This talk will argue that après-coup, Freud’s Nachträglichkeit, is an essential psychoanalytic concept structuring each of four concepts, four mental process that lie at the foundation of Freud’s thinking: psychic trauma, repression, the creation of the unconscious and the creation of infantile sexuality. It is argued that infantile sexual drives, in contrast to the self-preservative instincts, arise from a two-step process of translation and repression in which the residues of failed translation become source-objects of the drives. These residues of failed translation have an associative resonance with adult sexuality, and the child is driven to ongoing attempts to translate them, to make them meaningful après coup. Thus, après-coup is at the heart of the human subject as a sexual creature who requires, desires, and creates meaning.
Born in NYC, Jonathan was a child of the 60s who went to university all over the place but found it more congenial to be active politically than to do course work. When it became apparent that the revolution wasn’t happening any time soon, and accepting that certain neurotic inhibitions preclude an academic career, he decided to be a doctor. He became an internist believing that would be more socially useful than fulfilling a dream to become a psychoanalyst (which, he figured, might mostly be based on positive transference.) Before specializing in hematology/oncology he took a year off to work for the labor movement. The year turned into a decade. When he returned to medicine he decided to become a psychoanalyst but first to do a residency in in psychiatry so he could sell drugs if analysis didn’t work out. It turned out he liked psychiatry, but still pushed on to do analytic training.
These days Jonathan splits his time between clinical work, teaching at Columbia’s Institute for Comparative Literature and Society – Freud in the Fall; Laplanche in the Spring – and working for The Unconscious in Translation where he has translated, co-translated and/or edited translations of the work of Jean Laplanche, Dominique Scarfone, J.-B. Pontalis, Hélène Tessier and others. He was appointed by Laplanche to the Conseil Scientifique of Fondation Laplanche where he is responsible for the English translations.
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1. Those attending the talk will be able to give an account of après-coup in itself
2. Those attending the talk will be able to give an account of the relation of après-coup to repression and to infantile sexuality