Report on the ICLO-NLS Clinical Conversation with Gustavo Dessal
Dublin, 26th January 2013
The fourth of the ICLO-NLS Seminar of the Lacanian Orientation with members of the World Association of Psychoanalysis whose general axis for 2012-14 is “The Names of the Real in the 21st Century” took place in St.Vincent’s Hospital Fairview on January 26th, on the topic “Savage Capitalism: The Ejected Ones” with Gustavo Dessal (AME, ELP, WAP).
Opening the seminar Gustavo evoked beautifully a disturbing image that had been familiar to him in the land of his birth by saying “An army of beings, coming out of from the outskirts, wandering the streets, they scavenge in rubbish, trying to find the waste that can be sold. Unfortunately the citizens have got used to this image, because as we know, even in the Old Testament, it was written that we have eyes not to see. In the morning, just a short time before the light opens a new day, another valiant army will delete all traces left by the night visitors, creating a never-ending circuit that could remind us of the cycle of nature but with the difference that this one has been produced by men in contradiction to all natural laws. The world, its movement and its dynamic has turned into a huge machine that generates waste.”
With this image in mind, the conversation was initially about material waste but quite quickly focused on human waste, that is, humans used as waste. Piles of waste, of residue are accumulated and transported from one place to another; the growing mounds of waste has resulted in unimaginable incomes – reminding me of that old English saying ‘where there’s muck there’s brass (money). Every day thousands of ships loaded with containers move the electronic and computer trash from the first world to developing countries that as a consequence have been turned into real dumps. In some parts of Africa the natural landscape has been changed as a result of the toxic waste being dumped there.
However, there is another kind of waste, more troubling and much more difficult to reduce or make disappear – that is human waste. This human waste cannot be treated the same as industrial waste; human beings can be treated as objects via a jouissance of which the subject nothing. Gustavo tells us that “man enjoys where he thinks to think and that his thought – whatever it might be – is moulded by a jouissance of which he knows nothing”. This jouissance informs not alone his thoughts and fantasies but also his actions in relation to himself and his fellow human beings and theirs to him.
Inequality has always been part of human existence and we look to the past to understand the specific of our present time. The specific of our time in the history of civilization is the extraordinary process of sublimation that produces what psychoanalysis calls the Name-Of-The-Father. Gustavo spoke about the structuring effects of the Name-Of-The-Father on the subject, giving him a key signifier, a master signifier that gives him some stability and allows him to build a fiction more of less sufficient to bear and manipulate the real.
The Name-Of-The-Father is a function that for many centuries ruled the order of the world; it was able to contain everything within this order, this symbolic order where things found their place and their legitimacy. In the master/slave relationship the slave was part of the symbolic world by virtue of being an object for the master; the master assumed responsibilities and duties to his slaves.
Modern science contributed greatly to the dismantling of the symbolic order established by the privilege of the Name-Of-The-Father.
Like God, the Name-Of-The-Father has left the stage opening a new era where rationality is detached from ethics, and the management of people and things is delivered with the logic of science and capitalism. Modernity has produced a completeness of the world; this discourse of modernity does not allow for the existence of an outside, an alternative discourse. The outside only exists through the ejected waste, especially the human waste.
The movement of modern science since the time of Galileo is about the objectification of people and the personification of objects.
Material and human waste form a new real; in this case a real out of sense, a real non-regulated by the predictability of a law, a real produced by a discourse that pretends to get rid of any type of liability that concerns the cost.
Gustavo tells us that in Seminar 17 Lacan says that science is a discourse that wants to know nothing of the cost of its desire and he made reference to two books that deal with the subject of human waste.
The first book is Roberto Saviano’s Gomorrah, where in the opening page of Chapter One, the author writes about a container being unloaded at the port of Naples ‘The hatches which had been improperly closed, suddenly sprang open, and dozens of bodies started raining down. They looked like mannequins. But when they hit the ground their heads split open, as if their skulls were real. And they were. Men, women even a few children, came tumbling out of the container. All dead. Frozen, stacked one on top of another, packed like sardines’. The container disgorges the corpses of Chinese people who had laboured in another country and wished to be buried in a hole in Chinese soil. After their use as workers was finished, they were treated like waste, waste to be disposed of.
The second book written by Harald Welzer is Climate Wars: What People Will Be Killed for in the 21st Century. Welzer shows how climate change and violence go hand in hand. He predicts an increase of violence generated by the climate change as a result of a suicidal manipulation of the real. Gustavo quotes from Welzer, ‘the climatic change is not only an issue of environmental policy of high urgency but at the same time, it will turn into one of the most social challenges of modernity, threatening the opportunities of survival of millions of people forcing them to mass emigration. This poses the inevitable question of how to deal with this migration of irregular masses, who can no long live in those places where they belong and who want to share in the chances of survival of the privileged capitalists’.
In the last century Freud in wrote in Civilization and its Discontents that men are not gentle, friendly creatures, but that a powerful measure of desire for aggression has to be reckoned as part of their instinctual endowment. The result Gustavo tells us “is that their neighbour is not just a helper or sexual object but a temptation for them to gratify their aggressiveness, to exploit his capacity for work without recompense, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and kill him”.
Today in the world of technology people are viewed from an economic perspective, reduced to costs, benefits and losses. Techno politics are our newest and most dramatic form of our discontent which is reflected in a jouissance without limits and constraints. Psychoanalysis has few weapons to fight against this but psychoanalysts ask ‘how to do’ with these modern symptoms. At the moment the debate is full of questions rather than real actions.
At this stage, the conversation paused to allow the audience to pose questions and in answer to some of the questioners, Gustavo spoke of how previously science was the science of the impossible whereas in magic everything was possible. Technology is a consequence of science, now technology has achieved its own power and has almost outpaced science and is coming closer to magic.
He underlined that psychoanalysis is not a rival to science; psychoanalysis is a consequence of the scientific discourse. The possibility of psychoanalysis was not able to be imagined without modern science. Psychoanalysis is closer to, but at the same time relative to the discourse of science. In today’s world we are treated as objects by politicians and bankers – basically we are numbers. We consent to this, we are objects of the jouissance of others and capitalism exploits this, it takes advantage of our structure, it exploits our structure. Consumerism is a way of ruling, ordering jouissance by way of the objects of jouissance. The object has a very important function for the human being. Human beings need objects but not in this unlimited way. With regards to a ‘lack of being’, there are two ways for this to be completed; either with ideals or with objects. We can have strong ideals and have no need for objects or have strong objects and no need for ideals. If one has neither then it is dangerous for the subject. Heretofore we had narratives (ideals) now we have objects instead of narratives – there is an addiction to objects.
In the afternoon Alan Rowan and Susan McFeely presented two clinical cases. In the first case the theme of the ejected ones was continued with the presentation of case of a subject whose underlying melancholic position was somewhat veiled by drug addiction. This subject was in the place of not having ideals but of having an object, albeit a destructive object. The effect of the psychoanalytic treatment has allowed him to reduce his drug use, and part of the discussion focused on the direction of his on-going treatment.
The second case was a study in female hysteria where the father exerted an overwhelming influence on his daughter’s life causing much anxiety and difficulty in her adulthood. The case captured the movements within the treatment that allowed the subject to make use of her symptom. As Gustavo said it was a case where ‘there is a happy ending’, thus ending our Clinical Conversation for the day
On behalf of ICLO members I would like to thank Gustavo for a thought provoking and enlivening conversation followed by much discussion.
Claire Hawkes (ICLO)
Report on the ICLO-NLS Clinical Conversation with Laure Naveau
Dublin, 1st of December 2012
The third clinical conversation with members of the WAP in the series for 2012-2013 entitled “The Names of the Real in the 21st Century” took place on the 1st of December in St Vincent’s Hospital Fairview in Dublin. In the morning, Laure Naveau (ECF, WAP, AE 2004-2007) spoke to the title of “Anxiety, signal of the Real”(*).
She began by emphasizing the importance of J.-A. Miller’s statement that we should take an interest in the idea that there is “a great disorder in the real”. Laure proposed to focus on the words disorder and anxiety in this context. She said that the disorder that should be of concern to psychoanalysis is political because the status of the real has changed due to the domination of the discourse of science and capitalism. These discourses have effectively destroyed the traditional structure of human experience. “The real is lawless” and Laure said that the modern master seeks to find a mass solution to this disorder. This is not the way of psychoanalysis.
Psychoanalysis, she said accompanies the subject to the radically singular real of the One-All-Alone to which the symptom is hooked at its root. For psychoanalysis it is crucial to disturb the defence against the real. Here we find the connection to anxiety. Laure said that anxiety is the affect that indicates something of the real. Thus this anxiety has to be faced and not avoided or erased. This then can lead to an awakening which should allow the subject to cross the barrier of anxiety. An effect of the crossing can be that anxiety is symptomatized into what Lacan called a “productive anxiety”. Laure suggested that production here can also imply an involvement in psychoanalysis as a material and political force.
Towards the end of her seminar Laure came back to anxiety and explored the difference between men and women. She argued that for Lacan in a certain sense, namely, her relationship to the real, woman lacks nothing and she is therefore more free and closer to the real. Regarding man, he has something to lose, namely, the phallic object and his anxiety pertains to being “put out of the game” in the sexual encounter. Laure then said that it takes time in an analysis to consent to this fall of the object such that a new kind of desire can be reached, one that is hopefully freer.
She finished the seminar by referring to the difference between the object of desire and the object cause of desire and it is indeed when we can consent to the fall of this latter object that desire can become more productive. However, in order to do so one has to cross anxiety as a signal of the real and thus, Laure concluded, anxiety is our compass, our orientation in the analytic clinic. Indeed, is it not possible to say that this orientation via anxiety is more pertinent then ever in a contemporary clinic which is dominated by consumption and external solutions that put the subject to sleep?
In the afternoon session, Lorna Kernan and Florencia Shanahan shared two extremely interesting clinical presentations. There were similarities between them in that in both anxiety played a huge role, but, there were, of course, crucial differences and this then lead to a conversation between Laure, the two speakers and the audience on questions of diagnosis, ordinary psychosis, hysteria, melancholic elements without a melancholic structure and the psychoanalytic act.
The day was an important one in the formation of members and participants of ICLO. On behalf of ICLO-NLS we would like to thank Laure for her enormous generosity and her committed transmission.
Rik Loose (ICLO-NLS)
(*) To be here published soon
REPORT ON ICLO-NLS OPEN SEMINAR
Dublin, 20th October 2012
On Saturday 20th October, ICLO-NLS held the first of its two open seminars for this year on Lacan and the Arts. The title of this event was “All Our Fathers: Literature and Psychoanalysis in Dialogue” with Carlo Gébler. The event was held in the Dublin Writers Museum and it was very well attended with many people participating in the dialogue. Indeed these open seminars have been specifically organised qua structure and content with the larger public in mind.
Florencia Shanahan (chair of ICLO-NLS) opened the seminar. She began by asking the question what psychoanalysis can learn from the artist. She explained that based on Freud and Lacan it is indeed important to ask the question what psychoanalysis can learn from the artist rather than how psychoanalysis can be applied to art. In introducing the day as an exploration of the functions of the father and of writing, she quoted J-A Miller on ‘reading one’s own unconscious’: “…that book of which only one copy has been printed, whose virtual text you carry everywhere with you and where the script of your life is written, or at least its rough draft”. She thanked the artist Clodagh Kelly for providing the painting for the poster.
Then the writer Carlo Gébler spoke about his life, his work, his relationships with his parents, more especially his father. He spoke for well over an hour. His was a dazzling performance that fascinated everyone in the audience. Particularly outstanding was his openness about his experiences and his vulnerabilities. He said that his writing had a lot to do with being recognized by his father; he wrote for his father. Carlo had been introduced by the psychoanalyst and Trinity College scholar (emeritus) Ross Skelton. After Carlo’s enthralling talk Ross conducted a brief interview with him dealing with such questions as the relationship between analysis and writing. After this interview a lively conversation took place between Carlo and the audience. In this conversation what was explored, amongst many other things, was the question of writing as a form of therapy. Carlo had mentioned that he had been in analysis and made the point that for him writing was very much of therapeutic value, as he called it.
After the coffee break everyone returned for a session called “Psychoanalytic Perspectives on the Father”. This section of the seminar was chaired by Lorna Kernan. Three ICLO members presented papers on the question of the father. Claire Hawkes presented an overview of Freud’s ideas on the topic, whereby she especially concentrated on The Oedipus Complex, Totem and Taboo and the Father from Moses and Monotheism. She finished her paper by referring to Irish writer Frank O’Connor’s beautiful short story “My Oedipus Complex”. The second paper in this section was presented by Joanne Conway. She spoke Lacan’s perspective on the crucial problem of the father. She argued that there is still an element of anatomical/biological reductionism involved in the Freudian conceptions of the father. Rather than considering the real protagonists Lacan emphasized the structure that is at stake in the question of the father, at least that was the case of the Lacan of the 1950’s with his emphasis on the Name-of –the-Father and the paternal metaphor. She said that in terms of the drives the operation of the paternal metaphor imputes a mediating effect permitting other pathways the child can enjoy. However, she also mentioned that already as far back as 1938 Lacan was concerned about what he called then the degradation of the paternal imago; an idea that would be taken up by the third and last speaker Alan Rowan. He spoke about the changed idea and function of the father in modern society. He outlined a number of contemporary changes, such as mothers increasingly participating in work, single parent families and other socio/cultural/economic factors. In place of the paternal function we are nowadays talking about a parental function. He argued that the changed role of the father has consequences for the way we suffer. He also brought to our attention the crucial idea that “our question concerning fatherhood in the twenty first century cannot be separated from the question of the symbolic in the twenty first century”, i.e., we live in a globalised world and one the side effects of this is, as J-A Miller has pointed out, that the subject is today, more than before, without a compass. Towards the end of his presentation he said that it is in this context that we must pose the question of the nature of a fatherhood that can no longer rely on an ideal or grander narrative.
It was this last point that became the starting point of a lively discussion with the audience after Carlo Gébler and Ross Skelton had been invited back to the podium for a panel discussion with the presenters and the audience. Amongst the many themes that were discussed and debated was the idea of parenthood and the changed reality of what fathers and mothers are for – and how they relate to – their children. Questions were raised and debated as to how this related to feminism and even how the changed father-role could have possibly be one of the factors that contributed to the rise of fascism in the 20th century. I will leave the last word to Carlo Gébler: If there is anything that determined me as a writer and as a person, it is the voices of my parents.
Rik Loose (ICLO-NLS)
Report on ICLO-NLS Study-Day: “How Do We Suffer? The Symptom in Psychoanalysis”
Dublin, May 12th 2012
The Study-Day punctuated the ICLO-NLS 2011-2012 calendar of events – a programme that included the work of cartels, reading groups, seminars and clinical conversations – and whose thrust was guided by the forthcoming Xth NLS conference, Reading a Symptom, in Tel Aviv on Saturday June 16 and 17, 2012.
The Study-Day set out to interrogate the crucial notion of the symptom from a psychoanalytical perspective and certainly achieved this through a series of engaging and questioning papers which explored the topic theoretically alongside rich clinical vignettes. As the papers unfolded throughout the day, lively discussions ensued, sparking an array of questions and providing an engaging atmosphere from what was certainly a diverse audience. Anne Lysy drew the day together in her closing remarks after hearing papers from Claire Hawkes, Alan Rowan and Marlene ffrench Mullen, case presentations from Susan Mc Feely, Joanne Conway and Florencia Shanahan, with Anne herself, Rik Loose and Carmel Dalton chairing throughout the day.
Alan Rowan introduced Study-Day and welcomed everyone, most especially guest speaker Anne Lysy, current President of the New Lacanian School (NLS), current Analyst of the School (nominated after undergoing the Pass in 2010), member of the Ecole de la Cause Freudienne (ECF) and of the World Association of Psychoanalysis (WAP) and a psychoanalyst in Brussels.
He remarked how this Study-Day was an important first for ICLO-NLS, and how it was hoped it would become an annual and pivotal event for ICLO members and associates, adding that the Irish Circle had its status confirmed recently as an Affiliated Group of the NLS (having been “recognized as significant pole of Lacanian Psychoanalysis in the English language”).
Alan went on to remind us that society today is more symptomatic, with, for example, depression described as an “epidemic” with current figures of 121 million worldwide and a World Health Organisation prediction that this master signifier will affect 0.5 per cent of the population by 2020.
We can, Alan continued, see that the world is full of addiction -with people consumed by the Internet, fashion and television, etc., leading to a range of new symptoms, thereby eliciting a range of responses with advice on how to cope evident across the media on web sites, TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. Indeed, Alan concluded, how to manage is, in itself, a symptom.
Rik Loose posed some questions ahead of the first presentation: how can we identify the analytic symptom and how do we decipher the symptom? The symptom has to be read and has to do with the body, being a reading based on a written in or on the body as in, say, addiction where we see the symptom naked treating the real of the body with jouissance.
These questions were addressed in “Deciphering the Psychoanalytic Symptom” where Claire Hawkes talked about patients presenting with many difficulties and demands that mask identifying symptoms from inhibitions. Claire’s research drew support from an array of papers (Freud, Lacan, J-A Miller and others) into what constitutes the psychoanalytic symptom and how the analyst via the transference is implicated in this process. The paper explored how psychoanalysis uses speech and how revelation, not expression, is produced for the subject by interpretation. The symptom can only acquire meaning after interpretation by the Other, which transforms suffering into truth and has an effect on organising and regulating jouissance. Claire concluded that it is through the symptom that the subject has access to jouissance and that psychoanalysis does not aim to eliminate the symptom, but to transform it.
In the morning’s second paper, “Symptomatic Love”, what can we garner from the findings of Alan Rowan’s detour onto the Internet to glimpse some of the 100 best quotes on love, where Dr Seuss is the top man in at No 1 and Benjamin Disraeli is relegated to 100th? We can be struck by one fact: four million people were curious about this enigmatic state and landed on the site to find the words to say it with. Alan went on to say that love has a social dimension and is tied up with the social bond, but can we talk about love as a symptom? What is this wanting to form a ‘we’ with a shared and new identity? As a Freudian symptom, love is born of conflict and a cipher for a mode of jouissance/enjoyment and is a mode of satisfaction, whereas for Lacan, one gives what one does not have. Freud stated that in love one re-finds an object, that one falls in love with someone who reflects us and is similar but there are preconditions for love that are unconscious. Love and the sexual drive are not the same thing, and in men there is a separation of sex and love. For Lacan, love is a semblance through which jouissance can flow, but a man can become a ‘ravage’, an affliction.
Society is obsessed by love as the lynchpin that permeates our daydreams and fantasy through film, novels and songs and the plethora of self-help books to find the real thing. But along with all that obsession, love relationships are the cause of much suffering and discontent, evidenced by current statistics of divorce rates in the US at 50 per cent and the staggering realisation that 50 percent of New York homes are categorised ‘singletons’, i.e., living alone. Sextainment is alive and well with 40 per cent using on-line dating. And what is changing with love and sexuality has consequences for our work.
After lunch, Marlene ffrench Mullen posed a series of searching questions in “The Symptom and the Body –What Body?’ Or ‘The Symptom and the Real – What Real?’”. Marlene began by drawing attention to how Lacan, because he revised many of his central concepts such as the Name-of-the-Father, truth and meaning, object a, jouissance and the real, changed his conceptualization of the end of analysis leading to, in latter years, to the forging of the sinthome. Why did he change the status of the object a and formalize it as a semblant? Why is it that the object a as real, as a jouissance extracted from the body through the signifier, is no longer adequate? Marlene spoke about how Lacan showed how, under certain conditions, the death drive may appear. At the end of analysis, one realizes the horror of what one is as an object. It was listening Pierre-Gilles Gueguen’s “Lacan’s Joyce: The Sinthome” (January 14, 2012) which drew Marlene to puzzle what is the difference between the realization of what one is as an object and the symptom as real that forces you to face your own masochism? Could this be a reference to Freud, when he states that the resistance due to repression, and the resistance contributed by the superego, may be conjoined in ‘need to be ill or the sufferer’? Perhaps there is a relation between the notion of primal repression and primal masochism? Marlene took these central questions and began her research to find answers but said that, despite her investigations at this time, she did not find a satisfying result. Nevertheless, for us listeners, the effect of such pivotal questions was an opening.
There were three case presentations, paired with and complementing the above papers. In “Is this a Ruse or a Rouse?” case study, Susan McFeely described a case of psychosis in a drug user, where the client could be described as adrift , but minded, in a place where things happen to him, and where the phallus does not operate but is produced via drugs. The object a is suspended and his many ‘slips’ allow him to disappear and so avoid the desire of the Other. Joanne Conway’s case study of “’You make me sick!’ Impasses, Obstacles and Invalidated Train Tickets” documented a neurosis, where meaning can paralyze and the signifier mobilises a symptom and a negative transference forges an impasse. The client fears being forgotten and questions “what am I for the others” and a demand to master the Other with a vacillation of the Other – the barred O.
And in “Impair’: Symptom, Letter and Psychosis”, the final case study of the day, Florencia Shanahan spoke about how the symptom in psychosis may be a body event, not a thought event, and elaborated on the status of the letter and the function of the symptom. In neurosis, the symptom is inscribed in a writing process between the body and the subject, and the jouissance included in it is ciphered, which gives it a meaning. It is the unconscious that ciphers; outside of meaning, the letter of jouissance repeats itself without saying anything to anyone. Finally this lead to the question: what is the place of the letter in psychosis?
The closing remarks were by the guest speaker, Anne Lysy, who said that during the Study-Day there was broad reference to Freud’s work and Lacan’s teaching, which are the tools with which we work. She said she was “very struck and happy” by the way in which these tools have been researched, with the speakers utilising that knowledge in the papers presented today. It was clear that through the enunciation of the ‘whys’ that the personal quests have implications for everyone’s own practice and with the formation of the analyst and the necessity of supervision and one’s own analysis. She described the psychoanalytic act as unique – a moment – that is always in the singularity of the case. She went on to speak about the symptom, which is not a given at the beginning of an analysis but has to be “put into form” (Lacan says) in the first sessions, and how the symptom is transformed from the beginning of analysis to the end of analysis – but not in a continuous line as it is a question. There is always a symptom and, as the first link of language and body, of course, it remains. A symptom, she continued, has a dimension of the real, it does not change. It is the position of the subject towards the symptom that changes, but a kernel of jouissance remains. Anne Lysy thanked everyone for their work and said she enjoyed the “very agreeable atmosphere”.
And we extend our gratitude and thanks to Anne Lysy for travelling to Dublin to preside over this, the first ICLO-NLS Study-Day, and for joining us as we mark the occasion of the closing of this year’s programme of events.
Lorna Kernan (ICLO)
Report on the ICLO-NLS Clinical Conversation with Jean-Pierre Klotz
Dublin, 18th February2012
The ICLO (Irish Circle of the Lacanian Orientation) is the newest group of the NLS. It allows members of the WAP to come and work with the members of this Circle and those attracted to Lacan, his teaching, and his orientation. It is also another opportunity to speak in English about psychoanalysis, this time in Dublin, in the margins of Europe, towards the high seas, in the city of James Joyce: the stage where his childhood and his works take place – one of his first books, Dubliners, even has the name of the inhabitants – even though he did not live there much at the time he wrote them; It is today at the heart of a world crisis that has restarted an emigration inscribed in the local history from long ago, although thwarted in recent years by a reverse flow. This gives a lively and magnificent city, cosmopolitan and furious (the first British “colonial” city, famous for its Georgian houses, its Trinity College, its Saint-Patrick’s cathedral with the tomb of Jonathan Swift, its countless pubs and their Guinness-soaked atmosphere), and also a pleasant place to converse at St. Vincent’s Hospital Fairview where some of our colleagues work. There, Ireland, Argentina, Flanders, England and Germany meet for a lively and pleasantly collective work, as befits the young environment who face the always renewed effects of the discontent in civilization.
The theme for the year is “Symptom-Fantasy-Sinthome”, the programme priviledges the format of a conversation, with “theoretical” presentations in the morning, presentation of clinical cases in the afternoon, and discussion throughout. I had proposed as title “The symptom as the frame of the analytic experience”, seeking to argue from the start that the symptom is what one does not get rid of, whether at the beginning or at the end [of an analysis]. It also does justice to the infinite considerations about the frame of the [analytic] experience which have not ceased to return throughout the history of the psychoanalytic movement outside of Lacan. But the symptom is not an ‘all’, even if the temptation of “a point, that’s all” may come back in relation to it, even if one says that there is no way out of it. The frame, moreover, has its Freudian-Lacanian dignity, with that of the fantasy, window towards the Real, marking a limit towards a beyond, from the object gaze. It is however less evoked for the symptom, which includes a Real that is not less excluded, but without which it does not “hold”. And it is the occasion to introduce the sinthome, of which Lacan made the name of Joyce the Dubliner. As for the frame, the conversation allowed us to introduce it as leaking (as leaking frame), like a barrel. The symptom is what sets the tone1.
The clinical presentations in the afternoon: one by Natalie Wulfing who travelled from London, allowing us to benefit from a case of the analysis of an artist, finely and delicately put into function; the other by Linda Clarke, who evoked her experience as a practioner dealing with major socio-clinical difficulties. Both allowed us to continue the discussions initiated in the morning. The atmosphere remained studious, cheerful, sharp and vivid, capturing new faces and new talents.
The Ireland of Lacanian psychoanalysis, which has a long but little known history, finally has a true and solid foundation. It will thrive, provided that it remains faithful to the energy, the innovations and the contradictions that the green Erin of the Gaels has always known how to make prosper.
1Play of words between ‘tonneau’ (barrel) and ‘ton’ (tone) = ‘tonn-eau’ (tone-water homophonous with your water). [Reference to Lacan's use of 'the barrel of the Danaides'.]
Report on the ICLO-NLS Clinical Conversation with Pierre-Gilles Guéguen
Dublin, 14th January 2012
The fourth of the ICLO-NLS Clinical Conversation Series 2011/12 took place on Saturday January 14th 2012 in Dublin. Pierre-Gilles Guéguen, spoke on “Lacan’s Joyce: The Sinthome”.
Alan Rowan introduced our guest speaker and set the scene by reciting two poems to illustrate Joyce’s epiphanies.
Pierre-Gilles began by saying that he was delighted to share with us what he had learned from the discussions with Jacques-Alain Miller in Montpellier dedicated to the study of the Seminar 23 Le sinthomein 1975-76 and Richard Ellmann’s biography of James Joyce.
Pierre-Gilles emphasized that throughout his teaching Lacan conceptualized the end of analysis in very different ways because his conception of the central notions such as the Name-of-the-Father, truth and meaning, object a, jouissance and the Real changed. Pierre-Gilles illustrated the movement in Lacan’s thinking from the symptom as decipherable and able to be dissipated through the process of analysis to the sinthome where the end of analysis consists in becoming able to do something with the remains of one’s symptom. Like Joyce, the subject becomes able to use his sinthome for whatever he wants.
Lacan studied Joyce’s writing very carefully with Jacques Aubert during the course of this seminar. It is in this seminar that Lacan introduces the term ‘Sinthome’ from the Greek spelling of Symptom. It was forged by Lacan to describe the case of Joyce. Lacan is very sensitive to Joyce’s making of oneself – Joyce’s writing is an effort to rebirth. Lacan considers Joyce’s sinthome as the symptom par excellence. Joyce is the sinthome. It describes a special use of the symptom. With his writing, his sinthome, Joyce managed to cut the flow of meaning and thereby not to become mad. In other words, Joyce’s writing allowed him to forge a proper name for himself ‘James Joyce The Artist’ and to maintain the social bond which stabilized his existence.
Lacan makes a distinction between sinthomadaquin (Saint Thomas d’Aquin) and sint’home rule. He puts God, the Name-of-the-Father and truth on the side of sinthomadaquin, and efforts to settle the war and the real on the side of sint’home rule. Joyce would be on the side of the sint’home rule.
Pierre Gilles indicated that these distinctions were very important. The metaphor of the Name-of-the-Father introduces the subject linked to the other and to phallic signification. If you believe in the Name-of-the-Father, you also believe that there is a truth somewhere. Phallic signification is really the truth of the relationship of the subject to the Other. The unconscious is anchored in the relationship with the Other. In other words, the Unconscious is the discourse of the Other and therefore the basis for the transferential unconscious.
Lacan says that the sinthome is what is more real. It does not mean it is consistent or solid. It is something that has to do with the category of the Real and it will inaugurate the movement from the transferential unconscious to the unconscious as real.
Until 1964 in Seminar XI, the process of analysis is a process of hysterization of the analysand. The analysis is a process of remembering. It was thought that remembering could erase or decipher the repression and that the subject could fill in the blanks in his own history. There was the hope in Lacan that the process of hysterization and the exploration of meaning could bring the analysand to his own desire and that the symptom could disappear. In seminar 20 Lacan realizes that the meaning or the deployment of signification in the cure is endless because it is in itself a jouissance, a sens-jouis. There is also a jouissance in the process of deciphering. From then on Lacan puts the emphasis on how to stop the flowing of meaning in an analysis. There is a satisfaction that cannot be analyzed further – a satisfaction that the analysand has to deal with. From then on Lacan interrogates how to stop this hemorrhaging of meaning in a patient and questions how to interpret.
Lacan responds to this in Seminar 20 where he describes the object a as a semblant. Initially, in Lacan’s teaching you could think that this object a was the real, that it was a jouissance that had to be extracted from the body through the signifier. But the Real is what is impossible (to change, to say, etc.). Thus, the symptom is what one has closest to the real. It is closest to what is impossible to say, to change or write. It is in that sense that he will use the sinthome a propos to Joyce.
In Lacan’s later teaching, there is a devaluation of the truth. In the first period the truth supersedes the real. Finding the truth of one’s desire was the final aim of analysis. At the moment of Joyce the Real supersedes the truth.
The truth has been put into question and also the big Other. The Other as the treasure of signifiers, that treasure that would produce an absolute truth is unreliable. In the second period, that of Joyce, the Other appears incomplete and inconsistent. The object is a semblant. What we have to attain is the symptom in its consistency as real, as impossible to go beyond, as impossible to analyze more and to be able to make use of it. How can one make use of the symptom and no longer be concerned with deciphering its meaning and create a solution as Joyce has done with his “literally” (literal) symptom?
In Seminar 23, Lacan says that this distinction between the truth and the Real goes back to Freud. In Freud, the distinction between the truth and the real is obvious. The truth pleases you and that is what distinguishes it from the real, the real does not please. Freud realized that the jouissance of the Real entails masochism. In his 1919 paper “A Child is Being Beaten’ he realizes the masochism of the unconscious fantasy. In 1920 Freud introduces the Real with the death drive in “Beyond the PleasurePrinciple”.
Pierre-Gilles commented on Lacan formalization of the object a in Seminar XI with regards to the painting of the ambassadors. One is enchanted with the scene of the beautiful intelligent young men and then in the gaze appears the death-drive under the representation of the skull that appears before you under certain conditions. The patient realizes the horror of what he is as an object. This is the theme of the object as the identification of the analysand to the object a at the end of analysis, that which is most horrifying in himself. At this time, the object a is still part of the body and contains the real. While in the seminar on Joyce, Lacan formulates that the object a is not a part of the body, the an object is a semblant. What is horrifying, what forces you to face your own masochism, is the symptom as real, the real of jouissance. Lacan remodels the idea of the object a to make the distinction between the real and truth.
At the beginning of his teaching, Lacan had the idea that the effect of Name-of-the-Father, of the law of the father, had a humanizing, a pacifying effect.
In the seminar on Joyce Lacan points out that Joyce does not need the pacification of the Name-of-the-Father to organize a world of his own to manage the jouissance of his masochism.
Pierre-Gilles also drew attention to the fact that it is not at all obvious why the Name-of-the-Father was foreclosed for Joyce. Lacan’s position is that Joyce managed to do without the Name-of-the-Father by making use of the father. Lacan uses “Portrait of the artist…” to demonstrate this point. Joyce is battered by his friends and Lacan studies that as very important. At some moment Joyce says he felt that his body was falling apart, the anger falling off as a fruit’s skin. This is for Lacan the signature of Joyce’s psychosis. He compares it to the hallucination of the cut of the finger of the Wolfman. It is something that stays encapsulated in a memory that does not belong to the hysterization of the subject. It stays out of the meaning of his life. Lacan hypothesizes these as the elements of Joyce’s psychosis or Joyces’s Verwerfung of the Name-of-the-Father.
Pierre-Gilles finally highlighted a further movement in Lacan’s Seminar 23 where he distinguishes for the first time foreclosure de-facto from regular foreclosure.
As a result of Joyce being unable to use the Name-of-the-Father, Joyce appealed to something that was to supersede the Name-of-the-Father with his proper name, with building a name for himself. This making a name for himself has been very important in the stabilization of Joyce’s psychosis. It is not an effect of narcissism. It is the basis of why he was able to be the artist. Theprayer to the father at the end of “Portrait…” is a call for a name for himself. In other words, Joyce uses the father to be able to go beyond the father.
The event was well attended, with clinical presentations in the afternoon by Alan Rowan and Claire Hawkes, which allowed us to discuss with the audience the notion of the sinthome inLacanian psychoanalysis and its relevance to our practice.
ICLO-NLS wishes to thank Pierre-Gilles Guéguen for a stimulating day of work and for his singular contribution to the transmission of the Lacanian Orientation in Ireland.
Marlene ffrench Mullen, ICLO
Report on the ICLO-NLS Clinical Conversation with Antoni Vicens
Dublin, 3rd December 2011
On December 3rd 2011 we welcomed Antoni Vicens (ELP, WAP) in Ireland, who came to speak to us about “The Lessons of Ordinary Psychosis”.
Antoni Vicens introduced the session by speaking of his first experience of Ordinary Psychosis from the perspective of himself as a subject. Drawing on some of the elements he has testified to as AE, he accounted for the singular relationship he developed with the French language as a barrier against a very early encounter with the desire of the Other marked by psychosis.
He then quoted Lacan and Jacques-Alain Miller’s hypotheses that psychosis can be compatible with ordinary life, explaining and developing Lacan’s late statement: “we are all delusional”.
Vicens proposed that some of the subjects we may diagnose as being ordinary psychotics know nothing of their condition, living a stabilised existence without the support of a discourse. In discussing Miller’s theory of Ordinary psychosis, he described that the subject may hear voice but will not know he hears voices, this is how his life is, there is no difference. If there is a change in his existence this could be what brings the subject into treatment. To further discuss these points Vicens made use of some of the notions Jacques-Alain Miller has developed in his recent Seminar, on the distinction between ‘being’ and ‘existence’. In Ordinary psychosis, Vicens stated, the subject may go through life without the intrusion of the Other, but has found a solution that is a supplementation to them.
Vicens illustrated this notion of supplementation in a clinical case, through which he showed how the lesson of ordinary psychosis is that the subject has an existence floating on the experience oflife and how sometimes things may go a drift.
The psychoanalytic clinic distinguishes itself for taking the Real into account and -thanks to Lacan’s three, RSI- for differentiating it from reality. Reality is a waking dream, of which the Real is the waking up of death.’ We dream that reality is made for us’. Lacan defined the Real as impossible to know, but also -in his seminar on Ethics- he describes the real as an impossible pain we have for life.
Psychoanalysis allows us to wake up to this. To what life and death constitute for the speaking being. In writing “The Interpretation of dreams”, Freud wrote about his own analysis in reaction to the death of his father. Vicens hypothesised that something of the Real comes to life in the book.
Psychoanalysis, Freud’s invention, was one he had to pay heavily for. Freud was aware that he had taught the world something that the world did not want to know.
Vicens spoke both of Joyce and of Schreber to account for Lacan’s concept of discourse and of the RSI. Through one of the scenes of Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist as a young man”, he proposed a formalisation of the structure of the knot, and at the same time he illustrated the difference between being schizophrenic andbeing mad.
The notions of the body and the imaginary in the experience of he who is excluded from discourse were explored by Vicens, with reflections on how jouissance presents itself in these subjects and indications about possible ways in which it can be treated (both by the subject himself and in the relationship with an analyst).
In the afternoon two clinical presentations allowed us to discuss and to put to the test the complexity of the concepts elaborated by Vicens, and also to generate a conversation with the audience, which was numerous and interested.
Our guest presenter Laura Petrosino (ACF-Brussels) presented a detailed clinical case where the question of differential diagnosis between hysteria and ordinary psychosis was posed and debated. The questioning of the logic of the direction of the treatment and the interrogation of the position of the analyst left the traces of a transmission.
Sheila Power (ICLO) introduced us, via the clinical material she presented, to what is most real in the clinic of mothers and their babies, where the discrete presence of the analyst may constitute an act that envelopes the death drive.
We would like to extend our thanks Laura Petrosino for having come over to Dublin to workwith us, and to Antoni Vicens for his original transmission, one that pushed us to further interrogate what the Lacanian perspective on the speaking being means.
Susan Mc Feely – Florencia Shanahan
Report on the ICLO-NLS Clinical Conversation with Gil Caroz
Dublin, 15th October 2011
The first of the ICLO-NLS series for 2011-12 “The Knowing-How of Psychoanalysis: Clinical Conversations with members of the World Association of Psychoanalysis”, took place in St.Vincent’s Hospital Fairview on October 15th, on the topic “Body and other Events in Psychoanalysis”
This seminar explored the status of the body for psychoanalysis from Freud to Lacan. Rik Loose (ICLO) in his introduction to the seminar referenced two articles by Jacques Alain Miller1. Lacan introduces the term ‘body event’ in his seminar on “Joyce, the Sinthome” where the emphasis is on ‘having a body’. Human beings are speaking beings, speaking being implies the unconscious. The unconscious belongs to the speaking being and their body. Initially human beings are spoken, something of the Other enters the psyche and the body; speaking is a bodily experience. We always think with words and with the body, something crystallizes out – for jouissance a body is required.
Freud showed that the body speaks through its symptoms; a distinction between the organism and the body must be made. For Freud the meaning of a symptom is soldered onto the somatic process. The symptom has roots in the body; it’s a question of symptoms, language and body – the effect of words on the phenomena of the body. What happens when the infant encounters words? Something is dripped into the infant; it’s about the parents’ desire for their infant which is reflected in the way they speak about the child, their tone. It’s the very materiality of language dripped in to the unconscious, that is words and material, what Lacan calls ‘moterialism’.
Gil Caroz (ECF, NLS, WAP) asked ‘what is a body in psychoanalysis?’ differentiating between the organism and the body. A body event is firstly about language and secondly it’s about jouissance. In the first teaching of Lacan, jouissance is always outside the body, it is something that comes from outside. In the later Lacan it is a monistic concept where the signifier and jouissance are intertwined.
Gil gave examples of body events in relation to little Hans and in the case of Schreber. Schreber’s thought ‘it would be wonderful to be a woman in the sexual act’ and the jouissance experienced with it are strange for him – it comes from the outside. He then has to build his delusion to reconcile this feminine jouissance with his body; he is the woman of God and he can live with this.
In hysteria, the eroticization of an organ takes place, for example with Dora it was her mouth. When the harmony of the body is disturbed, some part of the body is eroticized, for example, a man thinks his nose is too big thus his nose is eroticized; it is invested by a jouissance. It comes as an obstacle to the harmony of the body image and this is a body event. It is important to note that the event is not the symptom; the symptom is the long term construction. Trauma is the paradigm of the event and will repeat itself. For Freud trauma is linked to an event, an encounter. Lacan purifies the Freudian theory of trauma and empties it of drama. It is an encounter of the signifier and the traces it left. In the clinic the analyst has to extract the signifier that touched the subject’s body before meaning; the letter in the body.
In psychosis, either all the jouissance is put in the Other as in paranoia or as with schizophrenia jouissance is spread in the entirety of the body – the body is invested with a jouissance that cannot be processed.
Can one speak of body events in obsessional neurosis? Obsessional neurosis is an illness of thoughts, of thinking. The major obsessional symptom is the thought, and the thought is a body event.
Gil illustrated the body event by way of examples from his own clinic, working with a child who is a psychotic subject and with infants in a crèche where the words of the analyst are dripped in to the infant or toddler with surprising effects.
After lunch, he spoke about a female analysand and how the body event unfolded in her analysis. This was followed by two clinical presentations by Carmel Dalton (ICLO) and Joanne Conway (ICLO) who grounded the seminar in two cases of psychosis, working with an adult male and with a young boy. This allowed all present to reflect on this notion of the body event in psychoanalysis.
Claire Hawkes (ICLO)
1 Lacanian Ink, 18, Jacques Alain Miller Lacanian Biology and Body Event Spring 2001
Lacanian Ink, 19,Jacques Alain Miller Symptom as Body Event Autumn 2001
Report on the Conference “Treating Mental Health Today: Critical Perspectives from Psychoanalysis”
Last Saturday 17th of September 2011 ICLO-NLS co-hosted a conference with the title “Treating Mental Health Today: Critical Perspectives from Psychoanalysis”. The conference sought to bring together, professionals from various clinical backgrounds, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, nurses, academics, as well as carers, service users and other interested people, in order to examine and discuss the relevance and role of psychoanalysis in the treatment of the so-called mental illness.
The conference was opened by TD Dan Neville, as representative of the Irish government and a spokes person on health for one of the ruling government parties. He argued for the implementation of the plan to provide a crucial role for the talking therapies in Mental Health care in Ireland and warned against a proliferation of brief treatments and counselling courses that are ultimately set up for profit reasons.
The two invited key-note speakers in the morning were Professor Marie- Hélène Brousse, analyst member of the ECF, the NLS and the WAP and Pat Bracken, consultant psychiatrist and Clinical Director of West Cork Mental Health Services.
Dr Bracken argued that the technological and scientist paradigms were always at the heart of psychiatry. In his view considerations of ethics, values and power in psychiatry come second to classification and the kind of cause and effect logic that lies at the heart of the biomedical model. He said that what truly matters in psychiatry is the quality of the relationship between the physician and the patient. He stopped short of endorsing psychoanalysis and the transference relationship within mental health care and felt that psychoanalysis should interrogate itself as to how it works and how it can contribute to mental health care.
Marie-Hélène’s address to the conference was a crucial moment of the day. She has been in Ireland on several occasions and said that psychoanalysis is very much alive here. She began by asking the questions whether mental health exists and what psychoanalysis can contribute. She stated that since 2000 in France there has been a political and academic debate that emanated from a (political) demand for psychoanalysis to integrate. Psychoanalysis came under attack and she thought that this was a positive development, as it obliged psychoanalysis to be clear and precise about what it does. It forced psychoanalysis to explicate its principles in terms that could be heard by the media. Marie-Hélène proposed to consider the issue of mental health from within three (psychoanalytic) points of view. From a political point of view we should ask ourselves the question what has changed in civilization since Freud’s “Civilization and its Discontents”. There have been enormous developments in knowledge and technology but also in the market. Health, she argued, is a condition for – as well as a product of – the market. Mental health exists only in the sense that it is a business. What is crucial in the context of these developments is that psychoanalysis has also changed. It now functions more and more in hospitals and universities. Psychoanalysis has been democratised. This development is not without its problems because its success has led to the unconscious becoming part of common discourse. That is why, in order to remain effective, it needs to change. From a clinical point of view we notice that symptoms have changed. There is an increase in addiction, but also in anxiety, depression and indeed there is a change in the clinic of perversion. Now symptoms demand a clinic that operates beyond Freud’s Oedipus complex; a clinic of the object, a clinic of jouissance. Since the decline of the father we find ourselves increasingly confronted with the rise of the object. Psychoanalysis cannot be the same and indeed should not the same as it was. Psychoanalysis is not a dogma because it has to interrogate itself and change. I think her point was heard very well by the audience. From an epistemological point of view, Marie-Hélène argued that psychoanalysts are specialists of language and speech. The subject is an effect of language and thus we work with what patients say (and not with what we think they are saying or what they are meant to say). As such it is only via speech that we have access to the unconscious object providing that speech takes place within the transference. That is why it is of crucial importance to give the transference its place without using it as a form of power. Marie-Hélène continued by saying that mental health is something that exists only in the discourse of the master and does not exist from a psychoanalytic point of view. Psychoanalytic treatment is not orientated towards health. She quoted a study that demonstrated that many people with a diagnosis of psychosis prefer to have their voices than not to have them. Unlike mental health, symptoms do exist and we can mobilize these symptoms such that a treatment can take place by turning the symptom into a question for the patient and as such allowing him or her to find a solution. Marie-Hélène finished by saying that psychoanalysts do not want to cure patients, if by “cure” one means creating order out of a disorder.
After the two key-note addresses many participants gave very interesting papers. Practitioners working in a diversity of settings and with a multiplicity of suffering presentations (i.e. eating disorders, infans/children, suicide, group analysis, etc) spoke of the valuable work they carry out there where psychopathological labels and reductionist psychopharmacological responses try to silence what is most singular in each subject.
From ICLO-NLS, Alan Rowan, Claire Hawkes and Florencia F.C. Shanahan presented papers. Alan spoke about the medicalization of life problems and outlined four key reasons why the “mental health” field both needs to, and can benefit from, an engagement with psychoanalysis. Claire spoke about her work with people with a diagnosis of psychosis in Shine (formerly Schizophrenia Ireland) and she also emphasized the importance of the singularity in the treatment of psychosis whilst at the same time demonstrating the effectiveness of Lacanian psychoanalysis in her work. Florencia emphasized in her paper the antinomy between mental health and psychoanalysis. She argued that mental health tries to standardize but that Freud already discovered that there is something in the subject without standard; something that cannot be tranquilized. Psychoanalysis allows the subject to be different.
With over 150 delegates, the conference –which had political, epistemological and clinical aims-, was very successful. This can be illustrated by some comments in the panel discussion that brought the conference to a close. Both Dr Bracken and Dr Anthony McCarthy, who is current president of the College of Psychiatry of Ireland, acknowledged in their own different ways the importance of language, speech and the transference relationship. Dr McCarthy asked himself the question: Can psychiatry and psychoanalysis work together? His answer was: I don’t know. A docta ignorantia is not a bad start for a treatment (of this question), because it leads to further questions and a desire for further exploration as was illustrated by some of the questions and comments from people in the audience, some of whom openly spoke about their relationship to mental illness.
An exhibition of art work and the extraordinary testimony of the third guest speaker, poet John O’Donoghue, about his life, his struggles and journey in and out of psychiatric hospitals, his relationship with language and the “asylum” that poetry constituted for him, brought to the conference that which is more real with regards to human suffering.
ICLO-NLS would like to express its gratitude to the other organising bodies (APPI, DCU, SHINE, IC), to all participants, and especially to Marie-Hélène Brousse for her contribution and her generosity
Rik Loose (ICLO-NLS)
Report on the ICLO-NLS Clinical Conversation with Jean-Louis Gault
Dublin, 7th May
The last of the ICLO-NLS Clinical Conversation series for 2010-11 took place in St.Vincent’s Hospital Fairview last May 7th, the topic being “The Symbolic Order in the 21st Century: It ain’t what it used to be”
After Alan Rowan (ICLO,NLS,WAP) highlighted, in an interesting introduction to the topic, the challenges that psychoanalysis is confronted with in the 21st Century, our guest Jean-Louis Gault (ECF,NLS,WAP) presented the theme from the perspective of ‘the clinical consequences of the nature of the symbolic order’ in our times.
To approach this JLG considered Jacques-Alain Miller’s conference in Comandatuba (2004) and the thesis sustained there of ‘the discourse of hyper-modern civilization as the promotion of objects for consumption’. JLG emphasized how for human beings the relation with satisfaction is never a simple one, but a fundamentally paradoxical one, and how Lacan responded to the problem there exists between pleasure and the satisfaction beyond pleasure, with his notion of jouissance.
Through Freud’s case of the ‘beautiful butcher’s wife’, JLG illustrated Lacan’s complex concept of plus-de-jouir, in order to explain how contemporary discourse implies the replacement of ideals, which once ordered the subject’s life, by objects. Civilization has to respond to the inexistence of ‘a program that would tell how to act in sexuality’. In opposition to an answer derived from the function of I(A) and the master’s discourse, hyper-modern times accomplish ‘a super-ego program’, where the inexistence of the sexual relation has been accepted and has been replaced by the relationship between the subject and his ‘gadgets’.
A detailed overview of Freud’s discoveries in the context of ‘monogamous marriage’ and ‘civilised sexual morality’ allowed JLG to introduce the modifications that the new constitution of the symbolic introduces: instead of inhibitions and symptoms caused by a culture where ‘everyone must have the same sexual behaviour’ we are now confronted with a subject ‘screwed to its objects, screens, sms, blogs’ [sa vie sexuelle -> ca visse…]. One consequence of this is the predominance of indifference over impossibility; sex has no consequences, the disoriented subject is ‘no longer confronted with prohibition but with the real of the trauma of the encounter’. The affects that correspond to this shift are boredom and gloom, in so far as what is suppressed is the ‘well-saying upon the moment of the encounter’. To the prohibition by morality, hypermodernity substitutes ‘prescription by industry’.
JLG developed several further points, including the ‘rise of the object to the social zenith’ and that which he named ‘five classes of the industrial object’, to continue with the demonstration of how today civilization is at the same time ‘obscene and puritan’. The jouissance resulting from this new response to the impossibility of the sexual relations, JLG proposed, can be characterised as: anonymous (saves from the embarrassment of desire and love, produces a profound loneliness); autistic (at the level of satisfaction); addictive (it fixates the subject) and asexual (it ignores the encounter with the body of the other).
Finally, JLG spoke of the characteristics of the symptom presentation in our times within the framework of the superegoic command: ‘enjoy!’ and the consequences of the ‘too much satisfaction’ (fading of desire, generalised anxiety due to the lack lacking, etc). He highlighted that the Lacanian conception of the symptom as ‘truth-value’ remains essential to preserve the value of protest and the subjective assertion of desire and the drive.
In the afternoon, a lively discussion took place following clinical presentations by Susan Mc Feely (ICLO) and Noel Power (ICLO). Addiction and infertility were the two themes addressed by the clinical material presented, raising multiple questions and comments with regards to the very specific position and response that psychoanalysis of the Lacanian orientation introduces vis a vis the symptomatic solutions and failures as articulated by each subject in its singularity.
ICLO-NLS welcomed Jean-Louis Gault for the first time in Dublin, and this proved to be the occasion of a fruitful work also in preparation towards the next WAP Congress in 2012. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to him for his very clear and enriching transmission.
Florencia Fernandez Coria Shanahan
ICLO-NLS Testimony of the Pass by Anne Lysy & Clinical Conversation
Dublin, 16th April 2011
The fourth of the ICLO-NLS Clinical Conversations for 2010/2011 took place in Dublin on Saturday 16th April with Anne Lysy (ECF, NLS, AS) as guest speaker. The topic of the event being“End(s) of Analysis”, it was the occasion to witness the testimony of an Analyst of the School in function for the first time in Ireland.
The morning session began with a brief introduction from Alan Rowan (ICLO, NLS), who introduced the notion that what the subject reaches at the end of an analysis is not the dissolution of his/her symptom but rather a form of impasse, one that evokes the non-rapport of human sexuality – what Freud termed “the bedrock of castration”.
Quoting Jacques-Alain Miller, Alan noted how in considering “ends” one must – somewhat paradoxically – also consider analysis that may be without end – even if such analysis may include breaks/interruptions and thus “endings” in one sense. In such cases the analyst consents to the use that the analysand makes of him/her. For example, for the psychotic, analysis may provide a suppletion to the Name-of-the-Father. For the neurotic, it may be used as a kind of subjective “washing through” of pain, conflict or trauma allowing the individual to make sense of and orient himself in life. For some analysands, analysis may become something enjoyed, a source of jouissance that may come to a point of termination with one analyst only to begin again with another.
Moreover, there is a sense in which analysis is, in any case, never ending. Here a distinction exists between the ending of a cure or treatment and the ending of the analytic process. Usually there is an introjection of this process – something an analysand cannot escape from – even after the treatment finishes.
Alan concluded by noting that for Lacan it was necessary to found a School in order that the concept of training analysis could be proposed and examined – the procedure of the “pass” being introduced to this end. Through the “pass” there is a transmission of, and testimony to, the subject’s singular experience of analysis and the desire it produces. As Lacan pointed out the path of analysis is not to identification but to destitution, to how the subject “makes do with” both the “too much” of jouissance and the identity bearing signifiers of the Other, and their knotting together.
Anne Lysy said that in her paper she wished to speak about what the Pass is and of her own experience of analysis and the pass. She commented that an unveiling takes place when one speaks of one’s own analysis, that it is not a “showing off” but rather a transmission of something that could be valuable to others and to psychoanalysis itself. In the Pass, the analysand arrives at what he/she thinks is the end of analysis, gives a singular account of his/her own journey and testifies to what it has produced. The individual tells this to two people, separately, who then pass it on to a committee who represent, in effect, the Other (the School). The analyst is a product of his/her own analysis, over and above his/her formation, learning, the moment of becoming a practicing analyst, etc. There is a difference between the desire of the analyst and the desire to be/work as an analyst.
The Pass has a retroactive function; it is a speaking about something after it has occurred.
The Pass can be thought of as having a threefold structure. Anne refers here to Jacques-Alain Millers distinction of pass 1, pass 2 and pass 3. Pass 1 is an event in the analysis itself. Pass 2 is the procedure during which the “passant” is speaking about his/her analysis to two “passers”, who themselves transmit to the “jury”, who work on this filtered material and decide to nominate or not the “passant” as Analyst of the School (AS). Pass 3 is the AS speaking about the other two moments, after the nomination. The Pass however is not a metalanguage, a translation; there is always a gap between these three passes, something is lost.
For Lacan analysis is a process of two dimensions – time and changes. An analysis has a beginning and an end, both are knotted and in between there is a duration, it lasts a number of years but cannot be counted just in terms of years, there is a subjective dimension and an investment. What is in question can also be described in terms of logical time: seeing, comprehending, concluding; recognising thereby what does and does not change. It is not just about building the story of one’s analysis. The Pass is a construction, an interpretation by the subject of his/her analysis, the unconscious and transference, and the pass is also an act.
Next, Anne detailed her experience of analysis, with three analysts, over thirty years. In response to her own question as to why it lasted so long, she spoke of particular points of continuing and of discontinuing. She ended her analysis at the point of realising that there is no last word and that she must stop free-associating and face up to the consequences of the end. At her starting point, aged 24, there was suffering at the level of love and sex. Caught in complicated relationships, she questioned how to be a woman. The words of each of her parents had had an effect on her and her attempt to position herself as woman. She chose to begin an analysis with a man, she wanted to “see clearly” and speak well. This first analysis lasted seven years, and though much has been forgotten she constructed, through it, the Oedipal romance. Her parents’ love was long lasting and loyal but also transmitted an enigma to her. A year into this analysis she met the man she would marry.
Anne left this analysis at the time she decided to work as an analyst. The second analysis was with a female analyst. During this analysis, her question about being a girl, a woman and mother was deflated. Anne herself became a mother. This brought her question about the ideal woman to an end and the question of a woman who suffers arose. Her analyst leaving the School she has been a member of was one of the factors that led Anne to, immediately after, begin her third analysis, this time with a man, but this no longer mattered.
As Anne’s paper come to a close, she spoke of how the questions of this last analysis centred around dealing with the remainder, how to support or bear all that this implied alongside the impossibilities of both a bond and a separation. This analyst was very different from the other two, he disturbed all of the previous constructions. In introducing a new element to a screen memory, Anne thus realised, through the analyst’s interpretation, the reverse side of being her father’s favourite. She continued for a couple of years but spoke in a different manner, she experienced another side of language, the language that hurts, that marks the body. This third analysis was a movement towards detachment. Thanks to interpretation, it highlighted her enjoyment, her sacrifices and the effects of a “ravage”. Anne stated she came to a very difficult point here, suspended above an abyss. A solution was found. The name “ runner” was extracted1 and the detachment of the stake made her a liana curling around a void.
Anne’s talk, which lasted for two hours, was extraordinary, passionate and full of details that go well beyond what can indicated in a summary such as this.
In the afternoon session, two clinical cases were presented by Joanne Conway (ICLO) and Rik Loose (ICLO) which afforded us the opportunity to work through some of the concepts presented earlier. The first case, in which the treatment has not yet come to an end, was one of psychosis. It described the subject’s difficulty around the question of inside and outside, the quest for a name to support him and the signifiers chosen to contain jouissance while providing some symbolic positioning. The second case, spoke of the effect of the gaze on a particular subject. It described paranoia, voyeuristic tendencies, sexual failure and a fascination with women. The question arose about the subject’s structure – there appears to be no subjective division, no veil, when he looks he does not exist but he becomes the gaze.
In response to both cases, and in conclusion to the event, Anne spoke of how the analyst becomes a multifunctional object and finds a way to accompany the subject on his/her path. A second aspect of the discussion concerned the importance of differentiating what is a symptom from what is not in relation to determining structure.
Nearly sixty people attended what constituted a true event for Psychoanalysis of the Lacanian Orientation in Ireland.
ICLO-NLS extends its sincere thanks to Anne Lysy for her presence and valued contribution.
Report written by Carmel Dalton (ICLO)
Report on the ICLO-NLS Clinical Conversation with Gustavo Dessal
Dublin, March 2011
The third of the ICLO-NLS Clinical Conversations for 2010/2011 took place in Dublin on Saturday 12th March with Gustavo Dessal (AME-ELP,WAP) as guest speaker. The topic of the event was “Masculine Positions: Men’s Ups and Downs”
The morning session began with a paper by Florencia F.C. Shanahan (ICLO) entitled “Masculine Positions: Men’s ups and downs- Some notes”. The title of this piece evokes two propositions- one a proper concept and the other a descriptive category. Over the years, the definition of ‘masculinity’ has continuously changed. This change in relation to the symbolic order means that a lot is positioned under the collective signifier ‘men.’ In the opposition between masculinity, femininity, gender and biological sex, one notes the mark of psychoanalysis. The questions was then posed, with the intention of it being returned to later in the day, as to how men’s difficulties in relation to varied issues both present and emerge clinically.
In a dictionary, the terms ‘masculine’ and ‘male’ appear synonymous. For Lacan, following Freud, terms such as ‘man’, ‘woman’, ‘father’ and ‘mother’, are signifiers. These name the subject according to biological sex and thus preclude any questioning of the sexual difference. There is however, no automatic assumption of the sexuated position for the subject. In the clinic, where things are far from well defined, there are vacillations, doubts and symptoms which question these positions. Recognition of oneself as male or female is not without stumble. For Freud, this stumble is structural, it is the unconscious itself.
A rigorous review of a number of Freud’s papers on sexuality suggests that he is critical of popular theories which give credence to the assumption that one is either a man or a woman. For Freud, there are two stages in the realisation of sexual identity where what is key, ultimately, is not the anatomical difference between the sexes- the genitals- but rather it is the phallus. The refusal of femininity in both men and women is, at base, a refusal of castration. The lack of a signifier confronts each subject in the path to sexuation. Masculinity and femininity refer not to anatomical difference but to the subject’s position regarding desire. For Lacan, the symptom is the partner of the subject and the subject’s partner is not self- evident.
In response to Florencia’s paper, Gustavo confirmed that we cannot speak of masculinity without speaking of femininity. The phallus is a representation that doesn’t change -it is always up, never down. In his paper, Gustavo spoke of how sexuality is comprised of hardware (which won’t change) and software (which can change). A man, Freud, discovered the unconscious but with the help of a woman, Anna O. He realised, in what she was saying, that she was lying, the primary lie. He suspected however a truth in the lie. His first postulate into a new theory of sexuality was that of bisexuality. The meaning of the proposition of no sexual relation is that there is no sexuality from the outset, in the unconscious there is no sexuality- there can be either none or both.
Next, Gustavo drew a distinction between identification and position -the first is a semblant, the second is a ‘real situation’. A semblant is a signifier that has been worked through by culture, that is able to change. Lacan calls position the real situation -the sex of a subject is an affair of declaring. One declares to be a man or woman, there is no masculine or feminine essence. In the real situation there are only two ways of enjoying: on the male or female side. In the semblant, there are multiple ways of being. In the formulae of sexuation, where the left hand side of the equation describes enjoying as a man and the right as a woman, it becomes evident that all speaking beings -with the exception of the mythical father on the left- are under the function of the phallus.
On the right hand side, there is no exception. There is no woman that is not affected by the phallic function, each is implied in this function but not fully. As not-all feminine jouissance is ordered by the phallic function, jouissance can be found in something else other than the phallus. The woman has a special relationship between her lack and that of the Other. Nowadays, women are beginning to have some different fetishes -not only children. As Florencia noted from Jacques-Alain Miller, men have perversions, women have children. For Lacan, masculine sexuality is structurally fetishist because of where the man places the object in his phantasy. Culturally, men seem to have fled, as women more and more want, in a biblical sense, to know a man.
Men are experiencing these cultural changes as a menace to their identity. What is thus being witnessed is a patriarchal dismantling, what had once represented something of the sexual bond is disintegrating. With the dissolution of the traditional family, the family is becoming a symptom. There are many discourses which offer all kinds of knowledge to remedy this confusion in the subject. A crossing effect is obvious; women are turning into men and men into women. In the clinic, the changes we are seeing are not as dramatic as those in the social panorama. What we see is human suffering, the same old stupidity of the misunderstanding of the sexual relation. In the contemporary clinic then, there is a marked closure of the unconscious and more difficulty in opening up a question with which to work.
In the afternoon session, two clinical cases were presented by Claire Hawkes (ICLO) and Victoria Wollard (Paris, ECF) which afforded us the opportunity to work through some of the theoretical concepts presented earlier. The first case, described as one of pure melancholy, elucidated something of the masculine position within a psychotic structure. It introduced the question of this client’s subjective misery, of existing in a world in which there is no place to live, where things happen but are not experienced, punctuated or assimilated. The second case, presented as a neurosis, spoke of anxiety, romantic melancholy, and the inducement of intense highs. It introduced a question around this client’s position in relation to knowledge and desire and a hesitance to consent to believing in psychoanalysis.
ICLO-NLS extends its sincere thanks to Gustavo Dessal for his presence and valued contribution at this event.
Report written by Carmel Dalton (ICLO-NLS)
Report on the ICLO-NLS Clinical Conversation with Marie-Hélène Brousse
Dublin, December 2010
The second of ICLO-NLS Clinical Conversations for 2010/11 took place in Dublin last Saturday 11th December with Marie-Hélène Brousse as guest speaker, the topic of the event being “Towards a Clinic of Objects”.
In the morning, Susan Mc Feely from ICLO presented a theoretical paper where she accounted for the notion of the object in Freud’s work. Specifying that she was going to look at Freud’s “Three essays…”, some of his works on metapsychology and the chapter on identification from “Group Psychology”, Susan approached the question of the object via the Freudian notion of Anlehnung (anaclisis) highlighting some of the impasses encountered by Freud throughout his theorization. Through exploring Freud’s ideas on the object of the drive, object choice (narcissistic and anaclitic), object choice in men and women and the object in neuroses and psychoses, Susan interrogated many of the fundamental concepts in psychoanalysis, following their development and the blind alleys brought about by the object/subject dichotomy. The paper “The Object in Freud” will be soon published in the ICLO-NLS website under the rubric ‘texts’ (www.iclo-nls.org).
Marie-Hélène Brousse proposed to formalise some of the elements introduced by Susan’s presentation from a double perspective: a) The problem of the subject/object in terms ofego/other, which Lacan solved by means of his ‘mirror stage’; and b) The issue of the topology utilised to respond to the in/out problem, for which it wassuggested that Lacan’s solution was to put language (which is both interior and exterior to the subject) back at the centre of the analytic experience.
MHB returned to Freud’s definition of the drive object as “the most changeable aspect of the drive [...] originally it was not connected with the drive, but attaches itself only inconsequence of it being particularly adaptable fitted to achieve satisfaction”, in order to emphasize that at the very beginning of psychoanalysis lies the notion of a tendency that is not determined by an (interiorly programmed) object, and therefore radically separated from any (animal) instinct where there is ‘no choice, no chance, no history’.
She then elaborated on the ‘two pillars in the analytic experience, the formations of the unconscious and the drives (phantasy)” highlighting how they are not ‘easily linked’ and proposing that it is crucial to isolate those moments in the cure where a connection between speech and satisfaction is produced.
MHB resorted then to Lacan’s notions of ‘objectality’ and ‘extimity’ to define how ‘what we callobject in psychoanalysis has nothing to do with any objectivity’, extracting from Lacan’s Seminar X several clues to clinically conceive ‘anxiety as the perfect detector of real objects’. She suggested that Lacan oriented himself to speak about the object by asking in which symptoms was the object central, and thus she continued with a precious exploration of a) phobia, b) perversion, c) mourning, d) anxiety and e) economy (market), and also commenting on mania.
By means of a reading ‘to the letter’ of some passages of Seminar X, MHB constructed the logic presented by Lacan to distinguish the object ’cause of desire’ from the ‘object desired by the subject’. This was followed by an extremely precise interpretation of Lacan’s articulation of the five species of the object a with need, desire, demand, power and jouissance in the Other and a further distinction between the object as transitive, exchangeable, common and lost. The vicissitudes of the speaking being’s experience in holding the dimensions of the body and language together were illustrated by many examples from the clinic and its outside, throughout the presentation.
The afternoon session allowed us to interrogate and to test some of the concepts previously worked on through two clinical cases presented by Carmel Dalton and Alan Rowan (ICLO). The first one introduced the question of the object and the symptom in anorexia within a neurotic structure. The second one, a case of psychosis on the schizophrenic pole, allowed for an interesting discussion about the operation of the analyst in psychosis and with regards to the object that the subject ‘carries in his pocket’.
Both cases demonstrated the paradox articulated by MHB, which moreover defines Lacan’s orientation with regards to ‘the objects’: the object which is lost and from which only by separating the subject may conquer both his signifying ‘identity’ and a certain access to a ‘relationship’ remains, as such and by definition, outside of meaning [hors sens].
ICLO-NLS thanks Marie-Hélène Brousse for the invaluable traces already left in Ireland by her transmission of psychoanalysis.
Florencia Fernandez Coria Shanahan
(Published in Agora 5 – 2010/11)