The Trois Fontaines Interviews: Genealogy of the Clinic

Ali Hmiddouch, Serge Valdinoci, Foutre de Dieu, trans. Sylvia

Pictures and original text from: Généalogie de la clinique, INgens.

Généalogie de la clinique.jpg

A. Hmiddouch: If we come back to this genealogy of europanalysis, you say that you had gone towards Husserl because he was a nonphilosopher…

S. Valdinoci: … the most authentic possible, authenticity counted…


A. Hmiddouch:  … an autodidact…; and the shift towards psychiatry?


S. Valdinoci: Well, I wanted, in the shift towards psychiatry, to try to save Husserl. By utilizing Binswanger notably, who had come back to Husserl at the end of his life. While a good part of the psychiatrists was Heideggerian above all. I wanted to give Husserl another chance, from another point of view, by asking him: does something emerge sociologically (at least, since it does not emerge really—in the precise sense that I have given to the word real)? And I finally apperceived that it didn’t. The Husserlian version of thought, if we can speak like that, is a failure.

Which was a confirmation of the thesis.


F. de Dieu: At the time of the thesis, you were already working on medical knowledge… It was not just chance that you turned towards psychiatric medicine. You already had a sensibility for the body, that already appeared in the thesis. How did you get in touch with this milieu? Because you worked with people who really were clinicians, whether it be Fédida, Lantéri-Laura… Was it a milieu that was receptive to your Husserlian approach, to the teaching of philosophy?


S. Valdinoci: It’s a milieu that was more… it’s a milieu which had a huge advantage—this is a bit like what happens here in France: one must not be a philosopher to do philosophy. Fédida was open to everything, Lantéri-Laura as well… These are people who make a part of the medical but not of medicality in the narrow sense, not of medicality as it functions in France in the Faculties.

Fédida, moreover, had a hard time defending his thesis and becoming a professor in Paris; we caused him incredible troubles.


F. de Dieu: For ideological, political… reasons?


S. Valdinoci: Yes, for ideological reasons. Fédida was a philosopher (psychoanalyst and philosopher). And philosophy at the time was not at all accepted by doctors… He entered through psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis, for a short while, allowed one to enter medicine… (that’s over now…)

These people appeared very interesting to me, that’s for sure. And then they awoke the feeling of foreignness that I always had; because he seemed strange, this Fédida, who was someone more vigilant, very open, very fast. Fédida, what I’m recounting pleased him. Simply, he remarked to me: “Dear Sir, you lack a method”. That marked me for the rest of my intellectual career: a method is missing. I took note of what he reproached me for; and I constructed a method.


F. de Dieu: And this period was still done within the frame of classical phenomenology, since you still managed to publish with Nijhoff…


S. Valdinoci: Yes, but I played. I did publish at Nijhoff; it was Taminiaux to whom I sent a letter—it seems to have turned out well: it I told him that I was expositing phenomenological psychiatry, that I was doing both a thesis and a synthesis; what pleased him—good that there’s a thesis, okay (but not too critical, not too… thesis…)—was that it was, above all, a synthesis. It was not well known, phenomenological psychiatry, therefore it was a fashion that was interesting for publication… since it was unknown…