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Centre for Research in Philosophy and Literature

Essays on Otherness

Jean Laplanche
Warwick Studies in European Philosophy

'Jean Laplanche is one of the most trenchant psychoanalytic thinkers of our time. These essays in particular clarify a number of themes that have not yet been adequately introduced to an English-speaking audience.'
Judith Butler, University of California, Berkeley

'Essays on Otherness offers the most original, philosophically sophisticated, and far-reaching critical reading of Freud's metapsychology since Lacan. Exegetically scrupulous and rigorously argued, these essays go straight to the heart of the psychoanalytical enterprise.'
Peter Osborne, Professor of Modern European Philosophy, Middlesex University, London

Essays on Otherness presents, for the first time in English, a key selection from the recent work of Jean Laplanche. He is one of the most important theorists of contemporary psychoanalysis. His work takes the decentering of the subject beyond the familiar parameters of post-structuralist theory towards a new understanding of otherness in the formation of human subjectivity.

The central theme of Essays on Otherness is the role of the other in psychic life. Since Freud's newly controversial abandonment of his seduction theory in 1897, psychoanalysis has given priority to the innate developmental program of the individual over the intersubjective relation to the other person. Laplanche returns to and reformulates Freud's abandoned seduction theory as a general theory of primal seduction: a seduction intrinsic to the everyday relations of childcare and nurturing.

Essays on Otherness reformulates some of the central categories of psychoanalysis leading to a new understanding of the analytic situation, of the role of seduction and transference in cultural production, and a new psychoanalytic theory of human time. Its implications will transform the current controversies over recovered memory and the after-effects of trauma and sexual abuse. The essays gathered together here for the first time are indispensable reading for all those concerned with the implications of contemporary developments in psychoanalysis.

Jean Laplanche is Professor Emeritus of Psychoanalysis at the University of Paris (VII).

John Fletcher is a Lecturer in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, University of Warwick.