The Genesis of Desire
Jean-Michel Oughourlian Michigan State University Press, 2010 Library of Congress BF575.D4O9213 2007
We seem to be abandoning the codes that told previous generations who they should love. But now that many of us are free to choose whoever we want, nothing is less certain. The proliferation of divorces and separations reveal a dynamic we would rather not see: others sometimes reject us as passionately as we are attracted to them.
Our desire makes us sick. The throes of rivalry are at the heart of our attraction to one another. This is the central thesis of Jean-Michel Oughourlian's The Genesis of Desire, where the war of the sexes is finally given a scientific explanation. The discovery of mirror neurons corroborates his ideas, clarifying the phenomena of empathy and the mechanisms of violent reciprocity.
How can a couple be saved when they have declared war on one another? By helping them realize that desire originates not in the self but in the other. There are strategies that can help, which Dr. Oughourlian has prescribed successfully to his patients. This work, alternating between case studies and more theoretical statements, convincingly defends the possibility that breakups need not be permanent.
The Mimetic Brain
Jean-Michel Oughourlian Michigan State University Press, 2016 Library of Congress QP360.O8413 2016 | Dewey Decimal 612.8233
The discovery of mirror neurons in the 1990s led to an explosion of research and debate about the imitative capacities of the human brain. Some herald a paradigm shift on the order of DNA in biology, while others remain skeptical. In this revolutionary volume Jean- Michel Oughourlian shows how the hypotheses of René Girard can be combined with the insights of neuroscientists to shed new light on the “mimetic brain.”
Offering up clinical studies and a complete reevaluation of classical psychiatry, Oughourlian explores the interaction among reason, emotions, and imitation and reveals that rivalry—the blind spot in contemporary neuroscientific understandings of imitation—is a misunderstood driving force behind mental illness. Oughourlian’s analyses shake the very foundations of psychiatry as we know it and open up new avenues for both theoretical research and clinical practice.
For thousands of years, political leaders have unified communities by aligning them against common enemies. However, today more than ever, the search for “common” enemies results in anything but unanimity. Scapegoats like Saddam Hussein, for example, led to a stark polarization in the United States. Renowned neuropsychiatrist and psychologist Jean-Michel Oughourlian proposes that the only authentic enemy is the one responsible for both everyday frustrations and global dangers, such as climate change—ourselves. Oughourlian, who pioneered an “interdividual” psychology with René Girard, reveals how all people are bound together in a dynamic, contingent process of imitation, and shows that the same patterns of irrational mimetic desire that bring individuals together and push them apart also explain the behavior of nations.