This issue of the journal is given over to a collection of articles submitted by the various authors as a tribute to Cormac Gallagher on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday. This is the fourteenth issue since the inaugural conference of the European Foundation for Psychoanalysis which was held in Dublin, the left-overs of which were to constitute the ingredients of the Irish Stew we are still consuming as our basic diet in THE LETTER. It will soon become apparent to the reader that the theme of hat conference, The Unconscious and Language(s), finds itself echoed in the format of this birthday present, – literally.
Admittedly, this is a strange sort of a gift since one is not usually obliged to share one’s birthday treats with all and sundry. However, since the man himself has set the trend by graciously sharing his many gifts with whoever showed an interest in psychoanalysis, we can excuse ourselves by saying he has only himself to blame. Perhaps amends can be made if, in addition, we send him something special for himself, something from the heart of psychoanalysis, – a wish!
Long life and happiness!
From the Editorial Board
(Jean Kilcullen, Rik Loose, Helen Sheehan and Helena Texier)
Click here to order hard copy
THE LETTER 14 (Autumn 1998) pages 1-2
It is time for celebration, and I have been invited to take part. I do so with pleasure and with embarrassment: pleasure, because it is indeed gratifying to look back over the years and realise how much you have achieved for the cause of Psychoanalysis—not only in Ireland but for us Anglo-Saxons in America,, too- since you definitively left Paris for home; embarrassing; because I have nothing to offer by way of gift at the present time that is sophisticated enough to merit publication in a professional review of quality such as The Letter. But the most recent issue contained an Appendix of sorts (containing two short contributions of your own), entitled Lacan for Beginners. When I saw it, I said immediately ‘That’s for me’.
For my most recent endeavour was an attempt to respond appropriately to an invitation from the ‘Division for Psychoanalysis’ of the American Psychological Association to deliver the keynote address at its Annual Convention, dedicated to the theme, ‘The Ethics of Psychoanalysis.’ Specifically, I was asked to present as cogently as possible a philosophical understanding of what ethics is. All my psychologist friends urged me to be as simple and straightforward as possible,…
THE LETTER 14 (Autumn 1998) pages 3-26
It was the time of the Lie. The following reflection was born in the moment when an entire nation held its breath in anticipation of its President testifying before a Grand Jury about an alleged denied of an alleged sexual liaison with a White house intern in a pre-trial deposition concerning another alleged sexual liaison (also denied), and allegedly encouraging the intern in question to lie about it. To ask about the subject of ethics under these circumstances was to ask about what was most deeply at stake in the whole unhappy brouhaha.
Arthur Schlessinger, Jr., had claimed in an Op Ed piece in the New York Times that ‘every gentleman lies about his sex life. Only a cad would tell the truth.’ It may be so, but this is not an ethical issue – it is a sociological one. On August 14 the national press reported that the President’s advisors were designing a strategy by which he would admit the liaison but deny that he had encouraged the intern to lie about it. Shrewd enough, perhaps, but this was not an ethical issue. It was a political issue, perhaps, or at most a legal issue, but had nothing to do with ethics. The previous week’s New Yorker had carried a fine article by Jeffrey Rosen entitled The Perjury Trap, in which he distinguished eight different kinds of ‘lie,’ including: kidding, exaggeration, fudging, half- truth, bent facts, white lies, falsehood, and perjury. But this was not the ethical issue either. For Rosen it was another version of the legal issue. But it does imply an ethical issue. For the ethical issue is: ought a human being – or ought he not – abstain from lying under any circumstance? If he ought, then the ethical question becomes: why? If he ought not, then…
THE LETTER 14 (Autumn 1998) pages 27-38
‘Le Maître modem se fiche éperdument du savoir. De toute façon, le savoir est à son service. Il lui suffit que ça marche. Et plus le savoir (S2) veut se faire reconnaître comme savoir, plus il conforte (SI), le Maître. Ce qui explique la phobie institutionnelle…
Le praticien est fondé à divers titres d’intervenir dans le débat si aigu soulevé par notre conjoncture sociale et la subjectivité qui s’y forme. Dans cette conjecture, il est un élément essential: la référence générale au développement de la science dont le ‘discours’ semble faire autorité pour tous. Or, ce qui fait ses fondements, son universalité comme sa communicabilité tient essentiellement au rejet de toute question ontologique, de toute interrogation sur le sujet. Est-il envisageable qu’un discours qui étend son filet sur toute la planète, à la condition que nous venons de repeler, ne voie pas ces questions réapparaître ailleurs, sous forme de réponses étranges et déguisées? Ce n’est pas parce que l’on a appuyé sur le bon bouton, qu’il n’y a pas de réponses ailleurs due là où elles sont attendues, qui cachent leur nature de réponse.
C’est en tout cas ce que la psychanalyse enseigne, puisque c’est ce sujet éliminé de la Science (forclos, disait Lacan) dont elle a à traiter, quand il lui fait retour en ses plaintes et symptômes. Et, dès lors, ce que la psychanalyse aborde, c’est la vérité comme cause – cause de la souffrance – là où la Science en exclut le terme pour la réduire à l’opposition du vrai et du faux. En effet, si la vérité est contestable, c’est moins par défaut que par structure: elle concerne toujours un rapport à ¡’Autre dans lequel nous sommes tous pris. C’est-à-dire que l’une de ses moitiés git dans cet autre même, ce qui la rend impossible à dire toute. …
THE LETTER 14 (Autumn 1998) pages 39-61
As the President of the United States of America William Jefferson Clinton signed the new Electronics Treaty at Gateway Computers in September of this year, we are reminded that home may no longer be a space we occupy in language but a glint in the smooth seductions of a radar beam. Kathym Holmquist, in The Irish Times, put it succinctly thus: ‘The Irish Dream of the 1990’s celebrates the computer and seeks a better quality of life through the profitable movement of information through cyberspace’.
It is almost a commonplace now to say that profound social changes are underway in the Ireland of the 90’s. We can say that these changes began in the 1960’s. An Ireland on the run like Richard Kimble, in The Fugitive, as exemplified in Michael O’Louglin’s poem of the same name, published in 1982.
In the hour before the metro opens
I remember you, Richard Kimble
with my hands dug deep in my jacket pockets
walking the streets of a foreign city. …
THE LETTER 14 (Autumn 1998) pages 62-64
J’évoquerai la boutade de Lacan: ‘La Psychanalyse, c’est le traitement que l’on attend d’un psychanalyste’. D’une telle formulation se dévoile une conception de la psychanalyse comme structure, celle de la cure
.Ce point est déterminant dans l’abord de la question du symptôme, aussi bien en clinique que dans ce que peut dire le psychanalyste du malaise, celui de la psychanalyse ou celui de la civilisation.
Le psychanalyste incarne une fonction, presque au sens mathématique du terme (et non au sens d’un fonctionnaire). L’opératoire de cette fonction dans la cure s’éclaire en considérant celle-ci comme une structure dynamique résultant de la rencontre, dans un espace transférentiel donné, de la structure initiale d’un patient avec un désir d’analyste.
Certaines analyses didactiques ou certaines ‘passes’ soulignent une ’symptômatisation’ de ce désir dans son devenir et ses effectuations les moins discutables. Rappelons que Lacan formalisait la réalité psychique et le complexe d’Oedipe dans le symptôme comme quatrième élément nécessaire pour faire tenir l’enchaînement borroméen des trois registres Réel, Symbolique et Imaginaire dont on connaît l’incidence dans le rapport au social et dans les variations de la clinique.
La psychanalyse, une cure analytique, ne sont en rien la reproduction d’un modèle relationnel, social habituel. L’altérité dont a à connaître la psychanalyse passe par la parole et rencontre la réalité de l’inconscient comme effet du langage. Dans ce champ de l’altérité, toute opposition entre réalité et discours est aussi partiale et idéalogique que ne le serait une opposition entre Science, dans ses prémices et ses réalisations, et Inconscient, dans ses formations. …
THE LETTER 14 (Autumn 1998) pages 65-86
‘…why isn’t everyone a drinker?’
de Mijolla and Shentoub
It is a remarkable fact that there is no real substantial psychoanalytic theory of addiction, especially given that Freud had clinical experience of working with addicts. This fact is even more remarkable when you know that one of Freud’s first attempts to cure someone was his clinical intervention with his friend and colleague, Ernst von Fleischl-Marxov. Freud had hoped that cocaine could help his friend to get rid of an addiction to morphine. This attempt failed and eventually von Fleischl-Marxov died from a cocaine addiction. Surely these clinical encounters must have aroused Freud’s interest in the problem of addiction and provoked questions regarding its metapsychology? Freud had a curious mind and his theory and metapsychology was always developed on the basis of his clinical work with patients. There are numerous references to addiction in his writings, ranging from his pre-analytical period to the end of his life, which are interesting and important but it is nonetheless strange that he never wrote an article dealing exclusively with addiction. Despite the many references, we can still speak of a relative silence in Freud’s work with regards to this clinical problem. Freud has developed elaborate theories on neurosis, perversion and psychosis. Why is there no such elaborate theory on addiction in his work? Are there any deep-rooted psychological motives in Freud that contributed to this neglect? These questions have been taken up by some authors and we do not propose to deal with them here.3 It is well known that Freud’s…
THE LETTER 14 (Autumn 1998) pages 87-105
I want to start this paper with a question: why is it proving necessary to reopen the dossier on trauma in general and Freud’s vision on it in particular? An obvious answer is that today we are confronted much more with this pathology than we used to be, and not only in Belgium, for that matter. The signifier of ‘posttraumatic stress disorder’ is virtually everywhere. Of course, it is very difficult to prove or disprove the hypothesis that traumatic experiences are actually more frequent than they used to be. Anyhow, it is obvious that the recent hype concerning ‘recovered memory therapy’ has endorsed the whole question. In itself, this discussion is already a retake, albeit in a changed form, of the discussion around Masson, who in the early eighties tried to prove how wrong Freud was in matters of trauma.1 Such hypes have even received a name on their own, it is called ‘Freud bashing’. The most interesting question from a clinical point of view is why a number of people think it necessary to bash daddy Freud, or, at the other end, think it necessary to justify daddy Freud. But this would lead us into a discussion of the oedipal complex, which is not on the agenda today …
One of the remarkable things about these discussions is their extreme character, which is such that even the ‘normal’ press talks about it, both at the time of Masson and today. One does not need that much clinical experience in order to acknowledge the fact that this extreme character betrays a hidden issue. From a clinical point of view, it is very important to unravel this hidden wager, in order to discuss it openly. The thing at stake is none other than an underlying value judgement which divides clinical…
THE LETTER 14 (Autumn 1998) pages 106-119
In a world becoming increasing dominated by information technology it might appear to be the case that what was involved here was a kind of final frontier of science-inspired technology taking over and controlling the coding and transmission of that most human of commodities, namely information. It is after all something that is about people, and contained by people and something we seek from people however indirectly. That the word, information, should become to be so frequently associated with technology is a mark of the extent to which society has become increasingly objective and technical as science marches on, and impacts, apparently more and more, on all aspects of life mediating human interaction to an ever increasing extent. It raises the question about the threatened place of the human subject in such an increasingly technical world in a new way, and gives rise to common anxieties about the control of that world and the place of the individual – perhaps unknowing – subject within it. It is perhaps true to say that a majority of individuals have little enough understanding of the technologies which increasingly influence their lives and options, and experience a degree of alienation and dependence hitherto unknown. It is as though their lives were being controlled and managed by forces which are beyond their understanding, forces to which they are subjected, and by which they are managed.
It might be suggested that there is the domain of the personal and private, which is separated off from the influences of the modular technology-dominated world. There is the realm of the psyche which is removed from that and which operates according to its own laws, as studied and elaborated in the science of the psyche, namely psychology. But as one will be aware, here too technology comes to have an…
THE LETTER 14 (Autumn 1998) pages 120-133
4é année, Séminaire du 8 octobre 1998
à mon cher Cormac Gallagher,
en témoignage d’amitié
Certains d’entre vous ont peut-être eu connaissance d’un document que je vous ai apporté ce soir, parce que je trouve ces phénomènes assez intéressants pour ouvrir le séminaire cette armée. Je ne sais pas si la presse, si les média, chez nous, en ont parlé. Il s’agit d’une exposition qui a eu lieu au Musée de la Technique et du Travail de Mannheim, ville allemande d’une certaine importance. Cette exposition s’intitule Les mondes du corps> regards dans le corps humain et comprend … deux cents cadavres qui ont subi un traitement spécial la ‘plastination’ inventée par Monsieur Gunter von Hagens.
Ce monsieur a donc réuni deux cents cadavres qui sont des écorchés dont la musculature est remarquablement mise en évidence, dont parfois la calotte crânienne est retirée, ce qui permet de voir les hémisphères cérébraux. Lorsqu’il s’agit de malades, Monsieur von Hagens s’est arrangé pour qu’on puisse voir directement l’organe malade, le foie, le coeur, les poumons. Cette exposition a eu sept cent mille visiteurs à Mannheim … Ce qui entre autres choses assure un certain bien-être matériel à Monsieur Gunter von Hagens, d’autant que, après le succès considérable ainsi rencontré, elle est immédiatement partie vers où? Le… Japon!
Du reste, monsieur von Hagens promet d’être ‘plastiné’ lui-même quand le moment viendra et de figurer, on…
THE LETTER 14 (Autumn 1998) pages 134-160
‘What fun I might have had Lacan’s half-mocking, backward look at his early years from the vantage point of 1966, pinpoints his much publicised connection with Salvador Dali as a stopover, left long behind in his own intellectual odyssey. On the occasion of the publication of a first extract from Paul Duquenne’s translation of Schreber’s Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, in the psychoanalytic journal Cahiers pour L’Analyse, Jacques Alain Miller invited Lacan to write an introduction. Lacan took advantage of this opportunity to review the trajectory of his own thought on psychotic structures and, typically, to flatten out the importance of ‘connaissance paranoïaque’, signalled as crucial in the article in The International Journal of Psychoanalysis of May 1951.
What a fine career as an essayist I could have made for myself using this theme which lends itself to all kinds of aesthetic variations! One has only to think of all that our friend Dali has done with it.
The doctoral thesis had theorised ‘le cas Aimée as ‘a developmental fixation at the level of the superego’, but the slow working over of Aimée’s story in the years immediately following 1932 offered Lacan a number of other salient elements which would reappear, metamorphosed, in the 1960’s. Aimée’s relationship with her elder sister, described in 1933 as haine amoureuse is a disturbed doubling which radically subverts the stability of the narcissistic image. Furthermore, this anomaly in subjective structure is identical to that found to be at the basis of certain homicidal attacks, which the psychiatrist Guiraud had described as unmotivated murders. These acts, frequently carried out in twilight states, and of which the perpetrator…
THE LETTER 14 (Autumn 1998) pages 161-164
Le jeune homme partit pour l’étranger.
C’était une demi-solution et il le savait un peu, puisque l’étranger n’est que la figure compacte de ce que Lacan désigne de son incomplétude même, le grand Autre. Mais cette figure dégradée de l’Autre était aussi pleine que l’objet que sa jouissance consommait et cette symétrie n’était pas encore rompue.
Aujourd’hui, dans nos contrées, la souffrance n’est plus de mise. Tant mieux, en un sens. Il est admis qu’elle n’est plus rédemptrice et qu’un monde meilleur ne nous attend plus en récompense de nos peines. La souffrance ne se tisse plus avec une espérance religieuse, elle est un mal radicalement.
Cela n’exclut pas qu’elle puisse être un spectacle, télévisé le plus souvent, ‘en direct’, dit-on. Mais le spectacle ne vient pas de la fenêtre ou de la porte: seul l’horizon est vu de l’immeuble géant II vient de cette fausse proximité que procure l’écran de télévision; l’actualité est filtrée par le montage de ses images. Qu’arrive-t-il alors quand le fait-divers fait irruption réellement dans le cercle familial?
Nous condenserons dans ce récit fictif plusieurs cas de clinique ordinaire aujourd’hui.Un samedi, un jeune homme sort de cette discothèque où il a dansé comme les autres, aussi seul que les autres, abruti de musique assourdissante plus que d’alcool. Il frime dans la voiture paternelle, roule à trop vive allure et tue plusieurs de ses amis qui étaient avec lui. …
THE LETTER 14 (Autumn 1998) pages 165-181
(When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,…)
‘What is human?’ and ‘What is reality?’.
It would seem, in the recent, albeit short-lived, furore caused in the field of psychiatry on their ‘discovery’ of ‘false memories’ in the course of talking cures, specifically in relation to sexual abuse, that these two questions seem to be causing that field some anxiety. I’ve elsewhere said that it is regrettable that psychiatry on this matter seems to lag behind psychoanalysis by more than one hundred years.1 But more regrettable still is the implication from some quarters of the establishment, generally the most vocal, that this ‘discovery* should be read as proof of the inherent danger of talking cures, as if the only adequate response to the new-found knowledge of the human subject is, precisely, to reinforce the science by firmly (fore)closing the door in its face. The perceived ‘danger’ of the ‘talking cure’ appears to follow, as far as I can gather, from two points; firstly, in that there is no measurable, empirical basis on which to make a judgement with regard to the status, the ‘reality’, of anything that is produced as memory; secondly, that the psychiatrist risks leaving himself open to being implicated in the production of such ‘false memories’ (for example, that his method involves suggestion, an ‘implantation’ of memory) and therefore open to the possibility of being sued by someone falsely accused of abuse or, indeed by a patient, traumatised by memories, by-products of therapy which would not have arisen were it not for the treatment. Ostensibly then, although there is mention of the trauma…