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Invention in the Real

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The Papers of the Freudian School of Melbourne, Volume 24 give testament to that quasi - suicidal risk taken by analysts and members of the school, in applying, not a technique, but the Freudian method to their clinical practice, to their seminars, to their writing and to the functioning of the School itself. In pursuing a practice that seeks to avoid the inertia spoken of by Lacan, the contributors to this volume take the risk of encountering the impasses of the clinic today and the incompleteness of Lacanian theory with invention. Being marked by the residue of the psychoanalytic clinic they continue to work their transference to that clinic and to the texts of Freud and Lacan. Included in this volume is a paper by Oscar Zentner, founder of the School as well as translations of papers and extracts from books by analysts from overseas - Jean Allouch, Erik Porge, Jean Berges, Gabriel Balbo and Gustavo Etkin. To conclude with just a few indications about the diverse content and style of these papers, the title of this volume, Invention in the Real, marks both a time in the history of the Freudian School of Melbourne and a direction with regard to its orientation to theory and practice. Central to this volume are papers written to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the foundation of the School. Also approaching three decades since the death of Lacan, this series of papers addresses The Lacanian Clinic Today and examine questions of Time and History in relation to psychoanalysis.

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CHAPTER ONE. Must every psychoanalyst recapitulate the history of psychoanalysis in his own way?

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David Pereira

Not long ago, I was listening to a man in the context of those interviews preliminary to the possibility of any analysis sometimes referred to as a history taking. If indeed I was taking a history, he was certainly in the position of being able to give a history. As the interviews progressed it became clear that there may have been a trifle too much give and take, such that, despite a narrative coherence, I was left wondering where he was in this history. There was a distinct lack of markers of enjoyment and presence. This manner of proceeding eventually produced the following observation in him: that he was anguished by the fact that, in some way, he had failed to translate his history.

He elaborated that whilst he felt he represented his family, and the family name, a matter he had no choice in, that there was something which he was unable to procure for himself in that. His attempts to translate and transmit the essence of his family preserved as a “closed unity shielded from all accident, change, deformation and corruption”, as I read recently in another ‘interview’,1 left him devoid of an element which allowed him to situate his presence in it. It was clear in these interviews that he suffered from the need to preserve and perpetuate a history and that he had clearly succeeded in this regard. The statement, therefore, that he had failed to translate his history, stood in some contrast to the success with which he had preserved and perpetuated it.

 

CHAPTER TWO. Once upon a time

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Michael Plastow

In his seminar The Object Relation, Lacan sets out to provide a critique of the prevalence in psychoanalysis of the object relations approach or theory which re-centred the analytic endeavour on the object. He puts forward that through this movement the object had become the prime theoretical element in analysis at the expense of sustaining the focus in psychoanalysis on the drive, desire and so on. He notes though that in regard to this object relation it is difficult to set out from the Freudian texts themselves because it is not in them and that this direction thus constituted a deviation of analytic theory.

Nonetheless, Lacan refers us to the last section of Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality entitled “The Finding of an Object”. Here we might consider the relevant passage from this text. Freud puts forward that:

At a time at which the first beginnings of sexual satisfaction are still linked with the taking of nourishment, the sexual drive has a sexual object outside the infant’s body in the shape of the mother’s breast. It is only later that the drive loses that object, just at the time, perhaps, when the child is able to form a total idea of the person to whom the organ that is giving him satisfaction belongs. As a rule the sexual drive then becomes auto-erotic, and not until the period of latency has been passed through is the original relation restored. There are thus good reasons why a child sucking at his mother’s breast has become the prototype of every relation of love. The finding of an object is in fact a refinding of it.1 [My italics]

 

CHAPTER THREE. On Nachträglichkeit

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Christiane Weller

[…] one cannot say that we have cause to be entirely satisfied with its translation. There are some peculiar inaccuracies, which go right to the limit of impropriety. Some of them are astonishing. They all tend in the same direction which is to efface the sharp edges of the text. For those who know German, I cannot recommend referring to the original text too much.1

Here, in Seminar I, Lacan refers to the French translation of Freud’s paper on “The dynamics of transference” but his words may also apply to the English translation of Freud’s entire oeuvre.

The adjective nachträglich and the noun Nachträglichkeit, which Freud uses first in his “Project” of 1895,2 engender a conceptualisation of the effects of time and the production of history/memory in regard to meaning. It is often translated into English as either deferred or delayed action, as retroactivity or sometimes as belatedness, Lacan continues to use the German term but translates it as après-coup. While Freud is normally credited with the “invention” of the term, Harold Bloom contends that it is derived from the Jewish Kabbalah. The term Nachträglichkeit has come to play an important role in German historiography and sociology, particularly in the fields of memory and trauma studies as they have emerged in the past twenty years or so. The differing translations of the term into English have long rendered it unspecific and delayed a theorisation in the English-speaking world.

 

CHAPTER FOUR. Time out of number

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Peter Gunn*

In The Goon Show, a BBC radio comedy of the 1950s, Bluebottle, the earnest boy-scout character, asks a seemingly straightforward question: “What time is it?” If the response which Eccles, another child-like character, gives to the question is equally straightforward, it nevertheless upsets our expectations: “Err, just a minute. I’ve got it written down here on a piece of paper.” A nice man wrote the time down for me this morning.’

Why, after all this time, do we laugh? In part this has to do with our recognising that this exchange falls into a well-known genre, that of the comic double act. In such acts the one who is questioned is the funny man and the one who poses the questions to the other is the stooge. In our example Bluebottle is the innocent abroad who, by his interrogation of the funny man Eccles, functions as the stooge.

But Eccles also bears a resemblance to that creature which we call the clown. The clown is something else again. With the entry of the clown, the comic genre no longer holds; something disturbing now creeps in. The clown is absolutely certain about his position, so much so that, with his air of unconcern, he may begin to make us concerned about something regarding which, up till then, we ourselves had had the assurance of common sense.

 

CHAPTER FIVE. The origin of language

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Michael Plastow

And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.1

This is one account of the origin, of the genesis of language, a type of traditional or naïve account in which it functions as a series of signs that stand in for things, or referents. The beginnings of the discipline of linguistics were also imbued in the notion that one could find an origin to language, an original language. Modern linguistics, with Chomsky for instance, has returned to such a notion through universal grammar, which gives rise to a generative grammar steeped in genetics, another type of assumed genesis or origin.

Ferdinand de Saussure warned against the notions of such origins. He wrote:

The question of the origin of languages does not have the importance given to it. The question does not even exist. Question of the source of the Rhône: puerile! The moment of genesis is not in itself able to be grasped: it can not be seen.2 [My italics]

 

CHAPTER SIX. The necessity and impossibility of interpretation

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David Pereira

The question of whether interpretation continues to play a significant part in the practice of psychoanalysis today has been the subject of considerable debate. Arguments which have been advanced that it is no longer adequate to speak of interpretation in terms of the clarification of hidden meaning, or rendering what was unconscious conscious, carry considerable weight. Within the context of this debate appears the following: “The age of interpretation is behind us. This is what Lacan knew but did not say.”1 Such a statement, as it stands, would be difficult, if not impossible to defend either in terms of Lacan’s teaching or indeed any serious examination of our practice. What is perhaps more important about such a statement, however, is that within it resides the very problem which has plagued the theory and practice of interpretation.

Attempting to decipher what Lacan knew but did not say places us in a difficult zone somewhere between paranoia and mysticism. To speak of a post-interpretative era signals the birth of a problematical concept of psychoanalytic interpretation which concerns itself with the intuition of thoughts—of knowledge—without reference to the saying. For my part, my practice is oriented by sticking as closely as possible to what is said/to the saying. This is something I understand to be emblematic of the practice and transmission of psychoanalysis within the Freudian School of Melbourne, and certainly of my training as an analyst within that School—to stick to the saying; to interrogate Lacan at the level of his saying rather than what he knew but did not say. To this extent, it is true that the way in which Lacan speaks of interpretation, what he in fact says about it, changes somewhat.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN. Maltreating the individual

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Peter Gunn

I would like to begin by quoting from a commentary on the state of psychoanalysis today:

The patients of the 1990s are quite different from those of earlier days. They mostly present with narcissistic or depressive symptoms and suffer from loneliness, instability and loss of identity. They no longer wish to undergo long courses of treatment, and refuse to see their analyst regularly enough for the treatment to be useful. Either they skip sessions or they agree to attend only once or twice a week. As soon as they see an improvement in their condition they break off the treatment, invoking a kind of ego omnipotence. When new symptoms appear they go back to their analyst. In short, they treat analysis as a kind of medicine.1

This passage comes from an article entitled “Psychoanalysis at the End of the 20th Century: The Situation in France: Clinical and Institutional Prospects”. It was written by Elisabeth Roudinesco, the French historian of psychoanalysis, and was published in 1997.

 

CHAPTER EIGHT. The child and seduction

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Michael Plastow

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, we are witness to a culture of the blame of the Other for one’s suffering. Amongst some of our colleagues we hear cries of “sexual abuse” or any other variety of “abuse” on the basis of particular symptoms or certain clinical presentations such as anorexia nervosa or “borderline personality disorder” which is said to be “emerging” when the presentation does not conform to the manual and the patient is a minor. In such cries we note an excessive insistence on history, as well as a conflation of history with the cause of the suffering of the child.

Such an insistence on history is also found in Freud’s formulation of the seduction hypothesis. Here we can examine the relevance and place of the seduction hypothesis and its abandonment to psychoanalysis and clinical practice today. In doing so we can assert that these are essential components of each and every analysis.

Let us then revisit the seduction hypothesis and its abandonment from this angle. In 1896, in a series of papers, Freud presented a theory about hysteria which became known as the “seduction hypothesis”.2According to this hypothesis the existence and symptomatology of hysteria found their origin in infantile sexual experiences. These “experiences” though were not able to be remembered by Freud’s patients but were “unconscious” and elicited through his treatment of them. Nonetheless it was the father of the patient who was primarily implicated in such scenes of seduction.

 

CHAPTER NINE. How to do a psychoanalytic clinic: a recipe for madness

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Peter Gunn

There are many manuals for treatment, not the least of them being the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the fifth revision of which is slated to appear in 2013. The DSM could be described as providing a categorisation of madness in the service of treatment, treatment being directed to managing madness, frequently with the assistance of medication. In a psychoanalysis, by contrast, it is madness itself, that particular form of madness known as the transference, which serves the treatment.

It is said, however, that transference is a form of love. If then we were to take our lead from the catalogue of the seducer would not the treatment which the psychoanalyst proposes also be amenable to just such a categorisation?

To begin to explore this question let us, to start with, see what Socrates has to say about manuals of seduction in the generality.

At the beginning of Plato’s Phaedrus1 Socrates has a chance encounter. He meets Phaedrus who is about to walk to a quiet spot by the river Ilissus, apparently to memorise a speech he has just heard by Lysias concerning love. Lysias’ thesis is that it is better for a good-looking boy to give in to the advances of a non-lover than to those of a lover because, unlike the lover, the non-lover is not mad.

 

CHAPTER TEN. The Gospel according to Saint Jacques

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Rodney Kleiman

In the year 1921, Sigmund Freud and his wife suffered the tragic and unexpected loss of their daughter. She was twenty-six years of age, mother of two and a young and healthy woman; dead from influenza.

Freud wrote to his friend Ferenczi:

Since I am profoundly irreligious there is no one I can accuse, and I know there is nowhere to which any complaint could be addressed. The unvarying circle of a soldier’s duties, and the “sweet habit of existence” will see to it that things go on as before.

Is there a greater obstacle that could be placed in the path of life and work than such grief, so outside of the natural order of generation? What can question life as to its meaning more intensely than the tragic intrusion of untimely death? Are Freud’s words sufficient to provide adequate explanation as to what allowed him to continue his work under these circumstances? As he did keep working, when confronted with the perils of war, the loss of his life savings, his own cancer and the years of pain that accompanied it and finally his expulsion from his homeland. I think he had more than just the force of habit, however sweet, to drive him.

 

CHAPTER ELEVEN. Psychoanalysis and the child

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Tine Norregaard Arroyo and Michael Plastow

The psychoanalysis of children was, from the outset, a domain of female analysts, being designated as such by Freud himself. Such women, moreover, were generally non-medical analysts, for no less a reason than by virtue of the fact that women were barred from studying medicine at the time. These women also took up the place of educators of children, both in the sense of raising children, but also literally as teachers. Such was the case of the woman whom we can situate as the first psychoanalyst of children, Hermine Hug-Hellmuth. These beginnings open up a question regarding the place of the analyst in regard to a child, the maternal relationship tending to be conflated, in the first instance, with the transference.

In addition, as is well known, many of the early analysts analysed their own children. Most prominent amongst this trend was Anna Freud’s analysis by her father Sigmund Freud. Melanie Klein also situated herself as analyst of her own children. The analysis of little Hans by his father, who was a member of Freud’s circle, is also a case in point. Freud explicitly articulates this position in relation to the case of little Hans, but puts it forwards as necessary:

 

CHAPTER TWELVE. The treatment setting: demand, transference and the contract with the parents and for their child

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Jean Bergès and Gabriel Balbo

The paper published here is a translation of the first half of Chapter Five “Le cadre de la cure: demande, transfert et contrat avec les parents et pour l’enfant” of the book L’Enfant et la psychanalyse: Nouvelles perpec-tives (The Child and Psychoanalysis: New perspectives), 2nd edition, by Jean Bergès and Gabriel Balbo, published by Masson, Paris, 1996. Gabriel Balbo is a psychoanalyst and founder of Libre Association Freudienne. Jean Bergès, deceased in 2004, was a neuropsychiatrist and psychoanalyst, member of the Association Lacanienne Internationale. Within the framework of that Association he founded the École de la psychanalyse de l’enfant à Paris (Paris School of Psychoanalysis of the Child). He was the director of the Unité de Psychopathologie de l’Enfant et de l’Adolescent (Child and Adolescent Psychopathology Unit) of the Sainte-Anne Hospital in Paris for 35 years.

Bergès and Balbo collaborated on a number of works pertaining to the psychoanalysis of children, including the one from which this extract is taken. This paper gives an historical overview of the demand, transference and contract with the parents in analyses with children, with particular emphasis on the work of the early child psychoanalyst Hermine Hug-Hellmuth. Gabriel Balbo has kindly given his agreement for publication in this form.

 

CHAPTER THIRTEEN. Some cases of “name of the father subject supposed of knowledge”

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Erik Porge

Erik Porge is a psychoanalyst practising in Paris and member of la lettre lacanienne, une école de la psychanalyse. He is editor of the journal Essaim and author of various works including his most recent book Des fonde-ments de la clinique psychanalytique ( Foundations of the psychoanalytic clinic), published by Érès, Paris.The paper below is an excerpt from Chapter III “An unanalysed remainder of Freud by Lacan, in 1964” of Erik Porge’s book Freud Fließ: Mythe et chimère de l’autoanalyse (Freud Fliess: Myth and chimera of self-analysis) published by Anthropos, Paris, 1996.

This book takes up the proposition initially raised by Didier Anzieu in his book Freud’s Self-Analysis and perpetuated in psychoanalytic circles that Freud undertook his self-analysis in transference to Wilhelm Fliess. This is despite Freud’s own avowal to Fliess that “True self-analysis is impossible; otherwise there would be no [neurotic] illness.” It provides a critique of the notion of self-analysis as being a distortion of what transpired in the correspondence and the relation between the two men. Porge puts forward that the friendship between Freud and Fliess was what allowed Freud to ground his desire as analyst in the soil of science. This operation took place, nonetheless, at the expense of a more detailed examination of Fliess’ madness, which Freud misrecognised. Porge proposes that Freud also played a part in maintaining Fliess’ madness, prior to their rupture. He asserts, in the chapter from which this excerpt is taken, that the figure that Fliess incarnated for Freud has been transmitted to Freud’s followers, precisely through the myth of Freud’s self-analysis. Further to this, Porge proposes that this spectre played a role in the failure that Lacan encountered in holding a seminar on The Names of the Father in 1963. The passage translated here is central to Porge’s argument of a fusion for Freud, in relation to Wilhelm Fliess, of the places of Name of the Father and Subject Supposed of Knowledge. Of particular interest for the psychoanalysis of children is the risk that Porge expounds of a conflation between the Name of the Father and the Subject Supposed of Knowledge, enacted, in Porge’s view, by the early analysts who analysed their own children.

 

CHAPTER FOURTEEN. Father can’t you see that I am burning?—interventions in the real of the parental couple

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Tine Norregaard Arroyo

A10 year old boy was brought to analysis due to his parents’ concerns about his recurring accidents. Many of these accidents occurred when the boy was allowed to use the tools of his father, a welder, who, in the initial interview spoke of his disappointments not only with regard to his son, but also with his own father and life overall. The parents separated during the course of the analysis, after it was revealed that the father had incurred a longstanding gambling debt, which had caused major financial losses in the family.

The boy was no stranger to sexual matters, which he candidly spoke about in terms of his puppy, who had “all the works”. For him it was rather a confusion between playing around with and making the tool work; his own and his father’s. His symptoms, the accidents and burn marks on his body appeared at the crossing point of the knowledge about the “welds” of his own body and his attempts at “welding” the parents’ relationship.

A necessary intervention enabled a turning point in the analysis, when the mother reported in a session that the boy had driven the family car into a tree, slightly injuring himself and two other boys. The mother, stressing her anger at the seriousness of the accident, and at the fact that the father had allowed the boy to play around in the car, demanded that the boy pay for the costs of the damage with his pocket money. The following intervention was offered to the mother and the son: more than the cost of the car is involved in this accident as there is a difference between the age when a boy needs his parents to drive him and the age when the law in society allows him to drive a car by himself.

 

CHAPTER FIFTEEN. The promise of love

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Michael Plastow

The approach to being, is it not there that the extreme of love, true love, resides? And true love—it was certainly not analytic experience that made this discovery, of which the eternal modulation of the themes on love adequately reflect—true love opens up onto hate.

Jacques Lacan, Encore

An analysand, a young woman, began a session by speaking of the departure of a housemate. She said that she was glad he was moving out because she did not like him. Furthermore, in her eyes, he had been responsible for the loss of a glass of hers that had disappeared during the farewell party. “I hate him for it”, she said, “the glass just disappeared and he’s leaving anyway”.

She had been referred following the break-up of a relationship. Even though she had precipitated the break-up, she refused to accept not having contact with her ex-boyfriend, pursuing him to the point that he had threatened legal action against her. Whilst retaining her love for the boyfriend, she reserved her hate for her rivals: the current girlfriend, his mother and his sister.

 

CHAPTER SIXTEEN. In the style of loving

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Rodney Kleiman

L“ove, it seems to some, I have downgraded.” states Lacan

in his 1964 seminar on the fundamentals of psychoanalysis.1Indeed one could be pardoned for perceiving a somewhat negative connotation attached to the phenomenon of love since “lacan-ism” reconceived it. Love is variously described as a deception, an illusion or a narcissistic construct. Given the available evidence who would argue with these views? Still worse, love is an imaginary formation; that terrible thing. Beware the imaginary formation, anathema to the poetic beauty of the symbolic and the sublime insubstantiality of the real.

Despite these unappealing characteristics, love continues to recur. It recurs not just in life but also in the course of every analysis. This recurrence is concurrent with the presence of analysis. The transference was and still remains, a manifestation of love. There can be no analysis without transference and therefore no analysis without love.

Freud must take some blame for the downgrading of love. He initially emphasizes the transference love in its production of a resistance to free association and the continuation of analytic work. A resistance that must be overcome so that the true work may continue. But it is clearly a necessary resistance and allows for the possibility of analysis and interpretation.

 

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN. The conduct of love in psychoanalysis

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Peter Gunn

As late as the Victorian era, behaviour, particularly the behaviour of women of the middle class, was prescribed by means of conduct manuals. Even today we have the manual of psychiatry, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), wherein conduct, when assessed as sufficiently at odds with “societal norms or rules”, is assigned the status of a disorder.

To what then might we refer conduct in psychoanalysis? For enlightenment I would like to go back to two authors of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In their writings each of these was, in their own way, at odds with the prescription of conduct. Let us begin with the following passage:

The truth, Juliette, is that, a certain undeniable progress notwithstanding, your conscience has yet to reach the stage I should desire; what I demand of it is that it become so warped as to be unable to reassume its former shape; to achieve this there are means to employ … Those means, my dearest friend, are simple in themselves: they consist in doing, immediately, in cold blood, that very thing which, done in the throes of passion, has been able to cause you remorse when later on you recover your wits. This way you strike squarely and hard at the virtuous impulse the instant it bares itself. … [E]mploy this secret, it never fails: directly a moment of calm favours the resurgence of virtue, announcing itself under the colours of remorse, for that is always the guise it wears in its endeavour to regain ascendancy over us—then, directly when you perceive it, commit forthwith the act you are wont to regret; by the fourth repetition of the trick you will hear the nagging voice of conscience no more, and then you shall be at peace for the rest of your days.

 

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN. The Ob-scene

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David Pereira

From time to time, the issue of what constitutes obscenity emerges as the subject of considerable debate, a debate to which psychoanalysis, in its concern with the field of erotics, is not indifferent. One of the most recent incarnations of this recurring controversy has taken as its subject a series of particular photographs in an exhibition of Bill Henson’s work at Roslyn Oxley9 gallery; photographs which came to the public’s attention via a much publicized intervention of the law in the action of seizing and prohibiting those images.1 Twelve pictures were confiscated from the exhibition and a further twenty from the gallery storeroom.

The Henson photographs therefore appear as the most recent catalyst for debate between the custodians of morality on the one hand, and the proponents of freedom of speech and expression on the other. The former found a champion in no less a figure than our Prime Minister who, in breathlessly pronouncing the words, “revolting, absolutely revolting”, bequeathed to the debate a lascivious air embroidered with a salivatory glint. The demand from this side was for the swift action of the law; to lay and prosecute charges of obscenity. As it turns out, unsuccessfully, on account of the fact that definitions of obscenity are often not contained in the legislation and courts rely on traditional legal tests such as the capacity of the material to “deprave and corrupt” and/or to controvert “community standards”.

 

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