Reply to Schauder’s Reply

Frankly, I don’t know what Claude Schauder felt I misunderstood him or where and how I misquoted him.

I can only repeat what I said in my response: that my choice not to continue working with my Russian colleagues — not because they’re Russian, but because they are in solidarity with Putin — does not stand as a universal standard of behaviour for analysts!  Mine was simply a statement to raise the issue of the relationship between psychoanalytic ethics and political ethics. If Schauder had written that he, on the other hand, had continued to supervise a group of analysts without raising in any way the issue of the war (or rather, of the “special operation”!) in Ukraine, I would not have reacted by writing, as he did, “Je ne partage par contre pas du tout, mais pas du tout du tout,  sa décision.” (“I do not agree at all, really not at all with his decision.”). I wouldn’t have written anything. Because in such matters we all have our own “conscience”. My job is not to be a censor, or a preacher, or a moralizer of my colleagues’ choices.

Indeed, I note – when Schauder writes “the psychoanalyst remains a citizen and it is not only his right but even his duty to stop his work when he cannot maintain the ‘benevolent neutrality’” – the repetition of an amalgam between the analytic relationship and the professional relationship between colleagues through supervision. The “benevolent neutrality” towards the analysand seems here to be applied to colleagues in supervision too. A confusion I’ve also found in other critics of my choice and the insistence of which raises questions in me. Here we probably have a structural ambiguity of the “supervisory relationship”, which remains un-thought by psychoanalysts, and which occupies a kind of no-man’s land between the analytic and the pedagogical relationship, in a sort of spurious ethical field. I do not recall any fundamental psychoanalytic text on the supervisory relationship, or contrôle as one calls it in France.

The second part of Schauder’s article – four paragraphs – is instead dedicated to a controversy on Ukrainian responsibilities in this war; in short, the author leaves aside the psychoanalytic dimension completely and sketches out a sheer historical trial of Ukrainian responsibilities in the war between Nazis and Soviets, and between Ukrainians and Russians today. It seems to me that Schauder (however covertly) substantially intends to give a certain credibility to Putin’s accusations against Ukraine – which I personally find delusional – as a Nazi country to be de-nazified. To these arguments I did wish to react. And since they are frequent among commentators  these days, I tried to understand their deep motivations, beyond what Schauder as an individual might think of them. Today the West is officially pro-Ukraine, something which prompts many to instead “understand Putin’s reasons”, out of a spirit of contradiction which is mistaken for “critical spirit.”

I was also struck by Schauder’s acrimony towards Zelensky, something else that is quite widespread, at least in Italy. Many detest Zelensky, who is basically just doing his job as the leader of a country under attack, and we should ask ourselves why this hatred. I agree with an Italian psychoanalyst, who pointed out this ad hominem resentment. Zelensky, when he was offered the opportunity to flee to  I don’t remember which Western country shortly after the Russian attack, responded  that he didn’t need a taxi, but weapons. He displayed something many find intolerable: that there are causes for which you can die. That you don’t necessarily have to live at all costs and under any conditions. Remembering that we do not live by bread alone (today we would say “by the economy alone”), but also by certain values, evidently clashes with an “immanentist” vision that is widespread in our countries both on the left and on the right of our political spectrum. This is why Zelensky comes across to many as irritating and troublesome.


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European Journal of Psychoanalysis