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Congress of the NLS 2019

Tel-Aviv – 1 & 2 June

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The Argument

by Bernard Seynhaeve

Subjective Urgency and Transferential Unconscious

In his “Preface to the English-Language Edition” of Seminar XI,[1] Lacan speaks of his urgent cases. The urgency that Lacan speaks about in this text from his very last teaching is not the subjective urgency that he speaks about in “On the Subject Who Is Finally in Question”, written in 1966.[2]

As Jacques-Alain Miller reminds us in his course,[3] when Lacan speaks of a subjective urgency in 1966 it is already a question of the formation of psychoanalysts: “[…] there will be some psychoanalyst who responds to certain subjective emergencies [urgences subjectives]”.[4] This text is contemporary with the “Proposition of 9 October”[5] on the invention of the pass. In this 1967 Proposition, Lacan uses the concept of the subject notably to introduce the matheme of transference on the basis of the subject supposed to know. “A subject” he says, “is supposed […] by the signifier that represents him”.[6] From which it follows that the algorithm of transference is deduced from the concept of the subject of the signifier. Urgency, as Lacan conceptualises it in these texts of 1966 and 67, is at Archimedean point of the establishment of transference. Situated at this logical moment of subjective destabilization, it accounts for the precipitation of the subject in the direction of haste, making it possible to put him to work. This “urgency” [urgence] is the traumatic moment when, for a subject, the signifying chain has been broken. The psychoanalyst is the one who listens to those who complain of an acute rupturing of the signifying chain.

The subjective urgency or emergency, this urgence subjective, is the point of departure that presides over the establishment of the signifier of transference in its relation to le signifiant quelconque – to “any” signifier. Lacan refers to what we call the demand of a potential analysand as an urgent request [la requête d’une urgence]. In the psychoanalytic sense, subjective urgency implies a call to the Other, to S2.

Urgent Cases and the Parlêtre

The “Preface to the English-Language Edition” of Seminar XI is a three-paged text that Lacan wrote in 1976 as an extension of his Seminar, The Sinthome; Miller even considers it to be this seminar’s last lesson. This short text is a new way of taking up his “Proposition” on the pass. It is for this reason that Miller considers it to be, in some way, Lacan’s last will and testament.

When he brings up the pass again at the end of his teaching, Lacan no longer uses the signifier “subjective urgency”, but that of “urgent cases”.

Other signifiers are also not found in this text. While “transference” finds its algorithmic definition in the 1967 “Proposition”, this signifier is nowhere to be found in the later text. And for good reason, for in his very last teaching, the subject supposed to know is itself thrown into question. The subject supposed to know is the hypothesis of the Freudian unconscious, the transferential unconscious. In this final text, the signifiers “knowledge”, “subject supposed to know” and “transference” no longer appear. In this regard, Miller points out that he prefers that we say that we come back from one session to the next because ça pousse, “it pushes”, ça urge, “it urges” rather than because of transference.

Knowledge is no longer there because Lacan no longer believes in it. He considers knowledge to be only a semblant, a hare-brained lucubration about lalangue.[7]

On the other hand, while knowledge produces nothing but lies, we find another signifier, that of “lying truth”.[8] And instead of the signifier of transference we find “these urgent cases”.

Admittedly, urgency here is, on the one hand, just as in 1967, what presides over the analysis, what presides over transference. In the analytic situation, the psychoanalyst is this person, this quelconque or “whomsoever” who embodies this place of address for analysands – these speaking beings that “run”[9] after the truth – the one who agrees to “pair” with these urgent cases. We meet an analyst when we are in a state of urgency. But, on the other hand, Lacan takes an additional step that goes beyond transference; there is another urgency. In analysis, there is always urgency, there is always something that pushes, that urges, that presses and that is beyond transference, even if one takes one’s time or lets it drag on.[10] Urgency is something that presses the parlêtre. Something of the order of “the urgency of life”, as Dominique Holvoet magnificently emphasized in his teaching as an AS[11].

“This indicates that there is a causality operating at a deeper level than the transference, one that Lacan characterizes as a level of satisfaction insofar as it is urgent and analysis is its means.”[12]

We run after the truth, says Lacan; this is what happens in free association, but truth cannot be caught by the signifier.

What is urgent for Lacan at the end of his teaching – the analytical urgency, that which pushes the parlêtre – consists therefore of running after truth, of pursuing the truth that harbours the real. But this truth cannot be captured with words. The urgency in question is the attempt to catch hold of a truth that can never be reached. This race to pursue the truth that we never can catch is what provides the satisfaction of these urgent cases, of the speaking bodies. This is why one can say that analysis is the means for this urgent satisfaction.

Satis, etymologically the Latin “enough”, constitutes the root of the signifier “satisfaction”, the “it is enough” of the pass. Consequently, satisfaction comes in two modalities: that of satis – “it is enough”, and that of a new way of knowing how to do with one’s real, with the non-resorbable jouissance.

In this final text, Lacan no longer says “the psychoanalyst derives his authorisation only from himself”,[13] because the subject produced by free association is thrown back into question. Instead, he emphasizes what is urgent, the impulse that pushes the subject to “hystoricize himself” [“s’hystoriser de lui-même”][14], namely to hystoricize himself without making a pair with his analyst. As you can see, in the very last Lacan, at the Archimedean point of the pass, what is at stake is urgent. The pass is done via the urgency of life.


Translated from the French by Philip Dravers

[1] Lacan, Jacques, “Preface to the English Edition of Seminar XI”, The Lacanian Review, Issue No. 6, trans. R. Grigg, NLS, Paris, to be published in November 2018; see also, “Preface to the English-Language Edition of Seminar XIThe Seminar, Book XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, trans. A. Sheridan, W.W. Norton & Co., New York/London, 1998, pp. vii-ix.

[2] Lacan, Jacques, “On the Subject Who Is Finally in Question”, Écrits, trans. B. Fink, W.W. Norton & Co., New York/London, 2006, pp. 189-196. [TN: In this text, “urgences subjectives”, which appears in Lacan’s concluding sentence (when he is speaking about what an analytic formation permits one to respond to), is translated as “subjective emergencies”, which is indeed one of the meanings of the word “urgence”.]

[3] Miller, Jacques-Alain, “L’orientation lacanienne. Le tout dernier Lacan” (2006-2007), class given at the Department of Psychoanalysis in the University, Paris 8. A first transcription of the three first lessons of this course, established by C. Bonningue, was published in Quarto 88-89 (December 2006) and 90 (June 2007); a second version established by C. Alberti and P. Hellebois is cited here and will be published in The Lacanian Review 6, op. cit. Unrevised by the author.

[4] Lacan, Jacques, “On the Subject Who Is Finally in Question”, Écrits, op. cit., p. 196.

[5] Lacan, Jacques, “Proposition of 9 October 1967 on the Psychoanalyst of the School”, trans. R. Grigg, available online at:

[6] Ibid.

[7] Cf. Lacan, Jacques, The Seminar, Book XX, Encore, trans B. Fink, W.W. Norton & Co, New York/London, 1999, p. 139.

[8] Lacan, Jacques, “Preface to the English Edition of Seminar XI”, The Lacanian Review 6, op. cit., but also, “There is no truth that, in passing through attention, does not lie”, and “The mirage of truth, from which only lies can be expected”; see also, “Preface to the English-Language Edition of Seminar XIThe Seminar, Book XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, op. cit., pp. xi, vii, viii.

[9] Cf. ibid. (TLR), “Which doesn’t prevent one from running after [the truth]”; see also ibid., p. vii.

[10] Cf. Miller, Jacques-Alain, “L’orientation lacanienne. Choses de finesse en psychoanalyse” (2008-2009), class given at the Department of Psychoanalysis in the University, Paris 8, 21 January 2009. A first version of this text, transcribed by J. Peraldi et Y. Vanderveken was published as “La passe du parlêtre” in La Cause freudienne, No. 74, Navarin, Paris, 2010, pp. 113-23; a second version established by C. Alberti et P. Hellebois, with an English-language translation by R. Grigg, will appear as “The Speaking Being and the Pass” in The Lacanian Review 6, op. cit. Unrevised by the author.

[11] Cf. Holvoet, Dominique, remarks pronounced during an « Interview pour PIPOL 5 », conducted by Patricia Bosquin, January 2011; « De la causation du sujet à la logique de la cure », talk given on 19/02/2011 at Bruges, published in INWIT; as well as many times during his teaching as AS.

[12] Miller, Jacques-Alain, “The Speaking Being and the Pass”, The Lacanian Review 6, op. cit.

[13] Cf. Lacan, Jacques, “Proposition of 9 October 1967 on the Psychoanalyst of the School”, op. cit.

[14] Cf. Lacan, Jacques, “Preface to the English Edition of Seminar XI”, The Lacanian Review 6, op. cit; see also,  “Preface to the English-Language Edition of Seminar XI”, The Seminar, Book XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, op. cit. p. viii.


by Lilia Mahjoub

The title of the next Congress puts transference in a state, and specifies, with its subtitle, a few of these states. The order of these terms – wild, political and psychoanalytic – does not imply a progression. For these states differ, articulate and separate in equal measure, and can sometimes coexist, intersect or even collide.

So, let us begin with the last, psychoanalytic transference, which requires us to mention the first two as states which exist but which may occasionally be subverted by the one pertaining specifically to psychoanalysis. 

The word “transference”, which does not belong specifically to psychoanalytic terminology, acquired, first of all as a notion, a very broad definition in the field of psychoanalysis, corresponding to a set of phenomena relating to relations between the patient and the analyst. Consequently, this led to each analyst having their own conceptions and observations on the subject, hence the muddle that ensued in the attempt to grasp its true meaning.
An Obstacle

Freud introduced the term “transference” (Übertragung) as early as 1895 in his Studies on Hysteria, noting the existence of resistance to treatment – at the time when it was a question of either laying on hands or hypnosis – and reflecting upon several kinds of obstacles.  A major one he mentions, which he qualifies not as “inherent in the material”[1] – a term he reserves for resistances properly speaking – but as “external”,[2]concerns what happens “when the patient’s relation to the physician is disturbed”.[3] He then distinguishes three kinds of disturbance, all revolving around the person of the doctor. The first concerns a personal reproach aimed at the doctor or the influence of what has been heard about him or his method; the second, the fear of becoming too attached; and the third the fear of transferring [reporter] onto him  (continue reading)




“We’ve always known about the unconscious”[1], said Lacan, “But”, he adds, “in psychoanalysis, the unconscious is an unconscious that thinks hard”[2]. And then – surprise! – Lacan says, “If they are thoughts, it can’t be unconscious”[3]. It is what Jacques-Alain Miller refers to as “Lacan’s Paradoxes”[4], and if Lacan said it with this apparent simplicity, it could also not be more serious for his part.

In fact, Lacan claimed to be the only one to have given full weight to what Freud aspired towards with this notion of the unconscious. In this way he did not stop questioning the status of the unconscious throughout his teaching, to the point of making it a fundamental concept. For Lacan, the matter was not closed, even if many considered it to be so at the time.

In order to demonstrate the hypothesis of the unconscious, one must go by way of words, for “the unconscious does not have a body except through words”[5]. And if psychoanalysis operates with words, the practice of psychoanalysis consists of knowing how.

All words? Of course not, since it is a matter of reducing what is presented as a continuous torrent of words – one that psychoanalysts invite from those to whom they listen. The unconscious is not this mass of words, of signifiers, even if, at the start, Lacan proposes the aphorism that it is structured like a language.

While Freud himself approached the question of the unconscious only with reference to the play of the signifier, he made room for its specific formations: dreams, parapraxes, jokes, forgetting, even symptoms. What is striking is that these formations appear in the form of a failure, rupture, stumbling, fault, or “discovery” [trouvaille][6] – in short, a discontinuity. And it is there that Freud went in search of the unconscious.

Does this mean that this discontinuity linked to the formations of the unconscious occurs against a background of continuity? No, for Lacan points out that this would be to postulate a sort of one that is anterior to discontinuity. In 1964, when he questioned this concept of the unconscious anew, he insisted that his teaching is to put an end to the “mirage to which is attached the reference to the enveloping psyche, a sort of double of the organism in which this false unit is thought to reside”[7].

However, this mirage constantly returns. One only has to listen to what gets put about in the media to realise that this is what is generally believed. One thus hears psychoanalysts – so-called psychoanalysts – expressing themselves here, there and everywhere, who conceive of the unconscious as a closed space, indeed as an organ that must be penetrated by suggestion, giving it sense, or even, if they are so-inclined, as mapped out by cerebral imaging. In this way preference is given to matter, to the imaginary consistency, to what claims to be scientific – in other words, to what is supposedly proven.

This is far from “the one of the split, of the stroke, of rupture” [8], namely from “the one that is (…) the Un of the Unbewusste”[9], a term that designates the Freudian unconscious and that Lacan translates as “une-bévue”[10], as one-slip, a translation that makes the ambiguity between unconscious [inconscient] and unconsciousness [inconscience] disappear.

The dream constitutes a slip [une bévue], just like the other formations of the unconscious. Yet, “A dream is not ‘the unconscious’”[11], wrote Freud with regard to the dream material that the young homosexual woman brought to him in order to trick him and continue to defy her father. The desire to trick is what is realised here, not the desire to love men.

Thus, with the une-bévue that forms part of the title of his 1976-77 Seminar, L’insu-que-sait de l’une-bévue, Lacan is introducing something that goes beyond the unconscious. He had already, the year before, distinguished the Freudian unconscious from the one he elaborated with the sinthome, declaring it was “a matter of situating what the sinthome has to do with the real, the real of the unconscious, should the unconscious indeed prove to be real”. And he adds that the unconscious partakes of an equivocation between the real and the imaginary[12]. In other words, to grasp what the unconscious is, we may be obliged to pass via the symbolic but we cannot reduce it to this. And Lacan then underlines that “the use of the cut in relation to the symbolic, risks provoking, at the end of a psychoanalysis, a preference given wholly to the unconscious”[13].

Hence the notion of the hole [trou], already present in the trou-vaille, which he creates with his Borromean Knot – in other words, by knotting the symbolic, imaginary and real, without any one of the three dimensions taking on more importance than the two others. It is this hole that he maintains until the end, as in 1980 when he writes: “To elaborate the unconscious, as one does in analysis, is nothing but to produce a hole there.”[14]

But this can be forgotten. Hasn’t the unconscious already closed itself up against Freud’s message, thanks to the practice of generations of analysts who came after him, a practice that stitches up the opening of the unconscious, which, Lacan says, he never re-opens without great care?[15]

A short time ago, Jacques-Alain Miller also remarked that, “Psychoanalysts pay for their status by forgetting what creates them”[16]. And he continued, “Once they have established themselves, and at best, once they have grasped their singularity, they take the unconscious to be a matter of semblance, elaborating the unconscious not seeming for them sufficient criteria for being an analyst”[17].

So, our chosen title, “About the Unconscious”, indicates this hole around which the formations of the unconscious are produced, formations which must vary with the elaboration, the elucidation of the unconscious. A dream at the start of analysis will not be of the same order as one at its end. It will therefore be a matter of questioning the formations of the unconscious in psychoanalytic treatments, their place as well as their interpretation, and in this way putting the emphasis on the reading that psychoanalysts make of them based on the conception that they have constructed of the unconscious today.


Lilia Mahjoub – President of the NLS

Translated by Philip Dravers


[1] Lacan, J., My Teaching, trans. D. Macey, London, Verso, 2008, p.7.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] [TN: “Paradoxes de Lacan” is the name of the short series of French texts that the original version of Mon Enseignement (Paris, Seuil, October 2005) appears within. Jacques-Alain Miller refers to it in his preface to the French edition on p. 8.] [5] Lacan, J., « Propos sur l’hystérie », Quarto n°2, supplement to the Lettre Mensuelle of the École de la Cause freudienne in Brussells, 1981, p. 6.,

[6] Lacan, J., The Seminar, Book XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, London/New York, W.W. Norton, 1998, p. 25.

[7] Ibid., p. 26.

[8] Ibid. [TN: It is worth noting that the original French here is: “le un de la feinte, du trait, de rupture”.] [9] Ibid.

[10] Lacan, J., L’insu que sait de l’une-bévue s’aile à mourre, Séminaire 1976-1977, Ornicar ? n° 12/13, Paris, décembre 1977, p. 5.

[11] Freud, S., “A Case of Homosexuality in a Woman”, SE 18, p.165.

[12] Cf. Lacan, J. The Seminar, Book XXIII, The Sinthome, trans. A. R. Price, Cambridge, Polity, 2016, 84.

[13] Lacan, J., L’insu que sait de l’une-bévue s’aile à mourre, op. cit., p. 15.

[14] Lacan, J., Lettre pour la Cause freudienne du 23 octobre 1980, published by the École de la Cause freudienne with the Directory, 1982, p. 92.

[15] Cf. Lacan, J. “The Seminar, Book XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis”, op. cit. p. 23.

[16] Miller, J.-A., Choses de finesse en psychanalyse, Cours « L’orientation lacanienne » du 19 novembre 2008, on le site de l’École de la Cause freudienne :

[17] Ibid.


 The NLS Congress 2016

  Discreet Signs in Ordinary Psychoses

Clinic and Treatment

 Dublin, 2nd and 3rd July 2016

 The Clinical Conversation of the NLS will be part of the Congress itself and will be open to all.



The Poster







9th and 10th May 2015, Geneva

Moments of Crisis

Gil Caroz

A hypothesis: the list of psychoanalytic groups that make up the NLS contains a knowledge about “crisis” that it would be interesting to bring to light. If we consider crisis as one of the master signifiers of our time, and, as such, a way of naming the real, the panoply of countries encompassed by our School can teach us about a series of modes of relation to the real. Between Israel, a country constantly in crisis, and Switzerland, which seems to avoid all crises, Greece and Ireland have become emblems of economic crisis in Europe, Great Britain and Canada are the precursors of the crisis of scientism and technology, Belgium is the locus of a linguistic crisis, Ukraine is marked by the crises of a state finding it difficult to establish itself as such, and let’s leave it there.

The signifier “crisis” refers, etymologically, to a critical moment of upheaval and also to a judgement with respect to a decision to be taken. From the time of Hippocrates, this signifier has been used in the medical field to designate a phase of an illness where the symptoms manifest themselves in an acute form. Later, the term “crisis” found its place, quite naturally, in the field of psychiatry, and easily infiltrated the dimension of the Other that we call political, social, economic, historic and moral. Today this signifier is part of common discourse.

Crisis and Time

Crisis has a relation to time. Hanna Arendt speaks of crisis as a conflictual point of encounter between the past and the future.[1] This point is not the present. It is to be understood rather as a breach in time that arises when the tradition that, until then, had framed the real disappears and when the new symbolic coordinates of the future are not yet known. The subject must thus play his hand faced with the real that rushes into this void created in the interval between two symbolic systems.

But crisis is not a psychoanalytic concept. We must thus define our use of it, while allowing ourselves the freedom to grasp all the forms in which this signifier appears in culture. We will find our first point of support in a definition that Jacques-Alain Miller gave in an interview for the magazine Marianne in 2008, on the economic crisis. “There is a crisis in the psychoanalytic sense when discourse, words, figures, rites, routine, the whole symbolic apparatus, is suddenly found to be powerless in tempering an unruly real.A crisis is the real unchained, impossible to master. It is the equivalent, in civilisation, of those storms that periodically come to remind the human species of their lack of security and fundamental debility”.[2] In the same spirit, in his “Introduction to the Erotics of Time”, Jacques-Alain Miller quotes Deleuze’s proposition according to which “time (…) puts truth in crisis”.[3] In other words, truth is not eternal, it vanishes with time. In this respect it is distinct from the real without law, which obeys nothing, not even time. That time puts truth in crisis, means that, at a given moment, it starts to waver when in the grips of a real that it can neither treat nor master. Crisis thus appears as a moment of rupture in the line of time, an event that extracts the subject from his routine and forces him to elaborate a new relation to the real. This relation between crisis and time is what makes us speak about “moments of crisis”.


A crisis that presents itself in this way as a cut in the line of time belongs to the time of Oedipus. After Oedipus, this simple dialectical model between routine and an event that brings a crisis is no longer enough to read the phenomena. This is why sociologists have abandoned the name “postmodernism” for hypermodernity.[4] In fact, postmodernism limits itself to describing the initial disillusionment with progress and the humanism of the enlightenment following the Second World War. But to describe the qualitative modification of humanity over the last three decades, it has been necessary to add the prefix “hyper” to the word “modernity”. This better conveys the notion of excess, exacerbation and of a process pursued without any sense of measure that characterises the era in which the object a has risen to the zenith as an effect of the discourse of capitalism.

What does this mean? The precipitation of events is not limited to a simple acceleration on a timeline. Up to the minute technologies produce a sort of contraction of time and space. With simple means like Skype or Facebook distances are abolished and the time taken is reduced to immediacy. Hardly has an event occurred and already the next one sticks its nose over the horizon. The pattern routine-crisis-routine has been replaced by the series crisis-crisis-crisis… which tends towards the infinite. The passage between the instant of the seeing and the moment to conclude is often immediate, short-circuiting the time to understand.

In these conditions the world no longer corresponds to Hanna Arendt’s thesis. It is no longer a matter of a conflict between the past and the future whose pressure the subject is submitted to. The timeline is constantly caught hold of by a real in a succession of moments of crises without respite. Hardly has a symbolic system been established, and it falters to give place to another. The Arab Spring already seems like ancient history. It was only a little over three years ago. This uprising spread like wildfire in a series of countries, supported by the social network. In a short time, we have seen tyrants fall from their thrones and judged, condemned, with or without trial, with everything broadcast in real time around the world. Since that time, we have not yet seen a new order establish itself in these countries. One crisis succeeds another.

A Crisis of Technique[5]

In the field that concerns us, the field of “mental health”, it can be observed that the responses given to the upsurge of crises in culture are getting out of hand. In his article, “The Post-DSM Crisis and Psychoanalysis”, Eric Laurent takes up the Foucauldian concept of biopolitics to describe the movement that abolishes the clinic to replace it with the medical management of populations.[6] This movement “comes to replace the right of States to “put to death” which once allowed identifications to be managed”. In 2011, the regional counsel of the World Health Organisation for Mental Health confirmed this in a message addressed to the participants of the first European Congress of Psychoanalysis, Pipol 5.[7]

Today, we look wistfully back on the time when the Governmental dream of social surveillance was based on medical knowledge. In the 20th Century, technology has taken the place of knowledge. The Hammer without a Master is ruled by jouissance. Technology aims at nothing other than to be used as technology. It is not a practice at the service of the master and his ideal, but a jouissance that the master makes himself the instrument of, whether he knows it or not. Jean-Claude Milner pushes this to extremes. According to him, the gas chambers were not a means with which Nazi ideology was put to work. Rather, Nazi ideology was a means for technology to deploy itself through the gas chambers.[8]

Bearing in mind the difference between them, and without the ferocity of the former, the DSM is also a manifestation of technique. Since the 3rd edition got rid of all references to psychoanalysis, it has wanted to be atheoretical. Of course, it announces this proudly as headless hammer. Its classification is founded on a statistical measurement of the object rather than on knowledge. It pretends that it is the object that is speaking. Yet, of course, the object does not speak.[9]

The disorders noted in the DSM, abstracts of this practice of number, do not engage with the real. They are signs around which masses of human bodies are organised. They allow a standardisation of clinical diagnosis throughout the world, which opens up new markets for psychotropic drugs. Moreover, this disjunction between nosographic categories, on the one hand, and the clinic, on the other, facilitates the expansion of the number of disorders added to each new version of the DSM and the extension of the limits of each disorder. Thus, with a view to being applicable to all, applied science [la technique] gets carried away and spins out of control, classifying and medicating in a maniacal way, without any anchoring in the real. The APA, American Psychiatric Association, which publishes the DSM, is merely the instrument that allows applied science to run away with itself.

A Clinic of Crisis

As we have said, the discontents of civilisation show that crises come one after the other. What are the echoes for the subject of these never-ending crises as phenomena of civilisation?

The western city-dweller is ceaselessly exposed to catastrophic information coming from every corner of the planet, as well as being provoked by hyper seductive objects titillating his polymorphously perverse drives. The sirens of pornography are top of the bill in this regard. Anxieties and excessive consumption intermix. The film, Shame, by Steve McQueen has brilliantly described this frantic gallop of jouissance, caused by the failure of the symbolic and the reduction of man to the misery of his body.

This permanent jogging of the subject, from crisis to crisis, from contingency to contingency, makes of him a mouse in a labyrinth, more of an object submerged in the real than a subject, in a hectic race between electric shock and reward. Where the discourse of the master had once given the order “march or die”, the capitalist discourse is more demanding and imposes a “run or die”.The other side of this infinitely accelerating movement is the weakening of the social bond and the casting onto the scrapheap of all those who struggle to keep up this infernal rhythm. Thus, beyond the psychical structures, this duplicity of the subject who “runs” and the subject who “dies” echoes the clinical binary of mania and melancholia – mania as a forward flight that ends in an acceleration of signifiers unballasted by the object; melancholia, for subjects who can no longer pursue this race, who abandon everything and come to embody the object that has dropped from the Other.

At the level of clinical structure some research is required. I will limit myself here to a few suggestions.

For psychosis it would certainly be interesting to take up the question of crisis on the basis of the trio: triggering, decompensation, and disconnection. All three are forms of crisis, if one considers that they imply a vacillation of the symbolic, a surging up of a real, and then the restoration of a new form of symbolic. But there are no doubt distinctions to be made between a triggering following an encounter with the A father, a triggering following a dissolution of the imaginary register, a decomposition as a return of a triggering that has already taken place as a disconnection on the side of an abandonment of the subject by the Other.

In neurosis, the symbolic is never competently destroyed. The ripping of the veil of the fantasy is a moment of crisis that can lead the subject into analysis. The subject no longer takes pleasure from his jouissance and is exposed to anguish due to the irruption of the desire of the Other. But then, it is the analyst himself who assumes the role and becomes a crisis for the neurotic. At every juncture, interpretation, particularly one that disturbs or dismantles the defence, is able to provoke a crisis accompanied by anxiety. The honeymoon period at the start of an analysis is quickly substituted by a subjective rectification on the part of the analyst. The fall of the phallic position and of ideals is followed by an exacerbation of symptoms. Subjective destitution is not really all that fun, certainly, not at first. The fall of the subject supposed to know, and the crossing of the fantasy, can also be lived as a crisis.

Let us also pause particularly on what constitutes a crisis in perversion. We have had the opportunity to live through a mini-crisis in discovering the image of the Austrian transvestite Tom Neuwirth, aka Conchita Würst who last week won first prize in the 2014 Eurovision song context. It has been sixteen years since the Israeli transsexual Dana International won this prize, but it seems that a whole world separates these two winners. While Dana International’s image can be easily inserted into the category of women, our imaginary does not yet have a place to insert the image of a man with a beard like that of Conchita. The real of these singular jouissances that demand identification and recognition constantly catch us out, to put us in crisis.

Conchita does not hide the pleasure that he or she draws from this vacillation produced in the Other. His shows, the words of his song and his commentary, which simultaneously provokes and defies the first prize he won, are an affirmation of his mode of jouissance and a means of challenging conformist norms. In Austria, opinion is split between, on the one hand, those, notably of the extreme right, who are offended that such an image could represent their country, and, on the other, young people full of the sentiment of life who knit themselves artificial beards as a sign of support and of identification with Conchita. Russian politicians did not miss the opportunity to denounce European decadence. No doubt a barb aimed at Ukrainians faithful to Kiev: you want to be European, well, there, look at Conchita for an image of what Europe is. One can observe that, if in psychosis and neurosis crisis is situated on the side of the subject, in perversion, it is the Other that is put into question.

A psychoanalyst does not judge such things. Conchita would be welcome in his consulting room. But outside the consulting room, the conflict is bound to increase between the forces of repression that want nothing to change, on one side, and new modes of jouissance, on the other. It is inevitable. We got used to Dana International quickly enough. Today, she is part of our imaginary map. Conchita will become part of it too. For if, as Jacques-Alain Miller says, one part of the world feminises itself, it will become increasingly tolerant of solutions of this kind, which, in a first moment, appear as sinthomatic for a few subjects and then, in a second moment, become more widespread.

So, perversion puts our conformist routine into question and makes the world progress along the path of desire towards new exploits, even if we do not necessarily consider Conchita’s performance a successful sublimation on a cultural level. This conflict between cultural conformism and perversion is underlined by Lacan at the end of Seminar VI, when he knots perversion to sublimation: “we can ask whether what is produced as perversion reflects, at the level of the logical subject, a protest against what the subject submits to at the level of identification (…). On the one hand, conformity and, on the other, perversion, in as much as it represents, at the level of the logical subject, the protest that arises in the dimension of desire”. [10]

Thus a reversal is produced. There where our reading of crisis up to this point could be understood as a terrible prophesy in the style the old testament, with perversion we find crisis in a dimension that is friendly to psychoanalysis. If crisis is sometimes the source of tears and pain, it is also a necessary passage towards invention and novelty. This is a possible translation of what Jacques-Alain Miller said in the interview with the magazine Marianne, which I mentioned earlier. “The Psychoanalyst is crisis’s friend”.

Urgency and the Act

The amity between the psychoanalyst and crisis is not a simple sympathy for the effects of crisis obtained through the challenge that comes to shake up the conformity of norms. Elsewhere Lacan, in his Analyticon at the end of Seminar XVII urges us to be suspicious of the jouissance of the agitator, which he compares to that of the bachelor. “Take care that the agitator is not preparing his own chocolate”.[11] The close proximity between psychoanalysis and crisis has solid foundations that pass through the dimension of urgency and that of the act, two conditions for a creation to be possible, for there to be a modification in the subject’s position, so that afterwards things are no longer as they were before.

The fact that we started our reflection with crisis in the political world must not mislead us. Crisis, as friend of psychoanalysis, as much as the urgency of the act to which it appeals, are not to be read through the grid of the master’s discourse. The psychoanalyst is neither a paramedic nor a fireman. Of course, he must be able to recognise situations that are beyond the powers of speech in order to direct the subject, when he must, towards other discourses, most notably medicine: panic attacks [crises de panique] which do not abate; the suicide risk of subjects who have an unshakable certainty about the waste value of their being; an overflowing of delusion with a tendency towards the passage to the act with no hold in the Other; invasive hallucinations; etc…

Now, while these events in the treatment might call for an action on the part of the psychoanalyst, the coordinates of emergency [urgence] that he responds to with his act are of a different order. Action, which belongs to the register of the possible, should be distinguished from the act, which is produced against the backdrop of the impossible.[12]

Lacan qualified emergencies in psychoanalysis as “subjective”.[13] They are produced when the subject crashes into the trauma of language in so far as it refuses meaning. The emergency [urgence] in question is on the side of the subject, and it is an emergency [urgence] to speak so as to go beyond oneself in one’s own truth.[14] This expression is not solely an apt means of describing the entry into analysis. It also corresponds to all the moments of crises that take place in a treatment already underway. The subject supposed to know pushes the analysand to deploy the signifiers that emerge from his unconscious as so many truths. It is what one calls the transferential unconscious. But this is caught hold of at moments of juncture [moments de carrefour] by the real unconscious,[15] a signifier all alone which “no longer carries any meaning (or interpretation)”,[16] which does not connect with any other signifier, and which thus resists the production of a truth.

These moments are followed in one way or another by a tipping point in the treatment. Here the act is called to the place where no S2 can answer to cover the irruption of the real with a meaning. At these moments, the analyst must play his part so that breaking through the autistic limits of the signifier all alone is kept inside the treatment in the form of a well-saying. If not, the subject will take charge of the act, whether through an acting out, which remains knotted to speech, or through a passage to the act, which separates him from the Other at the price of exiting the stage, or again, through a psychotic triggering. These delicate moments often present themselves as a transferential crisis. This can go from unrest outside the session in a way that is counter-productive to the treatment, on the one hand, to a definitive break with psychoanalysis, on the other, with various points in between, such as the emergence of negative transference to a greater or lesser extent, or breaking with the analyst to continue the analysis elsewhere, etc.

So, you have understood. For the 2015 NLS Congress, I have proposed the following title to our new president Yves Vanderveken: “Moments of Crisis”. I have tried to open a few doors that could eventually set us to work on this theme. I hope I have succeeded in provoking your interest.

 Translated by Philip Dravers

[1] Hannah Arendt,“The Crisis in Culture”, Between Past and Future,London, Penguin, 1977, p. 194-222. / [2]La crise financière vue par Jacques-Alain Miller, Marianne, 10 octobre 2008. / [3]Jacques-Alain Miller, “Introduction to the Erotics of Time”, Lacanian Ink 24/25 (Spring 2005), p. 8-43 [T.N. Miller is quoting Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), 130] / [4] Nicole Aubert, L‘individu hypermoderne, Toulouse, Eres, 2010. / [5][The French term, technique, can also be translated as “applied science” T.N.] / [6] Eric Laurent, “La crise post-DSM et la psychanalyse”,és-la-crise-post.pdf [to be published in English ] / [7] Matt Muijen, “Message du Conseiller régional de l’OMS pour la Santé mentale – Région Europe”, Mental, Revue internationale de Psychoanalyse, n° 27/28, septembre 2012.   [Message from the WHO’s Regional Advisor for Mental Health, Europe Region.] / [8] Jean-Claude Milner, Le juif du savoir, Paris, Grasset et Fasquelle, 2006. / [9] Jean-Claude Milner, La politique des choses, Navarin, Paris, 2005. / [10] Jacques Lacan, Le Séminaire livre VI, Le désir et son interprétation, Editions de la Martinière, Le Champ freudien, 2013, pp. 569-570. / [11] Jacques-Lacan, Seminar XVII, The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, trans. Russell Grigg, London, Norton, 2007, p. 199. / [12]Jacques-Alain Miller, “Introduction to the Erotics of Time”, Lacanian Ink, 24, 2005. [13]Jacques Lacan, “Of the Subject finally in Question”, Écrits,trans. Bruce Fink, London, Norton, 2006, p. 196. / [14] Jacques Lacan, “Function and the field of speech and language in psychoanalysis”, Écrits, op. cit., p.201: “Nothing created appears without urgency; nothing in urgency fails to surpass itself in speech”. / [15] Jacques-Alain Miller, “L’inconscient réel”, Quarto, n° 88-89, December 2006. / [16] Jacques Lacan, “Preface to the English Language Edition [of Seminar XI]”, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, trans. Alan Sheridan, p. vii.

17th and 18th May 2014, Ghent



In my title, some of you will have recognised an echo of Wittgenstein’s formulation, the last proposition in his Tractatus: “What we cannot speak about, we must pass over in silence”[i]. Unlike the philosopher, I have cut the formulation in the middle and allowed the suspense to complete it on the basis of what Lacan proposes in Seminar VI, along with the decisive orientation that Jacques-Alain Miller gave to it in Athens.[ii]

For psychoanalytic experience invites one precisely not to be silent about what cannot be said, “which provides an opportunity to put to the test the fact that words cannot say it all”.[iii] In the course of the treatment, the aspiration to find the word that would say the thing fades, even if Lacan began by installing the Name-of-the-Father as the final word of the story. He made it into an Other of the Other, the guarantee of the established order, which he consecrated as the symbolic order. But what J.-A. Miller shows in his presentation is that in what follows and right up to the end of his teaching, Lacan systematically dismantled this pseudo-harmony of the symbolic. That is the meaning of this formulation from Seminar VI: “there is no Other of the Other”.

Free association necessarily encounters the impossible to say. It is thus at the moment when the word with which to say it is found to be lacking that the subject falters to the point of panic, there where he must, as Lacan says, face up to his existence. “At this moment which is, if one may say, a panic point, the subject must cling to something, and what he clings to is precisely the object qua object of desire.”[iv]

Wittgenstein would be right, says Jean-Claude Milner, “if only what we cannot speak about consented to be silent.”[v]The analysand would thereby conclude his analysis on the revelation of a want-to-be that constitutes the metonymy of his desire and arrive at the “forsaken horizon of being.”[vi] As J.-A. Miller notes, this version of the end of analysis turns the subject into a non-dupe, in other words, a subject founded on erring.

However, as he pointed out in Athens, the place where the end of analysis is played out is not on the side of the insubstantial being of a desire, which would be a pure signifying metonymy, but on the side of the fantasy, which is enjoying substance [substance jouissante]. Thus, “the heart of this seminar is not interpretation; it is the subject’s unconscious relation to the object in the desiring experience of the fantasy.”[vii]

What is a psychoanalysis practice that aims at the object a of the fantasy? What is at stake is not that the analysand narrates his phantasmagorias, it is a question of circumscribing what the subject’s life is structured around when he is a prisoner of his fantasy – in the singular and unconscious – just as Lacan does in his analysis of dreams or of Hamlet. There is no direct experience of the unconscious fantasy, which is why it is necessary to reconstitute it in our constructions.

The Congress in Ghent will thus focus on what does not consent to be silent and makes its way through the inter-said [inter-dit]. We shall emphasize “the opposition between the closed order of the father (metaphor is always a stopping point) and what desire brings, on the contrary, of the irregular and fundamentally out of place.”[viii] The theme unfolds between what cannot be said except between the lines and what is impossible to say. It may be true that “the analyst offers himself as a support for every demand, and responds to none of them”,[ix] but it is not merely in this non-responding that the mainspring of our presence lies, as Lacan says at the end of Seminar VI. As this Seminar reveals, the true nature of the objects of the fantasy is to be real objects, “separated from the subject though they are closely related to his vital drive.”[x] The analyst makes himself into its “inexorable”[xi] support. In the different structures, the reconstitution of the fantasy as support of desire will serve as the turntable with which to articulate the relation of the subject’s desire to the desire of the Other… without Other.

Dominique Holvoet

Translated by Florencia F.C. Shanahan and Philip Dravers

[i] Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1961, trans. D.F. Pears and B.F. McGuinness, (London: Routledge, 1961), p. 89. [T.N. Or according to Ogden’s translation: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent” Ludwig Wittgenstein,Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus  (1922)trans. C.K. Ogden (New York: Cosimo, 2007), p 27 and p 108.
[ii] J-A Miller, “The Other without Other”, closing presentation at the NLS Congress in Athens, May 2013. To be published in Mental 30 and Hurly-Burly 10. Working version available on the NLS website.
[iii] J-A Miller, “La psychanalyse, sa place dans les Sciences”, Mental, 25, p. 19
[iv] J. Lacan, Le Séminaire, Livre VI, Le désir et son interprétation, (La Martinière et le Champ freudien editions, 2013), p. 108. (Unpublished in English).
[v] J.C. Milner, “L’oeuvre claire, Lacan, la science, la philosophie”, (Paris: Seuil, 1995), p. 169.
[vi] J. Lacan, “The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power”, Écrits. The First Complete Edition in English, (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2006), p 536.
[vii] J-A Miller, “The Other without Other”, op. cit., p 9.
[viii] J-A Miller, Ibid., p. 12.
[ix] J. Lacan, Le Séminaire, Livre VI, Le désir et son interprétation, (La Martinière & le Champ freudien editions, 2013), p. 572 (Unpublished in English).
[x] J. Lacan, Ibid. p.469.
[xi] J. Lacan, Ibid., p.565.

XIth NLS Congress

The Psychotic Subject in the Geek Era

Typicality and Symptomatic Inventions

Athens – 18th & 19th May 2013

ArgumentIn a world where each “One” is kitted out with his “I-object”, a world where being a geek[1] constitutes an ordinary lifestyle, what becomes of what we call psychosis? The triumph of the “I-gadgets” as objects outside-the-body [hors-corps] has upset relations between parlêtres, relations that hitherto were codified by what Freud called the programme of civilisation. From the 20th to the 21st century, we have passed from the era of discourses that knot the social bond to the world of the One-all-alone which finds support in the symptom as an alternative social bond.

In his intervention at the Tel Aviv Congress, which will be the reference for the Congress in Athens, Éric Laurent proposes for the NLS “an enquiry into the way in which we read, in our present-day practice, what the word ‘psychosis’ means for psychoanalysis.”[2]. One can indeed generalise the psychotic effort, which consists in giving order to the world without the aid of established discourses, to the general effort of writing one’s own symptom. This symptomatic mark, this seal on the body, this trace of lalangue, or even forced invention, consists in a reduction of the flight of meaning. On the other side, surfing the frantic canvas of the web presents itself as the Danaids’ barrel of the 21st century. Thus, for Raffaele Simone, the mediasphere produces a revolution in the mind that is larger and more penetrating than the one feared by Plato in Phaedrus regarding the advent of writing[3]. Rather than adopting an attitude of nostalgic sorrow, we shall say how psychoanalysis takes on board these new forms of books, written in real-time, that each individual drafts in his own image, a private Facebook that is more and more open towards the world, an exhibition of one’s own case under constant revision. However, Simone stands closer to Lacan in so far as he considers that media are not man’s extension, but on the contrary, man is the media’s extension. Is not the “I-object” a supplementary organ whose function is sought by the bloggers we are?

In this context of great disorder in the real[4], psychiatry has increasingly distanced itself from the constituent signs of psychosis in favour of the silence of the organs (to the point of losing all references, for example, in the case of Anders Behring Breivik). Meanwhile, psychoanalysis, rather than mourn the decline of the paternal imago, has revealed the arbitrariness of the father, its fictional dimension, in order to focus more and more on the formal envelope of the symptom. This is how it aims at the symptom’s core of jouissance in what is most real about it, which constitutes at the same time, for the speaking-being, his most singular anchoring point.

Many discourses attempt to give order to the world. Lacan formalised four of them, plus the capitalist discourse “which gnaws away at each of them” and where “it is the object a that rises to the zenith and redistributes the possible permutations”[5]. The conceptual shift in Lacan’s work which moves from the first to the second paternal metaphor corresponds to this movement of civilisation that is becoming plural[6]. It is no longer just the Name-of-the-Father, but the whole of language that takes charge of phenomena in which signification is stabilised. This Other which Lacan barred with a stroke to mark that it only takes its assurance from a fiction, this Other which therefore does not exist, forces each of us to produce the singularity of our trajectory.

In the papers for the Congress we will have to emphasize the symptomatic invention, the singular subjective bricolage called upon by the era of the Other that does not exist[7] and its “I-objects”. In other words, how does the subject make a language out of his symptom? How does he grasp hold of objects to turn them into functional organs? Éric Laurent points this out: it is from the psychotic subject that we must learn how, for each and every one of us, the whole of language takes charge of the effort of naming jouissance. Thus, the right way to be a heretic in psychoanalysis after Oedipus[8] would be “the one that, from having recognised the nature of the sinthome, does not hesitate to use it logically, that is to say, to use it until he reaches his real, after which his thirst is sated.”[9] To recognise the nature of the sinthome is to recognise the way in which “enjoying substance is taken up in language itself” and given order[10]. It is the language-organ that makes a subject a parlêtre, implying that at the same time as it gives him being it fobs him off with a having, his body. By significantizising them, organ-language plies the organs out of the body, which makes them problematic and requires that a function be found for them, without the aid of any established discourse, for the so-called schizophrenic.[11].

We can thus make the catalogue of psychotic inventions[12]: invention of a discourse, of a resource to be able to make use of his body in the case of the schizophrenic, invention of a relation to the Other to stay in the social bond in the case of the paranoiac, impossible invention in the case of the melancholic, invention of an anchoring point or an identification in the cases of ordinary psychosis. Furthermore, non-invention constitutes an equally interesting class, as the trauma of language appears there in its purity.

Our effort, says É. Laurent, is however the reverse of classificatory attempts. There is in psychoanalysis a horizon of the unclassifiable at which this effort aims, so that the symptom may designate the singularity of a subject. But this extension to the ordinary status of psychosis to “everyone is mad”, does not mean that everyone is psychotic. “One should not mix up the lessons to be learnt from the psychotic subject (which bear on the entirety of the clinical field) with a clinical category as such, making it the most sizeable category of our experience.”[13]. Thus, our enquiry should also explore “how the ordinary Name-of-the-Father of existence transforms once we have our horizon of the unclassifiable”[14]. And we shall find once again, with the dimension of the father as fiction, the typicality of psychosis, and the phenomena of triggering linked to the encounter with “A-father”, phenomena which do not concern invention.

Ordinary delusion is a geek’s effort of invention. “You can be sure that it’s a delusion when it stays at the level of One-by-himself […] Does it manage to form a social bond or not? Sometimes contingency plays a role. There are forms of delusion that one can clearly see cannot be socialized”[15]. But don’t religious fanaticism, authoritarian therapies, or even generalised evaluation, reveal a furious call to the father? To these triumphant forms of the collective, doesn’t psychoanalysis oppose an unheard-of response in so far as it is an experience of traversing the impasses of the “One-all-alone”? This is the question that our enquiry on psychosis in the geek era may contribute to solve.

Dominique Holvoet

Translated by Florencia Fernandez Coria Shanahan


[1] Geek: American slang term that originally referred to a person considered odd, perceived as overly intellectual. Gradually used more internationally on the Internet, the term is claimed by proponents of high-tech gadgets. According to the Oxford American Dictionary, the origin of the word is the Middle High German Geck, which means a fool, a mischievous, and the Dutch Gek which designates something crazy. (Source : Wikipedia)

[2] Laurent E., «Psychosis, or Radical Belief in the Symptom», Hurly-Burly Issue 8, October 2012, p. 243.

[3] Simone R., Pris dans la toile, l’esprit aux temps du web, Gallimard, French translation to be published on November 15th 2012. Original version in Italian: Presi nella rete. La mente ai tempi del web, Saggi, avril 2012.

[4] Reference to the title of the forthcoming WAP Congress in Paris in 2014. Conference by J-A Miller published in Lacan Quotidien 63, available on the NLS website.

[5] Laurent É. op. cit. p. 244.

[6] Miller J-A, Extimity, Course of 5th February 1986.

[7]Miller J-A, «Psychotic Invention», Hurly Burly Issue 8, October 2012, p. 263: «The Other doesn’t exist means that the subject is conditioned to becoming an inventor».

[8] Caroz G., See his excellent argument for PIPOL 6, «After Oedipus». The NLS Congress in Athens is thus inscribed within the perspective of the 2nd European Congress of Psychoanalysis, organised by the EuroFederation on July 6th and 7th 2013. (

[9] Lacan J., Le Séminaire, Livre XXIII, Le sinthome, (1975-1976), Paris, Seuil, 2005, p. 15.

[10] Laurent É., op. cit. p. 247.

[11] Lacan J., «L’étourdit» (1972), Autres écrits, Seuil, 2001, p. 474. «… from this real: that there is no sexual relation, by dint of the fact that an animal has a stabitat that is language, that dicking around in it [labiter] is likewise what forms an organ for his body – an organ which, so as to ex-sist unto him in this way, determines it from its function, and this happens even before he finds its function. It is even on this basis that he is reduced to finding that his body is not without other organs, and that the function they each hold poses a problem for him – which specifies the so-called schizophrenic [le dit schizophrène] on account of being caught without the aid of any established discourse.»

[12] Miller J.-A., «Psychotic Invention», Hurly-Burly Issue 8, October 2012.

[13] Laurent E., op. cit. p. 249.

[14] Laurent E., op. cit.

[15] Miller J.-A., op. cit., p. 268.


 Xth NLS Congress

Tel Aviv, 16 & 17 June 2012

Reading a Symptom


“It falls to me to reveal the title of the next Congress of the NLS, to justify it before you and set out a fewpoints of reflection that will be able to serve as markers when it comes to writing up the clinical texts this title calls for. * (…) The question was (…) one of determining what kind of stress, inflexion and impetus to be given to the theme of the symptom. I’ve weighed this up by drawing on the Course I give in Paris each week, where I examine Lacan and the practice of psychoanalysis today, this practice no longer being altogether that of Freud. Indeed, perhaps it is not at all that of Freud. Secondly, I weighed up the stress to be given to the theme ‘the symptom’ with regard to the place, Israel. And thus, all things considered, I have chosen the following title: Reading a Symptom. Those who read Lacan have no doubt recognised an echo of his remark in ‘Radiophonie’ that you will find on page 428 of the collection Autres écrits. He underlines that the Jew is ‘he who knows how to read’. This knowing how to read is what will be examined in Israel, knowing how to read in the practice of psychoanalysis.


Psychoanalysis isn’t simply a matter of listening, it is also a matter of reading. In the field of language, psychoanalysis doubtless finds its point of departure in the function of speech, but it refers it to writing. There is a gap between speaking and reading. Psychoanalysis operates in this gap. It exploits this difference.


For me, it is a question of highlighting the limits of ontology, the doctrine of Being. (…) My thesis is that the level of Being calls upon, necessitates, a beyond of Being. (…) Language has the function of bringing that which doesn’t exist into Being. (…) The real would be, as it were, a Being, but one that would not be a Being of language, one that would be untouched by the equivocations of language, one that would be indifferent to make-believe.


It is with regard to the symptom that we meet the burning question as to the correlation, the conjunction between the true and the real. In this sense, the symptom is Janus-like, two-faced, with a face of truth and a face of the real. What Freud discovered, and which was sensational at the time, was that a symptom can be interpreted like a dream, that it can be interpreted in accordance with a desire, and that it is a truth-effect. But, as you know, there is a second phase to this discovery: the symptom’s persistence after interpretation. Freud uncovered this as a paradox. (…) Our practice goes beyond the point Freudconsidered to be the end of analysis. (…) Of course, one passes through the moment of deciphering the truth of the symptom, but one gets to the symptomatic remainders and refrains from saying ‘stop’. The analyst doesn’t say ‘stop’ and nor does the analysand. During this period, the analysis consists in the subject’s direct confrontation with what Freud called symptomatic leftovers, and to which we give an altogether different status. Under the name of symptomatic leftovers, Freud came up against the real of the symptom. He came up against that which in the symptom falls wide of meaning.


Back in the second section of ‘Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety’, Freud was already characterising the symptom on the basis of what he called drive satisfaction, ‘as a sign of, and a substitute for [Anzeichen und Ersatz], a drive satisfaction which has remained in abeyance.’ (…)These two sections, along with the article as a whole, clearly need to be worked on with an eye to the next Congress. (…)

What singles out the body of the speaking being is the fact that his jouissance feels the impact of speech. Indeed, asymptom vouches for the fact that there has been an event that has marked his jouissance in the Freudian sense of Anzeichen, which introduces an Ersatz, a jouissance there ought not to be, a jouissance that troubles the jouissancethere ought to be, i.e. jouissance of its nature as a body. It is produced by the signifier. It is precisely this impact of the signifier that makes the symptom an event, and not simply a phenomenon. (…) This jouissance is notprimary, but it is primary with regard to the meaning the subjects gives it, and which he gives it through his symptom in as much as it can be interpreted.


In fact, what we listen for is always meaning. And meaning calls for more meaning. All the different psychotherapies stick at this level. They always wind up with thepatient having to listen to the therapist. For us, on the contrary, it is amatter of exploring what psychoanalysis is and what it can do at the level of reading strictly speaking, when one distances oneself from semantics. Here I would refer you to the precious indications on reading that can be found in Lacan’s text ‘L’Étourdit’, which you will find on page 491 and after, on the three knotting points of homophony, grammar and logic. Reading, knowing how to read, consists in putting distance between speech and the meaning itcarries, based on writing as outside-meaning, as Anzeichen, as letter, based on its materiality. Whilst (…) the interpretation that stays purely at the level of speech only swells up meaning, the discipline of reading targets the materiality of writing, i.e. the letter in so far as it produces the event of jouissance that is decisive for the formation of symptoms. Knowing how to read targets this initial shock, which stands as something like a clinamen of jouissance – clinamen is a term from the philosophy of the Stoics.

For Freud, since he started off from meaning, this presented itself as a leftover, but in fact this leftover is what lies at the very origin of the subject. It is, in a way, the original eventand, at the same time, a permanent event, one that is ceaselessly reiterated. (…) Addiction lies at the root of the symptom which is made from the reiteration of the same One. (…) It was in this sense that Lacan said the symptom is an et cetera, the return of the same event. (…)

Interpretation as knowing how to read aims at reducing the symptom to its initial formula, i.e. the material encounter between a signifier and the body, the pure shock of language on the body. So, admittedly, to treat the symptom you have to pass through the shifting dialectic of desire, but you also have to rid yourself of the mirages of truth that this deciphering brings you and aim beyond, at the fixity of jouissance and the opacity of the real. If I wanted to make this real speak, I would impute to it what the God of Israel says out of the midst of the burning bush, before issuing the commandments that clothe His real: I AM THAT I AM. 

*Jacques-Alain Miller, extracts from his‘Presentation of the Theme for the Tenth Congress of the NLS’, delivered at the NLS Congress in London, 3 April 2011.
The text in full will appear in the journal Mental 26 in French, and in English translation in Hurly Burly 6

(Translated from the French by Adrian Price)


The text of Jacques-Alain Miller’s presentation will serve as our basis for work in developing several axes: what becomes of the symptom in analysis (the symptom at the beginning and at the end); decipherable symptom and the non-decipherable sinthome; interpretation (on the side of meaning) and reading (on the side of the letter); singularity (a symptom) and types of symptoms (hysteric, obsessional, psychotic, the so called new symptoms…). We read Freud and Lacan, in the footsteps of Jacques-Alain Miller who re-reads the Lacan of the formations of the unconscious from the vantage point of Lacan’s last teaching – which does not make the former obsolete and does not save us from going on this route ourselves, by putting ourselves into the reading. A short bibliography and reference texts will be put online throughout the year of preparation for the Congress:

Anne Lysy

(translated by Natalie Wulfing)

9th NLS Congress

London, 2/3 April 2011
How Psychoanalysis Works

? Argument
? Bibliography
? Guiding texts
? Call for Papers
? Congress organisation
? Congress Registration
? Hotel list
? London Life
? Lunch at the Congress
? Saturday Dinner
? Towards London Blog

“How Psychoanalysis Works”. This is not a question, this is an assertion. Because psychoanalysis indeed works, contrary to what some noisily object to nowadays. Still, we need to account for it.The word ‘work’ (opèrer), used in an intransitive way, is a strong word. Coming from the Latin ‘operari’, which means ‘to work’, ‘to operate’ or ‘operation’, it involves an action that produces an effect, an “ordered sequence of acts that effect a transformation” (according to ‘Le Robert’). To say it in a matter of fact way: psychoanalysis changes something, it yields results. By what means and with what aim is what we will show.At the end of his teaching, Lacan said that for all these years he did not stop questioning his ‘co-practitioners’ “on the subject of knowing how they could possibly operate with words – I don’t say cure, one does not cure everybody. There are operations that are effective and that only happen with words.”[1] The power of the word was also what Freud, inventor of psychoanalysis, patiently gave account of to the supposed ‘impartial person’ who did not know anything of the ‘peculiarities of an analytic treatment’, whom he addressed in 1926 on Lay Analysis. The specific use of words in the meeting of a psychoanalyst with his patient is neither suggestion nor magic. The way words are used cannot be captured by other practices or any previous knowledge. Freud says: “analysis is a procedure sui generis, something novel and special, which can only be understood with the help of new insights – or hypotheses, if that sounds better.”[2] Freud considered that the hypothesis of the unconscious and the importance of sexuality in the determination of neurosis were the two ‘cornerstones’ of psychoanalytic theory, deduced from the experience.[3]To give our own account of how psychoanalysis works today, let us start from what our daily practice teaches us. Let us not hesitate to take things from the level of the phenomena. Let us ask ourselves what in a given case took place and what was at work. By doing this we will prove that this ‘how’ neither goes back to, nor culminates in a practical guide that prescribes procedures to follow for foreseeable and generalisable results. We verify again, as at the Congress of the WAP in 2004, that Lacanian practice is without standards, but that it is for all that not without principles.In order to orient ourselves, let us return to the ‘fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis’, as Lacan chose them from Freud in 1964, to revive them. Seminar XI is a very particular moment in his teaching, a rupture and a new departure, the stakes of which have often been illuminated by Jacques-Alain Miller. Lacan puts a series of four concepts in order: the unconscious, repetition, transference and the drive, with which he responds to the question of what founds psychoanalysis as ‘praxis’ [4], by speaking to an extended audience beyond the psychoanalysts who followed his teaching at that point.

For the unconscious to speak it needs someone who listens to it, said Jacques-Alain Miller in London, at the ‘Rally of the Impossible Professions’. A psychoanalyst distances himself from the dominant contemporary ideologies who do not believe in the unconscious.[5] He is interested in the things that are wrong, that fail, that defy mastery, and of which Lacan made the manifestation of the truth of a subject. This unconscious that ‘opens and closes’, that presents itself as hindrance and failure, how is it gotten hold of? How do we offer the possibility of surprise by proposing this special mode of speaking that is free association? What is our responsibility in an interpretation?
Repetition, in its insistence, is the missed encounter with the real, with what is inassimilable in the signifier, with what Freud called trauma. How do we bear it?
This real is at play in transference, in as much as it is defined as ‘enactment of the reality of the unconscious’, which is sexual. What place do we occupy in transference? What function do we have in it?
The drive circles the lost object, the object a, and yields in this same circuit its satisfaction; this is in no way equivalent to the good of the subject. The analytic operation allows the subject to detach himself from the identifications he was subjected to, and to recognise the jouissance that is his own. Under which conditions is this possible?

These basic concepts, says Lacan, are “what makes us certain of our practice”.[6] But there is something more. The whole seminar is traversed by the initial question: “What must there be in the analyst’s desire for it to operate in a correct way?” Contrary to the discourse of science, where the desire of the physician is not questioned, “the analyst’s desire can in no way be left outside our question”.[7] This desire is the spring of the operation. Lacan will respond in 1967 with the formalisation of the end of analysis and his concept of the act of the psychoanalyst. Thus, to the question of what could put someone in the position to support the analytic act he responded that a psychoanalyst is the product of his analysis, taken to its end.[8]

This question remains at the horizon of our next congress where we will give an account of the operativity of psychoanalysis starting from our practice in its multiple, but each time singular forms.

Anne Lysy

(Translated by Natalie Wulfing)


1- Lacan, J.; « Le phénomène lacanien », conférence à Nice (30.11.1974), in Cahiers cliniques de Nice, 1 June 1998, p. 14. (not translated/published in English)
2- Freud, S.; The Question of Lay Analysis [1926], Standard Edition (SE) vol 20, tr: Strachey, J., Hogarth Press, London, p.189/190
3- Freud, S.; On The History of the Psychoanalytic Movement [1914], SE 14, p.16
4- Lacan, J.; The Seminar, Book XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, tr. Sheridan, A., Penguin, London 1994, p. 6
5- Miller, J.-A.; ‘Closing Remarks at the Rally of the Impossible Professions, Against the False Promises of Security’, in Hurly-Burly, issue 1, 2009, p. 211
6- Op.cit, p. 263
7- Ibid.; p. 9 + 10
8- Lacan, J.; Proposition of 9 October 1967 on the Psychoanalyst of the School (Autres écrits, Paris, Seuil, 2001, pp. 243-259)
* published in English on the website of the London Society, tr. Grigg, R.:

Source: NLS Website

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After the Geneva Congress

The 8th NLS Congress “Daughter, Mother, Woman in the 21st Century”took place last weekend in Geneva in an atmosphere both studious and cordial. A large audience of nearly 350 people, who came from all over Europe and beyond, were able to appreciate the quality of the papers presented. The presentations were rewarded with illuminating comments from the session’s chairs.

We would like to thank in particular Jacques-Alain Miller for his participation. We would also like to thank Leonardo Gorostiza, president of the WAP, whose AS testimony on Sunday was an exceptional moment for us. Thanks to the participation of the Presidents of other Schools, the NLS is resolutely inscribed in the European movement of the Lacanian orientation. Lucia D’Angelo (ELP), Paola Francesconi (SLP), Jean-Daniel Matet (ECF), Vicente Palomera’s successor Gil Caroz (for the FEEP, newly named Euro-Federation of Psychoanalysis), are our partners in this movement.

This Congress, to which Pierre-Gilles Guéguen gave a firm outline a year ago, crowned his mandate as president of the NLS. We congratulate him for the work he has achieved. During this period I have appreciated our close collaboration, for which I wish to thank him warmly.

We would also like to thank Christiane Ruffieux and her colleagues of the ASREEP who organised this event and all that went with it. Not only was it flawless, it was also aesthetically pleasing and welcoming. According to its participants this always makes an NLS Congress particularly appealing.

Our next Congress will take place in London on the 2nd and 3rd April 2011, with the title “How Psychoanalysis Works”. The argument, presented last Sunday, will soon circulate on our lists. The organisation will be entrusted to Natalie Wülfing and our colleagues of the London Society. In all the groups of the NLS the preparation of the Congress will start in September through, amongst other things, the NLS Seminars and the Cartels. The preparatory documents will regularly be circulated on NLS-Messenger. Don’t forget to check the NLS website, where information will also be available.

Until then, we would like to wish all of you a pleasant summer

For the Executive Committee,

Anne Lysy – President

VIIIth Congress of the NLS
Geneva, 26th and 27th June 2010

Daughter, Mother, Woman in the 21st Century 


The 20th Century was the century of the emancipation of women and feminism.Freud already had to deal with a certain emancipation of women, as is patent in the cases of Dora and The Young Homosexual Woman. The social victories and the transformations of modes of jouissance which were gained have not for all that resolved the way in which women have to make do with semblants to “become a woman”, to quote Simone de Beauvoir’s famous phrase. In 1973 with his Seminar Encore, Lacan took part in the debate of the time.What is the place of love between the sexes today? How do couples come together and also how do they come apart? How do women live their jouissance and the mode of solitude it includes in our individualistic civilisation? How can they respond to the solicitations of medical technique with regard to procreation, for example, or the offer of plastic surgery? Many of these questions have taken on more weight in our society over the past ten years in parallel with the decline of the paternal function and the object’s ascent to the zenith.Equality in the workplace, the massive professionalisation of women (which Lacan already spoke of in his ‘Guiding Remarks for a Convention on Female Sexuality’), the dictatorship of the modern, standardised forms of masquerade, along with the choice now possible of the moment of pregnancy and the prolongation of the period of fertility all also have their down side. The liberalism of lifestyles, which heightens both a supposed symmetry between the jouissances and the incommensurable of feminine jouissance, pushes many feminine subjects towards an exaltation of love but also towards devastation (ravage). Such are the subjects, exhausted by the war between the sexes, lost in their jouissance, suffering from a solitude heightened by their troubles in love, who address themselves to psychoanalysis in order to find an answer to their questions on the feminine position.

It will be up to us, at our Congress, to examine the symptomatic forms of this position one by one.

As Dominique Laurent indicates in the Scilicet article ‘Woman’ in preparation for the WAP Congress: “From the Freudian anatomical lack to the lack of the signifier of The woman, the relationship of women to the semblant and to ‘a-speech’ (l’apparole) unfolds, to guard against this lack. So women know that it is up to them to give existence, in a singular fashion, one by one, to this being that has neither a signifying nor a libidinal essence.” It is a forced choice, a decidedly anti-biological one.

Our next Congress, which will take place in Geneva, is situated in continuity with the WAP Congress in Paris. The Societies and Groups of the NLS will thus be able to begin their work on the theme ‘Semblants and Symptoms’ which is the theme of the WAP, and further develop it in the dimension of what Eric Laurent has called ‘the Feminine Position of Being’.

The title of our Congress is therefore: ‘Daughter, Mother, Woman in the 21st Century’. It will be held in Switzerland, in the city of Geneva on 26th and 27th June 2010.

(Translated by Natalie Wulfing)