ISSUE 50 The Letter. Irish Journal for Lacanian Psychoanalysis


In this issue of The Letter we publish the final part of Cormac Gallagher’s translation of Lacan’s L’étourdit – the Second Turn, Chapter 4 – Interpretation. Herein it is argued that language is the condition of the unconscious, and the unconscious escapes linguistics. That interpretation is seconded by grammar, and that Freud’a approach is also grounded by this function, brings a new light to the role of grammar in psychoanalysis. Lacan specifies that the woman as notall opens up the moment of truth and the moment of the real for the l’hommodit. The last words of this monumental work echo the attempt to give a clinical demonstration to the interplay between the said and the saying, and that it is by the impossible of saying that the real is to be measured – in practice?

We also publish the corresponding part of Fieren’s book – Reading L’étourdit, also translated by Cormac Gallagher. Fierens’ text shines a light on Lacan’s work; he expands on the highly condensed references of Lacan, puts many succinct phrases into context, makes important linkages between the four discourses, the saying, topology, the unconscious and the analytic discourse. His insights on grammar, logic and philosophy, hard to follow because of the very complex issues with which he deals, nevertheless remain true to Lacan. Fierens succeeds in following the furrow of L’étourdit by adhering to Lacan’s own comment that ‘My Ecrits are unsuitable for a thesis, particularly an academic thesis: they are antithetical by nature: one either takes what they formulate or one leaves them’.

Barry O’Donnell relies mainly on the work of Freud to show the essential difference between psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in The Appeal of Psychoanalysis. The development of his argument is logical, thought-provoking and provides a springboard for further investigation on this topic which has become increasingly blurred. We are taken through a series of references to Freud, which address the divide between the psychoanalytic position and the psychotherapies. O’Donnell shows a substantial command of the facts which in addition to the question posed also offers insight into a moment in the history of Freud’s thought.

The Foreword and Chapter One of Guy Le Gaufey’s book – C’est à quel sujet? – are published with permission from the author and EPEL. The Foreword gives us the direction of this work in its recognition of the fact that the subject of Lacan did not come as a completed concept – rather was it the outcome of painstaking working and re-working of many strands of thought. The first chapter, The Making of the Subject, points out that Lacan’s thinking about the many theoretical issues that concerned him took a shift in 1960, which took him a long time to come to the formulation that the signifier is the subject for another signifier. The linkages between Maine de Biran, Lacan and the mirror stage are informative, and thought provoking. The relation between the subject and the object are explored and the chapter ends by noting that the question of the subject needs to be opened up further perhaps, surprisingly, by reference to grammar. This is certainly a challenging forerunner to what the remainder of the text will reveal.

Gérard Amiel’s paper – In What Ways Does Psychoanalysis Differ From sychotherapy?- addresses the question: if the original objective of psychoanalysis has changed over time, what is its objective to-day? Freud’s development of the object noted the impossibility of satisfying two opposing pair of drives simultaneously. Amiel distinguishes two models of the symptom – metaphor and metonymy – which are linked to desire. The conversion of symptom to desire as the aim of psychoanaysis is the essential difference between psychoanalysis and psychotherapy; the latter has the aim of eliminating the symptom. The true act of psychoanalysis, is, as the author says, the taking place of radical ethical change.

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