23 Chapters
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Chapter One - Time and the Unconscious

Izcovich, Luis Karnac Books ePub

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.

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Chapter Ten - How did Winnicott Analyse?

Izcovich, Luis Karnac Books ePub

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.

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

Izcovich, Luis Karnac Books ePub

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).

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Chapter Twenty - The Marks of Interpretation

Izcovich, Luis Karnac Books ePub

The conditions for analytic interpretation

The title of this section comes from Lacan's formulation at the beginning of his teaching, one that I referred to earlier. It is taken from the text “The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power”: “Whoever cannot carry his training analyses to this turning point” where all demands, even that of being an analyst, were only transference, “such a person knows nothing of what must be obtained from the subject if he is to be able to ensure the direction of an analysis, or merely offer a well-advised interpretation of it” (2006 [1958a], p. 531). We can see how Lacan thinks that the analyst's aptitude for interpretation, that is to say, to operate with discernment, depends on the end of his own analysis. This is a crucial position for Lacan. It indicates that without the mark of the turning point at the end of analysis, it is impossible for the one who decides to occupy the place of analyst to make a correct interpretation.

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Chapter Five - The Necessary Symptom

Izcovich, Luis Karnac Books ePub

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.

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