I doubt therefore I am …

Infinite doubt. The obsessional in 40 lessons

by Alain Abelhauser

Threshold, 292 p., € 21

How pleasant it is to read a good book on psychoanalysis! Far from the self-evaluation and the re-education of oneself into which personal development always threatens to pour, we return to the complexity of human desire. In this new school year, readingInfinite doubt offers this refreshing reading pleasure.

Professor of clinical psychopathology at the University of Rennes, psychoanalyst in Paris, Alain Abelhauser is interested in the figure of the obsessional and his neurosis, about which Freud wrote in 1925: “Obsessive neurosis is, without a doubt, the most interesting and fruitful object of analytical research. But the problem it poses is still not dominated. “

Who is the obsessional? To better understand him, Alain Abelhauser went to his school and listened to him. He spots him in a certain type of discourse, that “Consisting, for example, in wanting to say everything; and say everything all at once in addition; and to say everything as accurately as possible, moreover; and say nothing but the truth, moreover; and say everything, all of a sudden, as accurately, as true, while ensuring the correct understanding of his point and then correcting in the same movement as much the inevitable misunderstandings to come as the foreseeable and distressing deficiencies of the utterance “. A speech that ends up becoming “Perfectly inaudible and, according to some, singularly exasperating”.

A certain way of being human

When speaking of obsessive neurosis, Alain Abelhauser does not use a bad word. “To speak of neurosis obviously does not have the value of an insult, nor even of a ‘diagnosis’. “ In his vocabulary, he says, neurosis is “The name of a mode, among others, of subjective construction, shaping in a very particular way the desire of the subject, and thus, the whole of his life”. Being neurotic is thus a way of being human, “To take place in the world, to inhabit language, to endure the test of desire”.

This desire appears to the obsessional as a bulky good, which he does not know what to do with. He is wary of its realization, for fear of having nothing more to desire. He therefore endeavors not to act, to postpone, to defer, to always postpone until the next day what could come to accomplish him. Hence the procrastination, the recoil in front of the choices to be made, the refusal to think, the art of transforming everything into a duty, of sacrificing himself, of falling into ritualism … Thus he manages to maintain his desire “Vivacious while guarding against it”.

In forty short chapters, the psychoanalyst describes, unfolds, deploys the modes of functioning of the obsessional. With delicacy, he knows how to be moved by the defenses of the one whom he describes in turn as ” companion “, of “Brother”, of “Comrade”… Supported by the works of Freud and Lacan, the book combines childhood memories, listening to patients and the simple observation of daily life. We meet there figures of sympathetic obsessionals, although well mired in their neurosis: the famous hare from the fable of La Fontaine and the Dupondts of Tintin, Hamlet and several western heroes … Served by a writing which marries the nuances of its subject and a visible know-how, Alain Abelhauser advances step by step in an attempt to tame the obsessional. With the ambition to help him loosen – a little – the bonds by which he imprisons himself.


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