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On the Destruction and Death Drives
André Green
Karnac (London: Phoenix Publishing House) / Softcover / Jun 2023
9781912691647 (ISBN-10: 1912691647)
price: $44.50
176 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

What drives men to kill and self-destruct? André Green traces the introduction and development of the controversial concept of the “death drive”, from the work of Freud (1920–1938) to the main contributions of classical and post-Freudian authors, including Ferenczi, Klein, Bion, Winnicott, and Lacan.

‘Living with the idea of bearing a death-force fundamentally directed at oneself is hardly easy to admit. It is less so in any case than the idea that we are all murderers, that we are ever ready to plead legitimate defence or the need to survive so as to strike out at another.’ André Green, from the Foreword

André Green was a key figure in contemporary psychoanalysis, who embraced philosophy and an international outlook to enhance psychoanalytic theory. This book was one of his last works, originally published in French as Pourquoi les pulsions de destruction ou de mort? in 2012. Green’s defence of one of Freud’s most daring revisions of his drive theory remains relevant to psychoanalytic work today, and it is an honour to bring this excellent translation to the English-speaking world. To enhance its worth, the book includes an introduction from translator Steven Jaron to clarify certain technical terms and situate the book within Green’s oeuvre. This book is an important contribution to the development of psychoanalytic theory and essential reading for all trainee and practising psychoanalysts.

Table of Contents:

Translator’s Note
On the New Edition

Chapter 1, Foundations

I.I Hypotheses on the Genesis of the Death Drive
I.II From the Repetition Compulsion (Constraint) to Primal Reproduction
I.III The Retractable Scaffolding of Narcissism
I.IV The False Symmetry of Sadomasochism
I.V Reworkings, Advances, Transpositions
I.VI Conclusion: Transcendence in Freud

Note on Empedocles of Acragas

Chapter 2: The Death Drive’s Shockwave: Ferenczi, Melanie Klein, Bion, Winnicott, Lacan and Others. Remarks on Some Clinical Structures

II.I Ferenczi and Mutual Analysis
II.II Melanie Klein and Full-Blown Destruction
II.III W.R. Bion and the Return to Thinking
II.IV D.W. Winnicott: The Environment-Individual Pair
II.V French Contributions from Lacan to Balier
II.VI Pierre Marty’s Psychosomatics
II.VII Disruption of Self-Preservation
II.VIII The Unity and Diversity of Depression
II.IX Pathology and Normality of Suicide(s)
II.X Brief Remarks on Clinical Practice


Chapter 3: The Death Drive in the Social Field: Civilization and Its Discontents

III.I The Death Drive in Culture
III.II Primal Parricide
III.III Recent Discussions on Cultural Process
III.IV The Death Drive and Language: Laurence Kahn

Appendix: The Return to Biology: Apoptosis or Self-Programmed Natural Death

Leave-Taking, Updated

Tentative Conclusion


About the Author, and the Translator:

André Green, French psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, member of the Paris Psychoanalytical Society (SPP), was one of the most pre-eminent figures of the contemporary psychoanalytic movement, both for his theoretical and clinical research and his role within institutions. In 1965, Green became a member of the SPP, of which he was President from 1986 to 1989. From 1975 to 1977 he was a Vice-President of the International Psychoanalytical Association and from 1979 to 1980 a Freud Memorial Professor at University College London. He was elected an Honorary Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society.

He attended Jacques Lacan’s seminars between 1961 and 1967, when he definitively broke with him. He then directed a seminar at the Institute of Psychoanalysis in Paris where he invited the great philosophers and authors of his time including, Jean-Pierre Vernant, Michel Serres, Jacques Derrida, Marcel Detienne, and René Girard. A great reader of D. W. Winnicott and a friend of W. R. Bion, he constantly bridged the gap between British, American, and French psychoanalytical research in a spirit of international openness and turned towards the future of psychoanalysis. His theoretical contributions – the dead mother, private madness, the work of the negative, the analytic third, and the analytic object – opened the way to psychoanalysis beyond neurosis, the hallmark of twenty-first-century psychoanalysis.

Many of his works, such as Life Narcissism, Death Narcissism, On Private Madness, and The Work of the Negative are classics of psychoanalytic literature.

Steven Jaron is a Paris-based psychoanalyst. He trained at the Psychoanalytic Society for Research and Training (SPRF) and his books include Edmond Jabès: The Hazard of Exile (Legenda) and the forthcoming, Christopher Bollas: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge). He works at the Quinze-Vingts National Ophthalmology Hospital and in private practice.

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