IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis

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NACHTRÄGLICHKEIT Tri-Regional Entry Inter-Regional Consultants : Maurice Apprey and Eva Papiasvili (North America),

Bernard Chervet (Europe), Victoria Korin (Latin America) Inter-Regional Coordinating Co-Chair: Arne Jemstedt (Europe)


The noun Nachträglichkeit denotes one of the most complex and nonlinear concepts created by Freud. It proliferates theoretical corpus of metapsychology and clinical theories of memory, psychic causality and temporality, sexuality, trauma and development. It requires substantive elaboration to grasp its full import. Multiple meanings and different emphases owing to the complicated evolution of the concept in Freud, combined with different translations and interpretations, led to different accounts and definitions of Nachträglichkeit in European, North American and Latin American psychoanalytic thought. In Europe, starting with Jacques Lacan’s revival of the concept (1956, 1966, 1971) as for many French authors who followed, there appears to be the focus on the logic of temporal regression that goes from a recent scene to a past scene in a regressive pathway and process of remembering. In this respect only the manifest expression of the symptom is on the progressive path. In psychoanalytic sessions, then, reminiscences that carry deferred effects constitute the lever of therapeutic action. In the operation of ‘après-coup’ (“L’apres-coup” is the French translation of Nachträglichkeit. The literal translation of an “après-coup” is an ‘after-blow’ or an ‘after-shock’), the process reveals a temporal structure of a higher order than retroaction. Here, the “after” waits for the “before” to assume its place in a circular and non-reciprocal process. Following Lacan’s “return to Freud”, many French authors stress, besides the notion of psychic regressive work and a double causality (from the present to the past and from the past to the present), the principle of overdetermination (overdeterminism) and transposition of unconscious material onto the reality of perception, and its internalization within the psychic reality by means of identification, with the focus on the psychic work of representation and representability. They view après-coup as a process that transforms the regressive economy of drives, allowing for a psychic management of the traumatic effects, and promotion of the desire. Jean Laplanche also follows Lacan and enlarges the latter’s logic of temporal regression in his own account of a generalized theory of seduction and implanted maternal messages. In


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