André Green, French psychoanalyst, died he was 84.
André Green was a French psychoanalyst of global renown died he was 84..
He epitomized on an international scale the spirit of independent
thought, while still engaging with current developments in almost all
spheres of psychoanalysis and contributing more widely to culture at large.
(March 12, 1927 – January 22, 2012)
Life and career
André Green was born in Cairo, Egypt, to non observant Jewish parents. He studied medicine (specialising in psychiatry) at Paris Medical School
and worked at several hospitals. Then, in 1965, after having finished
his training as a psychoanalyst, he became a member of the Paris Psychoanalytic Society (SPP), of which he was the 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 professor at University College London. He died, aged 84, in Paris.
André Green was the author of numerous papers and books on the theory
and practice of psychoanalysis and the psychoanalytic criticism of
culture and literature, many of which have also appeared in English
The encounter with Lacan
In the early Sixties, André Green could be found attending Lacan‘s seminar,
without abandoning his affiliation to the SPP – a bold decision which
for some time enabled him to straddle the competing strands of French
psychoanalysis from an independent position.
As the decade progressed however, he moved further from Lacan, and
finally broke with the latter in 1970 by criticising his concept of the
signifier in a powerful work for its neglect of the affect.
By doing so, he replaced the SPP’s normally defensive approach towards Lacanism with a direct theoritical confrontation.
Most tellingly, Green points out that whereas “Lacan is saying that the
unconscious is structured like a language…when you read Freud, it is
obvious that this proposition doesn’t work for a minute. Freud very
clearly opposes the unconscious (which he says is constituted by
thing-presentations and nothing else) to the pre-conscious. What is
related to language can only belong to the pre-conscious”.
The Greenian synthesis
Over the decades since, R. Horacio Etchegoyen
concluded that what he called “the complex itinerary of Andre Green’s
prolific work” has continued to demonstrate the intellectually
independent way in which “Green is a Freudian analyst who has managed to
integrate in a lucid synthesis the influence of authors as diverse as
Lacan, Bion, and, especially, Winnicott“.
The result was to make André Green one of the most important
psychoanalytic thinkers of our times – the creator of what has been
called a Greenian theory of psychoanalysis (Kohon, 1999). Building on
Freudian metapsychology, Green elaborated a further theory of the
unrepresentable, relating thinking to absence as well as to sexuality.
While containing a multiplicity of local contributions – on the
central phobic position; subjective disengagement; unconscious
recognition; the dead mother; and more – the Greenian psychoanalytic framework has been seen as a totality, producing something greater than the sum of its parts.
On the work of the negative
A significant part of Green’s contribution to contemporary
psychoanalysis has centred around his exploration of ‘the different
modalities of the work of the negative’.
He has highlighted the way ‘accepting the negation of what was there is
necessary for relationships to new things to become possible’ – the way
that ‘to accept the reality of lack…opens the door, through a process
of working-through, to new experience, new ideals and new
On the analytic setting
For Green, the analytic setting is in itself a recreation of psychic reality. ‘The symbolism of the setting comprises a triangular paradigm, uniting the three polarities of the dream (narcissism), of maternal caring (from the mother, following Winnicott), and of the prohibition of incest (from the father, following Freud). What the psychoanalytic apparatus gives rise to, then, is the symbolisation of the unconscious structure of the Oedipus Complex ‘.
Dreams are, ‘for Andre Green, negative states trying to accede to symbolization’, so that, as ‘summed up by Adam Phillips:
“Dreams and affects, and states of emptiness or absence have been the
essential perplexities of Green’s work because they are the areas of
experience…in which the nature of representation itself is put at
To see more of who died in 2011 click here