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In this lecture Professor Naomi Segal explores the pleasures and pitfalls of translation, particularly translating psychoanalysis, and introduces the life and work of French psychoanalyst Didier Anzieu.

The lecture will be followed by the launch and drinks reception for The Skin-ego, Didier Anzieu, tr. Naomi Segal, with introductions from Estela Welldon and Dr Andrew Asibong.

Translating Anzieu: This paper is in two parts. The first introduces the principles, pleasures & realities of translation, and of translating psychoanalysis in particular. Are all translators murderers, pests or parasites? Are they trustworthy or traitors, or even ‘faithful bigamists’? Might translation be a feminine/feminised activity because most translators are women, or because the target -language has to be maternal, or because it embodies the irony of the multi-skilled serving the mono-skilled? The second part introduces the life and work of Didier Anzieu. The Skin-ego is the theory of a ‘vast metaphor’ based on ‘a paradox: the centre is situated at the periphery’. Freud’s image of the ego as ‘the projection of a surface’ is comprehensively developed, and the sense of touch is ‘not only placed at the origin of the psyche but shown to provide the latter permanently with what might also be called the mental backcloth, the ground upon which psychical contents are inscribed as figures, or the containing wrapping that makes it possible for the psychical apparatus to have contents’.

Didier Anzieu (1923–1999) was a French psychoanalyst and theorist whose work brings the body back to the centre of psychoanalytic enquiry. He was the author of numerous books and articles, on areas ranging from the psychology of groups and psychodrama to theories of creativity and thought; he also published short stories, literary criticism, a drama, a book of cartoons and a study of May ‘68 written from the heart of Nanterre. His research was always conducted alongside his academic and clinical practice, both characterised by inclusivity, curiosity, a broad mind and a gentle manner. Anzieu’s major work, Le Moi-peau [The Skin-ego], a psychoanalytic theory focused on the psychical skin, is presented here in a new English translation.

Naomi Segal is a professor of modern languages, specialising in comparative literary and cultural studies, gender, psychoanalysis and the body. In 2004 she created and then directed the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, University of London. She has published 15 books, of which the most recent monographs are Consensuality: Didier Anzieu, gender and the sense of touch (2009), André Gide: Pederasty and Pedagogy (1998) and The Adulteress’s Child: authorship and desire in the nineteenth-century novel (1992). Naomi Segal is an Academic Associate of the British Psychoanalytical Society, a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes académiques and a Member of the Academia Europaea.

Estela Welldon is a psychoanalytical psychotherapist who worked for three decades at the Tavistock Portman Clinics NHS Trust. She is founder and Honorary President for life of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy, a Fellow of the RCPsych, a Senior Member of the BAP, BPC and of the CBF. She is an honorary member of the IGA and of the SCPP, Tavistock Clinic. In 1997 she was awarded a D.Sc. (Honorary Doctorate of Science) degree by Oxford Brookes University. In 2014, she became an Honorary member of the American Psychoanalytic Association for her work in helping to understand women who harm children. Her most recent book is Playing with Dynamite (Karnac, 2011). She is the author of Mother, Madonna Whore: The Idealization and Denigration of Motherhood (1988).

Dr Andrew Asibong is Reader in Film and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck, University of London, where he has worked since 2006. He read Modern Languages at Oxford University, and carried out his doctoral research on stigma and metamorphosis in French literature and film at King's College London. He is co-director of the research centre Birkbeck Research in Aesthetics of Kinship and Community, co-editor of the journal Studies in Gender and Sexuality and former convenor of the Psychoanalysis Working Group at Birkbeck. Recent publications include Marie NDiaye: Blankness and Recognition (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013) and ‘"Then look!”: un-born attachments and the half-moving image’, Studies in Gender and Sexuality (16:2), 2015.

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