Questions contemporaines

Questions contemporaines

Article de : Alexia Blime-Cousi et Amélie de Cazanove

From Freudian legacy to modernity 2.0: the challenge of inventing a new language.

Publié le 01/11/17

Back in August, we chose a title that could seem a little show off.
Indeed, the story of Les Enfants de la psychanalyse (.com) lies between two areas: Freudian heritage on one side, modernity and contemporary hyper-connectivity on the other side. As for the rest, the language we need to create has to be communications oriented: we need to communicate. I think this point is very important because when Julia-Flore asked us to reflect back on our experience of founding the online journal Les Enfants de la psychanalyse for this colloquium entitled “Free Association”, it’s because, as she told us, she found that we had manifested our freedom with respect to our institutions in founding Les Enfants de la psychanalyse while we were still candidates at the SPP.
This word “freedom”— feeling free to create a platform for diffusing psychoanalysis is essential for understanding our initiative. But it seems to me that it is also important to add, more modestly, that the title doesn’t make clear that we don’t believe we have created a new language, but simply that we are convinced that a language does exist for promoting psychoanalysis by using new media and that we, as training analysts, need to make use of it in order to survive!
Another point before we get started. Since what we propose is a narrative of our experience, it’s important not to lose the perspective of our context. Our experience takes place within a French context and begins around the year 2012. 2012, in terms of the Internet, is the préhistoire compared to today!!!
An experience somewhere between survival and audacity…Surviving in today’s world:
We can be worried about the image of psychoanalysis in our contemporary societies and the place it holds on the Internet. How to use this tool for making psychoanalysis more visible? Sharing something of its specificity and its current relevance in psychic care? And promoting it amongst a larger public without watering down its substance?
But let’s not be too negative from the get-go. If psychoanalysis might sometimes seem old-fashioned, it also arouses great curiosity amongst the general public. But we have to present it effectively, otherwise, someone else will do the job for us—and not as well I might add!
The Freudian Heritage (Myth of Origins)From the beginning, psychoanalysis has been controversial and the object of numerous attacks. Freud fought all his life to diffuse psychoanalysis. Each one of his writings shows a concern for its transmission and diffusion. If most of his writings remain accessible to a first-time reader, that’s because he wanted to make himself easily understood, explain his ideas, show their evolution—he wanted to transmit.
When Freud arrived in the US to deliver his lectures at Clark University, in proclaiming “They don’t know that I’m bringing them the plague”—an allusion to the subversive aspect of his theories as well as its possible contagious effects— thus it’s easy to imagine that Freud if were alive today, would put his lectures online on his personal YouTube channel and would have created a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). And we would all be able to follow him on Twitter, Snapchat or even Instagram. I recognize that this projection is somewhat exaggerated, since Freud wasn’t always the most inclined towards modernity. He saw no future, for example, in the nascent cinema that Lou Andréa Salomé introduced him to…
Nonetheless, 150 years after the birth of psychoanalysis, Freudian thought is still just as alive and, as a consequence, still just as much under attack. And, as in his day, psychoanalysis’ detractors seek to reduce it to silence.
The “psychoanalyst 2.0” oscillates between two positions: “faire le dos rond”, respond to attacks by a silent indifference, and so running the risk of passing for a caricature of a psychoanalyst or, on the contrary, “monter au créneau”, taking up the militant flag of the defence of psychoanalysis, and so running the risk of going against certain non-explicit laws of the analytical code.
Fear of popularising/simplifying
There’s an idea out that we shouldn’t speak publicly about psychoanalysis before knowing by heart each volume of Freud’s complete opus! And another that we ought not to simplify concepts because we run the risk of watering down their substance by popularising them!
But “popularise” also means giving access to the greatest number of people (popularise from populus or people), it means transmit. There’s also a question of pedagogy.
Our competitors (BCT, egopsychology, EMDR,…) do it, and not recognizing that psychoanalysis has to survive in that context is to be in denial!The transmission of psychoanalysis is a difficult question:
- the idea that, following in the path of Freud, the transmission of psychoanalysis is done essentially through the cure and the experience of transference.
- the idea that diffusing would be the prerogative of experienced analysts (high flyers)
But again for reasons of survival, it’s our responsibility to diffuse, it is even a narcissist issue, it’s the image of contemporary psychoanalysis that is at stake!Transmit this idea that psychoanalysts in 2010 or so are active, in touch, interested in the world around them, who ask questions, who have a sense of humour and don’t take themselves too seriously! So in founding this journal we’re also working for your own narcissism…Internet and psychoanalysis: an impossible marriage?
Psychoanalysis, communications and marketing are words that don’t match well. The Internet, Facebook, Twitter, are tools of simplification, of immediacy, of narcissism without any content… vulgarity, almost pornography… !The Internet is a medium, but is also like a store window. To not exist on the Internet is complicated when all the patients start to google us…!The Internet—a world of freedom without limit? There is certainly a temptation to go too far, to break boundaries, but like in a cure, we need the help of a third party (tiers?). We need to establish a firm rule: one can speak freely, but within limits…The Internet is also the democratisation of knowledge, universities on line, MOOC, Ted conferences… One of the great revolutions brought by the Internet is that everyone is able to have direct access—in a single click—to information reserved until recently to specialists.  In the spatiotemporal sphere, the Internet is something of a metaphor of the Id. Absence temporality or rather the acceleration of time, decompartmentalisation of space, breaking down of borders, excess of drives (impulses) (cf: the dark web..)
It’s a territory to be conquered by psychoanalysts! Where Id was, there shall Ego be…
And about being a candidate… (After the wedding, the fruit of the primitive scene)
What does it mean to be an analyst in training today?  We are the future: let’s never forget! So no future without candidates, no future without the Internet…
Being candidates means having a sort of intermediary status, one foot in, one foot out, already belonging to a group whilst not belonging completely. We find this in-between place, between the Freudian heritage and modernity, to be like a mirror of the intermediary status of the psychoanalyst in the modern world…So let us summarize :
- We’re candidates, and full of enthusiasm for our profession and the road that lies before us
- We want to get the message out about psychoanalysis and “communicate” on the Internet about psychoanalysis with a spirit of conquest
- We want to give a positive image of psychoanalysts who are modern, relevant and close to reality.
- We want to master—in part, obviously—our public image and have the possibility to oversee the online referencing of our name in search engines
- And we think it’s up to us to do and not to our institutions so as to feel free! For example, being able to mix authors, not being too concerned with petty squabbling, making the texts more accessible if necessary, conquer the social networks without always asking permission first…
That is how were born…
And now the storytelling…It all began on a day like today. We were three young analysts, recently accepted in the SPP and we all attended the 72nd Congress of Francophone Psychoanalysts in Bilbao. We were particularly interested in meeting other training analysts had come from other countries, other analytical circles—proof, if we needed it up the uncontestable value of the IPSO!
We had felt a certain dynamism, and had the feeling of encountering something that was lacking in our own French and even Parisian analytical circles.
Indeed, our enthusiasm as new students was quickly lessened by the reluctant acceptance of new media that we could observe in our societies… And that in a more general way, the question of communications could even be traumatic for certain psychoanalysts around us.
We were, in addition, rather pleasantly surprised to learn that the Spanish Society even had a answer unit in the media.
So we tried to capture something of these encounters in founding a journal on line, in which we would bring together both rigour and openness, and finding a way of promoting psychoanalysis without watering it down.And so we found the right combination: both rigour and openness!
We wanted to create an ambitious journal, which intends to promote psychoanalysis on the Internet and where form would be no less important than the content, where the quality of the content would flirt with marketing and strategy: head and legs: clever and sexy!
A journal which would have a tone that is both pertinent and impertinent, funny but not childish, capable of managing self-derision, etc. etc.
And also, a journal which would be able to respond as psychoanalysts to the immediacy and the rapidity of current events (terrorists’attacks, autisms, laws…)We sought attractive packaging, a graphic charter, a name, iconography, with two priorities: classic and modern, or serious, but impertinent…
As for the name, the brainstorming was memorable, but quickly the name “Les enfants de la psychanalyse” rose to the surface.
For obvious reasons of referencing, the word psychoanalysis was essential to have in the title. Regarding “child”, if sometimes people could criticise us—especially candidates who feared being perceived as childlike by the upper ranks of our institutions—we held on! Because it resonated with us as a generational rallying cry. Above all we are all children of Freud, all of us are children of psychoanalysis…it’s a question of legacy.
And so, for whom?Open to analysts and non-analysts likely to be interested by analytic point of view, to students. A university audience seemed essential since psychoanalysis is less and less present in universities both in medicine and in psychology…
It’s a delicate balance between the need to satisfy a certain curiosity of the general public as well as attending to the theoretical sensitivities of experienced psychoanalysts…
A big gap! How can we satisfy everybody?
There’s a freedom there as well: we decided not to satisfy everyone, but rather to focus on where the needs are (university, etc.) in a spirit of conquest over the narcissistic sensibilities of our peers!
And how?
There’s no presence on the Internet without referencing. A website without an audience serves no purpose.
We need to do some work on our key words in order to be found by the search engines.With respect to two different audiences and in two different stages:
1) Newsletter, mailing-list of our colleagues, psychoanalytical societies and referencing for any public that happens to look for us
2) Very soon we realised that for our audience this adventure is only able to be launched on social networking, especially to attract a younger student population.And again, to bring everyone together, it’s important to emphasise both content and form.
The content: quality, diversity, arts, international, interviews…
The forms: our name, subtitles (fun ones!), a style that is both classic, attractive and offering aesthetic possibilities.
Regarding money:
The question of how to finance the journal quickly becomes an issue… It’s a question we haven’t yet resolved…We have all three decided to invest in our psychoanalytic future, thinking that down the road we could envision finding financing (such as publicity or financial aid or even a benefactor as existed early on in the history of psychoanalysis). We’re still here!Our editorial demand has been to remind contributors that on the Internet a reader spends very little time and to be read we need short articles that are not too complex, accessible and dynamic. Not at all simple for a discipline like ours!
To conclude: a return to freedom…
Let’s be modest,
What have we accomplished? Since we’re speaking of freedom towards our institutions, I don’t believe we’ve ever had any problems here. Since our discourse has been very reasonable, they went on as if we never existed at first, and then eventually some high-flyers submitted articles, thanking us for what we were doing for psychoanalysis: it was very kind!What have we done? Not a whole lot… we’ve broken a couple boundaries but not only have we survived but we are considered by a greater of them as expert in the field!
 In so launching our journal Les Enfants de la psychanalyse exclusively online, we came up against or broke a couple boundaries that are common in our societies:
1) we present something (about the psychoanalyst, about practice…) which is not supposed to be presented to the general public
2) we speak as psychoanalysts while still being candidates. This could mean that we say things regarding the psychoanalyst which are only approximate or even imprecise and so simplify…
Before these prohibitions of (re)presentation (as candidates of psychoanalytic societies), we’ve had the feeling of being rightly confronted by an imperative of (re)presentation.
Imperative to represent psychoanalysis.
Imperative to leave behind the image of the excessively silent psychoanalyst, including in the media.
Imperative as well to open up our practices and our thoughts to the contemporary world as it is. Because in adapting ourselves to it, we become part of it and resist its unrelenting modernity, using as always a sense of humour …But we can’t resist modernity, and if one chooses to live in the margins one will only become paranoid and excluded.But there’s an idea concerning freedom which is dear to us and it’s this: yes we feel free to set out on this project of diffusion but there’s no freedom without the superego and this freedom therefore is above all that of having decided to place our confidence in our analytic superego… between transgression, tierceité and creativity!

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