Barry O’Donnell – Speaking Subjects

THE LETTER 53 Summer 2013, pages 47-55. 

Close attention to Lacan’s writing provides a basis for discerning an account of subjectivity in terms of speech and in terms of the option of refusal of a position as a speaking subject. In this exercise a reference to the Symbolic Order is indispensable.

Keywords: subjectivity and its refusal, assujettissement, Symbolic Order, speaking, memory

What are the grounds for our insistence on speech being the basis of psycho-analytic practice? It is, to be sure, something more than the slogan that ‘it’s good to talk’. Freud discovered early on that speaking is not simply a medium, the use of which can be cathartic in effect.1 It was because of this discovery that he found his way in The Interpretation of Dreams to the mechanisms of the dream work. Then, again, in Jokes and their relation to the Unconscious these same mechanisms of condensation and displacement are revealed to be operating in the work that produces a joke, the Witzarbeit.

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