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CHAPTER TWO: Lacanian thinking on language

Green, Andre Karnac Books ePub

Ihave expressed myself on various occasions on Lacan’s ideas concerning the relations between language and the unconscious. I have made a number of contributions to the subject, of which one, in 1983, treats of the problem in detail. I have come back to this topic several times, in particular in 2005, in the preface to Castarède and Konopczynski’s book Au commencement était la voix (Green, 2005) and more recently still, in 2007, in an article “Langue, parole psychanalytique et absence”, published in the Revue française de psychanalyse (Green, 2007a).

Language in psychoanalysis (Green, 1983a)

Around 1950, French psychoanalytic thinking turned towards the study of the relations between language and the unconscious under the influence of the structuralist movement. In 1953, Lacan presented his Rome Report, “The function and field of speech and language in psychoanalysis” (Lacan, 1966), an event that coincided with the split which divided the SPP and the future SFP. The allusions in this text linking psychoanalysis to structuralism are rare. It is only in the second half of the Rome Report that one comes across any mention of the thinking of Lévi-Strauss, and the proposition: “This law reveals itself clearly enough as identical to a language order” (Lacan, 1966, p. 229). The allegiance to the work of Lévi-Strauss would not be returned. The latter waited until Lacan’s death to explain himself. He subsequently admitted that he had never understood anything of what Lacan was writing about, while stating his disagreement with the theoretical foundations of psychoanalysis (see Lévi-Strauss & Eribon, 1988, pp. 107–108; also Green, 2008). But this was only one stage for Lacan. He strived to pursue the linguistic inspiration by extending it towards mathematics. Psychoanalysis was supposed to open up a “first language” for us. He cited the example of poetic texts, justifying an investigation into poetics (Lacan, 1966, p. 244). And he reminded us opportunely that the function of language is not to inform but to evoke (ibid., p. 247).

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Medium 9781855751781

10: Negation and Contradiction

Green, Andre Karnac Books ePub

10

Negation and Contradiction

He had spoken the very truth and transformed it into the veriest falsehood.

It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry, whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom. Each, in its utmost development, supposes a high degree of intimacy and heart-knowledge; each one renders one individual dependent for the food of his affections and spiritual life upon another; each leaves the passionate lover, or the no less passionate hater, forlorn and desolate by the withdrawal of his object. Philosophically considered, therefore, the two passions seem essentially the same, except that one happens to be seen in a celestial radiance, and the other in a dusky and lurid glow.

         HAWTHORNE The Scarlet Letter

THINGS AND ‘NO’

At the meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association in December 1974 S. Abrams and P. Neubauer presented a paper entitled ‘Object-orientedness: the person or the thing’. Using all the resources of psychoanalytic egopsychology in the comparison of two children, faithfully and regularly observed in minute detail, their paper studied two types of object-orientedness: toward people and toward things. The discussion contrasted the child whose object relationship bound him mainly to persons, and the child whose object-relationship was bound to things. As I listened I was struck, apparently more than were the authors of the communication, by one fact. At a given age, each child possessed a vocabulary of five words. At least on first catching the ear, so to speak, there was no notable difference as far as four of these words were concerned. They designated persons who normally were around the children: Mummy, Daddy, little sister or brother, the maid, etc. But they differed significantly on one point: the child whose object relationships created a bond between him and things said ‘This’, while the child whose object relationships were oriented toward persons said ‘No’. I was struck by this connection between the predominant interpersonal (or intersubjective) relationship and the use of negation.

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(A) Some examples drawn from the experience of collaborators

Green, Andre Karnac Books ePub

Axelle: a countertransference equal to anything1
Case reported by M.-F. Castarède

This analysis had been going on for more than twenty years. After various attempts to find a suitable setting, the face-to-face situation proved to be the most favourable option. The patient led a very restricted life, unlike her brothers and sisters. She lived alone, had broken off her studies, and took care of the children of quite close friends. She had no relations with people of her own age. She seemed satisfied to look after children, with whom she said she had a “self-evident” relationship—that is, she had the feeling that she understood them instinctively, without any difficulty.

She had only one passion in her life, music, which no doubt had a lot to do with the countertransferential attachment of her therapist, who was a psychoanalyst and musicologist. But it should also be added that the therapist recognized in her patient elements that reminded her of aspects of her own history, hence the particular attachment she felt for this case. For a long period of time the therapeutic relationship was sustained by long letters from the patient to her therapist, who showed admirable patience and managed to keep the therapeutic relationship going, avoiding attempts to break it off.

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CHAPTER ONE: From the treatment of neuroses to the crisis of psychoanalysis

Green, Andre Karnac Books ePub

During the last years of his life and up until his death, Freud was constantly asking himself questions about the obstacles standing in the way of psychoanalytic therapy. This was the reason he wrote “Analysis terminable and interminable” (1937c). He returned to the question shortly after, in 1938, in An Outline of Psychoanalysis (1940a [1938]). There he notes the causes for the lack of success of psychoanalysis without giving any definitive answers, but emphasizes the effect of the destructive drives. He affirms his interest in forms of regression akin to psychosis, but not as serious as the latter. In other words, he was already wondering about what would subsequently be called borderline cases, and he seems to have foreseen the evolution that would make them a major theme of interest in the future.

In 1999, the Newsletter of the International Psychoanalytic Association published the results of a vast survey on psychoanalysis and related therapies. This survey masked a certain degree of concern about what appeared to be a loss of ground by psychoanalysis, accompanied by a corresponding progression of the psychothera-pies. Admittedly, the various psychoanalytic movements do not always give concordant results. In North America, psychoanalysis and the psychotherapies are no longer separated by a sharp dividing line. The only difference is in the number of weekly sessions. The survey revealed many disillusions concerning the method and the rules that had governed the practices of earlier generations.

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CHAPTER TWELVE: Drive fusion and defusion

Green, Andre Karnac Books ePub

The relations between drive fusion and defusion provide a good indication of the way in which the life drives and the death drives have succeeded in blending together internally, giving coherence to their union and according a certain homogeneity to the psychical organization. Sometimes, both of these drives live in a state of mutual coexistence, without interpenetration, and without imposing tensions on the mind that are too disorganizing. In those forms where defusion seems to get the better of fusion, it is not always the unbinding of the destructive drives that prevails, but sometimes the coexistence of the two groups of drives living side by side, without reciprocal exchange. Just as the manifestations of erotic life seem to have no link with the destructive manifestations, so, too, destructiveness seems to have no relation with the forms of erotic life. It looks as if the work of unbinding continues as far as the id, succeeding in dividing the two groups of drives and accentuating the defusion between erotic or libidinal impulses under the stamp of Eros and the destructive impulses marked by hate. Ultimately, when the work of defusion carries the day, it is the destructive impulses that prevail and the forces of defusion that dominate. But when defusion prevails, the cohesion of the psychic structure is weakened, and the field left to destructiveness is increasingly extensive. The result of this is that the forces of the life drives, which are supposed to accomplish a work of binding, are no longer up to the task, and the whole psychical organization, which is less organized and often overwhelmed, becomes concentrated around a narcissistic configuration where it is difficult to see the impact of the life of objects.

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