Helen Sheehan – Sitting There Saying Nothing – What is involved in the Psychoanalytic Act

THE LETTER 61 Spring 2016, pages 23-31

This paper explores what is at stake when speaking about the Psychoanalytic
Act – this with reference to Lacan’s ‘67-’68 seminar of the same name. The
central place of Freud’s repetition compulsion as a given of discourse is emphasized.
Questions related to what it means to practice as a psychoanalyst,
including the interrogation of Being, the end of analysis and the function of
psychoanalytic societies, are also raised.

Keywords: Metaphysics, repetition, discourse, the analyst as instrument, the
end of analysis, Carl Rogers, psychotherapy
To arrive at a preliminary definition of the Psychoanalytic Act as described
by Lacan in his seminar of 1967-1968 we have to begin by coming to
terms with endings, with all their equivocations. There are four such endings
that underline this seminar. I will briefly mention three and then say something
about the ending appropriate for our psychoanalytic purpose – that
which Freud calls Analysis Terminable and Interminable. The other endings
are: the end of Metaphysics, the end of Theology and the end of Science.

With regard to the first one, Lacan warns us not to jump too hastily into
the metaphysical question because after all, philosophy has tried over the
centuries to recuperate our original being there (in the world) and its ensuing
loss. There are many examples of pretending to deal with this loss ‘there is
for example, looking elsewhere and specifically turning one’s gaze towards
meaning and to make of the subject this entity that is called the human
spirit, to put it before discourse.’

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