According to Jacques André, “the patient’s encounter with the analyst is a scene of seduction, the seductive statement being that of the fundamental rule or the invitation to address that which is most intimate or personal to a complete stranger.” But the practice of psychoanalysis can only unfold if there is a strict respect for ethics. The words seduction and ethics, which at first sight seem mutually exclusive, are thus, as Viviane Chetrit-Vatine shows, at the heart of the analytic perspective.
Viviane Chetrit-Vatine takes as her starting-point an encounter, which is not necessarily consensual, between Emmanuel Levinas’ thought and his conception of philosophy as ethics – ethics understood as responsibility for the other – and that of the psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche, who posits the first adult other as a seducer of the young psyche from the outset, due to the transmission of enigmatic messages compromised by his or her unconscious. The analyst’s ethical position is re-examined and with it the feminine/maternal origins of the human capacity for responsibility for the other.
The question of the asymmetry of the analytic situation is no longer raised in terms of power, but of responsibility: responsibility for the analytic setting of which the analyst remains the guardian, responsibility for the analytic process of which he or she is an integral part owing to the effects of seduction inherent to the situation and to his or her own and necessary passion. The ethical stance of the contemporary analyst implies both the need to preserve “good enough” or sufficient distance and a readiness to assume affective responsibility for the other, this stranger, my patient.
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Reviews and Endorsements:
‘The purpose of this book is to confront the demanding issue of the ethics of psychoanalysis – an issue that has been dealt with in the past by various analysts who have left us with significant contributions – from the original perspective of trying to discover the ethical consistency of the actual foundations of the discipline. The hypothesis that the ethical stance of Levinas, identified with the responsibilisation for the other, has maternal origins and must be re-thought following Laplanche’s theory of primary seduction, clearly distinguishes the ethics of psychoanalysis from a mere – though always exacting – professional deontology. We are grateful to Viviane Chetrit-Vatine for trying to construct a new psychoanalytic statute for ethics and a new ethical orientation for psychoanalysis.’
— Jorge Canestri, Chair of the International Psychoanalytical Association’s Ethics Committee 2001–2005
‘This book talks to all analysts, regardless of their different theoretical backgrounds, as it goes deep to the quintessential origin of our profession: the importance of the adult caring environment conjugated with a philosophical vision of our ethical sense of responsibility towards the other. Reflecting on the seductive and the ethical dimensions of the analytic situation not only helps us to refine our conceptualisation of psychoanalytic work, but also proves amazingly useful in our actual work whenever we have to scrutinise the adequacy of the elasticity of the setting. I believe this book really fills a gap in our psychoanalytic culture.’
— Antonino Ferro, President of the Italian Psychoanalytical Society and member of the American Psychoanalytic Association
‘In this most interesting book, Viviane Chetrit-Vatine aims to construct an ethics for psychoanalysis. She suggests that there is a double asymmetry of the analytical situation while she stresses its ethical and seductive dimensions. Chetrit-Vatine argues particularly that the psychoanalytic encounter takes place in a time/space that is characterised by the analyst’s ethical position defined after Levinas as responsibility for the other. Drawing on contemporary schools of psychoanalysis, especially in France, this book is gripping and highly relevant to current discussions on the ethics of psychoanalysis.’
— Rosine Jozef Perelberg is a Training Analyst with the British Psychoanalytical Society and Visiting Professor in the Psychoanalysis Unit at University College London
About the Author:
Viviane Chetrit-Vatine, former President of the Israeli Psychoanalytic Society and faculty member of the Israel Institute of Psychoanalysis, is a training analyst for adults and children. Her professional activity includes: a private practice in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv, teaching and training at the Israel Institute of Psychoanalysis and on other Israeli psychotherapeutic and psychoanalytic post-graduate programmes, and research activity in the laboratory run by Francois Villa at Paris VII Diderot University (CPRMS). She is a member of the international reading committee of the Revue Française de Psychanalyse, of the international scientific committee of Monographies de Psychanalyse and of the reading committee of Maarag. She publishes articles in Israeli journals (Sihot, Maarag), in French journals (RFP, Le coq heron), as well as in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis.