Anne Dufourmantelle†

Anne Dufourmantelle, Professor of Psychoanalysis at The European Graduate School / EGS.


Anne Dufourmantelle (b. 1964) is a French philosopher, practicing psychoanalyst, and a professor at The European Graduate School / EGS. Dufourmantelle began by studying medicine with the intention of becoming a doctor. However, after her baccalaureate she decided to study philosophy as well. Within a few years, she completed her PhD at Paris IV—Paris-Sorbonne—with a thesis on Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Levinas, and Patočka, titled (The Prophetic Vocation of Philosophy). In 1998, her doctorate thesis would be published by Les éditions du Cerf. Dufourmantelle is a member of the esteemed Académie française.

Dufourmantelle also went to Brown University to study the humanities, under the supervision of Georges Morgan. There she translated Nelson Goodman’s and wrote an essay (). Upon her return to France, this essay led her to teach a seminar on aesthetics and the “thinking of appearance,” at the École nationale supérieure d'architecture de Paris-La Villette. A second consequence of this text has been her ongoing interest in the encounter between philosophy and architecture, which lead her to publish a series of dialogues on this topic, including a dialogue between Christian de Portzamparc and Philippe Sollers (2004) and another between Jean Baudrillard and Jean Nouvel (2000). Dufourmantelle was also editorial director at Calmann-Levy and was responsible for publishing the works of Jacques Derrida, Vaclav Havel, Alain Didier-Weill, Alessandro Baricco, Julia Kristeva, Antonio Negri, George Steiner, Peter Sloterdijk, Frédéric Boyer, and Belinda Cannone. Eventually, Dufourmantelle left Calmann-Levy and assumed a similar position position with Stock—editing a collection entitled —which publishes authors such as Slavoj Žižek, Jacques Derrida, Noam Chomsky, Avital Ronell, Theodore Adorno, Jean-Michel Rabaté, as well as texts in psychoanalysis, literary studies, anthropology, and sociology.

Dufourmantelle earned a doctoral degree in philosophy from Paris-Sorbonne, but, after that, she decided that she wanted to practice psychoanalysis. After completing her training as an analyst, she became a member of Le Cercle Freudien, in Paris, and Après-Coup, in New York. Her psychoanalytic orientation is Lacanian, and—like many Lacanians—she has incorporated specific elements of the English Freudian School into her practice, most notably the insights of Wilfred Bion, Donald Winicott, and Melanie Klein. Dufourmantelle has written and published a number of psychoanalytic works, including (2001)and (2007).

In addition to the works listed above, Dufourmantelle has also written and published the following: with Jacques Derrida (1997); (1998); , with Marc-Alain Ouaknin (2001); , with Migual Benasayag (2001); (2002); (2003); (2003); with Anne Dufourmantelle (2004); (2004); , with Avital Ronell (2006); (2007); , with Avital Ronell (2010); (2011); , with Jean-Pierre Winter (2011); (2012); 2012); (2013); with Laure Leter (2014); and (2015).

As a publisher, Dufourmantelle has been equally productive. At Stock, she has published the following: (2013) by Mehdi Belhaj Kacem; (2010), and (2007) by Belinda Cannone; 2007) by Theodor Adorno; (2012) by Mathieu Terence; (2011) by Catherine Clement; (2011) by Roger Scruton; (2010), (2009), and (2006) by Avital Ronell; (2007) by Rene Major; (2007) by John D. Caputo; (2006) by Antonio Negri; (2006) by Michel Deguy; (2006) by Jacques Derras; and (2005) by Noam Chomsky.

Across her many published works there is a common point of focus: the juncture of love, God or faith, and psychoanalysis. In (2003), for instance, Dufourmantelle takes on a question she considers to have been largely neglected by philosophy, and theory in general: sex. In fact, she even suggests that there are many parallels between philosophy and sex, such as being dangerous, socially subversive, and objects of obsession. Further, she adds that both exceed our control, both come to us unbidden, both offer the illusion that temporality and mortality can be escaped through the timelessness of thought or the ecstasy of the encounter, both involve an encounter with an otherness—sex involves the encounter with the other someone, while philosophy is the attempt to grasp the hidden logic beneath appearance—finally, both sex and philosophy lead to subjective transformation. And yet, despite all these analogies, sex, she argues, constitutes philosophy’s blind spot. The neglect is, in some sense, bidirectional: sex has never been really philosophized and philosophy has never been sexualized. Throughout (2003), Dufourmantelle is careful to mark every instance where sexual topics were overlooked, detoured around, or deleted from philosophy, while also suggesting how a union could be pursued in each of these moments. As a psychoanalyst, Dufourmantelle refuses the idea that thought requires the repression of desire, indeed, for her thought is possible only as or through desire. In consequence, she argues that sex is everywhere and that it effects thought regardless of how we feel about it.

Dufourmantelle argues for a liberating or emancipatory element in both sex and philosophy—both sex and philosophy “embolden people to act against oppression” and “to love to be free.” According to Dufourmantelle, sex and philosophy are subversive and, as a result, hated by the capitalist system. At first glance, this is a surprising remark given that capitalism appears to use sex and its tangents to sell everything—and so perpetuate its existence by a sort of nihilistic succession of desire—slowly turning the world into waste. Dufourmantelle suggests that while another’s body can be forced and violated, it cannot be made to desire, and so a true sexual encounter is something that can only be freely given. She concludes, therefore, that sex, like thought, will always remains free and inviolable.

Dufourmantelle works in close collaboration with many theorists and psychoanalysis, especially Avital Ronell, Bracha Ettinger, and Judith Butler.

—Srdjan Cvjeticanin