THE LETTER 17 (Autumn 1999) pages 1-20
Making sense of the Lacanian clinic
I hope that the title of this paper will have lowered any expectations that it will be a wide-ranging, comprehensive and contemporary consideration of the burning questions surrounding the multiple aspects of the debate on sexual difference.
The very circumscribed nature of what I have to say comes from a style of working on Jacques Lacan that we have been engaged in at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin for the past twelve years.
Our main interest is a clinical one. There is good reason for this because in many ways we are still at the stage that Freud found Charcot when he observed his presentations at the Salpetriere. Last Wednesday for example a man was presented at our weekly case conference who had developed a severe shake of the head after a relatively minor work accident some years ago. He had consulted neurologists in the United States, England and Scotland as well as in several Irish hospitals and had defeated their best endeavours. The only relief he obtained from this distressing condition was when his wife found and massaged a certain spot on his back but the success of even this procedure was, he admitted ‘a little erratic’!
The only thing that threw light on his condition was Lacan’s remark that a hysteric is one who devotes his/her life to looking for a master that they can master. The essential first step in dealing with this particular case was above all for the therapist to renounce from the outset any pretension to expertise and invite the patient to undertake an analysis. …