chronology ||The Seminars of Jacques Lacan|
Le séminaire deJacques Lacan, Livre I: Les écrits techniques de Freud
French: (texte établi par Jacques-Alain Miller), Paris: Seuil, 1975.
English: Book I: Freud's Papers on Technique (edited by Jacques-Alain Miller), New York: Norton, 1988.
The first seminar, open to the public, takes place at Sainte-Anne Hospital just after the creation of the S.F.P (Société Française de Psychanalyse). Lacan cuts in the study of Freud by dint of his theory on the imaginary, the symbolic and the real. The focal point of the discussion is the direction of the cure. Participants are allowed to make presentations, comments and objections. Through the case histories of Freud, Klein, Kris and Balint, the debate elucidates on the convergence of psychoanalysis, philosophy, theology, linguistics and game theory. In keeping with this heterogeneous approach, Lacan will further appeal to the science of optics to systematize his analyses of the specular relation. After his schema of the inverted bouquet the mirror stage becomes part of the topography of the Imaginary. As to the méconnaissance that characterizes the ego, it is associated with Verneinung (dénégation): "...everyday speech runs against failure of recognition, méconnaissance, which is the source of Verneinung." He closes the seminar pondering on the role of the analyst: "...if the subject commits himself to searching after truth as such, it is because he places himself in the dimension of ignorance, what analysts call readiness to the transference. The analyst's ignorance is also worth of consideration. He doesn't have to guide the subject to knowledge, but on to the paths by which access to this knowledge is gained. Psychoanalysis is a dialectics, an art of conversation."
Le séminaire, Livre II: Le moi dans la théorie de Freud et dans la technique de la psychanalyse
French: (texte établi par Jacques-Alain Miller), Paris: Seuil, 1977.
English: Book II: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis (edited by Jacques-Alain Miller), New York: Norton, 1988.
Lacan deliberates on the distinction made in his first seminar between discourse analysis and the analysis of the ego, both in relation to psychoanalytical theory and practice. He claims that "analysis deals with resistances." He reviews three works by Freud: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, on the death instinct; Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego; and The Ego and the Id.
The Schema L, systematized in La lettre volée (Écrits, 1966), is elaborated in this seminar. A four-term structure maps the Real, the Imaginary and the Symbolic as replacing the second Freudian topography: ego/id/superego. Two diagonals intersect, while the imaginary rapport links a (the ego) to a' (the other), the line going from S (the subject, the Freudian id) to A (the Other) is interrupted by the first one. The Other is difficult to define: it is the place of language where subjectivity is constituted; it is the place of primal speech linked to the Father; it is the place of the absolute Other, the mother in the demand. The Other makes the subject without him knowing it. With Lacan in Freud's Wo Es war, soll Ich werden, Es is the subject. It knows him or doesn't. The further, more exacting insight, is It speaks or doesn't. At the end of analysis, it is It who must be called on to speak, and to enter in relation with real Others. Where S was, there the Ich should be.
Le séminaire, Livre III: Les psychoses.
French: (texte établi par Jacques-Alain Miller), Paris: Seuil, 1981.
English: Book III: The Psychoses. (edited by Jacques-Alain Miller), New York: Norton, 1993.
Psychosis is one of the three clinical structures, the one defined by foreclosure. The other two are neurosis and perversion. By way of forclosure of the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father it is possible to understand psychosis and distinguish it from neurosis. Foreclosure corresponds to Lacan's translation of Verwerfung (repudiaton). The Name-of-the-Father is not integrated in the symbolic order of the psychotic, it is foreclosed: a hole is left in the symbolic chain. In psychosis "the unconscious is present but not functioning." The psychotic structure results from a malfunction of the Oedipus complex, a lack in the paternal function: the paternal function is reduced to the image of the father (the symbolic reduced to the imaginary).
"On a question preliminary to any possible treatment of psychosis" (Écrits: A Selection) is a text written in 1958 and contemporary with Les formations de l'inconscient; it is a synthesis of Les psychoses and focuses mainly on the term foreclosure, forclusion, German Verwerfung.
In the Schema R: "...I as the ego-ideal, M as the signifier of the primordial object, and F as the position in O of the Name-of-the-Father. One can see how the homological fastening of the signification of S under the signifier of the phallus may affect the support of the field of reality delimited by the quadrangle MieI. The two other summits, e and i, represent the two imaginary terms of the narcissistic rapport, the ego and the specular image."
This schema articulates the imaginary triad with the symbolic triad, both of which cut the quadrangle of reality. The term 'reality' is ambiguous in that it designates both our rapport to the world and our rapport to the Real as inaccessible. Schema R is elaborated in terms of a particular form of psychosis (Schreber). Later, Kant avec Sade (1962) will develop the perverse version as Lacan is concerned with creating the formal bases for his theory before addressing the problems of the treatment of psychosis.
The preliminary question seems to be the one of the Other, whose presence commands everything else. It is the place from which the subject is confronted with the question of its existence (sexuation and death). What is the Other? Is it the unconscious where "it speaks?" Is it the place of memory that conditions the indestructibility of certain desires? Is it the place where the signifier of signifiers is the phallus? Is it the place symbolized by the Name-of-the-Father since "the Oedipus complex is consubstantial with the unconscious? When the paternal metaphor does not allow the subject to evoke the signification of the phallus, when the response to the call of the Name-of-the-Father is a lack of the signifier itself, then it is a case of psychosis.
"This applies to the metaphor of the Name-of-the-Father, that is, the metaphor that puts this Name in the place that was first symbolized by the operation of the mother's absence." It designates the metaphorical, substitutive, character of the Oedipus complex.
It is the fundamental metaphor on which all signification depends: thus all signification is phallic. If the Name-of-the-Father is foreclosed (psychosis), there can be no paternal metaphor and no phallic signification.
Le séminaire, Livre IV: La relation d'objet et les structures freudiennes.
French: (texte établi par Jacques-Alain Miller), Paris: Seuil, 1994.
Lacan confronts the theory of object relations defended by the Société Psychanalytique de Paris: Freud did not bother about the object, he cared about "the lack of the object." This lack has nothing to do with frustration. It is a matter of a renunciation that involves the law of the Father: "...between the mother and the child, Freud introduced a third and imaginary term whose signifying role is a major one: the phallus." The study is based on the function of the object in phobia and in fetishism (Freud's Little Hans, A Child is Being Beaten). In his analysis of Little Hans, Lacan states that anxiety arises when the subject is poised between the imaginary preoedipical triangle and the Oedipical quaternary: Hans' real penis makes itself felt in infantile masturbation. Anxiety arises since he can now measure the difference between that for what he is loved (his position as imaginary phallus) and what he really has to give (his insignificant real organ). The subject would have been rescued from anxiety by the castrating intervention of the real father, but the father fails to separate the child from the mother and thus Hans develops a phobia as a substitute for this intervention. It is not Hans' separation from the mother which produces anxiety, but failure to separate from her. Castration, far from being the main source of anxiety, is what actually saves the subject from it.
Le séminaire, Livre V: Les formations de l'inconscient.
French: (texte établi par Jacques-Alain Miller), Paris: Seuil, 1998.
The formations of the unconscious are those circumstances in which the laws of the unconscious are most discernible: the joke, the dream, the symptom, the lapsus (parapraxis). Freud referred to the fundamental mechanisms involved in the formations of the unconscious as condensation and displacement, which Lacan redefines as metaphor and metonymy. With the former, the play of signifiers creates sense in nonsense in relation to truth. The latter reveals the lack of a word, "an item of waste sent like a ball between code and message." In this lack substitute words appear and function like "the metonymic ruins of the object."
"The signification of the phallus" (Écrits: A Selection) is a lecture given at the Max Planck Institute in Munich in 1958. All the research accomplished during La relation d'objet and Les formations de l'inconscient culminates here, and serves as an introduction to Le désir et son interpretation
Le séminaire, Livre VI: Le désir et son interprétation.
Desire has to be placed at the heart of analytic theory and practice: the title of the seminar does not indicate a mere juxtaposition of the two terms, it ties them around the essential function of language. Desire, if the libido is its psychic energy, indicates the subject's dependency on the signifiers which constitute the structure proper. This is what the cure, based on speech, must make clear beyond the analysand's demand. Lacan even asserts that "desire is its own interpretation."
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