Cormac Gallagher – Overview of The Psychoanalytic Act

THE LETTER 18 (Spring 2000) pages 104-114

This, Lacan’s own, summary of the seminar on The Psychoanalytic Act, written for the yearbook of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, must prove a vital element in the correct interpretation of his years teaching for 1967-68. The only English version of that teaching is the unpublished translation which has been the focus of the working group at St. Vincent’s Hospital in 1998-1999 and which provided the theme for the November congress of APPI. The translation of his Summary attempts to follow Lacan’s text as closely as possible.

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The psychoanalytic act, neither seen nor heard of before me, namely, never mapped out, much less put in question, we suppose here to be something belonging to the elective moment when psychoanalysand passes to psychoanalyst. This is the most commonly admitted recourse as regards what is necessary for this passage, all other conditions remaining contingent as compared to it. Thus isolated from this moment of installation, the act is within the reach of everyone who enters into a psychoanalysis.

Let us say first of all: the act (simply) takes the place of an assertion, whose subject it changes. It is not an act to walk if all one says is ‘it walks, ca marche’, or even ‘let us walk, marchons’, but only if it ensures that ‘I am getting there, j’y arrive’ is verified in it. The psychoanalytic act seems suited to throw greater light on the act, because it is an act that reproduces itself from the very doing that it commands. Through this it remits to the…

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