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In her 2007 book Les Nouveaux blesses, Catherine Malabou stages an encounter between contemporary neuroscience and psychoanalysis that is without peer. She identifies a constituency she names as the “new wounded”; those whose brains are ineradicably changed as a result of brain damage or severe trauma. These wounds can neither be explained nor offered help by way of psychoanalysis, as it presently understands itself. This chapter asks how Freud’s notion of the “death instincts” as the desire to return to inorganic life coordinates with Lacan’s elaboration of the death drive, most powerfully and fully elaborated in his notion of surplus pleasure or plus-de-jouissance. In proposing a theory of subjectivity that has the “matter” of the brain and its relationship to the psyche at its root, this chapter asks whether Malabou’s new materialist approach to psychic events threatens to alter a theory of psychic life that was materialist all along?

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