Haydée Faimberg


Award Year: 2013

faimberg_2013_300One of Haydée Faimberg’s main interests lies in the way that one culture understands how another culture addresses essential psychoanalytic problems. She has studied, with due respect for the psychoanalytical method, how the ‘history of an “other”’ and ‘History with a capital H’ can be brought to analysis without turning the psychoanalytical process into sociology or ‘applied’ psychoanalysis.

Transmission of the narcissistic mode of solving conflicts between three (or more) generations is a main focus of her research, for which she enlarged the concept of Oedipus Complex and has coined the concept of ‘Oedipal configuration and its narcissistic dimension’ which serves to relate Oedipal conflicts and narcissistic links over at least three generations.

She considers ‘filicide – parricide’ to be a narcissistic dilemma governing the Oedipus Myth. She has identified the functions of ‘appropriation and intrusion’, which regulate narcissistic object relation; developed the concept of ‘telescoping of generations’ and the alienating narcissistic unconscious identifications where three generations are condensed; and defined the function of ‘listening to [the patient’s] listening’ as a means of broadening the scope of clinical work : we can discover in all advanced analyses instances of transmission from previous generations, not only for transmission of narcissistic wounds but also of values and the capacity to acknowledge a particular filiation.

She has extended the clinical/theoretical concept of ‘listening to listening’ as a method for recognizing in clinical discussion groups the basic assumptions of the presenter (and participants) and appreciating the way in which each one works differently, thereby giving ‘misunderstanding’ a creative status. She has used her method in meetings, in teaching and in supervisions in Europe, North America and Latin America. She aims to develop further the kind of dialogue she had with her own teachers who, by encouraging her to find her own words to ask them questions, through their answers transformed her not-knowing into curiosity. Her ‘listening to listening’ discussion method is used to explore in different fields what is as yet unknown.

She believes that we are always indebted to multiple authors even when we make what we call our own personal contributions. This dialogue with ideas from previous generations beginning with Freud led her to write about how she understood them, how she had transformed them and created new ones. She established for the first time a conceptual link between the Winnicottian concept of ‘Fear of Breakdown’ and Nachträglichkeit  (afterwardsness [Laplanche’s translation]  or deferred action [Strachey’s translation]). She also published the first study on Winnicott’s ‘Fragment of an analysis’ (1955) centred on the ‘paternal function’ and she proposed a new clinical concept, the ‘as-yet situation’ (Psychoanalytic Quarterly 2013).

For more than 20 years she has co-chaired the Franco-British annual clinical meeting. As Vice-President (for Europe) of the IPA she created and chaired the first Conference on Intra-cultural and Inter-cultural Dialogue whose salient trait consisted in establishing first an intra-cultural dialogue before the intercultural dialogue took place. She has given lectures in Europe, United States, Canada, Latin America and Israel.

She has written on ‘psychic consequences of Nazism in psychoanalytic patients’ ; on Lewis Carroll and Italo Calvino and is a contributing author to 15 books (18 chapters). G.K. Chesterton has been a source of inspiration in defining what she understands by an ‘absent concept’.

She received the ‘Haskell Norman International Award’ in 2005 for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Psychoanalysis’ and delivered the 44th Annual Freud Lecture, at The Psychoanalytic Association of New York (Pany) in 2009.

Main book: The Telescoping of Generations: Listening to the Narcissistic Links between Generations, published by Routledge , 2005.

Haydée Faimberg MD, is a Training and Supervising Analyst, Paris Psychoanalytical Society (SPP), in private practice in Paris. She did her psycho-analytic training and became Training and Supervising Analyst in the Argentine Psychoanalytical Association (APA) before migrating to France.

Claudio L. Eizirik’s remarks:

Dear Trustees of the Sigourney Award Trust

Dear colleagues

It is my pleasure and my honor to introduce Haydee Faimberg as a recipient of the most prestigious Sigourney Award. It is a great joy to be here tonight when our dear colleagues Ron Britton, Judith Dupont and Neville Symington are also awarded. I will ask your permission to speak directly to Haydee in this moment.

Querida Haydee, Dear Haydee

We first met in Paris, in 1998, when you organized the unforgetable First Conference on Intra-cultural and Inter-cultural Dialogue, whose salient trait consisted in establishing first an intra-cultural dialogue before the intercultural one could take place. I remember how difficult it was for the many North Americans and the few Latin Americans who were there to try to understand and to deal with the concept of après-coup in the way our French colleagues developed Freud´s original notion of Nachtraglichkeit. Those days, with their tense and at the same time fruitful attempts at listening to the other remained as one of your best original ideas and initiatives, and in my view what I felt there and in our next meetings in so many different places constitute a sort of synthesis of your so relevant contributions to psychoanalysis.
For the one side, you are one of the finest thinkers of our field. Just to mention a few of your insights, the telescoping of generations, transmission of the narcissistic mode of solving conflicts between three( or more) generations, thus enlarging the concept of Oedipus complex, coining the notion of Oedipal configuration and its narcissistic dimension; the identification of the functions of appropriation and intrusion, which regulate narcissistic object relation; the definition of the function of listening to ( the patient´s) listening, as a means of broadening the scope of clinical work; the possibility of discovering in all advanced analyses instances of transmission from previous generations, not only of narcissistic wounds but also of values and the capacity to acknowledge a particular filiation; the conceptual link between Winnicott´s concept of Fear of Breakdown and deferred action; the new clinical concept of the as-yet situation.

It is always stimulating to read these and other ideas in your books, papers or listen to them in your elegant presentations on lectures or panels, some of them I had the honor of sharing with you.

And for the other side, your tireless activity in so many places of the three analytic regions with your listening to listening discussion method helped hundreds of colleagues to explore their own implicit theories facing clinical material piece by piece as well as listening to the others often different and sometimes apparently non understandable way of listening to the same material. Time after time, after each one of our clinical forums, when I went back to my own analytic work, I felt in a way changed and more open to what each one of my patients was trying to communicate. A similar experience was mentioned by many colleagues who worked with you and your method.

So it was obvious for me that I had to do something on these lines in the IPA and the very successful CAPSA program owes you its inspiration.

But I must also say, dear Haydee, that today the Sigourney Award is not only honoring a distinguished author, a brave militant of the psychoanalytic cause, an active player in our institutional life, it is also honoring a lovely and admirable human being, who was able to integrate her own Latin American origins with the French analytic culture as well as with the legacy of many authors and cultures. This Award goes also to Antonio , your children, and your grandchildren, your beautiful family. But I am sure that we all, we who benefited from your work, we who try to follow your steps, your strength, your warmth, your inspiration, we all feel also awarded and share with you this moment of fair acknowledgement of a beautiful life and a beautiful and inspirational analytic career.

Haydée Faimberg on receiving the Mary Sigourney Award

It is a great honour for me to receive the Mary Sigourney Award. I am deeply grateful to the Mary Sigourney Trust and to the distinguished members of the Jury for having selected me.

There is no greater recognition for a psychoanalyst!

It is also a great honour to be introduced by Cláudio Eizirik, with whom I share a long history of friendship and collaboration. Thank you dear Cláudio I am so moved by your presentation!

While preparing this address, I was torn between two contradictory temptations. I was saved from both by some words of the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges.

The first was to try to say as much as possible in the short time of this speech. I gave up when I began to feel like that cartographer imagined by Borges, who, desperate for accuracy, ends up by drawing his map on a scale of one to one!

And it was Borges’ delightful remark, ‘who would possibly be interested in the opinion one person has of herself’, which cut short the opposite temptation of telling you what I think of my own ideas.

Literature has the privilege of suggesting the most unexpected connections in the minds of the readers.

Let me give you three small examples:

It is the nonsense displayed by Lewis Carroll [in the Hunting of the Snark] that has led me on the trail of the logic of the unconscious (as surprising that it might have been for Lewis Carroll himself!).

The web of time in which a lion hunter gets entangled while waiting (featured in Italo Calvino’s short story [‘Time Zero’] ) has been a powerful trigger in my understanding of different kinds of temporality.

I owe to my reading the ‘Invisible Man’ by G.K. Chesterton, the paradoxical idea of the ‘invisible’ concept, an absent concept that is, nevertheless, there.

Naturally, ideas also originate from more concrete life experiences, in my case, migration.

When I arrived in France with my family in 1976, I had to rethink my basic assumptions in order to be understood and accepted both as a French psychoanalyst and as someone with her own tradition and history, with her own voice (and her own particular accent…)

This experience was certainly at the roots of my desire to understand how a particular culture understands the way that another culture addresses essential psychoanalytical issues.

The resulting clinical concept of ‘listening to listening’ has since then grown into a method for discussing clinical material in a group of analysts belonging to different cultures, in such a way as to recognise our basic assumptions and respect our differences.

My heartfelt thanks go, therefore, to my colleagues of the three regions who have been participating since 2001 in these discussions and, hopefully, will transmit the method in the future.

I deeply believe in psychoanalysis being alive in the future.

I also like to imagine that one becomes an analyst through a combination of freedom of spirit, rigorous thinking, love for truth and recognition of both helplessness and otherness.

Actually, chance also plays a central role. In my case, I had the privilege of being involved in the seminar on psychoanalysis led by Enrique Pichon-Rivière and José Bleger. This was during my medical studies, when at the age of 19, I was in analysis and already wished to become an analyst. I wish to thank my analyst Jorge Mom.

What made that seminar so particular was that the answers Enrique Pichon -Rivière and José Bleger gave to our questions were so enlightening that, in my case, they made me feel intelligent in my ‘not-knowing’. I trace back to their influence an attitude of curiosity about what is not known…yet. And to be open to listening, in the words of my patient Mario, to something that I was in no way prepared for, either by a theory or by experience and that I would later conceptualise as the ‘telescoping of generations’.

We are all quite familiar with Freud’s quoting Goethe as he writes:

‘What you have inherited from your Father,
Make it your own.’

(‘What thou hast inherited from thy Father,
Acquire it to make it thine’. ) (Strachey’s translation)

We also know that ‘Father’ can be understood in a broader sense.

The way that values, conflicts and filiation are transmitted between three generations can be discovered in all of us at an advanced stage of analysis, without necessarily being rooted in a traumatic episode.

Now I believe that, when addressing the question of Nazism or even when analysing concentration camp survivors, I am in a certain way also paying tribute to the values of liberty and justice that my parents transmitted to us [their three daughters].

The aim of Nazism is to annihilate all space of freedom.

Patients may come with no psychic space of their own.

The psychoanalyst is there, with her listening position, to be a witness of their actual suffering and to help them to acquire a history of their own.

I am infinitely grateful to my husband, Antoine Corel, an analyst who has also been a film critic. He participates in everything that interests me in life. Where my work is concerned, it has grown out of a dialogue with him. His conception of construction in psychoanalysis added a new dimension to all my work up to 1989, when we wrote together the chapter on construction.

The joy with which our children Claudina and Eduardo, present here today, greeted the news of the Award, [together with our grandchildren], was for me a second Award.

I would be curious to know how you have ‘listened to my words’ beyond what I have attempted to say. But this is another story…

Thank you once again for this honour and for honouring me with your presence.