The Marks of a Psychoanalysis

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Is someone radically different after an analysis? Since Freud, psychoanalysis has been questioned about what the psychoanalytic experience can change in someone's life beyond shedding light on symptoms. Drawing on literature, philosophy and a range of psychoanalytic theorists and practitioners, Luis Izcovich addresses the effects of psychoanalysis on the individual who has the desire and the courage to enter an analytic treatment and take it to its endpoint. The subject bears the marks of his childhood and these have repercussions on the choices that he makes in life. Do these marks determine him or does he have a choice in making his destiny? How do the transformations brought about in the transference change the subject? And does the analysis leave a distinguishing and locatable mark? Luis Izcovich attempts to answer these questions from a Lacanian perspective.

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Chapter One - Time and the Unconscious

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Time and the Freudian unconscious

The Freudian thesis states that the unconscious does not recognise time. This raises some fundamental questions: How does the subject represent time? How does psychoanalytic doctrine resolve the absence of time? What are the implications for praxis? And can the practice of psychoanalysis even be envisaged without reference to time in the unconscious?

It is important to note that if the Freudian unconscious does not include the measurement of time, it does, nevertheless, constitute the source of the subject's representation of time. How does the unconscious determine time? In his paper “Formulations on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning” (1911b), Freud postulates that the psychic apparatus cannot be reduced to the pleasure-unpleasure principle, suggesting the necessity of a certain kind of adaptation. This involves the establishment of the reality principle; it blocks continuous satisfaction by introducing a delay that limits satisfaction to certain moments only. Freud then puts forward the idea of periodicity, but without indicating that it depends on the unconscious. The sense organs that are turned towards the external world establish a periodic activity of consciousness, which introduces a system of marks that provide the psychic apparatus with a rhythm.

 

Chapter Two - Borges, Lacan, Poetry, Time

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From full speech to prose

Jorge Luis Borges and Lacan never met although they were born one year apart and their work covers much of the twentieth century. An Argentinian writer, Borges was never interested in psychoanalysis; he even equated it with science fiction. Lacan, a French psychoanalyst, never went to Argentina, and he did not make psychoanalysis into a science. Nevertheless, he introduced a new epistemic question: what would a science that includes psychoanalysis look like? Even though their positions appear to be very divergent, I think that there is a place where Borges and Lacan meet; it is situated at the level of poetry.

This is not just about a point of agreement, nor is it a matter of taste, for that is always singular. Their point of convergence is in poetry's capacity to shed light on what language is. In order to approach this, I will try to show how Borges's poetry illuminates the new perspective that Lacan introduces into psychoanalysis, one that involves time. Indeed, if the Freudian thesis is that the unconscious does not know time, thereby excluding it, how can the action of the psychoanalyst situate what does not exist? Despite Borges's comment on psychoanalysis, we will make use of what he says and writes about time in order to show how the analytic operation involves time in a non-arbitrary way. In this sense, it is Borges who instructs psychoanalysis.

 

Chapter Three - Haste and Exit

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The politics of time

If the unconscious does not know time, then the orientation of an analysis cannot be restricted to that of deciphering the unconscious. Lacan stated this clearly in 1972 in his “…ou pire, compte-rendu du séminaire 1971–1972” (Lacan, 2001 [1975a]). There, Lacan reminds us of the essence of the Freudian discovery of the unconscious, that it is structured like a language. But rather than putting the emphasis on Freud's discovery, he places it on the creation of the analytic instrument. Lacan speaks of an upper storey, of another zone “where the real touches the real”, and adds that this is what he has elaborated as the analytic discourse.

Accordingly, the analytic perspective is not only supported by the fact that the symbolic enables the real of the subject to be circumscribed, it also considers the way in which the analysand-analyst couple in analysis is gripped by the real. “The real touches the real” not only indicates the possibility of an analytic effect not limited to that of revealing the repressed signifier, but also that the analysand's real can be modified without passing through the symbolic.

 

Chapter Four - The Moments to Conclude

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Moment or moments?

You will have noticed that the question of time concerns the whole of the analytic experience, but of special importance is the idea analysts have of how analyses end. There is on the one hand the evidence of experience, that is to say, the observable facts, and on the other hand what analysts say about how and when an analysis should end. It is clear that Lacan established this moment of concluding as singular. He used the sophism of the three prisoners to suggest a process that follows a precise sequence: the instant of seeing, the time for understanding, and the moment to conclude. This is unambiguous in a text published after the introduction in 1967 of his proposition on the pass. So, in “L'acte psychanalytique, compte-rendu du séminaire 1967–1968” (2001 [1969]), Lacan refers to an elective moment, that of the act, to mark the passage from analysand to analyst. It concerns a specific moment that is logical and distinct.

Lacan invented a specific instrument to assess this moment. This is the instrument of the pass. Its objective was not to create a rule for the formation of the analyst but to make an offer to those who wish to testify to this moment of the passage to the analyst. Lacan created the term “passand” for those who offer to make such a testimony and proposed the term “jury” for those assigned to assess the testimony. This term “jury” was then replaced by that of “cartel” in the schools where the pass functions, thereby emphasising the dimension of epistemic elaboration instead of the candidate's assessment. Between the passand and the jury, Lacan introduced the term “passer” for the one who gathers the testimony of the passand to transmit to the jury. The experience of the pass, which is that of each passand, is deposited as knowledge for the cartel on condition that there has been a working through (élaboration) on the part of the passand, an accurate testimony on the part of the passer, and a working through afterwards by the cartel.

 

Chapter Five - The Necessary Symptom

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The symptom and the Freudian unconscious

On the question of the status of the symptom, Lacan followed the work of Freud: the symptom is to be necessarily articulated with the unconscious. This has not been the case for all those who claim to be analysts, and it is not at all the case for all those who offer, as clinicians, to treat symptoms. I am referring here to all forms of psychotherapy, including of course analytically inspired psychotherapies. There is no doubt that Lacan, seeking to define the place of the symptom in the clinic, refers to the unconscious, and vice versa. The evidence for this is that when he changes the status of the unconscious it has repercussions on his conception of the symptom. It is not my intention to restrict myself here to a commentary on Lacan's teaching, but rather to draw out a fundamental question that could shed light on a current debate.

This is a debate that has a bearing on the clinic. It is even a debate among analysts. I will set out the two sides of the debate. On one side, we have those who maintain the existence of a modern subject, the effect of contemporary discourse, less sensitive to the effects of the unconscious, and thus averse to psychoanalysis. On the other side, there are those who hold the view that the structure of the subject remains stable, contemporary discourse only changing the form of the subject's presentation. What is at issue in the debate is clear: if all clinicians agree that the modalities of the symptom have changed since the invention of psychoanalysis, is it a question of preserving the logic of the analytic instrument in order to treat symptoms, or is it a question of finding more modern forms with which to approach them? In short, should analysts make an aggiornamento with their way of understanding the clinic? This is what justifies a return to the analytic conception of the symptom, which is also my contribution to this debate.

 

Chapter Six - What Holds Together

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Points of support

“It no longer works.” It is in these terms, a formulation that is far from new, that the subject explains his coming to see the analyst. Be it because his relationship no longer works, as in the case where it is the couple that no longer works, or in other cases because what has always functioned proves one day to be insufficient. The fact that it no longer works raises the question of how it once worked, and especially how it would work after an analysis. The question of the subject's points of support, namely those that support his existence, is present at every entry into analysis. Sometimes, some analysands develop it positively by referring to what they value most. For psychoanalysis, it is a question of a double perspective that will challenge our conception about its ends.

On the one hand, it concerns what makes the whole hold together. On that point Lacan changes, for in introducing the idea that the real supplies the element that makes the whole hold together he separates himself from the belief that this was only possible via the symbolic. On the other hand, and in relation to what came before, Lacan aims to revise the way in which the imaginary, symbolic, and real registers hold together.

 

Chapter Seven - Lapsus of the Knot

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Guarantee from the real

Does what is subtracted from consciousness—which is no less structured by the symbolic, that is to say, by the unconscious—have a chance of being grasped as real? It took Lacan some time to raise the question and then to prove the answer. His teaching testifies to it. It took time, first of all, to demonstrate that the unconscious responds to the knowledge of lalangue and is structured like a language. Undoubtedly, the time also to see how his own love of truth was a mirage, a cover for what is the most authentic kernel of a subject. Indeed, the search for truth runs throughout Lacan's teaching since his first seminars and constitutes his orientation. This can be seen very clearly with the orientation of the symptom, which has been the axis of his teaching. In Lacan's theory, the symptom was considered for a long time to be what constitutes the truth of the subject.

The change of perspective that he introduced with the notion of the mirage of truth necessarily involves another dimension for psychoanalysis, namely the orientation to the real. This has an impact on the status of the symptom and correlatively on that of the unconscious. Consequently, beyond the knowledge about what limits the symbolic in the unconscious, namely the real of the symbolic, another question asserts itself: is it from having pushed the symbolic to the limit of the impossible that the guarantee of this real emerges?

 

Chapter Eight - The Writing of the Symptom

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The symptom, frozen speech

When Freud makes free association the fundamental rule of analysis, he bases this on the experience of speech. He starts from the principle that the analytic process, which works against repression, aims at making censored speech emerge, access to which would liberate the analysand. Lacan chose the same perspective at the beginning of his teaching, giving full speech a different status to that of empty speech in that it allows the desire of the subject to be named. The dichotomy empty speech/full speech gives the session its tempo, and the aim of each session would be to obtain the transition from the chatter of empty speech to the subject-effect produced by full speech. The latter would allow the being of the subject to be assumed and this then becomes an objective for analysis. Freud never abandons free association but he poses a limit to the idea that everything can be said. Very early on, and after “The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of Its Power”, Lacan also abandoned the idea that it is possible to capture desire through speech, concluding that they are incompatible.

 

Chapter Nine - The Clinic of Limits

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A debate about diagnosis

Sometimes in psychoanalysis there are cases of diagnostic difficulty where the clinical signs remain discreet and where the phenomena do not have the status of fundamental symptoms belonging to a structure. It is not uncommon that a diagnosis is expected at the entry into analysis, but if the entry requires that an Other incarnate the place from which the subject supposed to know is constituted for the subject, that does not imply that the constitution of the subject supposed to know is specific to neurosis, nor that the absence of its constitution excludes neurosis. This is why analytic practice does not make diagnosis a prerequisite for entering an analysis, although it does consider diagnosis to be important.

Psychoanalysis is not reserved exclusively for neurotics; there are certainly non-neurotics in analysis. But should we conclude that every non-neurotic is a psychotic? That is an old debate and the conclusion has varied according to the theories of the time. Because of this, analysts have delineated clinical categories that were formerly absent in psychoanalytic nosography, with the aim of filling in a diagnostic void that has been something of an embarrassment for the clinician. Where Freud had sought to place limits on the clinic, thus promoting a discontinuity in diagnosis, a suture had to be made in order to re-establish the continuum.

 

Chapter Ten - How did Winnicott Analyse?

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The right style

While an analyst's theoretical framework may be called Freudian, Lacanian, or Winnicottian, there is so much diversity that we need to specify what this might mean. To refer to Winnicott in the context of the marks of psychoanalysis is to consider the clinical consequences of his theoretical innovations. This is not in order to look for deviations in his practice, in relation to some orthodoxy, but rather to show what Winnicott's practice has brought to psychoanalysis, while at the same time noting its limitations and points of impasse.

Let's begin with two of Lacan's remarks. In Television, he responds to a question about the cure (guérison) in psychoanalysis in this way: “In order to work, a practice does not need to be elucidated: this is what can be deduced from that” (1990 [1974], p. 7). It is in this sense that I am not going to try to map Winnicott's concepts onto Lacan's, but to explore his clinical modus operandi. The second remark concerns the clinical use of the object a. Lacan recognises in Winnicott a precursor for his elaboration of this object, but the fact remains that there is a distance between the two authors. Lacan even makes a point of saying that the object a is his only invention in psychoanalysis. Nevertheless, he emphasises that few analysts know how to handle it even if they come to his seminars. A theory does not guarantee a practice and the question of Winnicott's concept of the transitional object exemplifies this. Its importance for Lacan is not due so much to the autonomy that it introduces in relation to the mother, but to its function of condensing jouissance. We need to discern the difference that this distinction introduces, particularly in relation to the end of the treatment. Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that in evoking “the right style”, Lacan emphasised the importance of being able to give an account of the analytic experience.

 

Chapter Eleven - Ferenczi or the Effaced Trauma

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The original experience

At a meeting in Madrid in 1928, Ferenczi addressed the question of analytic training with a talk entitled “The Process of Psychoanalytic Training” (1982, pp. 239–245). He argues that, contrary to any university discipline, the essential condition of psychoanalysis is the experience of the in-depth study of the personality—the practical training only coming later. Ferenczi also supports lay psychoanalysis at a time when the analytic movement was grappling with this problem, particularly in the United States. He takes the unprecedented step of establishing the principle that the fundamental analytic rule is the candidate's analysis. That is to say, to be analysed is the condition of becoming an analyst.

For Ferenczi, the most important requirement for the psychoanalyst is the candidate's experience of his own analysis as a basis for practice, as that is the only way that the passage from knowledge to conviction can occur. As Ferenczi formulates: “A knowledge becomes conviction.” That anticipates by almost ten years Freud's concluding proposition in “Analysis Terminable and Interminable” (Freud, 1937c) concerning the end of analysis, that there must be a conviction that the unconscious exists.

 

Chapter Twelve - Identity and Separation

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Impasses

Now, after Ferenczi and Winnicott, we will return to Lacan in order to show how he approaches the identity of the subject from a different perspective.

With Lacan, the way the end of analysis is conceived changes, and because of this the nature of the treatment is likewise reformulated. Rather than covering the trauma at the outset, calming it and reconciling the analysand with his traumatic parent, Lacan reverses the process: the traumatic parent is innocent and the analyst comes into the traumatic parent's place. Because he does so knowingly, the analyst is not really innocent. Lacan proposes that the analyst be the traumatic parent in order to extract the subject from the dimension of jouissance correlated to traumatic infantile scenes. He differs from Freud, who proposed that a battle take place in analysis that aims, through the liquidation of the transference, to liquidate the effects of the trauma. For Lacan, the question of identity is an essential axis in approaching this question.

 

Chapter Thirteen - The Mark of the Father

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The substance of the Name-of-the-Father

The reworking of the modern family—the effect of medically assisted reproduction and changes to the law—raises an old question in an acute way. When psychoanalysts take up a position outside the framework of analysis, in a media interview, for example, do they respond from the perspective of psychoanalysis or from their position as subjects? We need to take into account the extent to which their critique is based on the supposedly conservative character of psychoanalysis and then to specify what the psychoanalytic view would be in the current context. The phantasy that the sexes are equal with regard to procreation, which effaces difference, is not only omnipresent but is favoured by scientific progress. Examining the question of nomination offers an instructive approach to the implications of this development and thus we must refer in the first instance to the Name-of-the-Father.

Lacan's introduction of the Name-of-the-Father occurs in the context of an objection to the way the programme of science removes the human dimension. Psychoanalysis resists any attempt at reduction to the purely biological. The analytic project is congruent with science in its approach to matters concerning the family, but goes against considerations that rest on the so-called “natural order” of things. Indeed, the analytic project bases the human's coming-into-being in the conditions for socialisation, that is, in the subject's link to the father. This notion starts with Freud's introduction of the Oedipus and is continued in Totem and Taboo, where the father becomes the foundation of the subject, and in Moses and Monotheism, where Freud concludes by maintaining the decisive character of the father in the subject's constitution.

 

Chapter Fourteen - The Being of Jouissance

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The subject in question

The subject is determined by the signifier. On the one hand, Lacan's thesis establishes a relation of dependence—the subject is linked to the signifier- and, on the other hand, a relation of dominance—the signifier is primary and determines the constitution of the subject. The condition of the subject is in the Other of language, and this implies that the subject's entry into language determines his access to the symbolic. This is not, however, Lacan's final thesis. The introduction of the term parlêtre is an answer to Lacan calling into question his own elaboration concerning the status of the symbolic. What then is the problem and what solution does Lacan propose?

Lacan's definition of the subject is simultaneously the definition of the signifier. This definition is constant in his teaching: “A signifier is what represents a subject for another signifier” (2006 [1960], p. 694, trans. mod.). It designates the subject from the perspective of the chain of signifiers, the structure of the subject being the result of how the unconscious chain exercises its effects. This raises the question of the place of the body, which remains absent in this theory, and more precisely, of its connection with the concept of the subject.

 

Chapter Fifteen - Scraps of Discourse

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The mark of desire

Referring to the work of Jean Delay, in “The Youth of Gide, or the Letter and Desire”, Lacan approaches the question of the effect of the desire of the Other on the position of the subject. What is central to Lacan's elaboration is how André Gide was enveloped by the love of his mother without us being able, however, to perceive the existence of a maternal desire.

Jean Delay had seen the consequence of the maternal position for the writer, namely, a separation between love and desire in the relation to the Other. Lacan will make of this disjunction a key in the clinic of love life. Thus “The Signification of the Phallus”, published shortly after “The Youth of Gide”, treats the relation of the neurotic subject to the partner of love and desire. Lacan's thesis is precise: in men a penchant exists for a separation in their love life between the partner of love and that of desire, which does not exclude the possibility of such a disjunction on the women's side.

 

Chapter Sixteen - The Sense of the Sense-Less

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Semblance and discourse

How can a practice that does not exclude the dimension of sense and that aims at the emergence of truth also affect the kernel of being? During the 1970s, Lacan conceptualised the analytic experience on the basis of its formalisation as discourse. He thus raised the analytic dialogue to the rank of a new discourse, alongside those of the hysteric, the university, and the master. How does the analytic discourse have an effect on jouissance? It is this question that Lacan will try to answer, and it will guide the last years of his teaching.

The first logical question is this: is a discourse possible that is not semblance? Lacan develops this question during his seminar D'un discours qui ne serait pas du semblant and concludes that it is impossible: the fact of being in discourse necessarily entails semblance. This was his premise from the start, since at the beginning of the seminar he states: “The signifier is identical to the status as such of semblance” (2006 [1971], p. 15). The question is critical for it determines the reception of the analysand's speech, the effects of analytic interpretation, as well as the aims of the analytic experience, and thus of the possible appraisal of all of the above.

 

Chapter Seventeen - Grimaces of the Real or the Marks of Repetition

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The real decamps

In Television, Lacan uses the expression “grimaces of the real.” What does this expression refer to and what does it explain? Lacan evokes it in relation to a question he takes from Kant—“What should I do?”—a question we often meet with in analyses. It appears particularly at the outset of the analytic experience, when the subject, once the reason for his question is revealed, asks: “Tell me, what should I do?” We can evoke here the way Freud responded to Dora's question. Dora stops talking once she has revealed what does not work for her because of what does not work in the Other. This interruption in her discourse constitutes an implicit question addressed to Freud: “What should I do?” To which Freud replies: “What is your part in the disorder about which you complain?” This is what allows Dora to go on talking.

The analyst therefore does not respond to “What should I do?” but nor does he abstain from responding. More precisely, he does not respond as a master who knows what must be done. For the analyst is alert to the fact that the question of what to do appears systematically each time there is a failure of desire in the subject. In each analysis, it is always fundamental to explore these moments when desire proves to be unstable; it allows one to approach the real of the subject before the analysis. Lacan refers to this just before answering the question: “What should I do?” when he speaks of the real as “sense-less by nature”. What is this “sense-less by nature”? It is exactly what eludes the Kantian maxim, that is, a universal regulating each person's conduct within the perspective of a conduct common to everyone. It is here that Lacan uses the formulation: “the grimace by which the real decamps, by being taken from only one side”, and he adds: “thumbing your nose in response to the non-relation to the Other” (1990 [1974], p. 42).

 

Chapter Eighteen - Letter and Nomination

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Hypothesis of the unconscious

Our question is whether Lacan's introduction of the term “letter” into psychoanalysis, together with its conceptualisation, has consequences for the direction of the treatment and the ends of analysis. Ends should be heard in the double sense of the conclusion of the treatment and of its objectives. My choice of associating the term “nomination” with the letter indicates a direction here as it already introduces the essential function of the letter: as nomination.

Throughout Lacan's teaching, the question of the letter is connected to his elaboration of the unconscious. Similarly, the changes concerning this latter concept are accompanied by a reworking of the status of the symptom. This will allow us to understand that the letter is what justifies the notion of the real unconscious presented by Lacan as the only possible definition of the unconscious. There are two very distinct moments regarding the letter in Lacan. The first corresponds essentially to “The Purloined Letter” and “The Instance of the Letter in the Unconscious”, the second to “Lituraterre”, as well as to the seminar “R.S.I.” and the lecture “La troisième”.

 

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