Revue Française de Psychanalyse

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At the founding of the Société psychanalytique de Paris (SPP; Paris Psychoanalytical Society) on November 4, 1926, "it was decided to create a French journal of psychoanalysis, the medical part of which would be edited by MM. Laforgue and Hesnard, possibly joined by MM. de Saussure and Odier after their acceptance into the society, and the nonmedical part of which would be edited by the Princess Marie Bonaparte. M.Éd. Pichon accepted in principle the responsibilities of general secretary of this publication."

From the very inception of this publication, which could not have come into being without the financing of Marie Bonaparte, René Laforgue, and Pryns Hopkins, a very wealthy former patient of Ernest Jones, disputes arose around the issue of whom it belonged to. Even its title was contentious in this regard, for while Laforgue presented it to Sigmund Freud on November 27 as the "Revue internationale de psychoanalyse," the spelling psychanalyse, associated with the habits of the Swiss and the Jungians, was finally chosen. There was another, more serious problem that had to do with ambivalence on the part of the young psychiatrists who had created the journalÉvolution psychiatrique (Developments in psychiatry) the previous year and who dreamed of a "French-style" psychoanalysis: the exclusion of the phrase "under the patronage of Professor Freud" from the title page, on the pretext that its presence might "gravely offend" Henri Claude. Writing to Laforgue from Vienna on November 12, Marie Bonaparte expressed her indignation over this: "But I feel we are cowards, triple cowards, if we do not dare to put the name of the founder of the science we represent on the first journal in France devoted to his work." She added: "Freud made a comment to me that I must pass on to you. It was that we should not name our journal the 'Revue internationale de psychanalyse,' because it is not international at all. If the British journal uses that name, it is because it is only a reproduction of the German journal. . . . Freud believes that we should go back to one of our first titles: 'Revue française de psychanalyse,' with, below it, 'organ of the Paris Psychoanalytical Society,' French section of the International Psychoanalytical Association (and I say) published under the patronage of Sigm. Freud. And nothing else on the title page. All our names on the back of the page, written in the smallest possible characters! If Claude takes offense, he is really too stupid."

Finally, the French opted for "Revue française de la psychanalyse, organ of the S.P.P., published under the patronage of Professor Freud" in the first issue, which appeared on June 25, 1927. "We believe that today French psychoanalysis is ripe to have its own organ of expression. It will be the mirror of the young Paris Psychoanalytical Society, born this winter," said the editorial. Alongside original pieces by Laforgue, Charles Odier, René Allendy, Angélo Hesnard, Félix Deutsch, and the First Conference of French-Speaking Psychoanalysts, and the administrative minutes of the nascent SPP, the issue included Freud's "Moses and Michelangelo" and Bonaparte's "The Case of Madame Lefebvre." By way of a contribution, Freud did not ask for any royalties for his text, which was translated by the princess, and even provided an unpublished addendum. The phrase "section of the International Psychoanalytical Association" did not appear until the second issue.

It was the nationalistic contingent, enamored of a "Latin" mindset tinged with anti-Semitism and led by Édouard Pichon, that was behind these acts of pettinessto the great anger of Bonaparte, who would not rest until she saw him removed from the editorship of the journal; at one point she wanted to withdraw it from the publisher Doin in favor of Gaston Gallimard. In late October 1929, opposition to the International Psychoanalytical Association by a "very active minority" that wanted to take control of the journal, since it was referred to as the "Official Organ of the French Group," again raised the idea of "transforming the French Journal into an International Journal of Psych." (letter from Laforgue to Freud, October 26, 1929). The princess was opposed to this and succeeded in having Rudolph Loewenstein appointed editor in place of Pichon. By contrast, Ernest Jones deplored the label "French Journal" because it allowed the Americans to use this precedent for The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, which was a competitor to his International Journal.

Publication went on, sometimes very irregularly, as attested by the fact that there were only three issues, rather than eight, for the year 1930-1931. It resumed under a new publisher, Denoël & Steele, in 1932. In 1939 only a single issue was published, with a new blue cover. It contained Freud's "Analysis Terminable and Interminable," translated by Ann Berman.

Publication of the journal was interrupted for eight years, despite John Leuba's announcement to Jones on December 31, 1944: "I have prepared two complete issues of the journal of psychoanalysis. Our printer has disappeared. We need to study the issue of a publisher. In any case, it would be impossible for us to publish until several months from now, since owing to the shortage of paper the number of journals that are authorized for publication is extremely limited." The princess, on her side, explained to Loewenstein on July 2, 1945: "As for the Revue, I can no longer support it, either. Besides, it never really took off. Perhaps Rodker could start up a journal in London that would revive Imago in three languages, where we could publish our articles in French. The only risk would be problems with Jones, who only wants his English journal with ultra-Kleinian articles" (Bertin). Negotiations for the journal's resumed publication with the Presses Universitaires de France took place only in 1947.

In fact, beginning with volume eleven, published in 1948, the SPP took over the publication of its "official organ," underwritten by means of systematic subscription of its members. Authors gave up all potential royalties in exchange for disbursement by the publisher of a global sum intended to cover editorial costs. Despite discussions over the advantages and disadvantages of contracts that were renegotiated over time, the journal became sufficiently profitable to ensure its ongoing publication.

During the split of 1953, no disputes arose over the journal, which remained in the hands of the SPP and unfailingly published all information that was unfavorable to its competitor, the Société française de psychanalyse (SPF; French Psychoanalytical Society). It also disseminated the works arising out of rivalries with the secessionists, and owing to its regular publicationsomething other groups could not achieveit became the most stable reference work of French psychoanalytic thinking during these decades.

Of anecdotal interest is the fact that in April 1960, at the age of seventy-eight, the indefatigable Bonaparte had a telegram sent to herself "accrediting her as a reporter for the Revue française de psychanalyse," in order to visit Caryl Chessman in his cell prior to his execution, which she tried in vain to prevent (Bertin).

In the 1960s the problem arose of how to handle the publication of the proceedings of the Congress of Romance-Language Speaking Psychoanalysts, which the journal had undertaken from the outset. The growing importance of these proceedings had inflated the number of pages required for them, and a series of solutions were found. From 1961 to 1964 the congress proceedings were printed in a separate volume, but this practice was not maintained. Just as ineffective was the reiterated wish of the Teaching Committee of the Institute of Psychoanalysis that "the number of pages of the reports and papers hereafter be limited." Denise Braunschweig and Jean Kestenberg obtained permission from the Presses Universitaires de France to return to the practice of publishing the proceedings in a special number of the journal. The value of this publication as a reference work must be underscored; each year it treats in depth a well-defined theoretical or practical point, and, beyond its historical perspective, inaugurated during the 1951 Congress with Daniel Lagache's report on transference, it offers readers a broad spectrum of research and discussions. Since 1991 the Bulletin de la S.P.P., created in October 1982 by Michel Fain, has undertaken advance publication of reports and papers.

After Maurice Bénassy's resignation as editor of the Revue française de psychanalyse in April 1969, Christian David, Michel de M'Uzan, and Serge Viderman were chosen by the tenured members of the society in January 1970, in an informal vote, to take over editor-ship of the journal, with Jacqueline Adamov as copy editor. They attempted to make the journal more independent of the SPP so that it would not appear to be a mere scientific brochure, but rather a publication unto itself. Their effort, from 1970 to 1975, to have the phrase "Official Organ of the S.P.P." changed to "Published under the aegis of," if it had the merit of raising the issue of a separation of objectives, was called into question during negotiations for a new contract with the Presses Universitaires de France. Beginning with the first issue of 1976, the words "Official publication of" reappeared. Overall it continued to run at a deficit, despite undeniable editorial success: In November 1977, there were 2,382 subscriptions, 684 of these from foreign subscribers, plus 1,022 copies sold by the issue.

In March 1980, Jean Gillibert, Claude Girard, and Evelyne Kestemberg were named co-editors. They in turn experienced problems and resigned three years later. They were held responsible for a decrease in subscriptions, even though the total readership had increased. They cited as a reason for the decrease in subscriptions the competition of the Bulletin de la S.P.P., which nevertheless was the response to their often-expressed wish to be relieved of the burden of systematically publishing lectures and administrative information.

The idea of thematic issues seemed sound, as Claude Le Guen stressed in May 1983. After proposing his own candidacy, he left the new editorship of the journal to a team made up of Ilse Barande, Claude Girard, Marie-Lise Roux, and Henri Vermorel. They remained on the job beyond their mandate, which ended in 1986, and were replaced only in February 1988.

The merger of the SPP and its Institute of Psychoanalysis had taken place two years earlier when André Green, then president of the SPP, announced on July 8, 1988: "The Board of Directors has entrusted the editorship of the Revue to Claude Le Guen. The new editor has presented to the Board of Directors the new policy he intends to implement. Articles published by the journal will be divided into two categories, each of which will be entrusted to an adjunct editor. One category, heated by J. Cornut, will bring together publications and articles of a scientific nature. The other, headed by G. Bayle, will bring together publications of a more topical, critical, or even polemical nature, as well as those focused on training: clinical, technical, or theoretical points, in the form of regular columns. The editorial staff will also include J. Adamov, C. Athanassiou, J. J. Baranès, J. Begoin, T. Bokanowski, P. Denis, M. Gibeault, C. Janin, R. Menahem, J. F. Rabain, J. Schaeffer, H. Troisier. The first issue of the R.F.P. produced by the new team will appear in October 1988 with a new format and a new cover design."

The choice of presenting thematic issues definitively prevailed and led to a marked increase in the readership of this journal, which is both the oldest and the most widely read French psychoanalytic journal. The same year, 1988, Le Guen, assisted by Gilbert Diatkine, also created the "Monographies de la R.F.P." (Monographs of the R.F.P.), a series in which each volume, focused in a specific theoretical or practical issue, was a sure-fire editorial success. "Débats en psychanalyse" (Issues in psychoanalysis), with Jacqueline Schaeffer as adjunct editor, was created in 1995 for the purpose of publishing papers from colloquia and scientific meetings, which the Bulletin could no longer handle on its own.

Since 1996 Paul Denis, creator of the series "Psychanalystes d'aujourd'hui" (Psychoanalysts of today), has been the editor of the Revue française de psychanalyse.

Alain de Mijolla

See also: France; Société psychanalytique de Paris and Institut de psychanalyse de Paris.


Bertin, Célia. (1982). Marie Bonaparte, a life. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Bourgeron, Jean-Pierre. (1993). Marie Bonaparte et la Psychanalyse à travers ses lettres a René Laforgue et les images de son temps. Geneva: Champion-Slatkine.

Freud, Sigmund, and Laforgue, René. (1977h [1923-33]). Correspondance Freud-Laforgue, préface d'André Bourgiugnon. Nouvelle Revue de psychanalyse, 15, 235-314.

Mijolla, Alain de. (1991). Le Congrès des psychanalystes de langue française des pays romans: Quelques éléments d'histoire. Revue française de psychanalyse, 55 (1), 7-36.

. (1992). France (1893-1965). In P. Kutter (Ed.), Psychoanalysis International: 4 Guide to Psychoanalysis throughout the world, (Vol. 1; pp. 66-113). Stuttgart: Frommann-Holzbog.