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Scarfone, Dominique

Honorary Professor

psychanalyse, psychothérapie psychanalytique, métapsychologie, temporalité psychique

  • Psychoanalysis, psychoanalytic therapy, metapsychology, psychic temporality
  • Associate Editor of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis


Scarfone, Dominique

Research expertise

The psychic apparatus from the point of view of temporality: the "topographic" and "structural" models of the psychic apparatus proposed successively by Freud are both based on spatial metaphors that the inventor of psychoanalysis always took care to describe as "fictions" with a heuristic value but no specific neuro-anatomical correspondence. Freud advocated a view of brain function that today we would term "distributed" rather than "localizationist," in which he saw the physiological basis of psychic life. Spatial metaphors have their limitations, however, given their poor ability to depict psychic phenomena difficult to represent in figurative terms (repetition automatism, extrarepresentational behaviours, etc.), for example. In the two Freudian models, the boundaries between psychic locations always appeared more vague when it came to specifying the "localization" of even routine psychic activities: hence, where are fantasies, ideals, beliefs and dreams located and what exactly does "located" mean? The very theory of repression has suffered from a spatial reference that cannot be found anywhere, whereas in a less naïve version it can be seen as a loss of reference to autobiographical time, by means of an as-yet unexplained mechanism. Consequently, it seems to us that it is advisable, even necessary, to re-examine psychic life through the temporal - effective - dimension rather than through the spatialization - metaphorical - of mental events.

In his time, Freud already noted that a distinction between psychic activities depending on their relationship to time was in itself sufficient to explain the conscious/unconscious divide. However, he never pushed this intuition so far as to develop a temporal model of the psyche, despite the many indications given here and there in his work. My goal is to try to formulate a conception of the psychic function essentially from the angle of the dimension of time, constantly verifying the practical and heuristic benefits of this concept in the clinical experience of psychoanalysis, in the understanding of psychopathology and in relation to current developments in the field of neuroscience and the philosophy of the mind.

Areas of expertise


Livre le plus récent: 

  • Quartiers aux rues sans nom, Paris, Éditions d el'Olivier, Collection Penser/Rêver, 2012.

Chapitres de livres récents:

  • From traces to signs : presenting and representing;; in Levine, Reed & Scarfone (Eds.) Unrepresented States and the Construction of Meaning, London UK, Karnac Books, 2013).
  • Moments de grâce : présence et élaboration de « l’impassé »;, in Michel de M’Uzan ou le saisissement créateur (M. Gagnebin et J. Milly, sous la direction de), Paris, Champ-Vallon, 2012.

Articles récents:

  • « Winnicott : Early Libido and the Deep Sexual », Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis/Revue canadienne de psychanalyse, vol. 20, n°1, 2012, p. 3-16.
  • « Live Wires. When is the Analyst At Work ? » International Journal of Psychoanalysis, vol.92-4, p. 755-759, 2011.

  • « Dans le creux du transfert : l’analyste entre activité et passivité », Libres cahiers de psychanalyse, n° 23, p. 149-161, Printemps 2011.
  • Vers l'avant?; Penser/Rêver, n° 19, p. 11-25, 2011.