The Clinical Study Days (CSD) is the annual meeting presented by the Lacanian Compass.
While each Study Days is dedicated to a particular subject, its feature presentations and discussions of clinical case work are done by psychoanalysts and other clinicians sharing the Lacanian approach. The papers presented involve institutional and private settings.
The CSD are open to anyone interested in psychoanalysis.
Members of the World Association of Psychoanalysis
Karina Tenenbaum, Chair
Maria Cristina Aguirre
New York, NY
Juan Felipe Arango
The human ego is built on the foundations of the Imaginary relationship with an other, this operation giving the primitive form to narcissism. Jacques Lacan develops it extensively in his teachings, in particular in his conception of the Mirror Stage: for the first time, the infant finds his image in the mirror, being immediately overtaken by a sense of jubilation, at a moment of life where he still doesn’t have control over his body. To acquire a body, he will need to undergo identification with a Symbolic Other, beyond narcissism, which will require him to incorporate the gap between the ego and its image, a gap that he will try to eliminate by building an equivalence between egos through a kind of “delusion of identity,” filling it with fantasies about who he is.
For Lacan, the position of the ego is there trapped in a circle. The ego cannot escape the actuality of its being other than by projecting itself in its virtual image. It is a blocked position that, in itself, prevents a dialectical development—an engagement with the Other—leaving the subject in a stance of violence against the order of the Other that, in certain cases, leads to a narcissism of a lost cause or to a kind of subjective position of victimization. This relationship with the Other presents special difficulties with psychosis but also in cases of neurosis, where the structure of misrecognition of the Other leads to a degree of loss of reality.
Later in his teaching, Lacan’s clinical experience showed him that the Imaginary and Symbolic dimensions were, in the subjective structure, more submitted to the Real dimension than he thought earlier, so he revises the Mirror Stage by saying that narcissism develops as a conjunction of Imaginary and Real, a joyful or erotic relationship with the image, where a decisive moment of jouissance is in play. It implies that the child, through his own image, is investing libido in the object, which is at the same time his image and the image of the other. Lacan uses the term ¨Imaginary jouissance¨ to emphasize the strong barrier it poses to the Symbolic operation.
In the psychoanalytic experience, the psychoanalyst seeks to establish a distance between the ego and its “delusional” belief, strongly charged with jouissance. The analyst, in the place of the Other, opens a space for the signifiers’ chain to develop under transference. Jacques-Alain Miller points out that what the subject takes to analysis is in the first place his ego, his “delusion of identity,” which in the course of the treatment should become less and less present, the subject being able to detach from it, leading to a fall of the transference itself. The “delusional” ego gives birth to the hysterization of the subject.
In his last teachings, the relationship of the subject with the Mirror Stage takes another turn when Lacan, very interested in the jouissance of the body itself, talks about ways of “dealing” with the subject’s symptom. He then gives us a new description of the body: there is the body of the image and the Symbolic body, both having to deal with a lack, and there is the body of the drive, represented by a hole with eroticized borders where jouissance is inscribed without the possibility of deciphering it through the Symbolic chain. These signifiers “all alone” require a different approach to contain the repetition of jouissance.
James Joyce’s way to go beyond narcissism was through his artwork: even with his limitations with regard to the Symbolic, his art allowed him to let go of the image by keeping it as his representation in front of the Other, when the body image separates from him in his childhood memory. Lacan takes Joyce’s example as the artist’s way to represent himself through his artwork. But, beyond Joyce’s particular experience, Lacan sees in it something that can be generalized to any subject: the possibility to deal with body symptoms through the construction of a sinthome, beyond the trap of narcissism and the weakness of the Symbolic.
It is said by many contemporary authors that we live in a “culture of narcissism” where the projection of the self image is the individual’s main goal. In this reading, one aspires to an ambition: to enjoy the “delights of the ego” involving the supposition that the eye of the Other—which is ultimately blocked by the ego’s own eye—will provide a completeness. Following Lacan’s proposition in his last teachings, what is at stake in the practice of psychoanalysis today is to find, case by case, the particular way a subject can find an exit from the trap of narcissism with his own resources—Imaginary, Symbolic, or Real—by organizing a link to the Other, in the era of the One all Alone.
WHY CLINICAL STUDY DAYS?
Jacques Lacan. Is there a name in psychoanalysis that gets such reaction? Such emotions of admiration, love, hatred, jealousy. But not only that, what he did put people to work: refashioning a psychoanalysis when Freud's followers failed, but also a remarkable legacy of those who work against him, in their talks and books.
We psychoanalysts of the World Association of Psychoanalysis in the United States have sponsored for eight years a Clinical Study Days. This is a place for all those with an interest in Lacan, a curiosity about Lacan, a desire for Lacan to gather and explore clinical work within the orientation laid out by Lacan. For, while Lacan was certainly a prodigious thinker in so many fields, he was above all else a psychoanalyst. And these Study Days are dedicated to exploring clinical work within the orientation laid out by Lacan and by Jacques-Alain Miller.
Indeed, if Lacan is our first point of orientation, Jacques-Alain Miller is our second. It was Miller who Lacan himself identified as the person who was able to read Lacan, a notoriously difficult task. But, beyond that work in the realm of meaning, it was Miller who was able to do something with Lacan and the work that Lacan left us, in all the institutional work led by Miller that has given the world the Schools of the World Association of Psychoanalysis. For it is the Schools that are the means by which psychoanalysis has passed from generation to generation through the formation of new psychoanalysts.
The Study Days give speakers and participants an opportunity to work together with psychoanalysts and a taste of the life of the School.