NW 21: Experiencing Diversity in Education: Between Dialogue and Repression

NW 21 Education and Psychoanalysis

Experiencing Diversity in Education: Between Dialogue and Repression

ECER theme this year is ‘the Value of Diversity in Education and Educational Research’. Linking education and psychoanalysis, the concept of diversity could be used about a human subject divided by his ‘unconscious’. Freud himself considered that ‘The ego is not master in its own house’ (1917). In this perspective, diversity is internal to the subject. Diversity may be a source of enrichment through dialogue (internal and external), but also a source of repression or even expulsion. Researchers are invited to submit contributions questioning the notion of diversity from this perspective, especially in the groups they work with.

The Call
ECER theme this year is ‘the Value of Diversity’. In an approach linking education and psychoanalysis, we think that the concept of diversity can be considered in different ways, including a social point of view. One of the main contributions of psychoanalysis is to consider the human subject as divided, as partly escaping from himself. Lacan considers the subject as ‘divided’ (Lacan, 1973, p. 199), a term derived from the concept of ‘Ichspaltung’ (Freud, 1938).

In the introduction of Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921), Freud uses the term der Andere (the other) instead of das Andrere to evoke the stranger in ourselves: ‘In the individual’s mental life someone else [der Andere] is invariably involved, as a model, as an object, as a helper, as an opponent […]’. That distinction between what can refer to alterity and not only to another person has been continued by what Lacan pointed since the Seminar of May 25, 1955, with the formula of the ‘big Other’ to ‘designates radical alterity, an other-ness which transcends the illusory otherness of the imaginary because it cannot be assimilated through identification. Lacan equates this radical alterity with language and the law, and hence the big Other is inscribed in the order of the symbolic’ (Evans, 1996, p. 133).

In the field of education and training, don’t we often have to deal with alterity and not only with diversity? How alterity can be taken into account in research or for the devices put in place in training and education could be a direction for papers.

Considering diversity in the field of ‘education and psychoanalysis’ implies to think about both the diversity of training and research practices, as well as the diversity of theoretical references. What is the diversity of the references of the researchers involved in such an approach?

From a notion appearing first in a letter sent by John Keats to one of his brothers, some major psychoanalysts as S. Freud or W. R. Bion have accentuated the interest to take into account an ability to work with some kind of negative capability, to tolerate in oneself the presence of forms of darkness – potentially bearers of creativity – without relentlessly subjecting them to the mastery of reason. ‘I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason’ (Keats, 1899, 277). More recently, André Green named the work of the negative the set of ‘psychic operations of which repression is the prototype’, adding to this the concepts of ‘foreclosure, negation, splitting, disavowal’ (Green, 1986, 2003). In a world of education often organized on the basis of progress and the positive, taking the negative into account can lead to renewed perceptions of diversity.

Living diversity can create a fruitful ‘inner dialogue’ (Bion, 1975, p. 25), but it may also be a source of repression and even expulsion. What forms can these mechanisms possibly take in the field of education and training?

Contact Person(s)
Arnaud Dubois - arnaud.dubois(at)univ-rouen.fr
Patrick Geffard - patrick.geffard(at)univ-paris8.fr

Bion, W. R. (1975). Clinical Seminar, Brasilia. In The complete works of W. R. Bion. Vol. VIII. (2014). London and New-York: Routledge.

Evans, D. (1996). An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis. London: Routledge.

Freud S. (1917/2000). 1re Leçon : introduction à la psychanalyse. Dans S. Freud, Oeuvres complètes, vol XIV (pp. 9-18). Paris : Puf.

Freud, S. (1938). Le clivage du moi dans le processus de défense. Dans S. Freud, Oeuvres complètes, vol XX. Paris : Puf.

Freud, S. (1921). Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego.In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XVIII (1920-1922).

Green, A. (1999). The Work of the Negative. London: Free Association Books (1st ed. 1986).

Green, A. (2003). Idées directrices pour une psychanalyse contemporaine. Paris : PUF.

Keats, J. (1899). The Complete Poetical Works and Letters of John Keats, Cambridge Edition. Boston & New York: Houghton, Mifflin Company.

Lacan, J. (1973). Le Séminaire, livre XI, Les quatre concepts fondamentaux de la psychanalyse. Paris : Le Seuil.

Lacan, J. (1955). Séminaire II, Le moi dans la théorie de Freud et dans la technique de la psychanalyse. Séminaire de Sainte-Anne, Paris.