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

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 squab
bling, 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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