To resume again...

Reflections on the Formal Envelope of the Symptom

Infancy: Boys/Girls

The Certainty of Hysteria

Sacrifice and our Destiny


Angel Atrapado X

Interview with
Suzan Etkin

Interview with
Meyer Vaisman

Jenny Watson


To resume again...



Erika talked... I began to wonder if she had previously told the same story to other analysts in other languages, when...
— I came to this country because I did not want to live with scar-city.
Scar-city?... Was it a slip? Although she had learned English before German — she had spoken it at home, at school — her maternal language is German. She definitely meant scarcity, but as she uttered it... she seems surprised... I'll clarify it for her:
— You don't say "scarcity," you say "'sker-stee," although you write "scarcity." You are saying something else, you are saying "scar-city," that's two words...
— So... 'sker-stee... scarcity... scar-city... It may have been a slip.
Scarce — Scar? In any case it's provocative.
— I suddenly remember a dream I had last night: I was sitting in a room, my mother... well, her presence... beside me. Through the partly open door across the hallway — it had a red-purple carpet — I could see through another partly-open door: there was my father, naked, his penis erect. I turned my head in the direction of my mother, and when I looked back my father's penis was gone: he had cut it with a scissor. Instead... in this spot, that is... where the penis hooks to the body... there was a round mark which had the shape of a big coin, a medal of flesh. A scar? I woke up —
— Who was the man?
— My father...
— Who was the man?
— You'd like him to be you, look at your gesture! I never saw my father completely naked ...I never saw my father's penis. The penis... it looked like L.'s penis. The body belonged to my father; it had beautiful feet. Your body could look like that... you are thin and tall... but I do not know about your feet... in there... inside your shoes. I didn't see his face, it could be anybody's face. The same with my mother, I can't remember her face, but I could feel her there.
— So what's that? A man whose body belongs to one man and his penis belongs to another, could it be you?
— Me?
— Yes, you, what would you cut out?
— I don't have things sticking out, and I never thought of having them or wanted to have them... well, there are my tits... Well, there could be something there, but I don't feel like telling you —
— Tell me on Friday.

There she is again with the tight sweater. Now she wants me to notice her breasts, of course. Hysterical!...
— Scarce... scars... scare...
Scars' talk... She's right back into the uterus. While pregnant herself, some extreme family situation would have affected her mother, scared her too much... Thus, had she partaken of her mother's scare while inside the womb, were her actual fears atavic? Her own fears: Her body would be cut out, separated from this other one, her mother's... had the mother partaken of Erika's fear? It didn't seem to work both ways. The navel — a scar — is hers. I'll highlight the joining point.
— Scary...
— Oh!... scary... scar... scarce.
Her infantile day-dream had filled the place with thieves, snakes, frogs... and there was the scary cousin she loved and feared... he had later developed into a psychotic and committed suicide.
— Well... also... I was scared of you. The only reference I had were your articles... I found them in a journal, I read them. I found your phone number in this journal, and this is how I called you... you know... in this enormous city. I was scared... sometimes you get ripped off.
— Okay!
— May I have your pen to write the check? I forgot mine...
— My pen?
— Well... what can I do? I am not asking for the Pelican, it's that I just need a pen to do my check or you won't get paid today.
I threw it at her. But later... she had already left... where is my pen? Penis — my pen, had I been left with the scar? I realized she had taken it with her. But she couldn't have gone too far. I opened the door, she was waiting for the elevator.
— Erika!, Erika!
She turned around, she was surprised.
— What about my pen?
— Oh!.. I'm so sorry!


Is this Lacan's woman concealed behind her veil? Is she the one with the "pretty wig and fancy dress" up against men who might go straight to the point?... it is the absence of the penis that turns her into the phallus, the object of desire."1
About the dream, let's say that it approaches a kind of masquerade. In this sense:
Scar, introduced in the transference, is killing scarcity; not the same way, but still, pen, introduced in the transference, is killing penis.
Is her sex a scar? Inasmuch as this scar is a representation of an absence, none other than the penis in this particular case, let's say that it is precisely the scar which may turn her into the phallus. May the scar amount to the wig? The phallus is the image of the penis, of its absence.
Scarce — what she didn't get to articulate is what got buried in the body, the empty signifier, the nonsense, which may only be understood through scar, holding part of its truth.
Scare — "Since only hysteria raises itself to the level of discourse..."
2 Yet we should find the symptom before we indulge in calling her a hysteric. Is the scar scary? Of course. The scared mother — the scare in the Other — the Other embodying scare to the point that before birth there was but one scare. The mother — herself — was scared because the father was in danger.
About the red carpet in the corridor, she added that it stood for blood; it was blood on a cotton-wool. So the six 'os' in blood and cotton-wool she referred to as eyes. The six eyes of the three people involved were on this carpet. Drive in the family romance — drive in the transference (scopic drive). It was at the time of her sexual development, that the bloody cotton-wool in the waste basket had provoked her father's anger. Had the scar bled? Her father's anger — his scare — was what had scared her the most.
Scare after scar, not only relates to scar, it also articulates the symptom — it's formal envelope? In any case, this was her complaint. Versus the pregnant mother, was her scare atavic? versus the father, why did the bleeding scar make him so angry? versus her own fantasy: the thieves, frogs and snakes; versus the world: the cousin, myself — "you may get raped, ripped off."
According to Miller,
3 there is in the symptom a message, and there is in the symptom jouissance. Already for the message, "emitted by the Other in its language," scare, very much the Other's scare, raises a hysteric subject. Then its jouissance might already be found in the fact, as much as in the way, or "form," of the enunciation itself: Form is what may be emptied.
The symptom — its backtracking: scare... scar... scarcity.
Penis — this signifier she did articulate. So it was only when she asked for the pen, moreover when she stole the pen, that the lacanian immolation took place again. Pen kills penis: what gets lost is the jouissance which concerns the penis. So the passage à l' acte: she steals the pen. The scene of the stolen pen got periodically repeated throughout the process of analysis. We soon found out that she wanted to write — writing in English was to be Erika's big task. But why make it so difficult? English was not her mother tongue. The complaint: I can't write, it's been always a problem, as much as an ideal.
She finally decided that writing in English, therefore having to deal with all the difficulty that it entangled, was nevertheless easier than writing in German, her native tongue. The atavic inhibition, as she called it, was easier to overcome.
Penis — pen, still the atavic. Her own inhibition didn't belong to her, it was her father's. Her father was prejudiced against womanhood and intelligence, against the feminine and intellect, even though his own mother, Erika's grandmother, was an intellectual. Pen — penis — phallus. In Écrits, discussing feminine sexuality,
4 Lacan says, in reference to Jones, that identification to the man as a solution is too easy. Woman and the intellectual, that is woman and the signifier, in this case the symptom's approach to creativity, also as a kind of scar, is it in turn a kind of masquerade?
Hysterical as it may be, Erika's symptom in relation to writing is atavic. We may trace back to the Bible itself. Women and signifiers: Erika as Eve has to surmount the curse of the Serpent, which is cultural, that is, out there, for her to discern the relation to woman who does not exist.



1. Lacan, Écrits, A Selection. New York: Norton & Co., 1977, p. 322. back up
2. Eric Laurent, "The Certainty of Hysteria," infra, p. 17. back up
3. Jacques-Alain Miller, "The Formal Envelope of the Symptom," infra, p. 17. back up
4. Lacan, Écrits, "Propos directifs pour un Congrès sur la sexualité féminine." Seuil, Paris, p. 735.back up


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