWII France, it came across a novel form of resistance: patients beset by somatic problems with little manifest fantasy life. Analysts from the Paris Society took the innovative step to turn their attention to what seemed without meaning. The term they gave to the barren working facade they met with was 'opératoire', a pluriform mental exhaustion without a workable narrative. This approach set off a wave of interconnecting ripples as the problems of dealing with this became clearer. My thesis shows that collateral benefits of a conceptual innovation may outgrow its initial use, finding new ways to travel into practice, in this instance by turning towards the conditions needed for fantasy to take form. Informed by Ian Hacking's suggestion that classifications shape relationships, my thesis looks at what the new concept has elicited in a community of practitioners - close to the École Psychosomatique de Paris - over a period of some sixty years. As a "skin for thought" it facilitated change while preserving coherence, gradually beginning to attract further considerations. Important themes have included: the early groundwork necessary for the configuration of fantasy, the importance of a shared imaginary, the role of denial and obliterated memories as a bond between people, emergency measures of a Me cut off from revitalisation, the effects of the rhythms and atmosphere at the workplace on family life, and the consequences of a crisis suppressed for lack of a holding frame. As psychoanalytic discourse adapted to the challenges, the original perspective changed aspect, moving from a systematic evaluation of what the patients did not produce to what the analyst had to fill in to make sense of the situation. Clashing with the terrain, French psychoanalysts raised important problems about psychic anaemia that are stimulating and deserve cross-cultural discussion.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Encounters with patients showing signs of limited fantasy life at the moment and their long-term conceptual effects, over some sixty years, on a group of practitioners in French psychoanalysis, grouped around the École Psychosomatiqe de Paris, working with psychosomatic and traumatised patients
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA790 Mental Health
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Wolfgang Lassmann
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2019 20:54
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2019 20:54
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/24036

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