Conceptual framework from the Paris Psychosomatic School: A clinical psychoanalytic approach to oncology1


  • 1

    Translated from the French by Steven Jaron.


This article presents further clinical material from the Paris Psychosomatic School (Aisenstein, 2006). The Freudian foundations of psychosomatics are detailed and post-Freudian developments focusing on the contribution of the Paris Psychosomatic School are outlined, in particular, the somatizing process as a result of regression and the somatizing process as a result of drive unbinding. The authors argue that the latter possibly gives rise to progressive and serious illness leading to death. The relationship of classical psychoanalysis to psychotherapeutic treatment from the angle of the Paris school is commented on. The authors then turn to two clinical presentations of women suffering from breast cancer. The method of evaluating the patients’ capacities for undergoing psychotherapeutic treatment and their mental capacity for healing is discussed. The face-to-face psychoanalytic treatment undertaken with the second case is discussed. Finally, the authors recall Freud’s insistence after 1920 on the opposition of the life drives and the death drives, which placed self-destruction at the centre of psychic functioning. They conclude that current research in biology and medicine, notably research concerning programmed cell death, will converge with psychoanalytic psychosomatics to illuminate somatizing processes and demonstrate the relevance of psychoanalytic treatment to patients who are capable of mental reorganization in the course of their illness and medical treatment.