Introduction to Reading Jacques Lacan's
Seminar on Anxiety
translated by Barbara P. Fulks
In "Subversion of the Subject," the minus phi of castration as imaginary is manipulated in a way so as to produce the big phi of jouissance-impossible-to-negativize. In the Seminar on Anxiety Lacan will remain on this track in which jouissance is, in effect, a function impossible to negativize. He will say it in his dialog, Televisión, 1 in this way: "The subject is happy." But when this positivity of jouissance is expressed by petit a in the Seminar on Anxiety, it is in some way deprived of a signifier.
In Anxiety the minus phi which you know well is not at all the same. This is no longer the
of imaginary-symbolic castration, but rather the
of the organ. Lacan introduced here something which is absolutely not in Freud, which is not found in this form, to my knowledge, in analytic literature. The
is, in fact, no longer a symbol of castration, but rather marks an anatomical property of the male organ which is completely the opposite of its imaginarization as power, since it is a matter of the detumescence which strikes this organ at the moment of its jouissance.
When one determines that the phallus is signifier, and Lacan shows that this is Freud's truth, castration has as its foundation the apprehension in the real of the absence of the woman's penis. What follows then, and Lacan does not hesitate to stress it in La relation d'objet, 2
is what he calls, following the analytic doxa, a feeling of female inferiority in the imaginary plan.
Lacan J., Televisión, New York: W.W. Norton, 1990.
Lacan J., Le Séminaire, livre IV, La relation d'objet, p. 153.