Through the lens of mimetic theory, distinguished French psychiatrist Jean-Michel Oughourlian shows how to spot and address rivalry in our lives and become open to healthier, more genuine relationships. This important study demonstrates the toxic and pathogenic mechanisms at work in physical ailments and mental disturbances and reveals a common cause: alterity, the other. Oughourlian maintains that the real question in attempting to resolve issues of rivalry is not “What is your problem?” but rather “Who is your problem?” This type of discord with the other—be it a friend, colleague, or family member—becomes visible through generalized stress. This stress manifests in psychosomatic symptoms and may even contribute to the development of organic diseases. The most important factor in healing these maladies, then, is to recognize the other with whom we are in rivalry.
Jean-Michel Oughourlian is the former chief of psychiatry at the American Hospital of Paris and a former professor of clinical psychopathology at the Sorbonne. He collaborated with René Girard on Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World (1978) and has authored several books on psychiatry, neuroscience, and mimetic theory, including The Genesis of Desire (2008), Psychopolitics (2012), and The Mimetic Brain (2016). He is a founding member of the Association Recherches Mimétiques, a French organization devoted to René Girard’s thought.