Issue 58 (Spring 2015)


With Issue 58 we keep our commitment to bring you the next instalment
of Christian Fierens’ The Psychoanalytic Discourse. A Second Reading of
Lacan’s L’Etourdit (2012). This, the second chapter – entitled The Impossibility
of the Psychoanalytic Discourse – confronts us with the necessity that ‘it
is the clinic of a failure which is decisive for psychoanalysis’. Never to be understood
as ‘a clinic of the failure of mental health’. Implicit in the notion of
failure is ‘the omission of occurence or performance’ of a certain task. Let’s
call this task the making of meaning. What is it then to be tasked with a work
of omission that might disallow such meaning-making, might disallow the
inevitable ready-to-hand incest between the saying and the said and thereby
permit ‘the sap of saying’ to emerge?
The psychoanalytic discourse cannot be separated from the roundabout of
the other discourses, that is broadly speaking, from the very stuff of speech
and communication, the imaginary roles we inhabit, our saids and our truths,
the meaning we give to things. Yet, we have to start from this roundabout,
knowing that it merely ‘situates the loci by which saying is ringed’. How to
move beyond a mere circling, to not merely ‘delimit the rings of a dead tree’
in order ‘to rediscover a saying that on the one hand has been forgotten and
which on the other hand cannot be expressed in the form of a said’?
Yes, we only have ‘saids at our disposal’, but can nonetheless ‘find a logic as
a work of thought that will be able to make saying return’. This by means of
two paths: the first, a lack of resource (negative), a clinic of failure where we
refuse the fixed meanings – even oedipal – usually relied on in our (always erroneous)
constructions. The second, a response (positive) which relies on the
matheme – what is doable by oneself, starting only from ab-sens (absence of
sense). Ab-sens – the failure of sense ‘always there and nevertheless always
latent’ is ‘hollowed out at the heart of the signifier which does not even correspond
to itself, at the heart of differance.’
With the use of such mysterious terms as the saying and the said, the matheme,
a failure of resource, ab-sens etc are we not now hard-pressed to know
to whom these terms actually refer? Cormac Gallagher recently reminded us
that ‘it’s our patients who are our teachers’. How true, if only we can tolerate
the emergence of ‘neutral speech which does not allow itself to be determined either by a precise stating subject, nor by a fixed object of which one might
speak’. A tall order indeed. …Continue Reading

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Articles in this Issue:

THE LETTER 58 Spring 2015, Pages 1-30

Over against the approach of witnessing which transforms the supposedly
established act of saying into the statement of a said and heard, it will be a
matter of starting from the said to rediscover a saying which on the one hand
is forgotten and which on the other hand cannot be expressed in the form of
a said. The task seems hopeless: we have saying and the said–heard (ditentendu)
in their opposition, the first is completely forgotten, we can only
start from the second and, what is more, we cannot exhibit saying in terms of
saids, or again in terms of truth, since the truth is always of the domain of the
said, more precisely of the half-said. In truth there is no saying.
Nevertheless it is indeed by restoring its saying that the discourse of analysis
would be constituted (AE [Autres Ecrits], p. 454). Not the discourse of the
analyst: starting from the personage of the analyst, it is rather the established
discourses which take on the consistency of saids. But the discourse of analysis
starts from the neutral speech which does not allow itself to be determined
either by a precise stating subject, nor by a fixed object of which one might
speak. Saying without saying who and without saying what. Neutrality is a
fundamental principle.
Does freedom of speech follow?
‘This saying (of analysis) is not free.’ Despite the neutrality of speech, saying
does not go without a said, the ‘saying’ aimed at in analysis relays other
saids (hysterical, master, academic) in the great roundabout of discourses.
Through this roundabout and through specific saids that are produced in it one
can hope to rediscover the saying proper to psychoanalytic discourse, but one
cannot isolate the discourse of analysis from the other discourses from which
it cannot free itself.
The roundabout of discourses ‘adds’ no doubt a structure which articulates
the discourses with one another. But, by going around in circles, it does not
cease to return sooner or later to the established discourse which it has left
and which, by force of repetition, acts as an immovable ballast. This roundabout
only ‘situates the loci by which saying is ringed’, it imprints the loci
without for all that touching directly on saying. The cartography …

THE LETTER 58 Spring 2015, Pages 31-58

This paper explores the various meanings attached to Lacan’s famous graph
of desire. The graph represents the relations between desire and the law, the
signifier, the subject and the code. In addition, the relations between desire
and the desire of the Other and among desire, jouissance, and the drive are
examined. It is proposed that the graph is constructed as an ascending and
descending structure of facilitations, punctuations and limitations, of circular
repetitions and lines that escape them. Beyond the drive, the subject asks
‘What do I want from the Other and what does the Other want from me?’
These questions are anything but rhetorical, as no matter what we do, we will
never find complete answers to them, mainly because the answers are hidden
in the questions. In other words, desire is essentially related to the loop
between desire and the desire of the Other. We learn from Lacan that desire is
unconscious and inseparable from the law. He also claims that, although impossible
to fully capture — the Other lacks the signifiers to represent desire —
desire can be represented with the help of mathematical graph theory. Graph
theory allows the placing of many Lacanian concepts in one picture, such as
phantasy, the ideal ego, the ego ideal, the formula for the drive, the signifier
of a lack in the Other, the signifying chain, the treasury of signifiers. The most
difficult part of the graph to represent is the ‘beyond’ of castration, the nonexistence
of the phallus and the unthinkable Being of the subject (of the Real
and the Other jouissance) that is missing within the Other and the battery of
Keywords: desire, graph of desire, topology, castration, jouissance
Graph theory and the Königsberg Bridge Problem
Graph theory is a branch of mathematics that uses mathematical structures to
model pair-wise relations between objects. A ‘graph’ is then created from ‘vertices’
or ‘nodes’ and lines called ‘edges’ that connect them. In the graph of desire the
vertices or nodes are represented by the circles that contain symbolic formulae.
While we understand that the term matheme was not introduced by Lacan until…

THE LETTER 58 Spring 2015, Pages 59-70
This text explores the connectivity between sexual differentiation and the
Wolfman’s complicated symptomatology, tracing its progress through the
dream and the primal scene to his latter-day complaint about the world being
hidden by a veil.
Key words: sexual differentiation; seduction; castration; the veil

Sergei Pankejeff (1887-1979) moved to Germany from Russia, his country
of birth, in the wake of the Russian Revolution in 1905. The following year,
his sister Anna committed suicide. This was followed in 1907 by his father’s
suicide, reducing the family unit to mother and son three years before he commenced
his analysis with Freud in 1910, at which time he was twenty three
years old.
In the course of his childhood, Pankejeff had a series of psychical disturbances.
These included a change in his character when he was three and a half, an
animal phobia from the age of four, the appearance of an obsessional neurosis
at the age of four and a half, an hallucination at the age of five that he has lost
his finger and a further outbreak of an obsessional neurosis between the ages
of eight and ten.
In his eighteenth year, he had several inpatient stays in German sanatoria.
These were due to a mental breakdown, which appears to have been precipitated
by a gonorrhoeal infection. Seen by the leading psychiatrists of the day,
Ziehen and Kraepelin, he was subsequently diagnosed with manic–depressive
disorder. Freud refuted this diagnosis, having detected no changes of mood
during the years in which Pankejeff was in analysis with him. Freud considered
his further symptomatology – as this related to chronic disturbance of his…


THE LETTER 58 Spring 2015, Pages 71-78

This paper aims to look at the pressing question of how we care for vulnerable
members of our society. The shock and outrage that followed the airing of
a Prime Time investigation programme, portraying residents with severe disabilities
being routinely abused, has prompted questions in relation to what
light psychoanalysis can shine on scandals such as the one exposed in Aras
Attracta. When confronted with extreme vulnerability we are reminded of our
own helplessness, what Freud termed Hilflosigkeit and are therefore faced
with something of the Real. It seems essential to explore, from a psychoanalytic
perspective, the effect of this kind of work on the subjectivity of carers
and clinicians. The unconscious must be acknowledged in this area of work,
in order to inform the therapeutic position of clinicians and to examine more
closely the role that these so called ‘care homes’ and their inhabitants come
to have in society.
Keywords: intellectual disability, social care, the uncanny, Freud, Lacan,
Mannoni, psychoanalytic supervision
In December 2014 Prime Time2 aired a programme revealing widespread
abuse in one of the units of Aras Attracta, a residence for people with intellectual
disability in County Mayo. The programme, using undercover footage,
portrayed how the residents of Bungalow , who had profound intellectual
disabilities, were being beaten, force-fed, jeered at, and routinely neglected
by the staff who were entrusted with their care. The level of abuse meted out
to the residents and the culture of cruelty that had evolved in Bungalow 3 was,
to put it mildly, difficult to watch. The programme provoked public outrage
and a media furore which sparked widespread debate regarding the nature
of care in Ireland. Despite a previous HIQA3 investigation in Aras Attracta…

THE LETTER 58 Spring 2015, Pages 79-84

This paper seeks to uncover what lies behind Lacan’s conceptualisation of
repetition as a ‘missed encounter with the real’ which he introduces in his
1964 seminar on the foundations of psychoanalysis. Through re-examining
what Freud says about repetition in Beyond the Pleasure Principle it aims to
give some foundation and grounding to what, on first reading, may appear
enigmatic and elusive.
Keywords: repetition compulsion; pleasure principle; trauma; binding; death
In The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis Lacan makes the following
statement about repetition; ‘What is repeated is always something that
occurs… as if by chance.’ He then goes on to define chance as, ‘the real as
encounter – the encounter in so far as it may be missed, in so far as it is essentially
the missed encounter.’ Taken in isolation these words appear enigmatic
and bewildering leaving us wondering how they are to be understood. Fortunately,
Lacan doesn’t leave us completely in the dark. His frequent references
to Freud suggest that before we can begin to understand what he, Lacan, is
saying about repetition, we need to revisit Freud and revise, go over again
(wiederholen) what he has said on the subject.
The issue of repetition had been on Freud’s mind from the very start. While
brief references to it can be found in The Interpretation of Dreams (1900),
Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious (1905), The Uncanny (1919), it
is pivotal to his paper Remembering, Repeating and Working Through (1914).
But it is not until his 1920 paper Beyond the Pleasure Principle that he gives
the issue a comprehensive treatment. His central question here comes from…

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