Editorial Issue 47


Jacques Lacan‘s talk on 10 November 1967 given to psychiatrists, translated by Cormac Gallagher, deals with the formation of psychiatrists, although his remarks are equally relevant to the formation of psychoanalysts. He emphasises that the madman, the psychotic, is at the centre of the field of psychiatry, and suggests that the madman is the only truly free man. He raises a number of other fundamental aspects of formation such as mass effects, organo-dynamism, the o-object, the structure of the unconscious, the difference between the sign and the signifier, the importance of language to the clinic, truth, desire, the non-sense of sexuality, segregation and the mass media. Lacan is not attempting to question the role of psychiatry, although he draws some challenging parallels between the hierarchical structures which permeate both psychiatry and some institutions of psychoanalysis.

Cormac  Gallagher  presented  his  paper  to  a  conference  at  All  Hallows, Dublin in June 2011. This is an absorbing and sensitive treatment of Freud‘s journey and how his immersion in Judaic tradition was so influential throughout his work.  The paper disturbs the commonly held belief that Freud was an atheist who had no time for religious beliefs because they were founded on obsessional rituals. Freud‘s revelation in 1895 to Fliess, concerning  the  great   clinical  secret  of  psychoanalysis  is  of  utmost importance – that‘ hysteria is the consequence of a presexual sexual shock and obesssional neurosis is the consequence of presexual sexual pleasure later transformed into guilt.‘ Our attention is also drawn to the soul of Freud which underpinned so much of his scientific‘ work.

Terry Ball deals with transference as it is conceptualised by Lacan in his seminar on Transference (1960-61).   She limits her reading to the sessions of that seminar which deal with Plato‘s Symposium, and in particular to the dialogue between Socrates, Alcibiades, and Agathon. Her succinct selection of Lacan‘s approach to the importance of the dynamics of the transference is a way in which to encourage us to read this seminar of Lacan in a very careful and reflective way, given the importance of the necessity to be aware of the reversal of the roles of lover and beloved, which is the cornerstone of best practice in our work in the analytic clinic.

Guy le Gaufey‘s scholion from his superbly argued text of Lacan‘s Notall, is the final part of Cormac Gallagher‘s translation of this book which surely ranks as the most thorough and tightly argued text on the impossibility of the sexual relationship. Le Gaufey shows how Lacan in the very end of his life struggled to distinghuish between the lack of a sexual relationship and the  fact  of  the  non-relationship.  This  attempt  to  make  an  important distinction between the two consistencies (or non-consistencies) takes us through a labyrinth more intricate than Ariadne‘s, and as a counterpoise Lacan having used the Borromean knot to prove the non-relationship, through a rigorous debate with Soury, seems to arrive at the Aha Erelebnis where he is forced to admit that his conclusion about the non-relationship via the route of the Borromean knot was a failed attempt.  Surely this is a case where the process is much more important than the outcome.

Christian Fierens challenges the usefulness of differential diagnosis and putting the human subject into drawers labeled psychotic, neurotic, or perverse. He highlights the fact that psychoanalysts work with multiple theories and structures and we use them in a general way to facilitate a divergence from such structures which indicate a strangeness. The truth of the dream is to be found when we strip out everything that does not correspond to the act of dreaming …in that it bears witness to our innermost core.‘  Rather  than  judging  the patient we produce the matheme  which avoids enclosing him in a diagnosis,‘ thereby opening infinite possibilities for the analyser.

Marion Deane has reviewed Elyn R. Saks book The Centre Cannot Hold: A Memoir of My Schizophrenia. The review itself is an excellent piece of writing and thus encourages us to read this sometimes harrowing and at other times very optimistic approach by Saks, to her journey in dealing with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

 Tony Hughes

This talk given by Lacan as a contribution to a program of lectures for trainee psychiatrists deals with the place of psychoanalysis in the formation of the psychiatrist, with the treatment of the psychotic as its central theme. The anxiety experienced by the psychiatrist when confronted by ‗the madman‘ is seen as a factor in the poverty of contemporary psychiatry in the production of new nosological categories of mental illness. Hence a reliance on the 19th century classifications of Kraepelin and de Clérambault and an increasing dependence on pharmacology – this already in 1967. Other aspects of psychoanalysis which Lacan deems as being important to the clinic are discussed with an emphasis on listening to – rather than understanding- the discourse of the psychotic.

Keywords: formation; madman; anxiety; mass effects; o-object; unconscious; language.  

I thank you for having come, like that, in such numbers. I am going to try to make this temporary cohabitation not too disagreeable, given this kind of collective attention that you are good enough to give me. …

This paper was given at the conference in All Hallows on 10  June 2011.1 It deals with the influences on Freud‘s often neglected religious formation and his own subjective tendency towards religious superstition. This forms the background to his seminal 1907 analogy of obsessional neurosis as a private religion and religion as a universal obsessional neurosis.

Keywords: Freud‘s rabbinical  family tradition; Charcot on hysteria and medieval witch trials; obsessional neurosis; superstition; spiritualism and the occult. 


The revelations in the recent Ferns, Ryan, Murphy and Cloyne reports of widespread cruelty and sexual perversity in religious institutions caring for young people, and among individual priests, nuns and brothers, has shaken our complacency about the positive psychological benefits of religion and invites us to a reconsideration of Sigmund Freud‘s more critical assessment of religious subjectivity and in particular his analogy between religion and obsessional neurosis. …

This article focuses on Lacan‘s eighth seminar on Transference, specifically his references to Plato‘s Symposium, and more particularly the attention he pays therein to the interaction and dialogue between Alcibiades, Socrates and Agathon. Addressed will be Lacan‘s specific take on the development of characters and plot as he outlines the dialectic of love. The interaction between the positions of lover‘ and beloved‘ will be examined as will the progression, according to the law of metaphorical substitution, which culminates in the birth of love. All of this, in an attempt to better appreciate the dynamics of the transference relationship in the psychoanalytic situation.

Keywords: Plato‘s Symposium; transference; love; lover-beloved; dialectic; metaphor 

Love is one aspect of the transference; the other is repetition, the automatism of repetition. Lacan points out that these two aspects can be situated on the Graph of Desire, on the two signifying chains in which the subject is constituted‘ and while he explains that his intention is to join up the two methods of approach‘ to transference, he specifies that he is particularly interested in looking at the consequences [of transference] at the most intimate level of our practice [and therefore in] paying attention…to love‘. It is the love aspect of the transference that will be the specific focus of this paper.

The final part of Guy Le Gaufey‘s book ―Lacan‘s Notall‖ – The Scholion: A  Misuse of Metaphor, translated by Cormac Gallagher, deals with Lacan‘s treatment of the Borromean Knot and his attempt to use logic to deal with the problematic of sexual non-relationship of the inexistence of such a relationship. Le Gaufey traces Lacan‘s efforts to make a distinction between the two but to our surprise he concludes that Lacan felt his attempt ended in a failure – thus calling topology, or one aspect of topology – knot- theory into question.

Keywords: sexual non-relationship; inexistence of relationship; non-enantiomorphic; consistencies; Borromean knot; reversal of perspective 

Quite imperceptibly, between 1972 and 1975, Lacan brings about a slippage in the negation regarding sexual relationship, going from there is no relationship‘ to there is a non-relationship‘, from the inexistence of such a relationship to the existence of such a non-relationship.  The nuance might appear rhetorical if there were not grafted onto it a change of perspective which takes support on the key instrument in the teaching of these years of the seventies:  the Borromean knot. …


This is the unedited text of a talk, given to the ―Matinées de psychothérapie institutionnelle‖, at Facultés Universitaires de Saint-Louis, Brussels on the 24th September 2010 dealing with the problematic of diagnosis in terms of a particular structure of psychosis, neurosis, or perversion. This approach while facilitating communication between clinicians loses sight of the human who is the objectified in the process. Psychoanalysts need to think in terms of what theories/structures they are using as a basis of their knowledge and be aware that these are the scaffolding and not the building. The only thing that can be transmitted in analysis is what you can construct yourself vis use of the matheme.

Keywords: diagnosis, communicate, treat, do no harm, knowledge, structure, courage to know, operation of the matheme, symptoms. 



Elyn Saks lives with her husband in California, where, after a brilliant academic career in some of the world‘s most acclaimed  universities on both sides of the Atlantic—Vanderbilt, Oxford and Yale— she is now a professor of law specialising in mental health. She works also as a research scholar in psychoanalysis. In the final chapter of her memoir The Centre Cannot Hold she expresses her gratitude to the many people and events that have assisted her to have a ‗life worth living‘ despite decades of suffering from schizophrenia…

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