In this unique approach to human subjectivity, Anzieu sees the body’s surface – its skin – as a crucial constituent of the mind’s structures and functions.As biographer Catherine Chabert (1996) points out, Anzieu’s work on skin and subjectivity has won him widespread recognition as one of France’s most important proponents of psychoanalytic theory and practice.A major contribution in this regard is being made by models that enable investigation of the involvement of multiple factors in wound healing and testing new curative substances.
After having situated Anzieu’s work in relation to Lacan’s, I present his notions of the skin ego and the psychic envelope while describing how they make his developmental model a non-dualist and, indeed, a non-deterministic one.
By pointing to the range of ways in which Anzieu’s approach allows for a move beyond dualism and determinism, I hope to show that it has the potential to provide contemporary cultural theorists with new tools for thinking human subjectivity as ‘completely psychic, utterly somatic, essentially intersubjective and intercorporeal, constantly changing […] and fundamentally located in space and time’ (Lafrance, 2009, p. [A] Didier Anzieu and Contemporary Cultural Theory Cultural theorists have been calling for new approaches to human subjectivity for some time.
In what follows, then, I provide a brief introduction to Anzieu’s ‘psychoanalysis of skin’.
I begin by contextualizing his work while explaining how it is in many respects a response to Lacan and what became known in late twentieth-century France as le lacanisme.
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Marc Lafrance In works like The Skin Ego, A Skin for Thought, and Psychic Envelopes, French psychoanalyst Didier Anzieu presents an unprecedented account of the relationship between mind and body.Nrf2 controls repair-associated inflammation and protects against excessive accumulation of ROS while Nf-κB activates the innate immune reaction, proliferation and migration of cells, modulates expression of matrix metalloproteinases, secretion and stability of cytokines and growth factors for wound healing.Received: September 13, 2016; Accepted: December 13, 2016; Prepublished online: January 6, 2017; Published: March 27, 2017Show citation Biomed Pap Med Fac Univ Palacky Olomouc Czech Repub.In her groundbreaking book Volatile Bodies, Elizabeth A.Grosz makes exactly this call and, in doing so, urges cultural theorists to formulate new frameworks for making sense of the self.Indeed, according to Ahmed and Stacey, the work of these two figures opens up new ways of thinking about subjectivity as always already embodied and, in doing so, breaks down the binary oppositions that tend to pervade other accounts.Ultimately, the turn to Merleau-Ponty and Anzieu is, as Ahmed and Stacey put it, ‘symptomatic of a more general move towards a model of embodiment that facilitates an understanding of the processes through which bodies are lived and imagined in more visceral and substantial ways’ (p. To be sure, neither Merleau-Ponty nor Anzieu is – strictly speaking – new to the Anglo-American scene.Despite his importance, however, Anzieu is less well-known to Anglo-American cultural theorists than his now legendary predecessor Jacques Lacan.That is, unlike Lacan’s abstract, language-centered theories, Anzieu’s more concrete, body-centered theories are often unfamiliar to or overlooked by those outside the French-speaking world.The model of the moebius strip can, therefore, be seen as a non-dualist and non-deterministic way of understanding the soma as completely psychic and the psyche as utterly somatic.In her award-winning book Sexing the Body, Anne Fausto-Sterling reiterates the relevance of Grosz’s model, arguing that in order to arrive at a satisfying account of embodied subjectivity, a ‘dual systems’ approach is necessary.