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Of an Obscure

His Master's Voice

Hitchcock's Organs
Without Bodies

and its Golem M


Slow Time
and the Limits
of Modernity



Psychoanalysis and its Golem

Mario Goldenberg

translated by Jorge Jauregui

There is no doubt that psychoanalysis originates in the discourse of science; suggestion and hypnosis are terms found in Freud's so called pre-psychoanalytic writings.

Freud learned from scientists who used hypnosis and suggestion: Charcot, Birheim, Janet. It's admirable that Freud could follow his mentor Charcot in stating: "If the trauma in the one case can be replaced in the other case by a verbal suggestion, it is plausible to suppose that an idea of this kind was responsible for the development of the paralysis in the case of the spontaneous traumatic paralysis as well. And in fact a number of patients report that at the moment of the trauma they actually had a feeling that their arm was smashed. If this were so, the trauma could really be completely equated with the verbal suggestion." (On the Psychical Mechanism of Hysterical Phenomena, 1893).

Trauma and verbal suggestion are associated from the beginning for Freud, since what is traumatic is the relation with language.

If Freud believing in the transmission of the traumatic by the word, takes up his battle to make the unconscious conscious, the resistance to transference and the compulsion to repetition make the cure turn from a technical problem of how symptoms are treated to an ethical issue of the obstacles to the cure which present themselves.

Freud has to abandon the illusion of a cure by the word and instead finds the obstacles in instances made from the word, the fantasme and the superego.

The mechanism devised by Freud implies a discourse different from that of suggestion with which he began. In "The Dynamics of Transference" (Papers on Technique, 1912) he states that "to this extent we readily admit that the results of psychoanalysis rest upon suggestion; by suggestion, however, we must understand, as Ferenczi does, the influencing of a person by means of the transference phenomena which are possible in his case. We take care of the patient's final independence by employing suggestion in order to get him to accomplish a piece of psychical work which has as its necessary result a permanent improvement in his physical situation."

It is departing from suggestion that creates the mechanism to realize a psychical work, to make use of demands of knowledge so as to make the subject work in the production of signifiers.

Freud renounces the power of suggestion in order to achieve an exercise that attempts to discern jouissance through knowledge.

As Jorge Alemán has said, the analytical cure is on the frontier between the field of semantics and that of the drive, a hinge between meaning and the real.

The methods based on suggestion which preceded Freud emphasized using the influence of the master physician's authority to reestablish the homeostasis of the psychical apparatus, to return things to order where they had gone astray, to dissolve the symptoms and reestablish the master discourse, the discourse of the unconscious.

Psychoanalysis managed to find its place, its difference, in the failure of suggestion: "For he (Freud) recognized at once that the principle of his power lay there, in the transference — in which respect he was not very different from suggestion — but also that his power gave him a way out of the problem only on condition that he did not use it, for it was then that it took on its whole development as transference." (Jacques Lacan, "The direction of the treatment and the principles of its power," in Écrits: A Selection, 1977).

The infernal gap of the unconscious that psychoanalysis opens is sustained by not using the power of suggestion that the demand makes; it is transference that separates the demand from the drive, and it is the desire of the analyst which reroutes the demand toward the drive. The traversing of identification leads to the level where the symptom is as the drive outside of meaning.

The psychoanalysis which proceeds from suggestion and hypnosis created an inverse disposition. But the plague, as Freud called it when he visited America, created its own antibodies, an ersatz psychoanalysis that Lacan had to deal with in his practice and his teaching. The psychoanalysis that had to abandon suggestion, made up its own Golem: the psychotherapies, which take the semblance and the master signifiers of psychoanalysis so as to lead psychoanalysis back to the field of suggestion. There is a manifest difference between the disciplines in which Freud was formed and the psychotherapies which constituted the simulacrum of psychoanalysis. Clearly, in a time where meaning, preserved only in ideals, is dismantled by the discourse of science, where the dreaming of the beginning of the twentieth century is estranged from the contemporaneous discourse which prompts chemical stupor or insomnia, psychotherapies attempt through suggestion to apportion identifications and reestablish meaning.

The rabbi of Prague believing that with the word he was recreating the divine work of Genesis, created instead a monster he could not control and which threatened to destroy everything. We know the ending.

From psychoanalysis a simulacrum of innumerable variants, wearing its clothing, has arisen. It speculates on meaning and carries it away from the real.

L'orientation lacanienne is not oriented by efficiency in times where, on one hand, belief and meaning are pragmatic values of the marketplace and, on the other, the performance of the objects which science produces for the market is devoid of meaning. L'orientation lacanienne follows the real of the symptom, with its formal envelope.

This is an epoch of beliefs which aren't believed, of scientific certainties which attempt the forclusion of the symptom. Where our wager is placed is on the track of love, on the experience of each analysis, on what leads to the real, on what allows for the singularity of jouissance: the symptom. With a know-how outside of any universal, yet with which we can confront the other of the feminine in the contingency of each encounter.

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