Julia Kristeva | site officiel


London, Central Hall Westminster, 24/07/2019

Prelude to an Ethics of the Feminine


"That woman who makes people exclaim:

‘She’s made of steel!’

S he is simply ‘made of woman.’”

Colette, La Vagabonde [1]



What ethics?

In the accelerated anthropological transformation at the beginning of this third millennium, women are at once an emerging force, on the same level with its upheavals in values and identities, AND an irreducible otherness—object of desire, fear, and envy, of oppression and exploitation, of abuse and exclusion.

Can psychoanalysis make itself heard (the epistemological question), must it make itself heard (the ethical question) in this new phase of Civilization and Its Discontents [Unbehagen]?

It was necessary that a woman be President of the IPA to seize this historic moment and take the risk to adopt “THE FEMININE” as a congress theme.

I say “risk” because THE FEMININE, like a “boson of the unconscious” (as we have a Higgs boson in physics), is as radical as it is ungraspable a component of our psychosexual identities; and though no longer an “enigma” (Freud), this vector relating the soma and the psyche is no less of an “overflow” of existential and social actings, as attested by the stunning polyphony of the program for this 51st Congress!

In thanking you for the honor you do me, I venture to argue—if only to do justice to the women who fight for their rights and to those who come looking for survival [sur-vie] on our couches—that the feminine cannot be neutralized.


The instinctual/sexual disjunction

For the two thousand and five hundred years that ethics has existed, the feminine has been rejected from the sphere of ethics: it is not a subject, at most it is an object (if that!).

Psychoanalysis has broken this exclusion of the feminine by way of a new ethics that “puts in brackets,” which is to say suspends judgment, morality, and the world so as to better question them, by giving itself a direction (“Were Id was, Ego shall become” [2] ) and two opposing principles (the pleasure principle and the reality principle).

Inscribed in this suspense, transference reveals in the unconscious a drive-based sexuality (sexuel pulsionnel) that, far from expelling the organic (biological and anatomic), is denatured because it is disconnected from the organic instinctual by the primal repression. An original disjunction constitutes the speaking being as a split subject, a splitting or fading (Spaltung, refente) to which the analyst lends an ear, and it is this which breaks into normative morality.

Feminine fertility and eroticism seem to manifest and disclose this disjunction, and as a result become the target of desire and envy—to possess, to master, to destroy (as well!), for the benefit of a masculine domination observed in all societies. The castration complex only finds its full meaning if it is understood, for both sexes, as a traumatic displacement of the “trauma” [3] of sexual difference, which resonates deeply with the original split/fading.


Two fables of hominization

Two fables on the beginnings of hominization illustrate the violence that scars the discovery of sexual difference and continues to frighten and enchant heterosexuality.

For Claude Lévi-Strauss, the “psychic revolution” [4] of materiality, or denatured sexuality, which displaces animal instinct in the henceforth and definitively double, heterogeneous (energy-and-senses) drive thanks to language, was originally… feminine. I cite: “Of all mammals, the human animal is the only one […] that can make love in all seasons,” women “could signal their moods with words” [5] (!).

The first humans decorated graves (350,000 BP), and parietal art gives us a zoomorphic representation of drives: a giant vulva crowned by a buffalo head, which appears to draw in the racing animals (Chauvet, 37,000 BP). Capable of relieving the libido attached to their finitude through language and art, the two sexes enter into culture and death as divided subjects. Heterosexuality enacts and exhibits the splitting/fading of being in human existence, regardless of the power of artificial reproduction and elimination of guilt from homosexuality.

We still need to refine how feminine psychosexuality, modulated by the socio-political upheavals of the feminine condition, succeeds in transforming this inaugural and constitutive splitting. And how it appears in symptoms in the “heterosexual comedy.” [6]


Moving the needle

When “discontent” [7] erupts, Freud assigns psychoanalysis, in two essays on the feminine, [8] a new task that consists (on the epistemological level) in “finding the connection” between the “theory of bisexuality” and the “theory of drives” [9] —a task to which this Congress calls its participants; and (on an ethical level) in bearing witness against the “frustration of sexual life” (that is not pornography). And he expects—perhaps it is a wager?—that “eternal Eros” “will make an effort to assert himself in the struggle with his equally immortal adversary.” [10]

According to Freud, the “two phases” of the female Oedipus (with change of object and always “unresolved”—I prefer unfinished) make apparent that the feminine is a factor of the transformability of psychic life considered not as an “apparatus” but as a “spirit life” or a “life of the soul.” [11]

Prefiguring some aspects of “gender” theories, a polyphonic psychic bisexuality (more accentuated in women) appears in Freud, proving to be double for each sex: thus the “party” is made four at least. Only to be modulated, in the end, to the singular or unique. It is a frightening, jubilatory freedom that is risked by this choice, by this ethic whose “norms,” or even “identities” themselves (man/woman), have become “dynamic concepts.” For better and for worse.

There remains the enigmatic question that Freud asked Marie Bonaparte: “What does woman want?” (“Was will das Weib?”). He wonders not about desire (Wunsch) but want (Wollen), the pillar of choice in an ethical life. The elusive (“what…want”) refers to the relationship of the feminine to the ideals of life, and to life itself, inseparable from cultural ideals.

Was Freud looking to re-found ethics through the feminine? The biopolitics of modernity force this question on us now more than ever.

I am going to attempt to convince you—though you are convinced already because you are psychoanalysts—that THE FEMININE conveyed by the Freudian discovery of the unconscious is one, if not THE, factor of this disquieting opening, due to its own transformability: the feminine is transformative. Neither innate nor acquired, but the tireless conquest of the two phases of the unfinished Oedipus, the vivacity of the FEMININE either diversifies or it succumbs to the trials of merciless socio-historical reality.

A confession, before we continue. Like you, I hear THE FEMININE of woman (I will not deal with the feminine of man here) in listening to my patients, in reading your work, in talking with you. And often—perhaps like you?—I am tired of these disruptive mysteries, these cosmetics of all sorts! To what degree is the feminine in me? In you? No one knows, but the feminine that I embody, in my way, is not an ideological artifact. I participate in its advent, always to come. Simone de Beauvoir famously wrote, “On ne naît pas femme, on le devient”—We are not born, but rather, become women). I would say, rather, “We are (biologically) born female, but ‘I’ (psychosexual conscious-unconscious) become (or not) FEMININE.”

I propose to share with you some stages of this becoming to which my clinical experience with the feminine has brought me, with my debt to the many works that have guided me and which I would not know how to begin to list.





2. The transformative feminine


The oedipal dyad

The transformative feminine is formed in the oedipal dyad—the primary Oedipus and the secondary Oedipus—and in maternal reliance.

I call primary Oedipus the archaic period that goes from birth to what we call the phallic phase (until age three and six). Far from the idyllic “Minoan-Mycenaean” (Freud) and the serenity of “being” before “doing” (Winnicott), projective identification (Melanie Klein) is fostered by mother-daughter resemblance and by the projection of maternal narcissism and depression on the girl.

An interactive subjectivity is established by the early working out of an identificatory and introjective/projective bond with the loving-and-intrusive pre-object that is the mother (insofar as she incorporates the feminine and relays the father’s desire).


Psychization of the bond

By introjection, the excited cavity of the inner body turns into an internal representance of the external. This psychization of alterity is immediately made problematic by the identification with the mother and by the girl’s reactivity as an agent (as well) of seduction-intrusion-frustration. The archaic dependence prepares the status of feminine erotic object, which the woman will ask to understand her as if it were… an imaginary mother: the feminine demand seeking “authenticity” is inhabited by the persistent mirage of the primary Oedipus. But the primary conflict immediately presents the “illusion” of this primary attachment, awakening the vigilance that detects “imposture” [12] in bonds.

Beyond the two pitfalls of narcissism and passivating masochism, the projective resemblance of the primary oedipal phase therefore establishes the psyche of the little girl as an altered sameness, as an integrated otherness. The self outside the self, the outside-of-oneself in the self. [13]

This psychosexuality of interdependence is encoded in the sensorial flow, gestures, images, and echolalia (the cathexis of pre-linguistic vocalizations: intensities, frequencies, and rhythms), which I call a semiotic receptacle (chora), that already have sense without having meaning, this latter developing with the acquisition of symbolic rules (of phonetics, grammar and logic). [14]

The co-presence of “sames” (mother-daughter), and meticulous sensorial adjustment of their harmonies/disharmonies, runs through utilitarian care and is filtered into the feminine realm of the sublimated senses that is beauty. [15] I hold that while it appears in the maternal gaze for the newborn, regardless of the sex, and before mobilizing to protect from castration or lack, beauty magnetizes the differentiated mother-daughter sameness, the excitement and tenderness of all their attuned semiotic senses.

It is a beauty that coexists with the desire to expel expulsion. The first pre-symbolic gestures are colored with rejection: attraction and repulsion, fascination and disgust, neither “subject” nor “object,” ab-jection is more violent between mother and daughter than between mother and idealized son. Add to this the adolescent’s hatred of the castrated woman, the object of the paternal penis. It is a hatred without Orestian remorse. Contrary to patricide, matricide for the daughter remains a hazy unconscious complex, a continuous background noise that will accompany her throughout her endless settling of scores with her mother and her representatives. Unthought and unthinkable, matricide dispossesses her of herself.

THE FEMININE, potential hostage of the pre-objectal maternal, of the Thing; [16] THE FEMININE, first working out of the infans’ phobias, without which the adolescent, panicked and suicidal to the point of “no longer being able to stand him or herself,” tries to escape into anorexia, the non-sexual, or even sex change; THE FEMININE, reserved and repressed by the later accession to the phallic.

Is it not precisely this altered feminine position—as absolute as it is refused, and taking shape as early as the primary oedipal phase—that underlies the fact that the feminine is “more inaccessible,” as Freud said, for both sexes? Inaccessible due to fear of passivation, fear of narcissistic and masochistic regression, of the loss of visible markers of identity by a sensorial engulfment that risks dispersing the subject into an endogenous or even pathological autism.

A barely repressed continent, let us say: when maintained, the altered feminine of the primary Oedipus is masked by reactive femininity and its parades of embellishment or narcissistic reparation, with which the woman’s later phallicism reacts to the castration complex. And it is over the course of the phallic phase—which, between the ages of three and five, positions the subject in the oedipal triangulation—that the female subject undertakes psychic transformations by which the choice of sexual identity will (or will not) be definitively accomplished.


Foreign to the phallus

Two moments mark the positioning in the secondary oedipal phase. The phallic stage becomes the central organizer of the co-presence of sexuality and thought in both sexes; it is a “phallic kairos,” in the Greek sense of a mythic “encounter” AND/OR a fateful “severing.” An equivalence emerges between, on the one hand, the pleasure of the phallic organ, visible and valued in androcentric society, and on the other hand, the access to language, to the function of speech and thought.

The entry into the secondary oedipal phase (where the father replaces the mother as the aim of desire) adjoins a decisive moment in the construction of feminine subjectivity: the cathexis (Besetzung) of what Freud calls “the father of individual prehistory.” [17] Before sexual differentiation “is secured,” it is only an “empathy” (Einfühlung), a “direct and immediate identification” with the father: not yet as “object,” but already a third AND identificatory party who, by bringing together the characteristics of both parents, “leads us back to the origin of the ego ideal.” I insist on the “bisexuality” (father and mother) that permeates this originary thirdness. And I maintain that the “mother” part of this “imaginary father” can only promote the transition of the feminine primary Oedipus into the secondary Oedipus, and thereby support this bisexuality that Freud stipulates “comes to the fore much more clearly in women than in men.” [18]

As a third, separating and regulating figure of the sensorial mother-child dyad, the father must definitively assume the place of symbolic father, the figure of interdiction and law, reason, power, and moral codes. The penis becoming, for speaking sexes, the phallus—signifier of privation, of lack, and thereby of desire: desire to copulate, to signify, to sublimate, and to create.

The boy enters the primary oedipal phase under the regime of patricide and castration, and “resolves” them through the superego. The girl enters the secondary oedipal phase favored by THE FEMININE of the “father of prehistory,” who, on the contrary, distresses the boy by referring him back to castration and passivity. She idealizes this bivalent thirdness and its values; but, magnetized by the maternal sameness-intimacy of the primary Oedipus, she adheres to the phallic order as a stranger to the phallus, perceiving her sensoriality and her clitoral excitability as less visible and less remarkable, even and especially if she ventures to defend herself against them by taking up a phallic posture. She becomes an untiring communicator, an inflexible militant who fills screens with inevitably paternal causes, and who mediatic-political power (always avid to recover the spectacular latencies of her combative language) easily exploits.

That is, unless she purifies her primary Oedipus through revolt and willfulness, through the “eternal irony of the community” (as Hegel puts it), through the insatiable curiosity of the researcher.


A multiverse

Women’s fabulous social adaptability—an obstinate scar—covers this constitutive dissociation that expresses itself as foreign to the phallic order. On the one hand, there is an intense cathexis in the underlying bond and alterity, a psychosexual movement that reveals itself in the need to believe (in the maternal envelope, in the imaginary father). On the other hand, this belief—disparaged by sexism and swallowed up by the primary Oedipus—as well as every identity, is experienced in the register of the illusory: it is a game, “I’m in it but I’m pretending.” Deluded, the feminine is equally disillusioned, disappointed—with a radical disappointment, more intractable than melancholy, because the subject is not confronted with the nonsense of being, but with the absence of being. When she rejects suicide, the feminine assumes this ab-sense and lives again with it in a daunting region where strength (to live) abuts indifference.

The repressed, mistreated feminine, entrenched in its strangeness and its absence, allows itself to be consoled and instrumentalized by religiosities, both sectarian and fundamentalist; mystics and the devout abound, but the disillusioned feminine also produces the most hardened of atheists.

Apparent feminine realism supports itself with this chimera: women do not stop doing, and doing everything, because they do not fully believe in it—they believe that it is an illusion… to be remade.

The feminine hateloving (hainamoration) of the phallus does not come to an end, however. The feminine knows how to combat the maternal hold of the primary Oedipus as well as the father of the superego in the secondary Oedipus. But the feminine internalization of this psychosexual panoply—which I have sketched in broad strokes—, in the preserve of intimacy, which flees itself, also facilitates the intrapsychic contact between the feminine and the death drive. Before and without externalizing in sadism, the originary masochism is only one melancholic version of this destructiveness that sculpts the living and “naturally” (so to speak) kneads feminine life (think here of little Sigmund watching as his mother kneads Knödels). Freud stipulated that “the pleasure principle seems actually to serve the death instincts.” [19] Yet for a woman, Sabina Spielrein (1885-1942), who had theorized it in 1912—before Freud—it is the inverse: “the need for destruction is inherent in sexual impulses” and destruction is (simply) “the condition of coming into being.”

Moreover, alongside the hateloving of the phallus, a second psychic posture, initiated in the primary oedipal phase, is only completed in the secondary oedipal phase: as a speaking being, the feminine subject accesses the social symbolic order as a foreigner to the phallic; but being feminine, she desires to have a child with the father from the mother’s position.

Thus from primary Oedipus to secondary Oedipus, the transformative feminine is a multiverse (to borrow from contemporary astrophysics) that the amorous encounter awakens and reconstructs. Unless this multilayered structure is compressed through frigidity and explodes in hysterical attacks or conversions—a cascade of co-present sensorialities, mnesic traces, fantasies, and ideals sweep the pleasure of organs into feminine jouissance. “All my skin has a soul,” writes Colette. Let me add: all my flesh has a soul. Detotalized completeness and eclipse of the self: absolute vitality and crossed mortalities of the two partners.



The maternal experience, which I call a reliance, is another component of the transformative feminine. It is an eroticism in the psychoanalytic sense, understanding Eros as that which, “by bringing about a more and more far-reaching combination of the particles into which living substance is dispersed, aims at complicating life and at the same time, of course, at preserving it.” [20]

Originally a biopsychic experience, reliance—for both women and men—may be refused as such, or transposed into the professions of education and care, or in various social commitments. But it reverses into mère-version [21] (a pun on the French père-version, as père means father and mère means mother) when the female lover’s libido turns her unsatisfied drives on the child.

Before it becomes a “holding environment,” from which the creation of psychic bonds will detach, maternal eroticism is a state: a “state of emergency in life,” [22] a quality of vital energy that is always already psycho-somatic, given and received to “be at the level required to conserve life.”

But while the female lover’s libido is dominated by the satisfaction of drives, maternal eroticism deploys its libidinal thrust as tenderness; beyond expulsion, abjection, and separation, tenderness is the basic affect of reliance.

Maternal eroticism appears to us as a cathexis of the instinctual “double reversal” at all levels of the psychic structure, and it thereby constitutes an essential condition for the mutability of the psychic structure of both mother and child.

Two factors internal to maternal intersubjectivity promote this metabolism of destructive passion into reliant dispassionateness: the woman’s re-experienced and rearranged oedipal dyad in the new parental couple, and the maternal relationship to language.

A veritable sublimatory cycle [23] is built on these two pillars in the child’s acquisition of language. To those who claim that the feminine lacks humor, let us recall the economy of this sublimatory cycle, which is literally the same one Freud observed in the discharge and reception of witticism: surprised and ensnared, the interlocutor is incited to recreate the story; the child, too.

RELIANCE, then. After having highlighted separation and transitionality, with Winnicott, and maternal madness, with A. Green, I believe it important to insist now on this maternal aspect that MAINTAINS the cathexis and anti-cathexis of binding and unbinding in psychosomatic bonds so that they remain open, in order to be identified and recreated. I call this specific eroticism that maintains the emergency in life, to the limits of life, a reliance.

A spiraled and rebounding time follows: maternal time as beginning and beginning again.


Herethic of love

Women want to be free to decide whether or not to be mothers. Some of them eagerly turn to assisted motherhoods without prejudice: is this because the pre-subjective aspect of feminine eroticism familiarizes them with this possession-dispossession of the self that modern science imposes on us down to our most intimate depths? At the same time, the transformative feminine is not free of dogmas and norms, but can be able to modulate them into dynamic concepts. And joins this unsettled ethic that points to… psychoanalysis itself.

Listening to the sexuality of the female lover, it is up to psychoanalysis to continue creating new metapsychological concepts in order to develop an elucidation and accompaniment of maternal eroticism in its specificity. Without this, the liberation of the feminine subject is destined to be nothing more than an unethical cog in the automation of the human race. If love is (as Spinoza says) the intimate face of ethics, then the feminine is neither an ideology nor a morality, but appears as a “herethic” of love.

The thresholds of this transformability are pitfalls on which the feminine future may stumble or run aground, in suffering or pathological symptoms on the one hand or in complicity with conformist or social totalitarianism on the other. But when it succeeds in evading them—by banding together with the masculine of a companion, by relying on a partner’s complicity or a community’s support, by crossing through solitude and conflict, and with the help of psychoanalysis, for example…—, the feminine radiates a maturity that the infantile macho, hiding in the shadow of masculine power and seduction, seems to be missing. Until the feminine of man reinstates transformability.



3. Singularities and metamorphoses of parenthood


Understood thusly, I invite you to consider that the feminine—as a detotalized “open structure”—participates in the current overcoming and legitimization of sexed AND gendered identities, in their singular/unique and shareable future. The third millennium will be the epoch of individual, which is to say singular, opportunities. Or it will not, [24] if it allows itself to be swallowed up in banalized similarities and likes by the transhumanist automation that is in the midst of establishing the binary domination of “the haves” over “the have-nots.”

The “trauma” of sexual difference, which Freud continued to contemplate up to his Outline (1939-1940), gets covered over if it does not “disappear” in the multiplication of genders that call for impassioned subversive confrontations. Yet, the liberating reach of gender destabilizes the “psychic sex” itself and reveals traumatic zones of subjectivity where this primordial bond to life that is sexuation tends to fissure. Without succumbing to the split but brushing against it, castration anxiety and emptiness anxiety, as well as the phallic parade, can create symptoms that, far from eroticizing the feminine (J. Butler), disunite (désensemble) the subject and force it to withdraw from the other and from bonds. Or even condemn it to that dreadful giddiness of being which seeks to “change bodies” by hormonal or genetic means. The analyst (be they man or woman) is thus brought to recreate the feminine (in the sense of transformability and reliance) through his/her listening so as to accompany the symptoms of these “beings otherwise” (êtres autrement) —toward creativity.

Among these symptoms, I could mention: incurable fatigue; debilitating tension; inability to choose oneself; being overwhelmed between masculine and feminine postures and objects of desire; implacable jealousy of “the other woman” (a sign of the refusal to accept one’s sexed or gendered femininity, which turns from hatred to tenderness in transference with a female analyst); the unbridled compulsion to do so as not to be—to eliminate oneself through doing (which leads to a hallucinatory narration, challenging the feminine of the male analyst); or the fundamentalist radicalization of an adolescent who calls herself a feminist because she “hates men,” but who is ready to “have kids for Allah”…




These observations lead me to a subject that is as normative as it is a burning issue: heterosexuality. Where do we stand in regard to the "heterosexual  comedie"? - to borrow a phrase from Jacques Lacan grim humour.


Heterosexuality is the problem

Heterosexuality (in the sense of the psychization of genitality and of sexual difference, including bisexuality, and in the sense of their inclusion in the social pact) is a fragile, late acquisition in the history of human cultures and still remains the problematic par excellence for each of us: in parenting, and more broadly in the social bond itself.

Heterosexuality is no longer seen as the surest (and only) means of giving life and guaranteeing future generations. But whatever the variants of the “heterosexual norm” in each individual’s psychosexuality, and the acceptance or rejection of variously composed couples, the mirage of the “primal scene” (as original fantasy that structures the unconscious of each individual) inevitably links the diversity of eroticisms to “the zenith of procreation,” as Georges Bataille puts it. [25] And heterosexuality conceals both the extreme intensity and the unbearable fragility that inhabit the fury of the primal scene: fusion and confusion of man and woman, exuberant loss of energies and identities, affinity of life with death. Heterosexuality is thus not only a discontinuity (“I am other, alone facing the other”), normalized by continuity (fusion to “give” life): heterosexuality is a transgression of identities and codes that does not issue from dread, but rather from anxiety and desire for death, carried by the promise of life beyond death. But at the height of expenditure, pleasure rewards castration, fear of death rises into jouissance and nullifies it: by taking shape in the probable conception of a new being, strange and ephemeral. [26] Such is the sense of the primal scene. And of all the eroticisms that lead to it, up to the lovesickness that haunts our imaginations.

 The heterosexual couple is fragile: because women’s liberation accentuates the singular feminine of mothers and female lovers, and disturbs men who feel with them a “danger of homosexuality” (Colette), either masculine or feminine (?). Unless that is the hope.

We search in vain to find where “humanist values” have gone. But what if the heterosexual couple and its family were the focus rather than the “value” (which shows itself to be a concern for alleviating solitude, extending and transmitting our species)? Reproductive biotechnology and same-sex marriage don’t change any of this: our fantasies unconsciously converge on this archaic legacy of parenthood.

The married heterosexual couple continues to fascinate. Not only does the institution of marriage normalize it, but the cinema—from Hollywood to Bollywood—imposes it on us as a model ad nauseam. The Couple: enigmatic, scandalous, detestable and therefore desirable. Heterosexuality is and will continue to be the problem. From that point on, beginning from and with the singular transformative feminine, the metamorphoses of parenthood (which psychoanalysis is preparing to accompany) are and shall be infinite.


Madam President, women do not own the transformative and always becoming FEMININE, which participates, with the masculine, in the psychosexuality of speaking and imagining beings. Since Freud and continuing in today’s socio-historical mutations, the feminine appears to us at the heart of the psychoanalytic experience. Might psychoanalysis be one of the feminine’s possible (or even ultimate) sublimations?

For the clinician that you are, “psychoanalytic listening” is alert to the “presence of change in certain dimensions of psychic functioning”—from the sensorial to the linguistic (from the “semiotic” to the “symbolic”) and capable of inducing the patient “to collaborate with the task of transforming [these] elements.” And you warn: only “an improvement on the attachment to the analyst and her capacity to receive and contain his anxieties make this transformation possible.”

As President of the IPA, your plasticity is and will surely continue to be greatly solicited, always discreet, and effective! “Rebirth has never been beyond my powers,” wrote Colette (1873-1954), one of those “transformative” feminine geniuses whose works revitalize us. May that phrase stay with you.

Keep up the good work, and good luck!



Julia Kristeva


London 24/07/19, The International Psychoanalytical Association's 51st International Congress and The International Psychoanalytical Studies Organization’s 25th Conference.  Westminster, Broad Sanctuary


[1]     Original in Œuvres complètes, vol. I, Gallimard, "Bibliothèque de la Pléiade" collection, 1984, p. 1088.

[2]     Cf. Freud, Nouvelle suite des leçons d’introduction à la psychanalyse , XXXIe Leçon: La décomposition de la personnalité psychique in Œuvres complètes - Psychanalyse - vol. XIX : 1931-1936, PUF, 2004 p.140-163 [New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, vol. 22, lecture 31, "The Dissection of the Psychical Personality," Complete Works, Standard Edition, eds. James Strachey and Anna Freud (1964).pp 57-80]

[3]     Cf. Abrégé de psychanalyse, 1938/1949, PUF, p. 244 [An Outline  of Psychoanalysis, The Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol.23, 139–207. London: Hogarth Press. 1953, p 197]


[4]     Cf. S. Freud, "Formulations on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning," 1911.

[5]         Cf. C. Lévi-Strauss, Nous sommes tous cannibales, Seuil, 2013, p. 214-215. According to whom the female cry was no longer a hormonal surge in the ovarian cycle, but the "sign" of an ongoing psychic cathexis of the male partner.

[6]     Cf.. J. Lacan, Ecrits, Seuil, 1966, p. 694 ;

[7]     S. Freud, Malaise dans la culture (1930), PUF, vol. XVIII, p. 245-333 [Civilization and Its Discontents, 1930, in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, London, 1953-74, volume XXI, Hogarth Press, 1961 pp.57-146]

[8]     "Female Sexuality," 1931, and "Femininity (1933) in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, London, 1953-74, volume  XXII, Hogarth Press, 1964, pp. 112-135.

[9]     S. Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, op. cit., pp. 57-146.

[10]    S. Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, op. cit., pp. 146.

[11]    To use Françoise Coblence’s expression, cf. Revue française de psychanalyse, vol. 74, 2010, p. 1285-1356.

[12]    Helen Deutsch (1884-1982) was the first to diagnose the "as if personality," thereby opening the clinic of "false selves." Cf. Psychanalyse des névroses [Psychoanalysis of the Neuroses], Payot, 1970, p..275, 285.

[13]    It is Melanie Klien, a female psychoanalyst, who posits a "self" capable of "object relationship" from the beginnings of life, even if it is only partial (the breast). And it is a female philosopher, Hannah Arendt, who castigates the melancholic isolation of her male colleagues, arguing that the "self alone" "belongs only to others."

[14]    Hanna Segal identifies the "psychic equations" prior to the "true symbols" of the "depressive position" in "Note on Symbol Formation," in International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, col. XXXVII, 1957.

[15] About which Freud said that "Unfortunately […] psychoanalysis has less than nothing to say about beauty." Cf. Civilization...,PUF, p. 270.

[16]    Cf. J. Lacan, Ethique de la psychanalyse [The Ethics of Psychoanalysis], (1959-1960), Seuil, 1986, p. 87-102.

[17]    Cf. S. Freud, "Le Moi et le Ça", 1923, PUF, p. 275, 276 [ Civilization and Its Discontents, 1930, in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, London, 1953-74, volume XXI, Hogarth Press, 1961 pp.82-83.].

[18]    Cf. S. Freud, "De la sexualité féminine" [Female Sexuality], 1931, PUF, t. XIX,  p. 12.

[19]    Freud, “Beyond the Pleasure Principle,” 1934

[20]    Freud, "Le Moi et le Ça" [The Ego and the Id], 1923, p. 283. And Lou Andreas Salomé : “[…] groping into space […] and into our very bodies with confidence, like one hand stretched out toward the other […] with all the ‘inwardness of a creature’ for whom this relation is no longer obfuscated” (“Letter to Rilke, 1 March 1914” in Correspondance R.M. Rilke et Lou A. Salomé, Gallimard, 1979, p. 231). Before attributing to the maternal precisely this capacity to establish and overcome the “pathological split,” a process by which the maternal “realizes the bond” between internal and external reality, matter and symbol, masculine and feminine, and to “restores the loss from which the process of individuation suffers.”

[21]    According to Ilse Barande’s expression, “De la perversion, notre duplicité d’êtres inachevés” [On Perversion: Our duplicity as unfinished beings], 1987.

[22]    Cf. the "Not des Lebens" of which Heidegger and Lacan speak.

[23]    J.-L. Baldacci, "Dès le début, la sublimation?" [Sublimation from the start?], in Bulletin de la SPP, n° 74, 2004, p. 145.

[24]    “The two sexes will die estranged from each other,” Alfred de Vigny, taken up by Marcel  Proust.

[25]    L'Erotisme [Erotism], 1957.

[26]    This intimacy between two incommensurables “breaks the group ties of race and of community,” “of the national divisions, and of the social class system, and it thus produces important effects as a factor in civilization,” writes Freud (Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, 1921).



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