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Psychoanalysis In China?

The Letter, Issue 22, Summer 2001, Pages 30 - 38


The Importance of psychoanalysing the desire to heal, in particular, the desire to heal children*

Gerard Pommier

By way of an introduction

In what follows, firstly we will speak about the sacred character of the body, and its consequences for representation, mainly in writing. Chinese writing has the advantage of showing the direct relation between body, image and speech, that is, the relation between ideographs and phonographs common to calligrams. Most importantly the holiness characteristic of the body has consequences for every person who wishes to care for others, and in particular for those who wish to care for children.


Why have the body and the representation of the body in all eras and civilisations been considered as holy? Our hypothesis is that what is holy corresponds to the unconscious investment of the body. In the mother's desire to have a child, the child's body replaces the phallus that she has been deprived of. Freud calls this 'penis envy'. However, because the phallic signification of the child's body is incestuous, it is repressed and reappears in a mystified way in a sacred, religious dimension. Our body has been the object of maternal desire and hence, we are not our body, but we have it. We ignore what our own body is like, and that is why the mirror, our external perception by others and their love, matter so much to humans. The works of Jacques Lacan on the 'stage of the mirror' in the development of the young child have made way for our understanding of this dimension. Our body is first outside of us, in the desire of our parents. This Freudian point of view joins Marx's theory, when this latter writes in his sixth thesis on Feuerbach that the essence of man is beyond him, in the whole of his social relations.

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