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Vincent deGaulejac

Untangling Psychic Knots When the Past Acts in Me

Vincent de Gaulejac is emeritus professor at the Université Paris Diderot; president of the Réseau International de Sociologie Clinique; and Docteur Honoris Causa at the Universities of Mons (Belgium) and Rosario (Argentina). He is the author of some twenty books, including La névrose de classe [The Class Neurosis] (new edition 2016, Payot); Les sources de la Honte [The Sources of Shame] (paperback edition 2015, Points-Seuil); Mon enfant se radicalise [My Child is Becoming a Radical] (co-authored with Isabelle Seret, Odile Jacob 2018).
Humans think they have a history. Everyone says “this is my story,” as if they were the owners of it. They thus think they are protecting what is most precious to them -- their identity, their profound and singular being. But it would be more accurate to say humans are history. It is not the subject that tells his story; rather, it is the history that tells of him or her.

This book explores the potential of a life story to enable the subject to reclaim a history, which he or she sometimes feels more a victim of than an actor in. Part fiction and reality, part family novel and social history, part biographical illusion and an inquiry into the past, one’s life story is a means to work on one’s actual existence. It offers the subject the possibility of untangling unconscious socio-psychic knots that have been formed between personal history, family history, and social history. In doing so, a life story enables the subject to go beyond traumas that up to then have remained unexamined, to fashion a life open to the future.