1st Edition

Witnessing and Psychoanalysis As If It Never Happened

By Philippe Réfabert Copyright 2024
    130 Pages
    by Routledge

    130 Pages
    by Routledge

    Psychoanalysis and Witnessing intertwines aspects of the history of psychoanalysis with the development of Philippe Réfabert’s own thinking and clinical practice.

    Réfabert’s work invites analysts to reflect on the inception of psychic life. The author argues for a revision of drive theory and reflects on the psychic functioning of the analyst in the session. Réfabert forces the analyst to see the necessity of standing witness to acts left unacknowledged; he holds that in analysis witnessing is crucial.

    With case material from the author’s practice throughout, this book will be of great interest to psychoanalysts in practice and in training.

    Part I: About the Originary  1. About a Limit Not Given at the Origin  2. A Transitional Psychic Matrix: A Proposal for Reflecting on Splitting and Fetishism  3. Maternal Donation and the Phallus: Consequences of a Construction  4. Rhythmic Concertation and Its Disruptions  5. On Expulsion  Part II: On Witnessing  6. A Character, an Author, an Actor  7. Near the Originary, Where the Breath Fails  8. The Theory of Hysteria Hindered by the Absence of a Witness  9. The Witness: Subject of Psychoanalysis  10. In the Crevice of Time  11. Bearing the Other: The Two-Stage Birth of Psychoanalysis  12. Contribution to a Discussion on Bion’s Work


    Philippe Réfabert is a psychoanalyst and prolific author based in Paris, France. His previous book, From Freud to Kafka, is also published by Routledge.

    "Witnessing and Psychoanalysis explores the silent zones of the foundation of being. With the support of writers like Melville, Hölderlin, Kafka and Celan, this investigation takes the reader to the boundaries of the gap created in the psyche by trauma. Réfabert goes beyond the Winnicottian ‘mirror’; he helps us to rethink the negative from the perspective of a parental psychic matrix. The author shows how the blunted zones of this matrix and the gaps created by trauma are compensated by the construction of a fetish or a scenario used as a substitute mirror serving to reflect a man or a woman wandering the earth without a shadow. This collection of essays is an extraordinary source of inspiration for clinicians, psychoanalysts, theoreticians and literary critics."

    Carlo Bonomi

    "Philippe Réfabert’s book Witnessing and Psychoanalysis takes the reader on a journey beyond the usual references of mainstream psychoanalysis and proposes concepts such as ‘soul murder’, ‘paradoxical foundation’ and ‘trace of death’ as tools for the analyst in his work. ‘Soul murder’ also characterises patients who experienced extreme trauma, and who challenge the analyst to work with muted portions of his psyche of which he is unaware. Starting from the author’s efforts to free himself from institutional constraints and become an analyst for such patients, the book offers a wealth of clinical examples, showing, for example, how a child can be expected to animate a mortally wounded mother, a situation left unacknowledged for lack of a witness. Réfabert’s proposed paradigm for psychoanalysis in such cases is enlightened by Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, which summons the analyst to climb on the stage in order to be present on the side of the patient, to witness and create authorship for matters which have been thrown into nonexistence. I strongly recommend the reading of this book, which constitutes a landmark for psychoanalysis in our era of catastrophic events with their resulting traumas."

    Françoise Davoine