The Après-Coup, Après Coup

Concerning Jean Laplanche Problématiques VI. L’Après-Coup


  • Sergio Benvenuto Italian Council for Scientific Research



Here the author examines the question of après-coup (afterwardsness) in psychoanalysis, commenting in particular on Jean Laplanche’s book, Après-Coup. The author appreciates Laplanche’s determination to avoid either a positivist interpretation of après-coup (as a “delay-action bomb”, as simply a delayed psychic effect) or an hermeneutic interpretation that makes of it a post-factum re-signification of past events. Yet at the same time, the author shows that Laplanche’s solution—which assumes an initial trauma to the subject, who must “translate” an ambiguous and enigmatic message originating from an adult other—ends up being, in effect, a clever combination of the two approaches, positivist and hermeneutic, that Laplanche was trying to avoid. Laplanche advances a much too linear theory, placing “the other” (that is, the desire of the adult) at the beginning of the process, while Lacan’s approach to après-coup opens up far more complex and disturbing perspectives for psychoanalysis. The author, having shown the limitations of Laplanche’s result (“the primacy of the other”), proposes his own interpretation of après-coup, wherein it would connect, in a unique way, the cause and the sense of the psychic world: a subsequent event in some way makes the sense of a preceding event function as the cause of later psychic phenomena or symptoms.

Author Biography

Sergio Benvenuto, Italian Council for Scientific Research

psychoanalyst, philosopher

editor-in-chief of European Journal of Psychoanalysis

Chief-Researcher at the CNR - ISTC (Institute of Sciences and Technolgies of Cognition)

Emeritus Professor of psychoanalysis at the International Institute of the Psychology of Depth, Kieb, Ukraine



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How to Cite

Benvenuto, S. (2018). The Après-Coup, Après Coup: Concerning Jean Laplanche Problématiques VI. L’Après-Coup. Language and Psychoanalysis, 7(2), 72–87.



Original Articles