Micheli Romão – An Examination of the Function of the Proper Name as introduced in Crucial Problems for Psychoanalysis

The Letter No 57 (Autumn 2014) pages 63-77

This paper explores the occurrence of parapraxis in two different instances, and its relation to the function of the proper name. The first parapraxis is cap-tured in the word Poor(d)J’eLI, presented by Serge Leclaire during the closed sessions of Lacan’s seminar Crucial Problems for Psychoanalysis 1964/1965. The second instance is Lacan’s reading of Freud’s The Forgetting of Proper Names. Leclaire argues that the nonsensical utterance Poor(d)J’eLI functions as a proper name and that it is linked to a primordial unconscious phantasy. For Lacan, Freud’s forgetting of the name Signorelli is also a reference to the function of the proper name, this time linked with absence. The comments on Leclaire’s work and the subsequent reading of Lacan’s interpretation of Freud’s example reveal two different ‘acts’ concerning the same psychoanalytic method.  

Keywords: Poor(d)J’eLI, Signorelli, proper name, unconscious phantasy, absence, sticking/detaching, Leclaire.

Proper name

Lacan states that ‘the first function of the proper name is denomination, is that of introducing oneself into one of the different.’ Our name, even though not unique, is the one that represents us. By our name we respond to the call of the Other. Our name is given by the Other, who inserts us into the chain of signifiers, and even though our name was there before us it becomes part of our own subjectivity.

The proper name precedes the subject, a fact illustrated by the difficulty that faces every couple, the naming of their offspring. It is often said that nobody knows how many names they dislike until the day that they have to name their child. It seems that from the pot of many, very few end up being appropriate. …

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