Report on the ICLO-NLS Special Interest Group Screening of Like an Open Sky

Dublin, September 2016


Saturday the 17th of September marked the opening of the calendar year 2016/2017of ICLO-NLS activities with a well-attended screening and Irish Premiere of the film Like an Open Sky, followed by a Clinical Conversation in the afternoon attended by two invited guests, Marie Brémond and Bruno de Halleux, both of whom have worked in Le Courtil and feature in the film.

Mariana Otero’s film Like an Open Sky follows with great tact and sensitivity the singular work undertaken by the staff and residents at Le Courtil in Belgium. Le Courtil is an institution that receives children and adolescents, some of whom have been diagnosed on the autistic spectrum, present with symptoms of psychosis or other forms of mental and emotional suffering.

The event was hosted by the ICLO-NLS Special Interest Group (SIG) for Child and Adolescent Lacanian Psychoanalysis that has been working on the question of autism and psychoanalysis. An original closed screening of the film instilled in the SIG a desire to disseminate this film and its message of invention and optimism within a psychoanalytic institution to a specifically Irish audience. The event was opened by Florencia Shanahan, Chair of ICLO-NLS, who welcomed all of the guests, especially Marie and Bruno for travelling to be with us on such an important day. Florencia spoke about the SIG and the work that has been carried out over the previous three years having culminated in important moments for ICLO-NLS and its members, and that showing Mariana Otero’s film was an important addition to this conversation.

The film itself follows a question that Mariana Otero had while researching the documentary, what is madness? This question is stripped of its patronising connotations, as Mariana herself describes in the book that accompanies the film, Like an Open Sky: Invention from day to day, in an attempt to transmit something of the unknowable: what is it like for these children to live and how do they find solutions to their suffering with the interventions of the staff. Throughout the film we meet children who are attending Le Courtil and see how they grow and achieve through invention and discovery, i.e. without ‘specialized education’ or ‘behavioural training’. In Le Courtil there is no standard treatment or an ideal of conformity; in short there is no ‘normalilty’, so why should a child be measured against an ideal or norm ?

In a short questions and answers section that took place after the film screening Marie Brémond spoke about the importance of scansion, the cut within analysis, which is highlighted in the film. She noted how important things like counting can be for a child who is overwhelmed by their body and who has no other means of dealing with the jouissance that invades them. By introducing the cut through a break or changing the activity, a gap is introduced. A question was asked about how the children reacted to being filmed and Marie Brémond noted that it was a very singular experience. Some of the children enjoyed playing with the camera and this idea of being seen and some other children could not stand to be around it and would leave as soon as Mariana entered. Some of the children called Mariana ‘Robocop’ because of the camera harness she wore while filming. A number of other important questions were raised, including how the ‘practice amongst many’ [pratique à plusieurs] works within the institution, the role of semblance or make believe within treatment, and the difficulties encountered by practitioners within this work.

The afternoon’s clinical conversation consisted of three case presentations that were discussed first by Marie Brémond and Bruno de Halleux and then opened to the floor for discussion. All of the cases were fascinating and spoke to elements of the film that we had all just seen.

Stephen Mc Coy presented the case of a boy with whom he had worked for a number of years. The discussion seemed to gravitate towards a question about his relation to the father.

Donna Redmond presented a particularly difficult and demanding case of psychosis. Donna highlighted the different stages of the treatment and the development of the transferential relationship. The case also spoke significantly about the body as an object of terror in its excess and how this subject found a way to live in their body.

Cecilia Savotti presented a case that left us all leaving in good spirits and demonstrated something of the singular invention as presented in the film Like an Open Sky. Her case was of a child with whom she had worked for a number of years and elaborated a number of phases in the treatment that marked transitions in the position of the practitioner and the forms of work that could take place within the gap introduced by Cecilia.

Joanne Conway, co-ordinator of the SIG closed the day by thanking all who had attended the day, especially Marie Brémond and Bruno de Halleux, and those who presented cases who had opened up their clinic to say something of the Lacanian psychoanalytic work with children being done in Ireland.

Hugh Jarret (SIG)



Report on the NLS Congress 2016 – via Lacanian Compass

HOWCATHCHEM: The Detection of Discreet Signs in Ordinary Psychoses

John Burton Wallace V


NEW YORK — July 2-3, 2016, delegates of the New Lacanian School (NLS) traveled to Dublin, Ireland to the Printworks at the Dublin Castle where they were called by the XIVth Congress of the NLS and its call for the detection of discreet signs in ordinary psychoses. The detection of these discreet signs — presented over the course of five clinical sessions, two round-tables, multiple interventions, and a day of clinical conversation — brought to mind the world of the detective story. As Jacques-Alain Miller made reference in his direction of the Clinical Conversation, through this detective work, one may realize the patient is not who we thought they were.

If the detection of discreet signs in the clinic of ordinary psychosis can be associated to the world of the detective story then what we are dealing with is not the genre of the “whodunit” à la Raymond Chandler, but rather that of the “howcatchem,” a signifier fittingly Joycean in its conception, à la Columbo.[1] By extension, Lacan’s work on Joyce can be read as paradigmatic in this regard. If the “whodunit” is linked to the what’s missing, the logic of the “howcatchem” is motivated by a how does it work, a necessity indicated by the generalization, pluralization, and ordinarization of the clinic of psychosis echoed by Florencia F.C. Shanahan and Yves Vanderveken in the overture to the Congress.

Discreet Signs

The term discreet, even before being set in relation to the sign, posed an enigma to the participants of the Congress. In her remarks prior to the first clinical session, Marie-Hélène Brousse cited the linguistic discrepancy in the use of the term, highlighting the equivocation of discreet taken as difficult to perceive, and/or as easily identifiable. Turning to the sign, the distinction was made between the signifier as that which represents the subject to another signifier, and the sign as that which represents something for someone. In the relation of the discreet to its function as sign in the detection of discreet signs, multiple cases attested to the moment in which a signifier becomes a sign for the subject.  These moments included those reminiscent of the meaning of the red car made famous by Lacan in Seminar III, and instances where the subject experienced themselves as excluded or made exception by the universal, while in other cases a form of auto-segregation was evident. [2]

These discreet signs, as Miquel Bassols identified in his intervention “Psychosis, Ordered Under Transference,” appear as the unheimlich, the uncanny, where the strangest inhabits the most familiar in the encounter of the clinical trait in its singular detail. Here, Bassols posed ordinary psychosis as a version of Russell’s paradox in the signifier’s inclusion of categories that do not include themselves i.e. it looks like hysteria, but it does not include the traits of hysteria. This paradox gave way to numerous debates including differentiating between the elementary phenomena as such and the detection of discreet signs. The necessity to detect a before and after of a triggering or unplugging (débranchement) was also contested.

In this way, during a round-table discussion, François Ansermet posed the paradox of the discreet sign in its instance as a not-so-discreet solution. Ansermet noted the stakes of the contemporary clinic in his comments regarding the clinic’s preference of singularity to radicalization, a preference which can act to modify a subject’s destiny by re-directing the subject away from the passage(s) to the act that dominate our times. Here, Jacques Borie raised the question of how each subject can make language useful for the body in a way that focuses on anchoring against dispersion. Indeed, multiple cases presented throughout the weekend evidenced forms of subjective organization and disorganization appearing as exile, inclusion, or the invention of singular practices and uses of language.

Le Saint Homme and the Saints of the School (AEs)

Eric Laurent’s lecture “Les signes discrets et le Saint Homme” proceeded from Lacan’s reference to Joyce in his singularity as Joyce Le Sinthome, the title for Seminar XXIII, which reads as a pun. If Joyce was indeed a saint, Laurent asked, what were the discreet signs that allowed for Lacan to consider him as such? In a lecture after the Seminar, Lacan in fact suggested that Joyce is not a saint, citing the pride Joyce could be drunk with, a discreet reference to Joyce’s alcoholism and his belief that he could say anything. Indeed, in some ways he could, as Laurent made reference to Samuel Beckett’s essay on Ulysses: “Here form is content, content is form…. When the sense is sleep, the words go to sleep… When the sense is dancing, the words dance.”[3] Alas, Joyce was not a saint, at least not a simple one. As Laurent underlined, Lacan likened Joyce’s art to his drinking to show that his sublimation could not deliver him from addiction. But then again, Laurent demonstrated how in a certain way Joyce was a saint, in the measure that Joyce did not expect to be made wealthy by his art and lived at the behest of patrons, namely Harriet Weaver.

So what is a simple saint for Lacan? Laurent, citing Lacan, answered, “all those who want to occupy the place of object a incarnate.” The analyst occupies the place of object a, but does not become a semblant of object a. As Laurent underlines, object a is a semblant that the analyst makes present. The analyst, not a saint, is only a desire to occupy that place.

Lacan underlined that there is no canonical way to make a saint, in contrast to the bureaucracy of the Church’s nomination of saints, which Laurent identified as an attempt to re-canonize the church itself. As Laurent put it, there is no canonical way to become an analyst of the School, just as there is no standard or ideal path to the singular incarnation of object a whose position it is for the analyst to occupy and not enjoy (jouir). Those who define themselves as products of the analytic experience, the AEs, are our saints. Indeed, the testimonies of three AE’s: Laurent Dupont, Dominque Holvoet and Véronique Voruz, each as different from the one before and the one to follow, bear witness to the production of their singularities by way of the analytic experience.

To conclude his conference, Laurent commented on the analyst’s relationship to Joyce, who like Joyce takes a small tax, a litter, as the mark of the operation of jouissance. However, the analyst cannot be Joycean because Joyce’s art was without reference to lalangue as he plugged his symptom directly into the English language thus breaking it through equivocation. The analyst must link the symptom with a peculiar language, the lalangue of the analysand, in reverse of the Joycean experience, to then rid it of the meanings established by the common discourse in a manner as intimate as the construction of the Book of Kells. As Laurent concluded, “don’t forget to see the Book of Kells.”

[1] In the American television series Columbo (1971-2003), the protagonist Detective Columbo, portrayed by Peter Falk, was notoriously and serially perplexed in his detection of the discreet sign in its simultaneity as difficult to perceive, easily identifiable, and the signature of the crime itself.

[2] Lacan, J., The Seminar Book III, The Psychoses, op. cit., pg. 9.

[3] Beckett, S., “Dante… Bruno. Vico.. Joyce,” in Finnegans Wake: A Symposium – Exagmination Round His Incamination of Work in Progress [… &c.] (Paris: Shakespeare & Co. 1929; facs. rep. edn. NY: New Directions 1972), op. cit., pg. 13.



Report on the ICLO-NLS Seminar of the Lacanian Orientation with Members of the WAP

“The Paradoxes of the Body” with Lieve Billiet

 Saturday 7th November 2015


On Saturday the 7th of November Lieve Billiet gave a seminar under the following title: The Paradoxes of the Body. She began by saying that the effects of digitalization and the virtualization of contacts have become more and more sensible in the psy-world. Indeed, all kinds of virtual and online tools are being promoted and some would argue that their use might be a way of dealing more efficiently with waiting-lists. However , crucial here is that the encounter with an analyst implies something that is by-passed here and that is that the analyst embodies, incarnates, something. This embodied presence is crucial for analysis; for the kind of analysis that seeks to have an effect on the real and jouissance of the body. Lieve then argued that the body in analysis is paradoxical. Analysis operates on the basis of speech but it is embodied speech. Moreover, the body is alive and yet inhabited by death. She moved on the say that with Descartes body and mind became separated which implied that the former was bereft of animation and as such the way was paved for a scientific approach to it. Subsequently, various attempts were made in modern philosophy to restore the original unity between mind and body but, in a way, these attempts were little more than a new version of the ancient “a healthy mind in a healthy body”. That the body cannot be reduced to an object of science was demonstrated very clearly by the clinical field of hysteria. The body of psychoanalysis is an animated body; a body marked and traumatized by speech. Via a consideration of Freud’s theory of the drives, Lieve arrives at a detailed exploration of four stages in Lacan’s thinking on the drives and the body: the body as narcissistically invested image; the body as signified by language and captivated by the truth of desire; the body as a surface with holes – the erogenous zones – around which the drives circulate and, lastly, the body as “jouissance substance”. In the first stage, forces of unification and fragmentation, life and death, interact with each other and get knotted. In the second stage, the signifier mortifies the body but paradoxically animates the subject with desire as the result of castration. Indeed, the body is marked by castration and if that does not happen jouissance will not be phallicized and the body will thus be experienced as perplexing as exemplified by Schreber. In the third stage, Lacan revises Freud’s theory of the drives and Lieve demonstrates that the loss around which the drives turn, and which animates them, is a natural loss. She shows that this is a crucial moment in Lacan’s work because castration here is disconnected from Oedipus and becomes generalized (separation). This necessitates a new reading of the mirror-stage in which the “beautiful form” veils something, namely, the fact that there are the holes of the erogenous zones (and not fragmentation). It is clear that the subject cannot live in harmony with his or her body and this is further explored by Lieve in the last stage of Lacan’s work. Now the body as real comes into the foreground. The real of jouissance disturbs the body and the question is how to treat this body and its jouisssance. Lacan introduces the notion of the body as “jouissance substance” and with this notion he manages to knot the living body with jouissance and the signifier as such paving the way for a treatment of the body and jouissance with the signifier. This is a signifier that is new in that it is not connected to other signifies but a signifier that targets jouissance directly by by-passing meaning. This jouissance is on the side of the One; of the One-all-alone as an effect of the signifier. The effect of this kind of signifier (again, of the One-all-alone) causes the event of the body as something that is present in every symptom. What is at stake in analysis is not a matter of getting rid of it but rather a “knowing how to do with it”. In a closed session in the afternoon two ICLO members presented a case and a clinical conversation ensued that was extraordinarily stimulating and which included some crucial contributions from Lieve, ICLO members and Luc Vandervennet. ICLO would like to thanks Lieve for her enormous tour “de force” and both herself and Luc for the generous giving of their time.

A brief afterword.

This report was written two days after the horrific events in Paris on the 13th of November. This shows that the ideas put forward here by Lieve on the late Lacan and the jouissance of the body have become not only more relevant than ever but have in fact become an acute necessity. The effect of today’s kind of signifier can in some cases be so ruinous that the annihilation of bodies tends to become a more frequent occurrence. It is really important that psychoanalysts should not remain silent here.

Rik Loose (ICLO-NLS)


Report on the ICLO-NLS Seminar “The Knotting of Language and the Body in Adolescence” with Neus Carbonell

 Saturday 6th June 2015


It was to an unseasonably windy Saturday morning that the Special Interest Group of Child and Adolescent Lacanian Psychoanalysis (SIG)[1] of ICLO-NLS welcomed Neus Carbonell on this her second visit to Dublin at the invitation of the SIG. The event, which was open to the public and very well attended, was a continuation from last year which spoke to the title of “The Knotting of Language and the Body in Childhood.”[2]

Joanne Conway welcomed Carbonell and situated the work of the SIG as we prepare to embark on our third year of working together. She spoke of Carbonell’s invaluable transmission last year and how it had informed the direction and the focus of the SIG. Conway proceeded to present some of the challenges specific to the construction of adolescence and the process of re-knotting the speaking body with the jouissance of the drives. Simultaneously, the adolescent experiences impasses and disorientations resulting from the changing symbolic order, the impact of which presents a different kind of teenage rebellion today. It is one which no longer or at the least, very rarely resembles yesteryear’s iconic semblant poster boys of Marlon Bando and James Dean.

Carbonell began by stating that the knot in childhood between language and body may be insufficient to hold in adolescence requiring the subject to retie this knot but under new conditions. These new conditions are the impact of the symbolic and the real of sexuality. The young subject must search for and find his own knowledge regarding the treatment of the real of sex but crucially, this is at a very particular moment. Adolescence as a construction requires the subject to ‘redo the threads of his past’ to become an adult but this is precisely where the difficulty and its precariousness lies because it is at this moment that the knot may be undone.

In following the path of Freud in how we can learn from poets, Carbonell made use of a reading of “The Young Man’s Song” by W.B. Yeats to serve as both a reference and illustration throughout the morning. For those unfamiliar with the poem, it is of a young man, but one old enough and he wonders if a young woman will love him – but there is nobody wise enough to tell him, so he must take a chance – by throwing a penney. This young man’s love and desire, doubts and anxiety are set against the absence of a knowledge of how to court this young woman. He can merely rely on the contingency of throwing a penney and leave it to chance. This beautiful scenario covers over his encounter with the real, a jouissance of which he has no way of dealing with. What he will make of this contingency will mark his life hereafter. It is exactly these contingent encounters in adolescence which are of extreme importance. Carbonell concluded this introduction by saying that this is what adolescence is about, no more or less than this.

Carbonell identified two characteristics of adolescence: the “awakening” and the “exile.” To elaborate on the “awakening” Carbonell referenced Frank Wedekind’s play “The Awakening of Spring.” The adolescent must awaken from those dreams of childhood and give up on the dream of marrying his mother. He cannot make use of the phallus unless first he renounces being it. He must find a way to turn the drive jouissance of childhood into a phallic jouissance and learn how to make do with his symptom of puberty. This symptomatic form is the only way of re-knotting the body and language. This is also the moment that the knot can become undone with serious consequences leading to passages to the act. He must find a way of dealing with these bodily changes which signal the entrance into the possibility of the real of procreation. He can no longer rely at the level of the signifier on the function of stereotypes which sufficed as a child. This passage from childhood to adolescence used to be frequently marked in the form of cultural rites. This is becoming less evidenced today and instead what our experience demonstrates is a prolonged and sustained period of adolescence. A clinical vignette pointed to such a marking of a prolonged adolescence whereby the subject’s symptom in response to his encounter with the real revolved around the impossibility of love and his subsequent refusal to consent to the possibility of rejection by the love object.

The second characteristic of adolescence is exile both from childhood and from language. This painful process of exile is absolutely necessary as it enacts separation and marks the passage from object of desire to subject of desire. In childhood the love object is present but in adolescence one must search for it elsewhere, without any know-how to accomplish it. An oft cited adolescent complaint of being misunderstood is placed in the other of adults. Carbonell stressed the importance for the analyst also to not appear to understand too much or too well and instead point towards the necessary process of lack and therefore desire. Feeling alone and different from the adolescent others needs to lead to new identifications with the forming of new communities and ties beyond the family. This new community of friends, who remain misunderstood by adults, enables a shift in position from one of exception to one amongst many.

Carbonell stressed that the treatment orientation of the adolescent clinic lies in Lacan’s Schema R regarding the tension between the ego ideal and ideal ego. The subject of the narcissistic image is drive jouissance, one which will ultimately lead to the death drive. It is therefore imperative not to reinforce the narcissistic image. The demand for enjoyment without limit makes confrontation with desire impossible. Contemporary society privileges consumerism which in turn encourages narcissism – the promise of enjoyment is not another subject through which one finds identification but a proliferation of objects. The drive satisfaction is not only authorised today but is ubiquitous and almost presented as mandatory which stymies the passage from childhood to adolescence. It is no longer Yeats’ contingency of throwing a penney in the face of not knowing when there was no-one wise enough. Now knowledge is eroticised with it firmly in ones’ pocket (or at the end of a couple of clicks on a keyboard) and not in the field of the Other.

The afternoon was a closed session with three clinical cases presented by Cecilia Saviotti, Stephen McCoy and Hugh Jaret. As a matter of pure contingency, each case provided an elaboration of key concepts worked on in the morning. The first case by Saviotti was of a little hysteria representing the particularity of feminine phobia. The desiring subject is awakening but experiencing difficulty in redoing the thread of history. McCoy presented a subject invaded by jouissance with little recourse to use language in defence of the real. The knotting of body and language is tenuous with little resources to find a place in the Other to which he could hold himself. The final case of the day by Jaret was of a subject who found a solution in the narcissistic image of a body that could not stop.

We would very much like to reiterate our appreciation to Neus Carbonell for her generous and continued contribution to members of ICLO-NLS and the SIG. Carbonell’s inimitable transmission of psychoanalysis is with a particular ease and grace which consents to a space of learning and after today, a renewed appreciation of Yeats!

 Caroline Heanue (ICLO)

[1] The Special Interest Group of Child and Adolescent Lacanian Psychoanalysis (SIG) is a group comprising practitioners with backgrounds in psychoanalysis, clinical psychology, psychiatry and psychotherapy with a committed interest in therapeutic work with children and adolescents.
[2] This paper is published in the latest edition (Issue 10 May 2015) of Lacunae, the APPI (Association for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in Ireland) International Journal for Lacanian Psychoanalysis.

Report on the ICLO-NLS Seminar “Women’s Bodies in the Analytic Experience” with Marie-Hélène Brousse


The fourth and final Seminar of the Lacanian Orientation with Members of the World Association of Psychoanalysis in the series for 2014-2015 entitled “Language and the Body” took place on 18th of April in The Teachers’ Club, Parnell Square, Dublin. Marie-Hélène Brousse, AME of the ECF, NLS and WAP, Professor Emeritus at the University of Paris 8, spoke on the theme ‘Women’s bodies in the analytic experience’. Rik Loose, Chair ICLO-NLS in his opening address, welcomed all attendees and introduced our guest, who is a familiar visitor to Dublin

Marie-Hélène opened the seminar by asking what the analytic experience teaches us about a woman’s body, suggesting in response that there are two orientations possible. One orientation sees a woman’s body as spare parts, a fragmented body, and this fragmentation is manifested in objects, for example, hair, shoes etc., and have both imaginary and symbolic dimensions. This orientation is also expressed at a global level in the discourse of the social link, in the way that women act as social links in the social bond. The second orientation is based on the clinic: what a woman says about her body in the analytic experience, for example, in pregnancy a woman can be surprised by her body. While pregnancy is desired, there are many contradictory and subjective reactions to this unique experience. However, psychoanalysis is not a body practice and the only entrance we have to the unconscious is through discourse, through speech by saying something.

After referring to the vanishing influence of the Name of the Father after Freud’s Victorian times Marie-Hélène highlighted one particular sentence in a text from the Ecrits referring to Dora. Lacan wrote ‘Frau K is not an individual, but a mystery, the mystery of Dora’s own femininity, by which I mean her bodily femininity-…’ [1]. This mystery poses a question; for each woman, one by one. Freud implies a homosexuality in heterosexuality and Lacan posits this in another way in Seminar XX by saying there is only one libido, which is always essentially phallic, regardless of the person’s sex. However, for woman there is also something else; something non-phallic.

The nucleus of the symbolic order is the family structure which happens to be culturally organised from the key points of naming, especially the Name of the Father, which Lacan developed in the formulae of sexuation on the masculine side. A woman is defined in the place she occupies in this social, symbolic, structure, for example, by being identified as mother, sister and daughter. If she is neither wife nor mother then a woman is a ‘spinster’. Each time a woman is defined as outside the family function she is ‘fragilized’. For example, she is identified as whore, witch or saint. Motherhood was thought to be the primary function of woman in society. Contemporary society is experiencing a separation between woman and motherhood; there is a difference between motherhood and femininity which is surprising in the master’s discourse but not in psychoanalysis.

Gender defines male and female and is related to the social link, the structure of language, and the structure of the family. The Oedipus Complex produces in each subject identification on one side and object choice on the other. The question of the limit of gender is to be found there, which is not necessarily an indication of the jouissance that is at stake. For example, a male says he’s a man – but what do we know about his mode of jouissance or the historic fetishistic construction in relation to his fantasy and jouissance?

Feminism was strong in the 1960s and was successful in obtaining equality in society: the question is why at the moment of success did feminism disappear and why now is it a moment where it starts again? The re-appearance of contemporary feminism corresponds to the progress of society: biology changed definitively elements of the discourse of the master about the difference between man and woman. At the level of the real, sex is only cells, no longer a body, image or signifiers. Psychoanalysis looks at that level to account for changes in contemporary society, that is, progress at the level of the real: the real in charge of the symbolic and imaginary. Scientific discourse is going from strength to strength; this can be seen in the area of reproduction, where for example, in ultrasound scans a woman can see her baby in the womb via the Other. The real has effects on the symbolic and imaginary and is becoming more powerful. Gender cannot be taken into account without this dimension of the real. It’s related to a mathematical type of language, it’s not a common language: what organises our structure is common language but what organises our world more and more is mathematical algorithms.

Returning to the topic of gender, Marie-Hélène says that the question is to identify what could be determined by ‘gender free’ and asks is fantasy ‘gender free’? Fantasy concerns object a which is the lost object: it’s not material, it is more like a place, an empty place that one can put things into – fantasy is organised around that and is ‘gender free’. Fantasy is a very efficient device because fantasy is not burdened by the limits of reality – jouissance is linked to this as Freud demonstrated in ‘A child is being beaten’ (Freud 1919). Nevertheless, in reality, the subject has to its place here. Lacan tells us that fantasy satisfaction comes from moving from one place to another. Fantasy is ‘gender free’ in the meaning of feminine gender and masculine gender. Fantasy is ‘gender free’ without the heavy process it would entail in reality.

Marie-Helene turned to the question of what exactly Lacan means by ‘her own body femininity’, and asks what this mystery is? She elaborated on this by speaking about topology where something is both external and intimate at the same time and uses Lacan’s word extimacy to define this. What is most intimate is alien – that is femininity for woman: Dora ascribed femininity to the Other, in the form of Frau K. Lacan suggests the word extimity as a response to the question of defining what femininity is for a woman. This is similar to the Mobius strip where the same point at different times can be out or in. The feminine side of sexuation is organised in the same way: in order to bar the masculine side, the not-all, one never knows which part is in and which is out. Lacan uses the word ‘incompleteness’ to signify what of the feminine body does not obey to the ‘in’ and the ‘out’, does not submit to the principle of metaphorisation, is not susceptible to functioning under the principle of substitution and tends to escape representation. Marie-Hélène thus concluded the morning part of the seminar by commenting that perhaps the mystery of femininity is taboo and outside metaphoric representation.

In the afternoon session (for members), Susan Mc Feely and Florencia F.C. Shanahan presented two clinical cases.

On behalf of ICLO-NLS we thank Marie-Hélène for returning to Dublin to be with us, for her enriching transmission and on-going contribution to the work of ICLO-NLS members for which we are very appreciative.

Claire Hawkes (ICLO)

[1] Lacan, J. (2006). Presentation on Transference. In crits, the first complete edition in English (B. Fink, Trans.), (p.180). New York & London: Norton & Co.



Report on the ICLO-NLS Seminar with Members of the WAP with Marco Focchi

Dublin, 7th February 2015


The third Seminar of the Lacanian Orientation with Members of the World Association of Psychoanalysis in the series for 2014-2015 entitled “Language and the Body” took place on the 7th of December in St Vincent’s Hospital Fairview in Dublin. In the morning, which was open to the public, Marco Focchi (WAP, AME, former President of the Scuola Lacaniana di Psicoanalisi, Director of the Freudian Institute in Milan) spoke to the title of “What is the Unconscious made of?”

He began by emphasizing that language is the condition for the subject of the unconscious. Lacan’s conception of the subject does not relate the latter to consciousness. In saying that the subject is an effect of language Lacan gave a positive definition of the unconscious which indeed qua signifier is negatively articulated. In the 1960’s Lacan developed his notion of the subject of science. By saying that the subject is not just an effect of language but also an effect of science Lacan brought the subject to the level of the universal considering that science the universal of objective knowledge. In other words, Marco suggested here that Lacan problematized science’s orientation towards the universal in its movement of excluding the subject. Freud’s andere schauplatz of the unconscious consisted, at least partially, of representations. What is a representation in the Freudian sense?

Marco said that the term representation came from one of Freud’s teachers who had an enormous influence on him, namely, Franz Brentano. However, for Brentano representations are what we are conscious of, whilst Freud argued that conscious representations can be repressed such that they continue to exist in the unconscious. Marco then said that for Lacan we do not need to rely on consciousness to justify the unconscious. Indeed, in fact, the unconscious is the discourse of the Other. Lacan’s notion of the letter, which in the earlier part of Lacan formed the material basis of the signifier, in the 1970’s becomes connected to a writing on the body. The body then became the place where writing is posed. He said that Lacan brought out the erotic function of tattooing. The Lacanian conception of the unconscious around this time in his work is related to the body via writing. Here the body is the other stage for the unconscious and here we see emerge a clearer articulated connection between language and the drive. This already began in Seminar XI in which the drive is a fundamental concept. When Lacan proposes thereafter his notion of the speaking-being implied in this is that the symptom of the subject is ultimately related to the body. Here we leave a clinic of the interpretation of sense. Marco said that the Freudian concept of repetition (a symptom) has to be related back to an origin; a mythical origin is needed (Nirvana). For Lacan this original “effect” is not needed; the lost object is something that was never possessed by the subject. For example, a screen memory does not screen off a real effect or other memory but is a screen of the nothing. Marco said that infancy is like a past that never has been a present and when the story (of the subject) begins it is already too late. That is why we often feel that where we are in life feels as if it is too late; we are always already late. Repetition for Lacan has no origin, no beginning, like it does in Freud. Marco finished by saying that language is not an ergon (a product) but that it is energeic, that is to say, that it always makes itself.

In the afternoon members of ICLO-NLS discussed with Marco some clinical material presented by Joanne Conway and Rik Loose. The day formed a major contribution to the formation of the members of ICLO-NLS. ICLO-NLS is grateful for Marco’s enormous generosity.

Rik Loose (ICLO-NLS)


Report on the ICLO-NLS Seminar “A Speaking Body in Analysis” with Anne Lysy

Dublin, 6th December 2014


It was to an audience at full capacity that Anne Lysy spoke about “A Speaking Body in Analysis”. Anne Lysy explained that her presentation was drawn from the theme of the next congress of the WAP, entitled “The Speaking Body – On The Unconscious in the 21st Century” and her own particular questions in respect to what is it that occurs at the end of analysis and the moment of the Pass. Anne Lysy was the first person to present a testimony of the Pass in Dublin in 2011 as an AE (Analyst of the School). The AE is nominated by the School for 3 years to speak and write testifying to their experience.

Anne Lysy stated that the three to five years after the Pass is not the same as the moment of concluding an analysis. Each testimony selects certain points to transmit whilst leaving others aside. What, she asks, has been the change? What does one make with what has been discovered or obtained as a product of analysis and how does one put a logic in it?

She shared with the participants some of the changes that were effected at the end of her own analysis, and emphasised that not only does one articulate and extract unconscious knowledge via language, but that these effects are also realised in the body. Anne Lysy points to two particular aspects of the body that preoccupy her in the context of psychoanalysis, namely, what is the speaking body and moreover, what is this speaking body at the end of analysis? There is a difficulty inherent in trying to explain what this is from the outside – that is via another’s account of it in a testimony. But the testimonies are nevertheless precious and crucial accounts of the unique inventions that each create and by what means they came to do so.

Of particular relevance to her presentation was J.-A. Miller’s paper introducing the theme of the 10th Congress of the WAP, entitled “The Unconscious and the Speaking Body”.[1] What is this speaking body? In Seminar XX Lacan specifies it as a mystery. Miller attempts to find a road into this mystery via Lacan’s later teaching. He states in this paper that “the body shows itself as something that is able to flesh out the locus of the Other of the signifier as a surface of inscription. [..] What is mysterious […] is what results from the symbolic’s purchase on the body. […] the mystery is rather that of the union between speech and the body”. [2] Anne Lysy emphasised that Miller stresses the new elements encountered in the later teaching of Lacan – namely the distinctions between the unconscious and the parlêtre, symptom and sinthome, and the “escabeau”.

She also referred to Television, and Miller’s remark to Lacan – that the “unconscious” is a strange word. Lacan’s reply at that time was that while it was imperfect, Freud did not find a better one for it.[3] However, some two years later in the Seminar Joyce the sinthome, Lacan changed his mind. Psychoanalysis has to go farther than Freud’s unconscious –and there is a word for it, for this new unconscious– it is a neologism that cannot be translated. Lacan introduces parlêtre as a new word for the unconscious wrought from parle and être. This word shows that psychoanalysis had changed. And this is precisely the point – the speaking subject of Freud’s oeuvre and indeed in Lacan’s early work is not that of Lacan’s late teaching

Anne Lysy spoke of the two sides of language and the drive, jouissance and sexuality. All Lacan’s teaching is, she says, an effort to give account to both sides, even if to say it as impossibility. Per Miller, the axiomatic change of Lacan theory is the devaluation of language in favour of lalangue –which is part of the mystery of the speaking body. Language for Lacan, is a construction established by linguists whereas lalangue is an elucubration. Why is lalangue one word? To show that what is at stake is a state of language where the aim is not one of communication – it is before grammar and structure, before the separation between words. Lacan speaks about this in the Geneva conference on the symptom where he refers to the babble of the baby. The child receives language from the outside, he is impregnated by language. Language is spoken around the child by others that leave traces – as though the body of the child itself is touched by language – it is the shock of language on the body.

Lalangue demonstrates that in the signifier there are elements of jouissance in the first place – that are not of meaning. There are important shifts in theory in the same period in terms of the unconscious, the subject and the symptom. One of these shifts is that of the signifier as producing jouissance. What Lacan’s late teaching distils is the place of the real – in the opposition between meaning and jouissance. It is a complete inversion of what the signifier once represented for Lacan. Anne Lysy underlined this inversion via two deftly drawn quotes from Lacan; for the classic Lacan “Jouissance is prohibited to him who speaks”[4] whereas for later Lacan “there where it speaks it enjoys”. In this later teaching the signifier no longer mortifies but rather has an effect of jouissance. The first effect of language therefore is one of jouissance, there is no jouissance without a body – but what kind of body?

In the preface to the last Écrits Lacan speaks of the end of analysis as a revelation of truth, a revelation of the ‘mendacious truth’. The speaking body is not solely jouissance or not only “telling”. An analyst, Anne Lysy states, “needs your body”. One must go to an analysis with a body. It is not possible via the internet. “The couch, she remarked, “is a kind of bed, making the sexual relation both present and absent. One must bring one’s body, but in lying (on the couch) you cast the body aside, you leave it outside and you keep another kind of body, the waste you cannot get rid of – this poor body parasitized by language”.

In closing Anne Lysy referred to the testimonies of the Pass and what they attest to, namely that psychoanalysis must go beyond the construction and crossing of the phantasy – analysis must encounter a zone where there is no construction– where one is ultimately confronted with remainders. These remainders come to isolate something to do with the body – the link between language and the body that continues to exist and eventually disturb – but at a moment they can detach from the suffering part of the symptom once linked to the Other who demanded this suffering. This isolates a mode of jouissance, a mode of enjoyment. What kind of interpretation then is possible in this “zone” beyond meaning? What can touch this body event? To the participant’s surprise Anne Lysy replied that these interpretations can include the body of the analyst herself and for which she gave illuminating examples from her own and other’s testimonies. The parlêtre is, she said, the function of the unconscious as completed by the body and interpretation has to mobilise something of the body invested by the analyst herself via tone, stress, gesture or gaze. The end of analysis therefore can be conceived of as the way to make a border where language touches the body and to do something with it. It is a remainder, but one that is active.

Joanne Conway (ICLO)

[1] Available in issue 12 of Hurly-Burly. Also Available online at:

[2] Op. Cit, p. 125.

[3] Lacan, J. Television/A Challenge to the Psychoanalytic Establishment (Hollier, Krauss & Michelson, Trans.). New York, Norton, 1990, p. 5.

[4] Here the signifier is conceived as emptying the body of jouissance – that “word is the murder of the thing”.


Report on the Seminar with Gustavo Dessal

On Saturday, October 4th, 2014, in Dublin, Gustavo Dessal presented a seminar entitled “Psychosomatic Phenomena and Structural Diagnosis – A Case Study, which centred on an outline of a clinical case.

Gustavo Dessal firstly reminded his audience that the clinic and ethics cannot be separated, and secondly, of the uniqueness of psychoanalysis within the worlds of other psychotherapies and the medical model – never to fit or force a patient into an ideological doctrine.

He spoke about the differences about the concept of ‘health’ between a medical model and psychoanalysis: for the medical model, disease is a contingency; for the analytic case instead, “disease” in inherent to the subject condition, affected by the three determinants of language, sex and death. He also pointed out that ‘cure’ – coming from the Greek “kairos” meaning also ‘care’ – can indicate a very different understanding of how this ‘cure/care’ differs from ‘healing’ the symptom.

Dessal emphasised the main function of the psychoanalyst, quoting works by both Lacan and Andreas-Salomé respectively, that of being a “secretary”1, and that “the patient is always right”2. The diagnosis, along with the analyst’s position in relation to psychosis, was the linchpin for Dessal’s case, as his patient had trawled many clinicians and therapies with a diagnosed of neurosis. This incorrect diagnosis of a patient gripped by a supposed ‘conversion symptom’ and subsequent interventions based on that fantasy, he said, led to a catastrophic end of transference.

Another reminder from Dessal was of Lacan’s warning, that the “Subject Supposed to Know” is the patient, again distinguishing psychoanalysis from other therapies3. This analytic position was elucidated in the transference when Dessal, who had become ‘the one’, ‘the exception’ for the patient, could devise some strategies for interventions. But interventions that were careful not to, as he said, “touch the paper wall that protected the patient from the Real … Her defense is not made of stone”. Because of the patient’s suffering in the Real, these interventions/cuts installed something, which gave his patient what he called “legitimacy” and allowed a “peaceful anxiety in the patient”.

This subject’s symptom has a function of nomination, limiting the foreclosure of the Name of the Father, and allowing the patient to form a very personal and ‘knowledgeable’ diagnosis with ‘remedies’. In this case study, what became apparent was how a symptom glued three generations of a family ‘together’; and, as we know, Lacan speaks of generational influences, he observed that “there is no need, in order to situate the composition of desire in the subject, to go back in a perpetual recurrence to our father Adam. Three generations suffice”.4

This subject experienced extreme anger and railed against being excluded by the ‘wicked’ Other and prevented from gaining any enjoyment from life – a life full of pain, suffering, persecution and being overwhelmed by the jouissance of the body.

Through the analysis, this subject rallied – and rallied literally in life for their ‘cause’ – and found a solution and way to ‘fix it’ by a delusional symptom in the body. The solution anchored them, and forged a holding for the Real, Imaginary and Symbolic. This allowed them live in society and to continue in their successful professional career.

We heartily thank Gustavo Dessal for visiting Dublin to share such an engaging and rich presentation, and whose clinical case brought much practical insights to our membership and guests – all of who had plenty to say during a lively, busy discussion period. We look forward to his next visit.

Lorna Kernan (ICLO)


1 Lacan, J. (1997) The Seminar, Book III, The Psychoses [1956], ed. J-A Miller. Trans: R Grigg, Norton & Co., New York.

2 Lacan, J., The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964. Transl. A. Sheridan, W.W. Norton & Co., London:New York, 1997.

3 Lou-Andreas Salome.

4 Lacan, 1961

Report: Eric Laurent in Dublin


It was a warm morning, and the sky was open and bright in Dublin last Saturday September 13thEric Laurent came to Ireland to launch the English translation of his book Lost in Cognition, of which Rik Loose, Chair of ICLO-NLS, gave an overview as an introduction to the event. This book gathers a number of papers produced in the last decade as a result of Laurent’s relentless engagement with Lacanian psychoanalysis and its place and function in the ‘great conversation of civilisation’. From neural plasticity and the inscription of the subject, expert-assessment and the ‘psychopathy of evaluation’, to cognitive psychoanalysis and the impasses of the DSM-V, the book is an invitation to discover how the teachings of Freud and Lacan are alive in the everyday practice and research of the Lacanian Orientation.

The conference delivered by Laurent on “Psychoanalysis and the Cognitive Paradigm” bore witness to a perspective which does not recoil before the challenges of an ever changing world and its uncertainty, while at the same time responds to the lures and perils of the more or less authoritarian forms of approaching, managing and theorising what is human.

The presentation was simultaneously a historical framing of the points of rupture and continuity in the development of psychoanalytic and cognitive hypotheses, a strong critique of the so-called neuro-cognitive and neuro-psychoanalytical theories, and a creation of bridges for a debate that would include a questioning of the epistemological and clinical foundations of the multiple discourses at play.

Laurent concluded: “We are emerging from a period in which a predominant paradigm was established that only allowed for opposition on the fringes. Now the entire field is shot through with fresh contradictions between scientific hardliners, public and private healthcare bureaucracies, upholders of various clinical traditions, and those appealing for a clinic of the subject. The cards are going to be reshuffled and the divergent interests of the different players are not about to converge in an overhauled unifying paradigm anytime soon. Something new will remain ‘lost in cognition’. We shall continue to assume responsibility for the ongoing commentary of this loss…”

Yves Vanderveken, current President of the NLS, Alan Rowan and I introduced some questions to open up a discussion, questions that were lively captured in Laurent’s references to Lacan’s contribution to the understanding of both human subjectivity and the social.

An attentive and interested audience of over 120 people including lecturers, students and practitioners from the fields of psychology, philosophy, psychoanalysis and education, participated and contributed with questions and remarks, to make of this a unique and greatly significant event.


Florencia F.C. Shanahan

Report on the ICLO-NLS Special Interest Group

Seminar with Neus Carbonell

10th May 2014, Dublin


Saturday the 10th of May marked a special occasion in the inaugural year of the ICLO-NLS Special Interest Group for Child & Adolescent Lacanian Psychoanalysis. In all over fifty people attended the seminar entitled ‘The Knotting of Body and Language in Childhood’ by Neus Carbonell. The seminar was opened by ICLO’s Joanne Conway who has headed up the SIG in its first year. Joanne offered a brief introduction to the aims of the group and the career of Dr. Carbonell.

Carbonell began by referring to the particularities that the analyst working with children encounters. As these young subjects are often led to the analysts consulting room by the parent, or some other adult with a vested interest, it is so often the case that a demand emanates not from the child but from this other. A word of caution to this effect; the analyst must be guided not by a demand but by the desire inherent to the subject. As Freud stated, ‘we are simply listening to the subject’. There is no difference in the case of the child, the child is a subject in his/her own right in the full sense of the term.

So why do we speak of a knotting between the body and language asks Carbonell? In a certain way we can say that the body is a communicating vessel in childhood. By way of clinical examples Carbonell refers to the frequency in presentation of conditions such as hyperkinesias, the proliferation in the diagnosis of ADD and ADHD etc. In these circumstances, what the analyst encounters is a child who does not speak well. As the language skills improve the body begins to relax.

Arriving in this world as an organism the body is an inchoate of drives that are unbridled. A mastery of the body is neither simplistic nor is it ever guaranteed, rather it is through the process of language and the acquisition of signifiers that these drives become distilled. Accessing the symbolic renders the body into a system of representation and meaning. This takes time. As Lacan said, ‘the speaking being adores his body because he thinks he has it’. One is reminded of the phrase ‘the word is murder to the thing’ (das Ding) here, in terms of this symbolic rendering of the body. ‘Insuring a child’s survival involves introducing him into social discourse – the symbolic order’ (Lacan, 1960). Referring again to Lacan’s teaching, Carbonell notes how from the moment we are born we are ‘immersed in a bath of language’.

Jouissance is uniquely human and our experience of it is always singular. This knotting involves the Real of the body (body as jouissance) and meaning which is inherent to language. Initially another must speak for a baby’s needs. Illustrating this point Carbonell draws the distinction between mothers in the wild such as lionesses, and human mothers. Where the lioness acts naturally in raising her cub she is untrammelled by ‘a history’. The speaking being however is affected by a history that is etched in words, signifiers. The history has a consequence for the baby as he too will be affected by that history and how it has structured his whole genealogy. Carbonell pays particular attention to how the mother’s words and every element in the care she provides for her baby sets the scene for this knotting of body and language. In a tone reminiscent of Winnicott Carbonell posits the psychical relationship as the fundamental discourse between subject and Other.

What is this knot then? A knot according to Carbonell is a symptom. A means of satisfaction in its classical origin. It goes beyond the pleasure principle as it refers to a drive which continuously strives for satisfaction. In its oral form we see how satisfaction is gained not only by eating but also by not eating. Anorexia nervosa exemplifies the jouissance of the drive where the subject not only refuses to eat but eats ‘no-thing’. Carbonell again high-lights how there is no such thing as a good object of satisfaction: there is no object that corresponds to the satisfaction of the drive. Symptoms therefore are never contingent. ‘Language infects the body’ and the drive can never fully be satisfied. ‘Eating is not a need but an attempt at satisfaction of the oral drive’. Childhood is the time in which the drive is constructed.

Referring to the case of Little Hans, Carbonell points out how the child’s symptom represents the excruciation of having too much of his mummy to himself. There is an excess in satisfaction here. There is an interpretation, on the part of Hans’, of his mother’s desire. Hans becomes trapped, ensnared by her desire. His phobia offers a way out. The bodily experience of this toxic relationship was a jouissance for which the phobia was a symptomatic response. What is pivotal in all of this is the child’s knowledge of what brought him into the world. ‘The symptom reveals a knowledge of a desire that brought him into being’ states Carbonell. Each speaking being must invent his way with enjoyment [jouissance] which is fundamentally bodily enjoyment. For Hans the phobia represents a particular type of knotting.

So what then is a body? It’s an ‘enjoying thing’. It is a substance. The body in psychoanalysis is a fundamental entity in reality, but what sustains reality is jouissance. Lacan, reworking the Cartesian cogito, posits the mental substance or consciousness as a corollary of that which enjoys; the unconscious! Hans enjoys too much. ‘Human beings enjoy their bodies and suffer their bodies’.

Relating to the body is evident even in how we speak, either speaking too much and/or not speaking at all. Pleasure – Pain – Jouissance. Carbonell asserts that the baby enters language through satisfaction not meaning. The baby babbles and enjoys this experience. Again, a resonance of the Winnicottian oeuvre, where play must first be enjoyed before it can be in any way functional, language must first be enjoyed before it becomes useful as a system of meaning. It is not through meaning but through jouissance that the human passes into language.

Carbonell provided a case vignette from her own practice of a young boy with autism, who began the process of language acquisition within the space opened up by his encounter with her. The child chose a book from the shelf which, over the course of several months began to function as a medium of communication. Carbonell stresses the importance of intonation and recalled how she would read in a musical fashion to this young subject. This was to become an important aspect of how language, first enjoyed, would then become meaningful. Eventually, he began to read the words himself. ‘Meaning only comes after the jouis-sense (enjoyed-meaning).

Carbonell spoke of how the Other, in bringing meaning, regulates the jouissance of the body through castration. A little must be lost for this process to succeed. Regulation means introducing a metaphor. The oral drive in feeding is then bound up with being loved.

Finally Carbonell spoke of the richness and depth of Lacan’s paper on the mirror stage. The infant comes to enjoy the specular image as a result of a uniqueness of perspective. He sees himself from a point exterior to himself and from where he is seen by the other. There is a jouissance that is inherent to the gaze in this moment. ‘The function of the ‘I’ (imaginary) – eye (the real of the body) requires an extraction of jouissance of the gaze which is underpinned by castration’ says Carbonell. A rather apt example of this point is demonstrated by another child she worked with, whose fascination with a cartoon exemplified the plasticity of this experience whereby these cartoon characters were continuously annihilated before returning to a fully formed state. This allowed for an illustration of the fragmented body and its promise of wholeness in the mirror.

Carbonell clearly and succinctly articulated how ‘as soon as the baby identifies with the body, the libidinal dynamism begins to calm down’. Conditions such as hyperactivity disorders make us interrogate the effects of difficulties in this process. It is language that underpins this whole process, ‘the knotting of body and language in childhood’.

As part of the afternoon session a number of clinical cases were presented for discussion. This proved to be hugely enlightening for all and once again Carbonell demonstrated a clinical deftness and a wisdom that proved inspiring to everyone in attendance.

The Special Interest Group of ICLO-NLS expresses sincere thanks to Dr. Carbonell for coming to speak. In addition due regard must also be paid to the enormous efforts of all who contributed and, in particular, a sincere thank you to Joanne Conway for her tireless work throughout the year.

Stephen McCoy

Participant member of the SIG

Report on the ICLO-NLS Seminar with Laure Naveau

Dublin, 8th February 2014


The final clinical conversation of the ICLO-NLS calendar 2013-14 with members of the WAP entitled “The Names of the Real in the 21st Century” took place in St.Vincent’s Hospital Fairview on February 8th on the topic ‘A Clinic of Love Disorder’ with Laure Naveau, AME of the ECF, and WAP. Laure Naveau is a psychoanalyst in Paris where she teaches at the Clinical Section of Paris- Ile de France.

The theme of Laure’s presentation concerned the impact that the discourses of capitalism and of science exert upon subjectivity – upon us as lovers. Laure put forward the question of whether there is a kind of capitalistic way of loving which has invaded the way in which people love today. This question is not sentimental one. It neither harks back to a former time of loving, nor does it long for an idealised future for loving. Psychoanalysis is discourse which formalises the fact we can speak about love in order to say that it doesn’t work out.

Citing the work of the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman in his book Liquid Love: On the frailty of Human Bonds 1 Laure commented on how Bauman interprets the sexes’ new modes of partnership in terms of consumerism and the market. Continuing from Freud, Bauman speaks of a complex interrelationship between Eros and Thanatos in the era of the capitalist’s discourse. This speaks of what is at stake in love. Love relations have become liquid in the sense that the number of love relations one has and their rapid obsolescence has taken centre stage in the market place of love. We live in a culture of consumption, a buy now discard later model in which everything has become disposable, including people. This is marked, Bauman suggests, by a morbid – suicidal – inclination, and according to the current model of consumerism (ingestion-digestion, excretion), desire has become identical to consumption, processing, and waste. Laure asks if love “has now become an act of political resistance, a social struggle against capitalism’s incitement to selfishness, with its push to solitary enjoyment, and immediate satisfaction?” In this way we could say that the modern era is one of disposability – especially when it comes to partners.

A consumerist way of loving is characterised by an attempt to insure against risk at all cost, in a sense to get the ‘best’ deal, to ‘be in love’ without ‘falling in love’. This risk-free sales pitch is seductive, but in love there is always a risk which cannot be insured against.

Analytic discourse, as J-A Miller states, “flatly refutes this mass subjective rectification, for it gets its power – precisely – from being demassifying”. In this view, Jacques-Alain Miller contends that “psychoanalysis accompanies the subject in his protests against the discontents of civilisation,” 2in his solitude, there where only the One all alone exists. And though analytic discourse promises nothing of happiness for the subject Lacan indicates that the analytic discourse does in fact promise something new in love, a “novelty”. This signifies that, since we are speaking beings, speaking beings affected by a language, which puts a lack to work, and since the always risky encounter between words and bodies constitutes our real without law, harmony does not exist in the human world. The “something new in love” that the analytic discourse promises is something made with what we call transference. The love encounter which demonstrates “a certain courage with respect to this fatal destiny” 3, that of the non-relation between the sexes, comes to answer the real of this impasse.

When one begins to speak about love there is always a real in play and the real that comes from the experience of psychoanalysis sets itself against globalisation and human fascination for things that do not speak. It is a real which escapes the universal of the modern discourse of the master, which, combined with that of capitalism, does not want to know about the affairs of love. In opposition to this, the real of the analyst’s discourse, is a real which allows subjects to assume their absolute difference, their incomparability, and assume the mark that makes us what we are and with which we may each face up to our destinies as speaking beings by subverting it, by introducing the dimension of contingency into it, contingency which is precisely the property of love. Lacan, in his seminar Encore put forward that courage in love has to do with what he called the contingency of the encounter – an encounter, with their symptoms, their solitude and everything that constitutes their own exile from the relation that, between the sexes, does not exist.

For Lacan, he does not say that love is a disguise for sexual relationships, but the well know aphorism ‘Il n’y a pas de rapport sexuel’, that the sexual rapport does not exist but love can be what comes to replace that non-relationship. Love is thus not a contract between two narcissists, but something more. It’s a construction that compels the participants to go beyond narcissism. In love the other tries to approach “the being of the other’, beyond narcissism. Love is what makes up for a failure of the relation between the sexes, but it is also a sign that one is changing in discourses and that one has the courage to discover.

Laure expresses that “consenting to this inexpressible real that does not change, that escapes the symbolic and that repeats, ceasing to ignore it, and having subverted the dimension of pathos attached to it, is a pass in the sense in which Lacan understands the pass in one’s analysis as the resolution of an impasse.” It is a question of chancing this real beyond the text of the fantasy. For Laure, the process involved in chancing the real, [in making a chance of the real – faire du reel hasard], is not disillusionment, but responsibility. “It is thus not a question of leaving the table of love and chance”, says Eric Laurent, “but of knowing if one loves or if one hates, and of being consistent with the decision one makes to continue playing with the Other (to continue to bet [parier] with the Other), expending one’s energy [se depenser] without keeping count. And so, love will be able to meet you there”.4

Laure concluded her seminar by sharing a fragment of a clinical case. The case was of a woman who has entered analysis in order to untangle the knots of her love life and the misunderstanding that has been established with the man of her life. Via the case Laure brought to life some of the elements that she spoke about in her seminar. On behalf of ICLO-NLS we would like to thank Laure for returning to Dublin to be with us and for her captivating and enriching transmission.


Ian Davis


1  Bauman, Z., Liquid Love: On the Frailty of Human Bonds, Polity Press, 2003, p. 10.

2 Miller, J.-A., “Parler avec son corp”, Mental, n° 27-28, p. 129-131.

3  Lacan, J., “Television” trans. Hollier, Krauss, Michelson, Television: A Challenge to the Psychoanalytic Establishment, Norton, 1990, p. 30

4 Laurent E., Faire du destin hasard, Tresses, n° 3, Bulletin de l’ACF-Aquitania, September 1999.


Report on the ICLO-NLS Seminar

with PierreGilles Guéguen

Dublin, 6th December 2013


The third clinical conversation with members of the WAP in the series for 2013-14 entitled “The Names of the Real in the 21st Century” took place in St.Vincent’s Hospital Fairview on December 6th on the topic ‘The Status of the Fantasy from Seminar VI toSeminar XXIII’with Pierre-Gilles Gueguen, AME of the ECF, NLS and WAP.

Pierre-Gilles opened the seminar by referring to Jacques-Alain Miller’s introductory address on the next NLS Congress in a text titled ‘The Other without Other’, where J.-A. Miller writes that the core of Seminar VI is not interpretation, but ‘it is the subject’s unconscious relation to the object in the desiring experience of the fantasy’. [1]

In this text, Miller précised that the object of desire is for the first time differentiated from the other person, partner or ambition, it is unconscious desire and asks what does desire aim at?. For Lacan desire is a desire for an object that causes it, that is object a. In addition to the oral and anal objects Lacan adds the gaze in Seminar X and the voice in Seminar XI. There is a continuous thread in Lacan’s thought evolution to link desire as a lack of something, a lack of being – the locus on the body of the subject will lead Lacan to formulate the drive as a source of jouissance in his later teaching.

Object a escapes the Name-of-the-Father and the paternal metaphor. This is important to understand in today’s practice and theory, putting the accent on the fact that the Name-of-the-Father is a concept of early Lacan, as civilization shows us that the position of the Name-of-the-Father does not regulate the position of the subject today. In the contemporary clinic of psychoanalysis the Name-of-the-Father is inoperant though there are still analysts who maintain the orthodoxy of the Name-of-the-Father.

The orientation of Seminar VI is based on a phrase – there is no sexual relation – that will appear later in Lacan’s teaching in Seminars XIX and XX in the 1970s: there is no harmony between partners except through the prism of the fantasy. The world and the relationship we have with the world is mediated by what Lacan calls ‘the window of the fantasy’ in Seminar XI: the fundamental fantasy is the unconscious fantasy. While the patient complains about his symptom, he does not complain about the fundamental fantasy – usually because he does not know about it. It is uncovered only through analysis, free association and through repetition. The fundamental fantasy emerges via the sayings of the analysand. It repeats itself over and over again and is not susceptible to interpretation. In other words the fantasy as such, whether it is the fundamental fantasy of a man or of a woman, is equivalent to a supplementary jouissance, to a jouissance that does not obey the phallic function.

This raises some issues that J.-A. Miller confronts when he writes that ‘psychoanalysis takes place at the level of the repressed and of the interpretation of the repressed thanks to the subject supposed to know’.[2]Today, analysands are still encouraged to free associate as much as possible – this is the dimension of the transferential unconscious, however ‘in the 21st Century it is a question of psychoanalysis exploring another dimension, that of the defence against the real without law and without meaning.[3] The thesis is, that this defence against the real is the fantasy or as Miller writes it‘..the real unconscious is not intentional: it is encountered under the modality of “that’s it”, which you could say is like our ‘amen’.[4]

At the end of lesson on 23rd May 1959 Lacan tries to define anew what is our mission, our duty as psychoanalysts. He affirms once again the task of the analyst is not to adapt the subject to reality. The key of the dimension of truth demands of the subject ‘those that concern his being’. In the dimension of fantasy there is no promise of happiness. The fundamental fantasy can bring the subject to loss and Lacan shows this in writing about Hamlet: the realization of Hamlet’s fundamental fantasy will bring his own death. There is no desire if there is no sexual fantasy that sustains that desire which Lacan also declines in another way – ‘there’s no such thing as pure desire’. Wanting-to-be cannot sustain itself without a wanting to find a testimony of being, something that brings life to desire which otherwise would be a desire for a void. J.-A. Miller says that ‘in an analysis to act is to act in such a way that the imaginary takes charge in the analytical experience of the real’[5] There is no knowledge in the real, only knowledge about the real. The closest we can go to the real is through the formula of the fundamental fantasy. The real is what cannot be said, it can be approached or circumscribed by the symbolic and imaginary, but we cannot say what the real is made of. Even the object is not the real – the object is the excitation of the part of our body, for example, the oral object is the sensation that eating produces in the mouth and the body.

The jouissance of the body is autistic: thanks to love and to the fantasy we can have relationships with partners – but in the end jouissance is autistic. Pierre-Gilles tells us that Lacan makes an important clinical point indicating that the analyst should not interpret the fundamental fantasy, as it encourages the analysand to stay attached to it. Since desire has to be sustained and mixed in with fantasy, it can be perverse if not sublimated: desire is always mixed with sexual desire, with sadism, with masochism.

Lacan offers something in Seminar VI which will last until Seminar XXX111 and more – as he asks, how do we operate if we cannot interpret the fundamental fantasy, what can we do? To answer this, Lacan elaborates on the separation and alienation of ‘the cut’ and in Seminar VI, he gives examples of the object that can be cut in neurosis and psychosis.

With regards to psychosis Pierre-Gilles spoke about the cut in the delusion via the example of Schreber. While Schreber’s fantasy is of a woman submitting to copulation, the object is the voice: it is through the voice and the voice of god that he can derive his fantasy.Lacan does not make a separation between what a psychoanalyst does with a psychotic subject and what he does with a neurotic or perverse subject. The question for psychoanalysis is where to do the cut, making the cut at the right moment.

It is the differentiation between the text of the fundamental fantasy and the object that is at stake. This is consistent with what we know from Freud. The analytic task would be to operate a good separation, that is, to keep the desire going, sustained by the fundamental fantasy and still separate from the object – that is, what is in the analysand that he does not want to know about himself.

Pierre-Gilles concluded his seminar by sharing a case and two vignettes with us. The case was of a young boy who attended analysis for eighteen months. Via the case Pierre-Gilles brought to life some of the elements that he spoke about in his earlier conversation, for example, by interpreting, by making the cut, the analyst produced a before and an after that was clearly marked for the young analysand. For Lacan, that is the definition of the analytic act or as Pierre-Gilles says, the analyst sees the effect of something, on the subject when he says it. The analyst identified the master signifier for this child which related to the paternal metaphor and the different moments when movement took place within the analysis. The analysis concluded with the child choosing a path of life and hope instead of endless repetition.

In the first vignette Pierre-Gilles spoke about a young hysteric woman whose symptom – related to the father – brought the body and her fantasy into play and the question of being either a woman or a mother as it seems it is not possible for her to embody both positions.

The second vignette related to a young girl who is very unhappy as her mother is expecting another child. Via dreams and drawings, this child reveals her fantasy and the transferential relationship allows her subjective desire to emerge.

In the afternoon session, Florencia Shanahan and Rik Loose shared two extremely interesting clinical presentations. The first case put into question and opened up a dialogue as to the differential diagnosis of the subject in question. The second case – a completed analysis – concerned the gaze and the jouissance of the gaze and Pierre-Gilles commented that it was a rich and wonderful case.

The day was an important one for ICLO members. On behalf of ICLO-NLS we thank Pierre-Gilles for his presence and generous contribution to the formation our members.

Claire Hawkes (ICLO)


[1] Presentation of the theme of the next Congress of the NLS to take place in Ghent (May 2014), given in the closing address to the 11th Congress of the NLS. To be published in Hurly Burly 10.

[2]Miller, J.-A. The Real in the 21st Century in Hurly Burly. Issue 9. 2013



[5]Lacanian Ink, 16. Miller. J.-A. The Experience of the Real in Psychoanalysis. 1998

Report on ICLO-NLS Open Seminar

9 November 2013


On Saturday 9 November 2013 ICLO-NLS held an open seminar on the theme ‘Mother … Mother … Mothers’, structured as a dialogue between literature and psychoanalysis.

In opening the event Florencia Shanahan, Chair of ICLO-NLS, referred to Freud and Lacan and how they both recognised that the artist was ‘ahead’, in touch with the beyond of speech and its effect on human subjectivity. Florencia envisaged the seminar as not a scholastic exercise but more as an attempt to create something new, which is what art is about.

Writer and broadcaster, Niall McMonagle, delivered a wide-ranging and inspiring talk entitled ‘Her Voided Lap, Her Clapping Hand’ in which he read many poems on the theme of motherhood and reflected on how these various writers approached and presented the mother. Niall also led us into the visual realm presenting, in particular, a painting by Alice Maher showing a girl peeping out from the top of a woman’s dress. The poetry was wide-ranging and rich, ranging through Evan Boland, Seamus Heaney, Sylvia Plath and many others. Though the actual volume of material presented was impressive in itself, many of us there were moved by the Niall’s actual readings of the poems, and this was reflected in the comments after the talk. All manner of mothers were summoned up and brought to life by Niall and the scene was well set for an engagement with them.

Alan Rowan’s paper then looked at the question ‘What is a Mother?’ tracing the topic from Freud to Lacan. Alan presented Freud’s conceptualization of the mother (in The Project) as the one who gives meaning to the cry of the child thus helping the child to achieve symbolic identity, along with Freud’s penis envy theory which ultimately posits motherhood as that state which fulfils every psychical need for a woman. Because Lacan situated the mother-child relationship in the Symbolic he emphasised the dialectic of desire between Mother and child and, critically, that within this dialectic the baby is recognised as a desiring subject. The paper elaborated the necessity for the mother to desire something beyond the child and for the child to experience the mother as lacking in order to be able to use her as a cause of its own desire.

Claire Hawkes then presented a paper on working clinically with mothers with a diagnosis of post natal depression. Claire made very clear the connection between the ‘care’ that baby receives and the field of language, (both symbolic and material), in which it is situated. Psychoanalytic therapy with the mother allows her to situate herself, her partner and the baby within the symbolic order. The paper ended with a vignette from the work of C. Mathelin where the analyst speaks directly to a distressed three month old baby, working within the materiality of language to present the baby with an alternative path, which allowed her calm down and sleep.

Linda Clarke’s paper ‘Mother Ireland … The Myth’ traced the traditional personification of Ireland as woman and mother noting how the identification of ‘the land’ as female reinforced the view of woman as passive and something to be possessed rather than as a speaking subject. The conflation of ‘woman’ and ‘mother’ continued in the 1937 Irish Constitution. However, as Linda’s paper described, women who became mothers outside of the strict Catholic and social norms were treated harshly and frequently denied their rights, their babies and a voice. The paper concluded with the present day example of the untimely death in hospital of Savita Halappanavar and her child; perhaps her husband, Praveen’s, desire for truth is helping us to move from the experience of Mother as object and allowing the singular, subjective mother to emerge.

The second part of the day began with a talk from poet and novelist, Mary O’Donnell, entitled ‘Mothering and Daughtering: Cryptic, Complex, Simple’. Using the Demeter-Persephone relationship (and a beautiful and witty poem of her own woven around this motif) Mary reflected on both the powerful impact of giving birth and the transformative nature of a co-operative mother-daughter relationship. The emergence of the grandmother evokes the ‘daughtering’, where the mother is no longer the giver of care. Mary’s poem ‘Mother, I am Crying’ presented the theme powerfully. Other aspects of mother were also explored including the crone and the relationship with food (from nurture to eating disorder). Mary ended with a poem she wrote from a desire to console. ‘Return to Clay’ finishes:

Lean in close, feel the strong arms

of old clay – powdered, heavy,

wet, wormed – feel

what knew your nature

before you knew yourself.

Florencia Shanahan spoke of ‘Things to be Born(e)’, the homophony evoking the unconscious and the impossibility of being at one with one says or means or is. Acknowledging the Freudian notion of the baby as the way in which the mother may access the phallus the paper shows how Lacan (and Miller) went beyond this by pointing out how the child divides maternal subject between her being of mother and her being of woman. This division is crucial for if the child is to inscribe himself in language, the mother, through her relationship with lack must find the signifier of desire elsewhere. Poetry is invoked as one of the ways in which words can be used by us (each a divided subject) to border the unbearable and, paradoxically, there perhaps ask ‘who am I?’.

Joanne Conway’s paper ‘Leave Her to Heaven’ focussed on a particular aspect of Lacan’s use of ‘Hamlet’ in the 1958-59 Seminar ‘Desire and Its Interpretation’. The entry into language for the child, while necessary in order for it to find a place in the world, entails a loss of the mother as a source of enjoyment and pleasure. This becoming a mere effect of language and its consequences for the articulation of desire sets up the To be or not … Joanne’s paper explored the implications for Hamlet of both his father’s death and Hamlet’s rejection of his own object, Ophelia – leaving Hamlet to confront the desire of the mother.

The final discussion, chaired by Medb Ruane, included contributions from the artist Jacqueline Nicholson, whose painting ‘Mourning and Melancholia’ was used as a poster for the seminar and was exhibited in the seminar room. The discussion also touched on Lacanian work with babies, the implications for fathers and the Name of the Father, the ‘Irish Mammy’ and the variety of family and parenting structures now in existence. We ended somehow well fed yet hungry for more.

Tom Ryan (ICLO)

 Report on the ICLO-NLS Seminar with Patrick Monribot

Dublin, 28th September, 2013


In her opening address, the Chair of ICLO-NLS Florencia F.C. Shanahan welcomed all attendees and introduced Patrick Monribot from Bordeaux who was presenting to us for the first time. Patrick is a Psychoanalyst and Psychiatrist. He is also an analyst member of L’Ecole de la Cause Freudian and the WorldAssociation of Psychoanalysis (WAP). He teaches in many different clinical sections of the WAPand many different countries including Italy, Spain, and of course France.

It was reiterated that we were delighted to host the event and Patrick was thanked for traveling to Ireland in order to speak to us on: ” ‘There is no Sexual Relation‘ What Does it Mean? Clinical Consequences of Lacan’s Formulae of Sexuation”. He began by situating our reading as follows: Lacan presented the formulae of sexuation in march 1973 in chapter seven of seminar XX Encore (seen here below) which Patrick urged must be read in conjunction with two other previous writings from Ecrits.The first is The Signification of the Phallus” (1958) and the second is Guiding Remarks for a Convention of Female Sexuality” (1960).

Patrick clarified the meaning of Lacan’s celebrated phrases regarding the modalities of the- there is not; la femme n’existe pas  “the woman, does not exist” that is to sayTHE woman, the universal woman does not exist (as indicated as La barred in the schema)  & il n’y a pas de rapport sexuel  “there is no sexual relation” in the sense that the sexual relation does not cease not to be written, as Lacan states in chapter three.

The sexual relation is impossible in terms of writing – nothing allows for a ciphering that would connect the two sexes. Indeed, in 1894 Freud indicated that sexuality produced a “hole” in the psychical apparatus. In Patrick’s words this is because “the sexual relation is a pure real” and is thus irreconcilable with our subjectivity.

This non-relation is not new in Lacan who had already evoked the false evidence for the sexual act in his seminar Logic of the Fantasy onApril 12th of 1967 and returned to this topic in the seminar From an Other to the other and also in Television.

However the seminar Encore is a breakthrough in the topic: the formulae of sexuation are mathemes that write the separation between feminine and masculine positions. Ultimately, it is a writing about the impossibility of writing the sexual relation at the level of structure.

Patrick elaborated much further with logical and technical eloquence but to keep this review within reasonable limits we shall leave the tracing of the talk here and simply say that the concept is evoked beautifully in the myth ofAristophanes which can be found in Plato’s symposium; that is that man and woman once existed undivided as one creature with four arms and four legs with a head of two faces but Zeus fearing their power split humanity into their respective sexes and ever since we have been doomed to search for our missing other half.

The presentation was accessible and revealing yet so stimulating that we ran over time, though the attention of the audience never faltered. One could sense that there were questions and comments buzzing in everyone’s thoughts pitted against restraint out of consideration not to hold up our guest or those whom might have other engagements afterwards.

Quite a feat laying bare a picture of Lacan’s formulae of sexuation with such clarity, precision, and high resolution balanced against such a close reading of the surrounding texts. We sincerely look forward to Patrick’s next visit.

Michael Power

Report on the ICLO-NLS screening of Other Voices

Dublin, 5th September 2013


The opening event of the ICLO-NLS 2013/2104 programme was a particularly auspicious moment, not solely in terms of the psychoanalytic community in Ireland, but for those in the English speaking world interested in hearing something of Psychoanalysis and Autism.

On the 5th of September, 2013 in association with the Instituto Cervantes Dublin, an open screening of the world premiere in English of the documentary Other Voices – A different outlook on Autism was held.

Those in attendance were joined by the film’s maker Ivan Ruiz who spoke frankly and engagingly about his film.

Chair of ICLO-NLS Florencia F.C. Shanahan opened proceedings introducing both the film and Ivan Ruiz. She stressed the importance of the film in engaging with the world of the subjects with autism, their families and psychoanalysis, but also in bringing to the fore the other often unspoken yet crucial dimensions that surround the clinic of autism, namely those of a political nature which drive the elements of diagnosis, method of treatment, resourcing and financial assistance.

Joanne Conway made a short address, noting the relevance of this documentary as a means to transmit something to someone – that is something about the position of psychoanalysis to support and uphold for each who undergo it, their idiosyncratic way of being in the world. She then introduced the formation of a Special Interest Group within ICLO-NLS pertaining to Child and Adolescent Psychoanalysis. This group comprises practitioners in the field – not solely from the Lacanian orientation – who seek to interrogate the challenges posed by this clinic.

After the viewing of the film a discussion with the audience took place. Ivan Ruiz spoke candidly about the making of this film, and his motivation to do so being drawn from both a personal experience of autism and psychoanalysis. Another motivation for him was the risk he perceived in society in terms of a change in the conception of what it means to be human – that is how the “subject” is more and more reduced to an ideology of statistical conceptions of what it is to be human. It is a risk for all subjects, but particularly for those with autism and that is why he wished, via the medium of this film, to reach a larger public. This film is a “response to this risk of our civilisation”. He stated he was not a filmmaker, which was disputed by one speaker from the audience – who spoke of the overwhelming and moving testimony of those who spoke, which as filmmaker he unobtrusively and respectfully conveyed.

The question of diagnosis was raised from the audience stressing that whilst psychoanalysis valorises singularity – a diagnosis can be “helpful”. Ruiz responded and stated that in the film, diagnosis is indeed important – and for psychoanalysis it is a means to orient a treatment – a treatment which does not erase the subject as for psychoanalysis each subject with autism is different. Ruiz noted that while we do not yet have a diagnosis for living – it is sure to be coming! Ruiz continued that The Autism does not exist – an Autism for all does not exist and that was an important message to transmit in the film, and so he purposefully did not include any autistic child in the film as there was a risk of creating an “image of autism”. This is not a film to show anything but “to hear something”. And yet each of the children named (by parents, grandparents and analysts) in the film is vitally present – as evidenced via another question from the audience.

An audience member was struck by intense desire articulated by those parents interviewed. Watching the film one is witness in part to the devastation, powerlessness and loss some parents experienced in being presented with a diagnosis of autism and with it a paucity of hope of anything beyond that for their child. But then there is a terrific turn in the piece whereupon an analyst speaking about her work with autistic children emphasises the particularity of each and the fact that each child has a name. The name of course being an ultimate signifier of the desire of the Other. After she speaks each parent in turn then introduces the viewer to their child via his or her name. As each parent names their child something amazing radiates from the screen. Smiles, laughter, love, a tidal wave of desire of each parent/grandparent for each child and their particular gifts and way of being. It is a visceral moment and a radical departure from the language spoken at the beginning of the documentary. It is palpable how psychoanalysis has supported both the singularity of the child and a treatment of the Other (parents) allowing for the creation/restoration of a radical and singular relationship. Ivan Ruiz commented on the dimension of desire in terms of autism as highlighted by the questioner – how in Lacanian psychoanalysis desire is usually only articulated in terms of the neurotic yet here we clearly see the place of desire for these subjects – one only has to listen to the young man Albert and his interest (among many) in Tin Tin – an interest of his father’s originally and one his paternal grandfather also supported/encouraged via his drawings. So something in terms of desire is transmitted and accepted to an extent by the subject. Ruiz noted that the effect of psychoanalysis here is to restore desire via the speech of the parents about each of their children.

What was also evidenced in the film was the particular demand on parents and analysts alike to invent a new clinic/treatment case by case. This approach encompasses vital work with parents and child toward the possibility of opening new pathways through which the parents (and others) may enter the world of the child.

Time was forever at our heels in this event and the discussion came to a close long before it was ever near ending. In closing Florencia thanked those in attendance with particular thanks to Ivan Ruiz, and noted that the questions of the evening pointed to some controversial points in the film equally for those who were psychoanalysts and those who are not, and perhaps point to those elements we each take on ourselves to understand.

The event was a great success, evidenced in the record numbers in attendance. This film is a testament to the lives of autistic subjects and their families. A testimony of their courage to persevere and hold fast to their struggle to uphold subjectivity above all and a powerful account of how an encounter with psychoanalysis can make a difference for each. This film must be heard.

Joanne Conway (ICLO)


Report on the 2nd ICLO-NLS Study-Day

Dublin, 8th June 2013


In her opening address, the Chair of ICLO-NLS Florencia F.C. Shanahan welcomed all attendees and in particular Dominique Holvoet, President of the New Lacanian School, who travelled to Ireland to work with us.  She reiterated the function of the event as an occasion for the group to expose, question, and bear witness to their engagement with the psychoanalytic discourse.

The Lacanian conception of psychosis is very different to that of any other approach; for Lacan psychosis is not the name of a class. Nor can psychosis be reduced to a structure, in deficit with regards to others. However, the psychotic has to order his world without reference to established discourses.In this hyper-modern time, the question arises as to where delusion begins and ends. Florencia then made mention of two references to delusion which she urged be kept in mind throughout the day. The first one by Freud, in ‘Psychoanalytical notes on an autobiographical account of a case of paranoia’ and the second one by Jacques-Alain Miller, in ‘Ordinary Psychosis Revisited’, where he states that to be an analyst is to know your own phantasm is a delusion and to attempt to abandon it so that you may perceive the delusion of your analysand. The subtitle of the Study-Day, namely ‘Belief, Certainty, Invention’ refers less to the psychotic and more to the transmission of the psychoanalyst, to what is at play in each individual’s singular encounter with a speaking-being.

The first session entitled “Psychosis Today”, was chaired by Linda Clarke who introduced Marlene ffrench Mullen and Alan Rowan. In Marlene’s paper ‘Life has no meaning…’ her underlying question, arising from the last Congress ‘What do we call psychosis today?’ is what does it mean to say that the Name-of-the-Father (NOTF) does not operate? We need to know what we are referring to when we speak of the NOTF- the No of the father. If the paternal metaphor operates, it names ones being, keeps the jouissance of the other at bay and installs the capacity to love. According to Lacan, in relation to how women love, how they come into being, he asserted that they are spoken into being. They demand that men speak about them and it is in this way that a woman, if language is incorporated, receives being from the other. Language issues a subject being and having- that is, a body. A symptom starts with two people and is spread out over the four positions of the discourses, where the subject is represented by S1 for S2.Language does not necessarily house jouissance but the body can. Compensation and substitution can enable a subjective soldering of the psychotic hole. The sinthome is more stable than imaginary mechanisms.

Alan in his paper ‘Dreams in Psychosis’, began by saying that while for Freud dreams were the royal road to the unconscious, they are not spoken about as much now. Lacanian analysts work with a differential clinic, that is, treat psychotic and neurotic analysands differently. With his language the psychotic attempts to name an unnameable jouissance and in this way to make a name for himself. The question of how to work clinically with dreams was then posed. Primary process thinking is evident in both dreams and psychosis. One difference however is that dreams allow a temporary withdrawal of external reality while in psychosis there is the real of experience, no withdrawal possible and a struggle to find relief. In psychotic patients there is a loss of dream associations, what is being dealt with is the real unconscious, the unconscious of jouissance, dream images are primitive attempts at representation and the dream simply is what it is, an experience. Alan proposed three answers to the question of how to work with psychotic dreams in general- treat them as a direct representation of the psychotic preoccupation of the subject, understand them as a symbolic frame and a way of allowing another relationship to knowledge to emerge away from the certainty of delusion, appreciate them as offering the possibility of an alternative construction of the subject’s history, his narrative.

The second session entitled “Belief in the Other”, was chaired by Lorna Kernan who introduced Caroline Heanue and Claire Hawkes. Caroline’s paper ‘An Inquiry. Ireland’s scandalous brutal silence’, referenced Peter Tyrrell, a man who set himself on fire in London, was in Letterfrack Industrial School since age 8 and was quoted as saying that his story, which is true, should be written in his own name. His story was published but not until some 40 years later. In the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse 2009, revelations were exposed which ruptured the social bond and made clear the failings of Church and State. The remit of the Report was to investigate abuse but much was excluded. Following it the Redress Board was set up and generic apologies were given. The national reaction was shock and disbelief -we did not know. This is representative of the discourse of Ireland which wants to know nothing. In Letterfrack supposed juvenile delinquents were separated from peers and inserted into the Real of abuse. The institution was the embodiment of a totemic father where there was no love, protection or phantasy. Locals were mute. The Report refers to two matters not previously spoken of – the enjoyment by locals of both School events and of the boys themselves. Silence continues to deny the past, there is a knowing without knowing, it is a discourse not yet concluded, a past with effects that can only be spoken of singularly.

Claire’s paper ‘The repercussions of psychosis on the subject and the other’, opened with two vignettes. In each, there is devastation for the spouse when something of a psychotic structure is revealed in their partner upon marriage, in the first case, and after marriage but upon signing for a new house, in the second. Two questions come to the fore – what kept the couples together before these events, and what triggered the psychoses and destruction of their relationships thereafter. In expanding these points, reference was made to aspects of Freud and Lacan’s work and also that of Francois Sauvagnat and his comments on elementary phenomena. These are delusional phenomena which the subject can often manage until such a time as they develop fully – if this is to occur- into a delusional or hallucinatory experience. The study of elementary phenomena is thus crucial. Clinically, the diagnosis of psychosis is based on the presence of these phenomena. A potential answer to the question of what held the couples together is that this pairing served as an imaginary identification – a mechanism which functioned but was devoid of symbolic consistency. In response to the question of the triggering of the psychosis/collapse of the relationship, one notes both a structural and contingent elements. In these cases the signing of the marriage register, and the paperwork for the house respectively, each of these being a symbolic act.

The third session entitled “Certainty of the Object”, was chaired by Gerard Power who introduced Rik Loose and Susan McFeely. In his paper ‘Mania’, Rik commented that many patients he has received have come with diagnoses of mood disorders. It is reductionist to state that melancholia is the polar opposite of mania. The question arises as to how to understand mood disorders psychoanalytically? A vignette showed how the one particular analysand equates language with jouissance– it runs away with her and disconnects her from the Other. The analyst must treat the world the melancholic inhabits; to confront the truth that life is a semblance. The melancholic despises himself, enraptured by the pure culture of the death drive. Mania, within the context of depression and modern subjectivity, sees the subject set adrift, susceptible to the contingencies of modern life, the signifier has lost some traction. Mania is not the opposite but the other side of depression. In melancholia, it is not the object but rather the ideal that is lost, and once lost it is introjected as compensation into the ego. All identifications with the ideal object have their shadow side – I am nothing. In melancholia, jouissance is unlimited and internalised within the ego. In mania, the object does not provide an anchoring, there is no object cause of desire. The non- functioning of the object in melancholia has a very particular effect.

In her paper ‘Heroin or Heroin(e)?’, Susan indicated her intention to chart the movement from Freud to Lacan in relation to addiction and toxicomania, in response to the question of the function of heroin in the clinic of psychosis. Tension exists between pleasure and non-pleasure. Intoxicating substances allow the individual to take refuge in their own world which is detrimental to the subject. Subject must find for himself the particular way he can be saved. There are two outcomes for man; consolation in yield of pleasure afforded by substances or, psychosis. The psychotic can’t articulate jouissance to the law. Language is the treatment for jouissance. While three mechanisms for treating it are possible, substitution was focused on. In the clinic a new symptom is evident in toxicomania, a new organisation which defers a triggering. In one case, the triggering was around becoming a father. Heroin was this man’s solution, one which saved him but is deadly. Psychosis is not being for the Other, toxicomania is something different – it precludes the Other, severs the social link. Drugs govern, regulate and manage jouissance. Being clean is unbearable for this man and so he goes back using. The psychotic’s use of drugs is different to the neurotic’s; the command to abstain can be detrimental. Analyst knows wish to save this analysand must cease, her hope must be given up to facilitate something else to emerge.

The fourth and final session entitled “Inventing One-self” was chaired by Florencia who introduced Joanne Conway and Tom Ryan. Joanne clarifies that the name of her paper “Limitless” is that of a film and also a signifier that has emerged in her work with analysand. The film’s character, Eddie, is a struggling writer who has great plans which can never come to fruition until he discovers a pill that enables him to do anything. Soon however he is confronted with his own limit; when his body breaks down from the drug and when he cannot live up to this version of himself for the Other. The opening scene shows him on a balcony- it’s time to pay the price- but he doesn’t jump, he has one more game to play with the Other. The analysand in question, however, did jump from the roof. For him, the voice takes up the place of the vacillation between mania and melancholia. In jumping, he sought not death but the imposition of a limit, a solution to his limitlessness.

In his paper, ‘Ordinary Psychosis in Paul Thomas Anderson’s film The Master’, Tom spoke of the film and its central character, an oiler in the Navy, named Freddie Quell. He is an alcoholic, a man with a difficult relationship to language. The concept of being pinned down is pervasive. For a time, he becomes attached to the Master, Dodd, the leader of cult who peddles his theories nationwide. Freddie struggles with the social bond, always on the periphery of a group. In one particular moment there is potential for a triggering- when taking a picture of an older man a child is heard crying in the background- in this instant the gaze and voice intersect and there is an encounter with the Real father. Dodd’s wife is threatened by Freddie as she recognises that the men love each other at the level of substance and lalangue. Perhaps Freddie is less an ordinary psychotic and more a man surrounded by ordinary psychosis. The Master and his followers could be ordinary psychotics. On board the yacht, there are many examples of what Marie-Helene Brousse describes as super-social behaviour – the group are compliant and obedient, diligently listening to the Master. When the time comes for the men to go their separate ways, Dodd wishes Freddie luck in finding a means to live without serving a master, a feat that he believes has been attained by no other. Alone again, Freddie seeks other ways of being pinned down, anchored.

Throughout this most enjoyable day, discussion was plentiful. Comments were made, and questions asked, of each speaker and after every session. Contributions were forthcoming from many of the attendees and those from Dominique showed clearly both his careful reading of, and attention to, the material as well as his undoubted engagement with the work itself. In particular, he noted the quality of the papers and the myriad of themes and concepts being worked on.

While it is impossible to capture fully the richness of the issues raised, among them were the following: the operation and potential disappearance of the NOTF today, determining how to work with the dreams of a psychotic subject, abuse of boys in Letterfrack as a voiceless trauma, the functioning of imaginary compensations in the stage of pre-psychosis, the chiasm through which a melancholic subject can fall, toxicomania as a symptom of the 21st century and evidence of the constant connection between the object and the surplus of jouissance, the psychotic subject possessing the knowledge that the problem is language,and the status of the master and the ideology of freedom.

In her closing address, Florencia thanked all attendees and then announced a number of upcoming local and international events before wishing everyone a good summer break.

Carmel Dalton (ICLO)

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 leftby 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


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.

Jean-Pierre Klotz

1) Play 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  PierreGilles Guéguen

Dublin, 14th January 2012


The fourth of the ICLO-NLSClinical Conversation Series 2011/12 took place on Saturday January 14th 2012 in Dublin. PierreGilles 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 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.

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.

Carmel Dalton (ICLO)

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’ (

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)