Psychoanalytic Discourse Review Essay by Owen Hewitson on Après-coup


Owen Hewitson's careful review of Après-coup: Problématiques VI appeared in Psychoanalytic Discourse 10/2017:  Owen is the editor of LACANONLINE.COM.

His review begins:

This collection, comprising Laplanche’s lecture series of 1989-1990, traces the evolution of a single term in Freud’s work – Nachträglichkeit. Après-coup is the sixth in the series of Problématiques, Laplanche’s long-running course that began in 1970. It was delivered two years after the publication of his major late work, 1987’s New Foundations for Psychoanalysis, into which Laplanche distilled his five previous Problématiques (Laplanche, 1987).

Taken as a whole, the series cannot help but invite comparisons to the Seminar series of Jacques Lacan. Both men worked at the same time, in the same city, and in the same format of year-long public lectures. Lacan was Laplanche’s analyst, Laplanche his student. Indeed, it was actually Lacan who, in his “Rome Discourse” of 1953, first reappraised the term Nachträglichkeit (Lacan, 2006, p. 213). Laplanche gives him fair credit for this, though when compared to the long article devoted to the term in 1967’s magisterial The Language of Psychoanalysis – a work for which Laplanche is most famous in the English-speaking world – the reader might consider Lacan's treatment somewhat scant (Laplanche & Pontalis, 2004). Both men’s project is by their own accounts the same: a re-reading of Freud. Lacan’s is perhaps the more ‘creative’ re-reading, but Laplanche’s certainly the more honest, both to the totality of Freud’s thought and to the problems it confronts. Laplanche describes his project as a “‘faire travailler’ la pensée freudienne” - an expression that House wisely translates as “making Freud work” rather than “putting Freudian thought to work”, so as to capture “every sense of the word”, as Laplanche intended (p. 4)2 to the concept of Nachträglichkeit Laplanche devotes just such a faire travailler.

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