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The New Wounded

From Neurosis to Brain Damage

Catherine Malabou

Publication Year: 2012

This book employs a philosophical approach to the "new wounded" (brain lesion patients) to stage a confrontation between psychoanalysis and contemporary neurobiology, focused on the issue of trauma and psychic wounds. It thereby reevaluates the brain as an organ that is not separated from psychic life but rather at its center. The "new wounded" suffer from psychic wounds that traditional psychoanalysis, with its emphasis on the psyche's need to integrate events into its own history, cannot understand or cure. They are victims of various cerebral lesions or attacks, including degenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Changes caused by cerebral lesions frequently manifest themselves as an unprecedented metamorphosis in the patient's identity. A person with Alzheimer's disease, for example, is not--or not only--someone who has "changed" or been "modified" but rather a subject who has become someone else. The behavior of subjects who are victims of "sociopolitical traumas," such as abuse, war, terrorist attacks, or sexual assaults, displays striking resemblances to that of subjects who have suffered brain damage. Thus today the border separating organic trauma and sociopolitical trauma is increasingly porous. Effacing the limits that separate "neurobiology" from "sociopathy," brain damage tends also to blur the boundaries between history and nature. At the same time, it reveals that political oppression today assumes the guise of a traumatic blow stripped of all justification. We are thus dealing with a strange mixture of nature and politics, in which politics takes on the appearance of nature, and nature disappears in order to assume the mask of politics.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 11-22

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pp. 1-20

Freud, as we know, distinguishes between two related ways of understanding “sexuality.” The everyday understanding of sexuality supposes that it consists of a set of sexual practices and behaviors. The concept or . . .

Part One: The Neurological Subordination of Sexuality

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p. 21-21

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Introduction: The “New Maps” of Causality

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pp. 23-27

In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant shows that there can be no causality without a “character.” And “character” is defined as the “law of a causality without which it would not be a cause at all”; that is, as the definite and . . .

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One: Cerebral Auto-Affection

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pp. 29-45

Let us be clear: Freud never said that neurons are limited to “stimuli from outside.” Very much to the contrary, from . . .

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Two: Brain Wounds: From the Neurological Novel to the Theater of Absence

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pp. 46-56

Cerebral auto-affection is a process that becomes all the more fragile and all the more exposed to the extent that the event of its destruction constitutes the only proof of its existence for the subject. The importance of this auto-affection . . .

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Three: Identity Without Precedent

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pp. 57-66

Has neurology today undertaken a thinking and writing of destruction more radical than psychoanalysis? As soon as one examines the literature of contemporary neuropathology, the question becomes inevitable. The case . . .

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Four: Psychoanalytic Objection: Can There Be Destruction Without a Drive of Destruction?

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pp. 67-73

Before continuing to examine psychic destruction and its creative plasticity, we must hasten to address the virulent critique that Freud would not have failed to mount against the preceding developments: Is it really possible to . . .

Part Two: The Neutralization of Cerebrality

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p. 75-75

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Introduction: Freud and Preexisting Fault Lines

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pp. 77-84

It is unquestionably difficult to break through the heavy wall of the Freudian theory of psychic events. More solid than the “protective shield” that it requires, it seems that this theory never admits anything from outside . . .

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Five: What Is a Psychic Event?

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pp. 85-100

What is a psychic event? This question appears, in all its radicality, in Freud’s fi st texts. The Studies on Hysteria show that the main problem posed by this pathology concerns its etiology—that is, the real nature of its . . .

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Six: The “Libido Theory” and the Otherness of the Sexual to Itself: Traumatic Neurosis and War Neurosis in Question

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pp. 101-120

It is not easy to have done with the etiological primacy of sexuality. As the preceding analyses have shown, and as Freud indicates through his many warnings not to reduce psychoanalysis to . . .

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Seven: Separation, Death, the Thing, Freud, Lacan, and the Missed Encounter

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pp. 121-141

If it still remains possible to constitute cerebrality as a specific regime of events, if it remains possible to show that trauma—as unexpected accident or unforeseen catastrophe—possesses . . .

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Eight: Neurological Objection: Rehabilitating the Event

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pp. 142-162

At the end of August 1914, a Lieutenant Kauders was wounded near Lublin by Russian gunfire. On September 9, nine days after being wounded, he was diagnosed with a skull fracture. Kauders had trouble walking, the two sides . . .

Part Three: On the Beyond of the Pleasure Principle—That It Exists

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p. 163-163

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Introduction: Remission at the Risk of Forgetting the Worst

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pp. 165-169

At this stage of our analysis, the reader might be expecting the elaboration of a clinical synthesis between psychoanalysis and neurology that explores new therapeutic possibilities. Nonetheless, at the risk of falling short of . . .

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Nine: The Equivocity of Reparation: From Elasticity to Resilience

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pp. 171-188

The Freudian concept of plasticity, we must recall, essentially designates the imperishable character of psychic life. This character is profoundly ambiguous because it corresponds to two contradictory significations of the term . . .

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Ten: Toward a Plasticity of the Compulsion to Repeat

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pp. 189-202

What does it mean to say “without remedy”? I will formulate my thinking as directly as possible. . . .

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Eleven: The Subject of the Accident

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pp. 203-210

Who, today, is this modifiable and metamorphosable subject, the site of conflict between the two plasticities—constructive and destructive—that entwine and menace its life? Before concluding, I will attempt to outline the

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pp. 211-215

In his Anxiety seminar, Lacan reproaches Lévi-Strauss and structuralism in general for confusing “structure” with the form of the brain. “The play of structure,” he writes, “of the combinatory that was so powerfully articulated . . .


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pp. 217-244


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pp. 245-249

Further Reading

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p. 250-250

E-ISBN-13: 9780823246519
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823239672
Print-ISBN-10: 0823239675

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2012