Helen Sheehan – Anxiety – Preserving the objet a

THE LETTER 08 (Autumn 1996) pages 95-103

Lacan makes it clear in his Seminar on Anxiety that  anxiety is a phenomenon, that it has an object and moreover there seems to be a precise place  where  we  can  locate  this (phenomenon)  But to do  this  we need  to understand a little of how  the subject comes into  being and  how  in turn  the  subversion of the  subject  will  come  about. But  this  in  turn  will necessitate our  having  to confront our  own anxiety, and who likes to have to do  that? The coming into being  of the subject will necessarily involve him in jouissance but  this kind  of enjoyment  as such  is really  forbidden  to the speaking being. But it is through this  jouissance that we can begin to learn something about  our indebtedness  to the Other, because  of something having been  lost  – this  lost object which Lacan  came  to  name the objet a.

Two questions arise at this time- what is this object and what does to subvert the subject imply? This is a question which  cannot  be arrived at fully at this stage but it is fair to say that the object in question is the objet a, the object which  causes our  desire  and  that  the subversion must  be a little like  turning the  back to the front, -the reversal that Freud has shown to take place with the Uncanny. This will involve the doubling around of all the old familiar things, including the  ego itself, into something else which  we  can  see in a completely new way and which may involve our having to take a step back into another area of darkness, where vestiges of childhood pain and anxiety  lie dormant. We then realise that we are in familiar territory.

But, we will do everything in our power to avoid having to confront this anxiety – because  when we get too close to this object which causes our desire we know that we too may be easily made not necessary…

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