Curated by Alejandra Seeber

Marriage, Divorce, and Company
Pierre-Gilles Gueguen

Author’s Bio

translated by Marcus Andersson

The debate surrounding homosexual marriage shows the role of psychoanalysis in French culture today. Never before have so many psychoanalysts given their “expert” opinion in this debate. Yet never before has psychoanalysis been so violently criticized. Critics attack Lacan for being homophobic or against transsexuals by using hastily chosen and poorly interpreted citations to attribute malevolent intentions to his work. Moreover, in the fields of mental health and academia, political currents are at work eradicating psychoanalytic training. And Freud is still being put on trial for having cheated on his wife with his sister-in-law: big deal!

I don’t believe that psychoanalysts should play the part of politicians and jurists, legislating what is good and evil in matters of sex, what is and isn’t acceptable in the profiling of sexual activities… of the others. Lacan, I think, definitively established the following claim: there is no sexual relation (which doesn’t prevent people from inscribing several things onto this void).

In democracies, or in non-totalitarian regimes—those which permit the practice of psychoanalysis—laws and norms governing behavior are created and elaborated upon through the provided legal networks. As a citizen, I support homosexual marriage. Marriage is a civil contract, and those who believe it’s a sacrament reserved for two people of the opposite sex have the option to marry in a religious context.

If I consider potential obstacles that psychoanalytic doctrine would have today with the legalization of homosexual marriage, I would say that I couldn’t find any.

I don’t believe in idealization of the family, a structure that hasn’t ceased evolving since the Roman family, passing through the patrimonial family of the 19th century and the reconstituted families of today. My practice as an analyst has helped me to see this. And Lacan had no illusions about the family, either. In 1938, he predicted the end of the standard model, and the whole of his teaching consisted in gradually departing from the Oedipal normativity. The phase “Name of the Father” was already Lacan’s way of taking a distance from the relation to the real father (père de la réalité) and the duties imposed on him by religion.

Lacan, whom one criticizes or invokes without rhyme or reason, taught us, especially in Seminar XX and Seminar XXIII, that the logic of the social link and of sexuation isn’t a logic of identification, but a logic, rather, of jouissance.

I think this is what troubles a significant part of the French population; the issue isn’t that homosexuals have the right to marry, but that a place has been won in our time by those only tolerated at the margins of society, who now find themselves, in a socio-topological turn of events, at the center of attention.

Jouissance is autistic, on both the feminine and the masculine sides. Everyone’s loneliness is assured, with the exception of finding in one’s partner one’s symptom as the medium of jouissance. Love enables this passage and promotes the social link: women, more so than men, are aware of this. Some feel the need to ensure that this love takes an official form, as this, they think, underpins and supports their position of jouissance; it “stabilizes” them in a place in broad daylight. And there is no psychoanalytic reason to refuse them that.

Psychoanalysis wasn’t born in the Platonic heaven of ideas: it was invented in Vienna in a practice where Freud let himself learn from his patients. Today more than ever, it is important to remember that the jouissance of others is always difficult to bear, as well as one’s own. And it’s with regard to this issue that one seeks a psychoanalyst.

If, by chance, I were asked if I’m in favor of homosexual divorce, I’d also express my support.


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