This issue of THE LETTER continues along the same route as our previous issue, bringing the reader a selection of papers which, although gathered together from as near as the heart of Dublin and from as far away as Beijing in China, criss-cross their way over the same territory.
Hubert Van Hoorde’s work, presented in Dublin earlier this year during APPI’s Clinical Seminar Series 2001-02, opens this collection of articles. Concerning the possibilities for dialogue between the fields of psychoanalysis and psychiatry, it served us well in provoking what was a serious and at times heated debate, a preparation for the forum that this year’s November congress will provide in the section devoted to what I think Van Hoorde would describe as ‘the approach of the Hedgehogs’.
Following on this are three papers, which were initially presented in April of this year during the 2001 International Symposium on psychoanalytic Research (ISPR) at Beijing University Health Science Centre.
In Franck Chaumon’s contribution, a thoughtful account of early short circuits/fixations of the drive, particular attention is paid to the mother-child relation when the child in question is a female. (A sort of return of the real to China). Picking up on Freud’s account of the strength and the conflict in the girl’s relation to her mother, he underlines one particular outcome, what he calls the revival of ‘an ancient product of the drive’, where it is a question of producing not a child from the father but a child for the mother.
In an Iceland in which the lack of services for young people is deplored at all levels, Simonney’s work, providing us with an account of a psychoanalytic cure of an adolescent girl, might serve us well as an example of the way forward; we might add, a way forward already pointed out in a daily national by one of our own. Here is the case of a young woman who finds herself in a time and place that permits a psychoanalytic encounter. Reading the case one cannot help but be struck by the ordinariness of the presenting scenario. What opportunity would have been laid before this same youngster, were she to have been act out in Ireland? Would the Medico-Psycho-Pedagogico Centre – assuming such a one existed – have a resident psychoanalyst?
Cormac Gallagher’s contribution to the Beijing conference took as its focus Lacan’s interest in the work of Blaise Pascal, specifically relation to his development of the logic of The Wager. Gallagher points up Pascal’s stress on the limitations of knowledge as finding an echo in, and perhaps prefiguring, Lacan’s subversion of the subject-supposed-to-know. The author take us, via Pascal’s logic, to a point at which we can at least begin to see that it is possible to relate this Wager to the stakes involved in the drive, which forms the subject matter for Chaumon’s contribution; that the ‘passion of the gambler … is a prime example of our confrontation with the symbolic order into which we are born. ‘Nothing isolates in a purer way what is involved in our relationships to the signifier”.
Carol Owens also brings to the fore the stake involved in the mother-child relation in her paper, pointing up the specific relevance of this in the course of the analyses of women. With reference to Lacan’s work in Seminar X on Anxiety and clinical material from the work with women she advocates the inclusion of the young child as Other, as being of radical significance in the psychoanalysis of women who are mothers.
Paul’s Verhaeghe’s paper here is the promised second part of his talk given last year during the first of APPI’s Clinical Series and follows on the paper presented in a previous issue on the perverse traits in the neurotic. Here it is the specificity of the perverse structure that forms the topic.
Olga Cox-Cameron’s article constitutes in part a response to and in part a furtherance of Cormac Gallagher’s overview of Foucault’s History of Sexuality, (On First looking into Foucault’s History, which appeared in THE LETTER, issue 20, Autumn, 2001). Her account of Foucault’s work as aimed at taking apart the certainties upon which epistemologies rest, by analvsis of the verv condition of History, leaves one in very little doubt as to the relevance of his work to the similar dismantling of the subject-supposed-to-know which was effected by LAcan.
In the face of the difficulty of finding a systematic theory of inhibition in either the works of Lacan or of Freud, Stijn Vanheule aims to try to elucidate the meanings both variously gave to it and, subsequently, to attempt to link inhibition to the structural characteristics of obsessional neurosis, neatly given in the phrase of the title ‘I am because I don’t act’. Vanheule, by means of a snippet from Lacan’s clinical work, shows how the psychoanalytic act – and here we take up the words of another of our contributors – ‘refuses any such opting out of the game of life’.
Finally, it remains for me to take this opportunity to thank Helen Sheehan for her share in the work to date on the journal. Helen is stepping down from the Editorial Board and will be sorely missed by one and all. She has been involved with THE LETTER from a time well before it even had a name, when it was no more than the beginning of a twinkle in the eye. She has a rare talent for fostering such twinkles and if one were 😮 be set the difficult task of picking out only one characteristic to highlight her contribution it would have to be her unfaltering and persistent encouragement of a whole host of authors in their initial attempts at writing. Doubtless that will continue to be the case.