IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis

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Laplanche’s expansion, Lacan’s non-reciprocal circular sequence of après-coup becomes a spiral operation where the implantation of maternal messages into a child’s early and inchoate ego is received and ‘re-subjectivized’ in successive translations. In psychoanalytic treatment, the transference becomes an infinite ‘transference of transference’. Among contemporary European Dictionaries, Laplanche and Pontalis (1973) present Nachträglichkeit as the term frequently used by Freud in connection with his view of psychical temporality and causality, whereby experiences, impressions and memory traces may be revised at a later date to fit in with fresh experiences or with the attainment of a new stage of development. They may in that event be endowed not only with a new meaning but also with psychical effectiveness or pathogenic force. “The Edinburgh Encyclopaedia of Psychoanalysis” (Skelton, 2006) cites Helmut Thomä’s and Neil Cheshire’s (1991) finding Strachey’s translation as ‘deferred action’ unsatisfactory, because Freud combined the meaning of delayed effect with retrospective reconstruction of the psychological significance of the trauma. In contrast, the North American revival of late 1980’s and 1990’s emphasized re- transcription and re-contextualization of memory in a developmentally transformative perspective. In the recent dictionary of The American Psychoanalytic Association, which uses the much debated Strachey’s translation of “Deferred Action” (Auchincloss and Samberg, 2012, p. 53-54), the process of Nachträglichkeit has been defined as the reactivation or reinterpretation of an earlier experience or memory that could not be assimilated at the time of its occurrence, usually because of a deficit or aberration in maturational or developmental function. The process of deferment may be particularly evident in the realm of psychosexuality, because the meaning of sexually charged experiences in early childhood cannot be integrated until the maturational effects of puberty have occurred. From a Latin American point of view (e.g. Aslan, 2006; Masotta, 1982) the terms temporality, causality and psychoanalytic efficacy demarcate the concept of Nachträglichkeit. There exists a complex network of interactions in which each of these terms is in turn affected by Nachträglichkeit. The first movement that the operation of Nachträglichkeit produces is an unfocusing, an unfolding of time. This unfolding causes a displacement in the determining order, subverts the terms of causality, and enables the analytical action during the session. Defining the concept of Nachträglichkeit is a complex issue. To contemplate the complexity of Nachträglichkeit, it is necessary to pinpoint the ways in which the term is interwoven with others, including repression, repetition, sexuality, signification, and trauma— all concepts that involve two periods of time. At the same time, it is necessary to remove the concept of Nachträglichkeit from the frame in which it appears, so as not to lose sight of its singularity (Masotta, 1982).

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