Deconstruction and Psychoanalysis

  • Maud Ellmann


Addressing a group of psychoanalysts in 1981, Jacques Derrida characterized himself as a ‘foreign body’ in the institution of psychoanalysis (Derrida, 1991, pp. 202–3).1 A foreign body infiltrates the body of its host but can be neither rejected nor assimilated; its effects may be beneficent, like the bacteria that aid digestion, or baneful, like the virus that destroys the vital functions. As a foreign body in the corpus of psychoanalysis, deconstruction performs the role that Derrida, in ‘Plato’s Pharmacy’, attributes to the pharmakon — both poison and remedy — that heals what it harms, revitalizes what it violates. For deconstruction, by its own admission, is parasitic on the works of Freud and other thinkers, and yet it seems to reinvigorate the works it vampirizes.


Foreign Body Early Essay Pleasure Principle Death Drive Postal Principle 


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© Maud Ellmann 2000

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  • Maud Ellmann

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