Sergio Benvenuto is a researcher in psychology and philosophy at the National Research Council (CNR) in Italy, and a psychoanalyst member of the SGAI (Società Gruppo-Analitica Italiana). He is a contributor to cultural journals such as Differentia (New York), Lettre Internationale (French, German, Spanish, Hungarian and Italian editions), Transeuropéennes (Paris) and RISS (Basel). He ha…
Évelyne Grossman—Although you say at times that you are not very “communitarian”, how would you describe the trans-national, trans-linguistic “community” of your readers? Yet the members of such a community do not resemble one another and often hardly have anything to do with one another. It is neither a group nor a school of thought, yet there is something about your way of thinking th…
A conversation of Sergio Benvenuto with Jean-Luc Nancy
Referring to the work of Derrida, the author brings into question the traditional distinction—going back to Descartes, Kant, Heidegger and Lacan himself—between man and animal, according to which animals lack language or lack the ability to respond, to pretend to pretend, since they are unable to react. Taking the example of a cat who demonstrates his ability to respond by pretending to pretend, René Major raises a question regarding the limit between reaction and response, claiming that there is as much response in reaction as there is reaction in response that is linked to the repetition of signs and signifiers, that is, to the logic of the unconscious.
This essay follows the breaches of deconstructive rereading in some basic psychoanalytic legacies, such as heritage, inheritance, and spectral effect of resubjectivation. It is on specters in psychoanalysis and the specters haunting Freud. The essay demonstrates the importance of deconstruction in psychoanalysis in the era of tele-technological resubjectification. The Freudian theory of prosthesis shows that human beings are always already techno-beings, which is one special case of spectralization and oneirization.
Hysteria has been always connected to the problems of femininity both in professional and lay discourses. The Freudian discovery of the role of unconscious psychological conflicts in the etiology of the disease made hysteria a celebrated and thoroughly studied concept. The author suggests that ambivalences surrounding the meaning of gender and the interrelationships of the functioning of body and mind were all reflected in the conceptualization of hysteria in Freud&Mac226;s time as well as in contemporary psychoanalytic understandings of the disease. The latter theories are influenced by poststructuralist and feminist critiques. It is argued that anorexia, a very fashionable disease of our times, is a successor to hysteria not only in diagnostic terms but in its psychological mechanisms and role as a specific channel to articulate the tensions young women have related to their bodies and to desire in Western consumer societies.
The perspective of classical psychoanalysis is based on the theme of lacking, around which the bombast of hysteric theatre and the grand narrative of the family novel unfold. Contemporary pathologies (panic attacks, food pathologies, such as new forms of addiction, gambling and sex) are more silent, more like short stories, they shed light on a different, excessive aspect, on an anguishing, if not paniky, intrusiveness of an Other beyond measure, with no limits, no rules. The concept of the drive event, which allows us to stress this perspective of contemporary psychoanalysis, takes place in antithesis to repetition and is what separates human beings from their animal nature to make them language beings. The event does not repeats itself, but is rather the unrepeatable, linked to the real in life and that gives it its uniqueness. Repetition, on the other hand, seeks being, or the lack that stands for it. But while one can give lack a sense through interpretation, one cannot do the same with the drive event, which remains an excess that contemporary psychoanalysis has the task to treat in its singularity. The psychoanalytic operation thus veers from the symbolic key of Viennese classicism to the orientation around the real of modernity.
(Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2004)