Fighting Melancholia: Don Quixote's Teaching

Author(s) : Francoise Davoine, Translator : Agnes Jacob

Fighting Melancholia: Don Quixote's Teaching

Book Details

Reviews and Endorsements

‘By turns playful, ironic and fierce, Françoise Davoine’s brilliantly Quixotic book moves back and forth from the clinical situation to literature and history, showing us what powerful resources the latter can bring to the work of clinical psychoanalysis. Lamenting the loss of the person in contemporary approaches to severe emotional disturbance, Davoine argues that trauma and psychosis go hand in hand, that in fact the deeply troubled patient is carrying out a mad research into family trauma cut out of the official narrative. It’s her bold assertion that Cervantes knew this about his own life, and that his characters teach us what it takes to treat these personal catastrophes of history, lessons also brought to life in the stories - startling in their raw authenticity - of her patients. Davoine’s advice that we take Don Quixote as our supervisor may both puzzle and amuse us, but she means it and she tells us why.’
-- M. Gerard Fromm, PhD, Senior Consultant, Erikson Institute, Austen Riggs Center, and editor of A Spirit that Impels: Play, Creativity, and Psychoanalysis

‘When I approached this book, I asked myself: Should I try to understand the rationale for its writing? Look for a story behind the story? Piece together and trace the master plot? Find the hidden meaning? When all these attempts led nowhere, I realised that the only thing to do was to completely surrender myself to the reading, which was effortless despite abrupt changes in place and in time frames. The book is tightly held together by the resurfacing personal memories of a child of two, of events close to the end of World War Two. This child is the central narrating 'I', who creates the unity from which the book expands and branches out.’
-- Dori Laub, MD, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine

‘Françoise Davoine has an extraordinary capacity to connect mind, myth and technique to illuminate how we can understand and treat madness or melancholy. She writes with an intense intelligence, luminosity and wit – one of the few theoreticians whose works are literature in themselves.’
-- Jane Ryan, Director of Confer, and author of How Does Psychotherapy Work?

‘In this remarkable book Françoise Davoine shows how literature is a site of madness as well as a source for its healing. Don Quixote is, in her reading, both madman and therapist, and Françoise Davoine herself, speaking as therapist, brilliantly draws for her healing inspiration on the legacy of her own traumatic past. A work of imagination, history, trauma, and life.’
-- Cathy Caruth, author of Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History and Literature in the Ashes of History

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