Fidelity and Invention Review: What Are Perversions? Sexuality, Ethics, Psychoanalysis by Sergio Benvenuto, Karnac 2016
It is certainly on the basis of his atopia, of the nowhereness of his being, that Socrates sparked off a whole line of research…
Jacques Lacan, Seminar VIII: Transference
The question of the formation and authorization of the psychoanalyst was long taken for granted following the guild model of psychoanalytic institutes under the ambit of the International Psychoanalytic Association, despite the forceful protests of leading lights like Bernheim, Balint, and Lacan. The question has returned to the center of analytic discourse with a vengeance in recent years, or so it seems to me from my nest in the New York psychoanalytic scene, land of exodus and tea parties, where perhaps it echoes so loud as the place in which the question was most misunderstood. It is from within these reverberations that Sergio Benvenuto’s work takes on its significance. Benvenuto, the longtime editor of the European Journal of Psychoanalysis, has staked his claim to a minimalist psychoanalysis on remaining independent of any psychoanalytic school or guild, any master or university discourse. Benvenuto’s teaching effects a reduction of theories and schools, a traversing of family resemblances, in search of what is fundamental to the psychoanalytic act. Girding (always asymptotically) such a navel, each of us in our authorization and ongoing formation must engage in a dialectic of fidelity and invention, as we create our own way of inhabiting the position of psychoanalyst. I would argue that it is precisely such a dialectical confrontation, ever incomplete, that Benvenuto’s work stages.
Benvenuto’s eidetic reduction is at times violent, reducing the often extravagant complexity of analytic theory to something crystal clear: a ‘listening, which consists, in Freudian terms, of finding a latent content behind the manifest one’ (Benvenuto & Oyer, in press). In fact, Benvenuto (2016) describes psychoanalysis as a folk theory (p. xxxiii).