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Pure Psychoanalysis,
Applied Psycho-
analysis and

A Sophism of
Courtly Love

On Love as Comedy

From Identification
to the Logic of
the Perceived

Homo Sacer
in Afghanistan

Marlene McCarty



Pure Psychoanalysis, Applied Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy

Jacques-Alain Miller

translated by Barbara P. Fulks


Shouldn't I lift the burden I've placed on your shoulders - and on my own? I have in fact placed on us the weight of an insistent return, that of the difference between pure and applied psychoanalysis - applied, I should add, to therapy.

1. A R

This return of ours was motivated by a state of affairs where the distinction appeared to me as unfinished, not fully considered, located, or posed. At the same time, the rapport between two opposing terms which are classical in psychoanalysis and beyond, even though a bit out of date, has produced an impediment, even some pain, and, we might say, a certain feeling of drift.

I have taken this into account. I have very seriously taken it into account.

However determined I've been, however I've posed it and supported it with evidence from all our classical works, I can only conceive of this return as the first step of a problem to resolve, as the enunciation of a diagnosis.

I've made a worthy attempt to capture it. A worthy attempt, to my mind, not institutionally or through classification - this is not how the problem is posed - but by involving what conforms to the dynamic among psychoanalysts.

My focus was on psychoanalysis as practice. I expected and worked to find a strategy there which, if not the best, would at least have a chance of coping with the issue for a short while. These are the considerations I bring to you today.

I will speak a little later from my perspective against the notion of an anchoring point. We are justified in keeping our distance from the constant fixing that we see in what we call, using Lacan's metaphorical illustration, the anchoring point, which hearkens back to a very precise signifying mechanism.

Nevertheless, what I stirred up here, what I tried to plot simply and definitively, involves something of an anchoring point; that is to say it gave me a point of view that I haven't quite captured or centered on, even if I see clearly how it developed. Today I am going to try to communicate to you, in the simplest way, leaving what is perhaps on the order of its construction for later.

The fact that the distinction between pure and applied psychoanalysis in therapy has not been made leads to some confusion, leads us to practical confusions, to the posing of false problems, and especially to false solutions which, briefly outlined, lead us to a certain number of complications in situating what we do in practice. Again we must situate the truly important confusion in its place. What is it? It is not so much the confusion between pure psychoanalysis and psychoanalysis applied to therapy. This confusion has a limited range, because even if we acknowledge that they are different, they are still part of psychoanalysis. The confusion which is truly important is distinguishing, in the name of therapy, what is psychoanalysis and what is not.

If we look closely at the objective, it is not necessary for psychoanalysis, in its dimension or its usage or its therapeutic care, to be lured, kicked around, and even mortified by the kind of non-psychoanalysis glorified with the name of psychotherapy. What we need is for psychoanalysis applied to therapy to remain psychoanalytical and be proud of its psychoanalytical identity.

In order to fix these ideas, I will write it thus:

pure Y / applied Y // Y therapy

I should note that the difference I have signaled between pure and applied psychoanalysis was made to reverberate upon the difference between the two with regard to psychotherapy. My formula had the goal of demanding too much of psychoanalysis applied to therapy; that is to say it demanded that it be psychoanalysis, that it not give up being psychoanalysis and, under the pretext of therapy, let itself be drawn into overstepping this limit, this difference.

In the same vein, it seems that the essential stake - the essential stake of the part we play today - is to verify that psychoanalysis applied to therapy remains psychoanalysis, that it is the role of the psychoanalyst to ensure that it is psychoanalysis as such when it is applied.

I imagine the agreement made on these elementary premises. The task is now to reinstate in the profession the difference between psychoanalysis as such, pure or applied, and psychotherapy.


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