1st Edition

Madness and the Social Link The Jean-Max Gaudillière Seminars 1985 – 2000

Edited By Françoise Davoine, Jean Max Gaudillière Copyright 2021
    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    208 Pages
    by Routledge

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    This book provides a psychoanalytic reading of works of literature, enhancing the illuminating effect of both fields.

    The first of two volumes, Madness and the Social Link: The Jean-Max Gaudilliere Seminars 1985-2000 contains seven of the "Madness and the Social Link" seminars given by psychoanalyst Jean-Max Gaudillière at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris between 1985 and 2000, transcribed by Françoise Davoine from her notes. Each year, the seminar was dedicated to an author who explored madness in his depiction of the catastrophes of history. Surprising the reader at every turn, the seminars speak of the close intertwining of personal lives and catastrophic historical events, and of the possibility of repairing injury to the psyche, the mind, and the body in their wake.

    These volumes expose the usefulness of literature as a tool for healing, for all those working in therapeutic fields, and will allow lovers of literature to discover a way of reading that gives access to more subtle perspectives and unsuspected interrelations.

    1. Seminar 1: 1985-1986 Kenzaburo Oe (1935-) Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness  2. Seminar 2: 1986-1987 Gaetano Benedetti (1920-2013) Madness: an exploration of the zones of death 3. Seminar 3: 1988-1989 Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936) Madness in Pirandello’s work  4. Seminar 4: 1989-1990 Toni Morrison Beloved in dialogue with Frieda Fromm-Reichmann: psychoanalysis and psychotherapy  5. Seminar 5: 1991-1992 August Strindberg (1849-1912) and Martii Siirala (1922-2008) The Inferno and  From Transference to Transference  6. Seminar 6: 1997-1998 Pat Barker The Regeneration Trilogy: objectivity degree zero  7. Seminar 7: 1999-2000 Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) Reading madness with Hannah Arendt: the production of freedom


    Jean-Max Gaudillière studied classical literature at the École normale supérieure (ENS) in Paris before becoming a psychoanalyst. He was a professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) and was a member of the Center for the Study of Social Movements (CSSM), founded by Alain Touraine, research director at the EHESS.

    In the weekly seminar called “Madness and the Social Link,” held for forty years at the EHESS, Gaudillière combined his clinical work with the exploration of literary works dealing with the madness of war. The focus of his clinical work was the impact of historical catastrophes on personal lives.

    He is the co-author of two books written with Françoise Davoine: History Beyond Trauma (2004) and A Word to the Wise (2018, Routledge).

    "In these remarkable seminars Jean-Max Gaudillière guides us through encounters with madness – in the clinical setting, in literature, in the lives and thought of scientists, philosophers, social scientists, psychoanalysts, political thinkers – as a way of following the 'erased traces' of the stories that have been cut out from official history. Moving among literary narratives, cultural rituals across the globe, conceptual thought, personal biographies, and his own clinical experiences, Dr. Gaudillière teaches us to recognize in madness a 'research tool' into catastrophic pasts, a showing, in personal lives, of what has been muted and remains unspeakable within a larger History. At the heart of this stunning book is the exchange by which the 'mad' and the listener (in clinical settings, rituals, literature, and conceptual writing) can together participate in the inscription of these collective traumas. What is ultimately at stake in this utterly innovative work – in Dr. Gaudillière’s profound and moving listening, reading and telling – is the possibility of making the frozen time of lost histories move again, and fighting the perversion by which history is lost. In a time in which we face the renewed threat of totalitarian violence, the lessons of madness that emerge from this book point not only to crucial personal, but also political truths".

    Cathy Caruth, Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters at Cornell University


    "In the first of two volumes, seven years of seminars taught by Jean Max Gaudillière demonstrate the links between psychosis, literature, language, history, and the psychoanalyst’s courage and persistence in understanding madness in the clinical encounter.  Moving between fiction, clinical stories, and theory from a wide range of authors, Gaudillière brings the force of both death and life into the psychoanalytic field of understanding trauma and madness.  Françoise Davoine has organized and translated the seminars in a masterful way, allowing the reader to enter the profound depth of Gaudillière’s thinking about the erasure of history and the production of madness.  Clinicians who work with patients who are delusional, traumatized, or psychotic will find the book opens a space for new and fresh thinking about the meaning of madness.  Full of humanity, wisdom, and creativity, Madness and the Social Link teaches clinicians to listen simultaneously to what is said and what cannot be said because of the rupture of the social link. This is a critically important book".

    Jane G. Tillman, PhD, Evelyn Stefansson Nef Director of the Erikson Institute


    "This lively and erudite double volume on psychosis showcases the work of a master teacher and clinician who was already a post-Lacanian psychoanalyst in Paris while Lacan was still alive. Psychosis is the  patient’s investigative tool, shared in the transference with the analyst, for naming the traumatic catastrophe that has stopped time and destroyed all social links. The author shows this process of inscription through many generous clinical examples and by extensive examples from literature, political texts, social thought, and other psychoanalysts. This rich work provides a much-needed thoughtful perspective for those who work with patients."

    John Muller, Senior Erikson Scholar, Austen Riggs Centre


    "Françoise Davoine’s transcriptions of the seminars she conducted with Jean-Max Gaudillière for thirty years in Paris brilliantly illuminate the psychic territory where the cataclysms of history intersect with personal story in trauma, breakdown, and psychosis. Here the texts of Cervantes, Sterne, Strindberg, Pirandello, Charlotte Beradt, Kenzaburō Ōe,Tony Morrison, and others, along with the words and gestures of particular patients, reveal the individual link to collective horror, horror which cannot be assimilated or thought but is nevertheless embodied and enacted. It seems to me that in this moment of global political nightmares, the lessons to be learned from reading Madness and the Socail Link are urgently needed". 

    Siri Hustvedt, American novelist