CLINICAL STUDY DAYS 10
"Beyond oedipus: family dramas/family traumas"
miami, february 3-5, 2017
A Report on Beyond Oedipus: Family Dramas/Family Traumas
Clinical Study Days 10, Miami, February 3-5, 2017
Thomas Svolos – chair of the scientific committee of the 10th Clinical Study Days – commenced the event by announcing that, as of September 2016, Lacanian Compass (LC) is a non-profit organization. A significant achievement for the transmission of Lacanian Psychoanalysis in the United States, the LC will soon formalize its affiliation with the New Lacanian School (NLS) with the aim to promote the Lacanian orientation in the United States.
The theme of the conference, Beyond Oedipus, Family Dramas and Family Traumas, was chosen as a means to provide participants with an opportunity to discuss new configurations of the family structure, changes in the structure of the psyche as such, and the consequences these changes have for psychoanalytic theory and practice today. Though Lacan did not work in the era of the post-modern proper, his teaching, particularly his last teaching, generated a conceptual apparatus that prefigures the emerging phenomena of today. The logic of the not-all, the isolation of symptomatic identity, plus-de-jouir, and the formalization of the capitalist discourse, to cite a few, help us think and work with the rise of singularity, the tendency towards feminization, and the proliferation of contemporary addiction(s).
These tools in hand, participants of 10th Clinical Study Days engaged with the reorientation of the clinic in relation to the beyond of the binary distinction between the presence of the Name-of-the-Father (neurosis) its foreclosure (psychosis), towards the development of a Borromean clinic constructed from singularity, and an identity with one’s symptom, that could potentially go beyond the Oedipus. Along these lines. 11 diverse cases were presented and discussed by participants from France, Belgium, Canada, Argentina, Venezuela, and the United States, where participants traveled from California, Florida, Georgia, Nebraska, New York, Texas.
The Family as a Utopia
Pierre-Gilles Guéguen opened the conference by giving a lecture entitled “The Family as a Utopia.” He began by describing the function and evolution of the patriarchal family by underlying the institution’s link to the transmission of possessions. With or without love, it remained thus throughout Christianity– family was an institution that maintained patriarchy. Lacan criticized any grounding of the family structure based on the supremacy of the “male universal principle,” and he criticized it in the name of the not-all, that is to say, in the name of the “feminine principle.” In his text on The Family Complexes (1938), Lacan argued that the origin of our culture was linked to the structure of the patriarchal family, and that this structure had an impact on psychic development, principally, the occultation of the feminine principle. In other words, the more the idealization of the masculine, the more the denial of the feminine.
Guéguen noted that the more a man defends his fatherly position, the more he defends himself against the feminine position. Such a repression is highly visible, for example, in the structure of the Nazi family. Within the Nazi family, the German Aryan woman is dedicated to the family – that is to say reduced to be a mother– and the Aryan man to war. As such, the Aryan family represents the hatred of the feminine principle. And this hatred of the feminine is what turns the family structure into a utopia. Unfortunately, the nostalgia for the father and the occultation of the feminine is still here and strong today. Freud identified this tendency in his text The Ego and the Id where he described the nostalgia and longing for an identification with a super-powerful father, and the super-ego. Such a tendency is also the source of religion, of paranoia, and segregation. Likewise, fundamentalism is a symptom of the desire to return to an old order. It is a reaffirmation of the masculine principle.
Identities as Politics
Marie-Hélène Brousse opened her lecture entitled “Identities as Politics, Identification as Process, and Identity as Symptom” by underlying the fact that the dominant conception of identity is an ideal identity, whole and stable, unified and intentional. Contrary to such a view, Lacanian psychoanalysis argues that life is something which goes “à la dérive” (adrift). In other words, the idea of a unified identity is nothing but a scandalous lie inasmuch as the subjective division of the subject, as well as the structure of the unconscious, goes against the possibility of such a unity.
Consequently, the critical dimension developed by Gender & Queer Theory can be seen as the demonstration of what Lacanian psychoanalysis said from the start, i.e. that the very notion of unity is an imaginary illusion. The search of Gender theory could, indeed, be described as a consequence of the collapse of the master discourse which was itself dependent on the Name-of-the-Father, that is to say, on a semblant that worked. The Name-of-the-Father defined masculinity and femininity within a certain kinship system so that identities were defined by binaries. This is no longer so and we are witnessing a pluralization of the Name-of-the-Father. The new Name(s)-of-the-Father are the norms, grounded on statistics, and which constitutes a new social order that is not organized by the one of exception. The administration of the modern social bond has to do with the same element, no more organized by the one exception, but organized by norms grounded on numbers.
In modern families, there is a return in the Real of what was the function of the father. The social is taking over this function – the system is the social. Lacan spoke about it in terms of its iron power, the power of the social bond. What comes in the place of the father is thus centered on the notion of use, on the function that you have been appointed to a symbolic place by the desire of someone. It has to do with pragmatism. The Family institution has to deal with that as well nowadays, although this multiplicity of identities does not alter the way identity operate in general. This is why the purpose of analysis is the fall of identifications. The fall of identities made of paper.
Identity as Symptom
In order to access a new form of identification, an identification to the One-Body, it is necessary to go beyond the three kinds of identifications that Freud described in his text Ego and the Id: the identification to the father through love, the hysterical identification, and the identification to the unary trait.[if !supportFootnotes][endif] To identify with the One-Body is to identify with the body and the drives, that is to say, to identify with the only identity that holds, the one of the symptom. This identity is not related to the structure of the subject, nor to the transferential unconscious, but to the body that we cannot escape, the body of the one-all-alone.
Lacan said in a conference he gave in Baltimore in 1966, “the One-body is not the unary trait,” which means you always need a zero in order to produce a repetition. Speaking about this unary trait, in opposition to the One of the One-Body, Lacan added, “This trait repeats something particular and significant, and that is where the subject is. The subject is precisely this object, this unary trait, which has to do with one object. It is the first version of the subject.”
In the original moment, there is no difference between the subject and the object, which means, as Marie-Hélène Brousse underlined, there is no difference between trauma and exquisite pleasure. There exists a moment when the subject is not yet separated from the object, and what we call a symptomatic identity has to do with this moment when the object and the subject are but one. The symptom provides an identity that is the only token of unity. Consequently, concluded Marie-Hélène Brousse, there is such a thing as identity in psychoanalysis that it is not related to the One-Body and the drives. This is distinctly not one’s identity made of paper.
From Drama to Comedy
How is it possible to access one's symptomatic identity? Marie-Hélène Brousse, in her second presentation, “From Drama to Comedy,” explained how and why the process of an analysis can be framed as that which pushes an analysand to go from drama – generated by the paradox that makes up the identity of paper – to comedy, and its possible resolution through an identification to one's symptom. Lacan has a theory of Tragedy, and he makes references to the theater throughout his teaching. He compared ancient tragedies, modern tragedies, and hyper-modern tragedies, in their relation to the Law, and the importance that each gives to the presence of a divided subject. Corneille, for example, shows this division perfectly in his plays. Everything is organized in terms of subjective division, as in Le Cid where Chimène, loves a man who has killed her father, indeed, the French have an expression, un dilemme cornélien
In a comedy, on the contrary, everything has to do with the Other that does not exist. It is always a mockery, a diminishing of the Other, a way to ridicule it. This is why, in comedy, the symbolic order is unveiled as semblant. As such, comedy is an attack on the very principle of authority that gives power to the semblant. This is why everything turns around the Phallus, and why the Phallus is unveiled as object a. In Molière's play The Miser (1668), for example, everything is interpreted in relation to the miser's money box. To take another example, in The School for Wives (1662) the main character has only one idea, “not to be a cuckold.” In sum, the “tragic” dimension of comedy is always related to the obscure thing around which the comical character has built his whole life, and which, at the end, fails them.
Consequently, to discover the place of object a within the process of an analysis is what can enable an analysand to access the dimension of comedy. In a Tragedy or a Drama, this place is still unidentified, and, as such, is called destiny. It is a cruel Other. And you have to be the hero. In Comedy, on the contrary, there is no wicked Other. It is just your object that is killing you. So, concluded Brousse with laughter, “you better change your relationship to your object if you don’t want to end up being the victim of it!”
Lacanian Compass as a Subject of the School
To conclude this 10th Clinical Study Day, all the participants and organizers, such as Maria-Cristina Aguirre, Thomas Svolos, Felipe Arango, Alicia Arenas, Karina Tenenbaum, Pamela King, Nancy Gillespie, Azeen Khan, Cyrus Saint Amand Poliakoff, Samya Seth, Robert Buck, and many others, engaged in a conversation around Jacques-Alain Miller's text, “The Turin Theory of the Subject of the School.”
In this text, Miller argues that the concept of a School should never be objectified, in so far as to give a name is to reify. A School, on the contrary, is made out of a set of social relations, and so the founding of a Lacanian School should not be an institutional affair. The life of the School should be interpreted. The School needs to constantly analyze the relationship of its members to the ideal that brings them all together. The loneliness of each member is a sign of the fact that each member has a singular relationship to the Ideal.
CLINICAL STUDY DAYS 9
"MUST DO IT! NEW FORMS OF DEMAND IN SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE"
New York, March 18-20, 2016
A REPORT ON THE CLINICAL STUDY DAYS 9
MUST DO IT! NEW FORMS OF DEMAND IN SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE
March 18-20, 2016, participants of the Freudian Field traveled from such places diverse and distant as Los Angeles, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Connecticut, Omaha, Columbia, Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Miami, Buenos Aires, London, Canada, Marseille, Paris and Ghent to New York City for the Clinical Study Days, which took place at the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis (NPAP). This being the 9th Clinical Study Days organized under the auspices of the Lacanian Compass, the Study Days took as its theme Must Do It!: New Forms of Demand in Subjective Experience in an effort to map out new forms of demand and the Super-ego in the 21st century.
Under this imperative, three lectures given by two guest speakers, Marie-Hélène Brousse and Pierre-Gilles Guéguen, served as a conceptual and theoretical reference throughout the weekend. Furthermore, these references were set in relation to the clinical practice of psychoanalysis in the 21st century as articulated by twelve case constructions presented by twelve clinicians, each with a discussant.
The first lecture of the weekend, “Anything Goes: The Imperative of Jouissance in a Society of Permissiveness,” was given by Marie-Hélène Brousse at Fordham College at Lincoln Center on the evening of March 18.th To commence, Brousse foregrounded the discussion by citing two essential axioms: There is no sexual rapport (Il n’y a pas de relation sexuel), derived from Lacan’s late teaching; and There is something of the One (Y a de l’Un), emphasized by Jacques-Alain Miller’s note published on the back cover of Seminar XIX. The first would act to orient “The Imperative of Jouissance in a Society of Permissiveness” and the second “The Rise of the Ego in the Era of the One-all-alone.” As for the references, Brousse cited three, serving not only for the talk, but for the weekend: Jacques Lacan’s “Note on the Father” delivered at the Congress of L’École de la Cause freudienne (Strasbourg, 1968), “A Fantasy: Conference of Jacques-Alain Miller in Comandatuba” (IV Congress of the WAP: 2004), and Lacan’s formulation of the Capitalist’s Discourse. Taken together, these references set forth the coordinates of the father’s disappearance, the father as a process of naming linked to hierarchy, and furthermore, locate what in the evolution of the Master’s Discourse, at the moment of the vanishing of the father, has taken the place of the S1 as agent. Indeed, in the era of Anything Goes, it is none other than the object a, with the consequence, as Miller names it, of the Master’s Discourse today taking the form of the Analyst’s Discourse.
The first consequence Brousse identified in relation to the father’s disappearance, as afore defined, is the rise of the imperative on one hand and permissiveness on the other, “it may be a paradox, but its not a contradiction.” Turning to the linguists, imperative can be defined alternatively as order, command, demand, generally not an interdiction, and definitively as an act of language. In this way, on the side of imperative, Brousse situated: Super-ego, Command, Voice, and on the out-side of the side of the imperative:
Demand (S<>D), and Will. On the side of prohibition, we find: Ego-ideal, the law, statements, and on the out-side of the side of prohibition: Desire as signified of the law. Thus, citing Lacan in Kant avec Sade (1963), Brousse identified the necessary distinction between will as not necessarily unconscious and desire as always unconscious, emphasizing two different modes of eroticization, two different modes of jouissance. Will is linked to a position of enunciation in the particular and the object of voice, while eroticization in desire is linked to the subversion of barriers and has to do with the universal. Relying on Miller’s reference, Brousse states: “Kant’s moral law is the attempt to universalize the imperative of the Super-Ego.”
Nowadays, it is the imperative that is far more present in everyday discourse than the law, and so Brousse asked: “What changes on the clinical side?” In response, she cited two key indications. First, permissiveness, i.e. the weakening of the laws, is the condition of the rise of the Super-ego, “not only are they not contradictory, they are complementary.” Second, a new form of symptom is taking more and more importance in psychopathology today and that is addiction. Addiction is the new form of the symptom in the era of the rise of the Super-ego and is determined far more by the object although it maintains something of the signifier and the image. It has the weight of the real. With addiction, there is no dependency: not dependent on sex, not dependent on love, but only on the object. The imperative saves you from dependency making you into a slave of the object, but free from all else.
The Freudian Super-ego and the Lacanian Super-ego
The second lecture of the weekend, “The Freudian Superego and the Lacanian Superego,” was given by Pierre-Gilles Guéguen at NPAP on the morning of March 19th. Guéguen commenced by commenting on Freud’s “The Ego and the Id,” the text which introduced the second topography. Guéguen, following a comment of James Strachey, highlighted that Freud wrote this text under the pressure of redefining the psychoanalytic meaning of the unconscious. Is it only the repressed or does it coincide with the drive? Guéguen emphasized that there is a hesitance in Freud to disarticulate the Ego-ideal from the Super-ego, which we see Freud construct along two dimensions. With the first, the Super-ego is understood as a part of the ego that permits or rejects the drives; thus triggering moral censorship and unconscious guilt. Second, Guéguen underlined the dimension of the Freudian Super-ego’s entanglement with the law of the father and the Oedipus Complex. The first identification which is an identification with the father, has two forms, that of the idealized father and that of the father who prohibits and enforces the law of incest. In early Lacan, as early as Seminar I, Guéguen noted that we already find references to the Super-ego as imperative, “which is so severe that it is an insane law that goes as far as having a disregard for itself,” and as “a ferocious and obscene figure.” It refers to a father that says ‘No!’ up to a point of a masochistic jouissance. Given that, Guéguen inquired ‘what is the right position of the analyst in the treatment?’
Guéguen stressed that interpretation is more compatible with the position of the analyst as the Ego-ideal rather than as the Super-ego. This is why it is important to radically distinguish the Ego-ideal from the Super-ego. The Ego-ideal includes a large part of the imaginary which is not to be disregarded, taking into account what Jacques-Alain Miller calls, “the equality of the consistencies.” The Super-ego pertains to the symbolic register only and leads to a mortification of the libido, commanding the subject to sacrifice jouissance, which we translate today as the concept of division. The divided subject does not work in its own interests, but rather works against itself. We see this division already in Freud through the conceptualization of Eros and Thanatos. Freud was the first to declare that there are always symptomatic remainders in analysis. Lacan proposed to turn the impasse at the end of treatment into a solution, relying on an identification to the symptom, once its most florid manifestations have been reduced. We call this reduction le sinthome. As Guéguen noted, “the problem that the Super-ego raises for the analyst is to measure how the drive may be civilized, promote a social bond, and to prevent the process of segregation… Psychoanalysis above all constitutes an experience of Ethics.” From ‘Must not do it!’ to ‘Must do it!’ both commandments can have the same effect of conveying death. It is not enough to acknowledge that the authority of the father has declined and that the globalization of the world, in particular the advance of digital technology, has produced a liquid society. As Lacan emphasized, “The unconscious is political. The unconscious is transindividual” (1967). Miller returned to this reference twice in his course of “The Divine Details” (1989) and “The Experience of the Real in Psychoanalysis” (1999).
In the last section of Guéguen’s talk, Freud the dualist vs Lacan the monist, Guéguen relied upon Miller’s reference published under the title “Lacanian Biology,” where the latter he demonstrates that Lacan discarded the dualist conception of the drive and took a strong stand for a monist conception of the libido. In Lacan’s teaching, the death drive disappears as a concept with the ascendancy of the axiom of the absence of the sexual relation. Two other monist categories will be developed in Lacan’s post-structuralist period ¾ one being the discourse in Seminar XVII and the other being le sinthome, substituting the binary fantasy-symptom in the classic period of Lacan. These conceptual innovations prevent psychoanalysis from becoming fossilized and admit the ways in which the relationship between psychoanalysis and society has changed. As Guéguen elaborated, “jouissance is not imposed on us by an internal sexual drive as much as it is by the unending solicitations of the market, advertising, business, and all the attempts to persuade us to augment and modify our bodies.” Words and images enter our bodies producing all kinds of affects and there is a new relationship between the signifier and the body. In its former conception, purely formalist, the signifier elevates some bodily part to the level of the signifier and there is some jouissance that is elevated to the status of the symbol. But Miller suggests that, “the other question raised by the late Lacan is the reverse of this operation of symbolization, it is the operation of corporealization.” It concerns the way signifiers and knowledge enter the body and produce jouissance. This is why Miller moves to discuss porn in his introduction to the 10th Congress. From Seminar XX on, Lacan will call affect the bodily affect of the signifier, which designate affects of jouissance. Affect is something that disturbs the function of the living body.
The Rise of the Ego in the Era of the One-all-alone
The third lecture of the weekend, “The Rise of the Ego in the Era of the One-all-alone,” was given by Marie-Hélène Brousse at NPAP on the morning of March 20th. Proceeding from the rising concern with identity politics in contemporary American discourse, Brousse differentiated between identity (gender, race, etc.) and the psychoanalytic concept of identification of which there are three modes: the unary trait (trait unaire; einziger zug), the hysterical one, and the identification with the symptom. Both identity and identification have to do with a common point, even if they are not the same, and touch immediately on the question of the semblant, although for centuries we have been thinking that nature gave us our identities. The dimension of the imaginary, and the power of the image, is something which is Real. When Lacan introduced the mirror stage, his reference for the image is that it is Real. There is the Real included in the dimension of the Imaginary, just as the Real is included in the Symbolic. The Real is also to be treated at the level of the Real of the Real.
The axiom There is something of the One (Y a de l’Un) developed by Miller in his presentation of Seminar XIX is precisely not that there is One, the logic of the paternal exception. The relationship of this kind of One (Y a de l’Un) doesn’t have to do with the symbolic function but with the body. In this way, Brousse, relying on Lacan’s reference on pg. 126 of Seminar XIX published in French, says: There is something of the One (Y a de l’Un) is in relation to the body of each subject. Firstly, this definition of the One has to do with the body image that makes One out of the fragmented body, and secondly, emphasizes the importance of belief going back to the Cartesian cogito. Lacan emphasizes that it is because you have a body that you can have a belief that you are One, when as far as the subject is concerned, the main point is how does it divide itself. There is something of the One (Y a de l’Un) is precisely a belief as there is no such thing as immediate identity. Thirdly, if it is a belief in relation with the One operated by the power of the image, this belief lacks, for example, in the experience of psychosis. This One related to the body image needs to be believed in order to exist and function. In order to get the feeling that you are, “I am,” you have to necessarily believe what the mirror stage provides you, which is two-dimensional. It’s because you believe that you are One that you think you have a being. “I am” is a consequence of that belief.
Brousse then proceeded to construct the relationship from the One to the body, and from the body to the ego. There is something of the One (Y a de l’Un) implies that instead of referring yourself to what can give you two, the feeling of being, which is a master signifier; you refer yourself to a mirror image added to a belief. The formula of “I am” either has to do with the master signifier, as in identity politics, or it has to do with the object a left by the experience of jouissance and the encounter of a signifier which gives you your name of jouissance. The third one is the ego, the Joyce solution, the reference for which is Seminar XXIII, a solution which Lacan universalizes as a new definition of the symptom, which makes of the ego a symptom. Indeed, the ego can be a symptomatic solution under certain conditions. The Cartesian cogito which held as a metaphysical and epistemological theory from the 17th century up to present, only functions now by the necessity of saying, “I think I am” all the time. In a society where the big Other is less powerful because of the Analyst’s discourse and the Capitalist’s discourse, what is going to be used in order to sustain identity is the ego, as the imaginary consequence of the mirror stage. The rise of the ego in the era of the One-all-alone is linked to the rise of the imperative against the signifier without signified. In psychoanalysis, Miller emphasizes the importance of the unconscious as Real, but in the contemporary Master’s discourse, as Brousse contended, the unconscious is being more and more pushed to the imaginary side. As a consequence of the fall of the One of the exception and the rise of the One-all-alone, we can see the importance of the ego in everyday pathology. So, with the rise of the ego in contemporary society, the concurrent question that Brousse posed – and on which the lecture and conference ended – was as follows: what happens to narcissism at the end of analysis?
Twelve case constructions presented by twelve clinicians, each with a discussant, offered diverse conditions of treatment, location, age, and clinical structure. Common themes emerging throughout the weekend included the paradox of the unchanged nature of the fantasy, divorced from time, and the proliferation of symptoms and Super-ego imperatives in the 21st century as witnessed in the contemporary clinic. Participants were surprised to find 19th and 20th century fathers, mothers, and subjects veiled under the discourse produced by the capitalism, science, and its corresponding gadgets and applications: i.e. the iPhone, Tinder, and the like. However, no less surprising, participants found a proliferation of 21st century subjects, indexed by cases of ordinary psychosis which were marked by an inability to distinguish and prove neurotic structures. This was supplemented by cases of hysterical and obsessional neurosis dressed in new guises. In all cases, discrete signs of structure and the lack thereof led to pertinent questions and considerations regarding the direction of the treatment related to each subject’s singularity. In other words, “so now you have the structure, but what do you do?” From a certain democratization of the analyst’s position, to the assumption of the position of the Ego-ideal as a necessary maneuver to avoid falling into the position of the Super-ego, each clinician ably exposed the knowledge of their acts, constructions, and interpretations. Accordingly, each clinician and discussant engaged in a fine construction of the handling, doing, and making of a subject’s cure for which each is credited as a practitioner and transmitter of essential psychoanalytic findings that will continue to be pursued and refined at the next Clinical Study Days, the 10th, that will take place in Miami.
“Superintendent”: Cyrus Saint Amand Poliakoff-Discussant: Liliana Kruszel; “I am the Dictator, the Destroyer of My Life”: Pamela King - Discussant: Alicia Arenas; “A Brilliant Brain – I Should (Must) Shine”: Francine Danniau - Discussant: Jeff Erbe; “Mental Anorexia in the Elderly: A demand for love”: Ellie Ragland - Discussant: Nancy Gillespie; “Claustration”: Jared Russell - Discussant: Pamela King; “Feel Good! An imperative to excitement”: Elizabeth Rogers - Discussant: Maria Cristina Aguirre; “Performance Demands in the University: Is the Transferential Relationship Still Possible?”: Gary Marshall - Discussant: Pierre-Gilles Guéguen; “Little Leo: From must have, to may be”: An Bulkens - Discussant: Karina Tenenbaum; “Aunty Needle Heel”: Josefina Ayerza-Discussant: Fabio Azeredo; “I'm Gonna Get Them! (Quos ego-!)”: Michele Julien-Discussant: Tom Svolos; “The father’s demand”: Stephanie Swales- Discussant: Gary Marshall; “To make a stop”: John Burton Wallace V- Discussant: Alicia Arenas.
Report by John Burton Wallace V
CLINICAL STUDY DAYS 8
"ENCOUNTERS WITH THE REAL IN THE ANALYTIC EXPERIENCE"
Miami, JANUARY 24 & 25, 2015
In his 1998 Seminar, “The Experience of the Real,” Jacques-Alain Miller remarks that to explore the concept of the Real, we shouldn’t formulate the question "What is the Real?," as that puts the question of the Real in the domain of Truth. Truth and the Real exclude one another.
In the trajectory of Lacan´s teachings, the Real is first situated outside the analytic experience, as it is the unconscious, as a personal history to be recovered through the psychoanalytic experience. Later, after Seminar XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis (1964), the Real is situated in the signifier, where the unconscious is no longer history, but knowledge. This is the first algorithm. However, in his final teachings Lacan articulates a Real which is not in the signifier, which is beyond meaning and knowledge. In this second algorithm, the Real is outside discourse or speech, present as an indecipherable kernel in the symptom.
The notion of the Real in Lacan has more than one approach. Throughout his teachings, we find sentences like "The Real always returns to the same place,” and “The Real as impossible,” and, “Pieces of Real.” Moreover, when he talks about “Encounters with the Real,” he is referring to the contingent aspect of the Real, the unexpected happenings that may emerge both in life and in the analytic experience.
For these Study Days, we invite our guests to present clinical cases that say something about these encounters with the Real, which can tell us about what is, in the final word, outside speech.
CLINICAL STUDY DAYS 7
'Paradoxes of Transference'
New York, February 14-16th, 2014
Freud was the first to reveal the paradoxes of transference in the analytic setting, saying that it was at the same time the motor and the obstacle of the treatment.
Lacan developed further the concept of transference, making it a cornerstone of his School and the Pass procedure. He considered that Transference is related to the Unconscious and to Knowledge. He invented a new name for it: The Subject Supposed to Know. Transference concerns a knowledge that doesn't belong to either of the partners of the analytic setting, either the analyst nor the analysand, but rather a knowledge that is supposed, that is of the unconscious and that is produced, or not, at each encounter.
Transference is one of what Lacan called the Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis; it is not possible to conceive psychoanalytic treatment without transference.
We can say that, in a certain way, the concept of Transference transcends the different theoretical registers.
From the Imaginary—all the aspects of transference-love—to the Symbolic—the relation to the signifiers— to transference in the Real: how are today's clinicians dealing with transference?
This is especially important to review now, for transference today seems more and more linked to “virtual” space and time —to the time and space of the internet— and requires more than ever the “real presence of the analyst” that Lacan referred to in “The Direction of the Treatment.”
How can we support that “real presence” in the era of protocols and a praxis that tends ever more to do without speech?
There are inherent paradoxes to the space of transference: how “to call from the inside” to open the door of the unconscious, according to Lacan in “Position of the Unconscious.” With regard to the contemporary symptoms, the clinical phenomena that we are presented with today: are they more close to the locus of the Other, more autistic regarding transference?
There are paradoxes in the time of transference: how to open and develop the transference of the necessary ”time to know,” including also the shortness or extension of treatment today that can be studied from the “theory of cycles” that Jacques-Alain Miller introduced some years ago in relation to the CPCT clinic.
These and other questions will be addressed during the CSD7.
CLINICAL STUDY DAYS 6
“The Psychoanalytic Act in the 21st Century”
New York, February 24-26, 2012
On a typical New York winter weekend (a mix of rainy, windy and sunny days), the Lacanian Compass hosted its 6th Clinical Study Days on “The Psychoanalytic Act in the 21st Century.” The CSD was held this past February 24-26, 2012.
A Friday evening Lecture on “The Comedy of the Sexes,” held at the prestigious New School, co-sponsored by the NPAP and its Chair Program Committee, opened the three-day event. The Guest Speaker was Fabian Naparstek, Argentinean psychoanalyst from the EOL. The Lecture was attended by more than 100 people, and many questions denoted the interest in the subject.
The Clinical Study Days 6, Saturday and Sunday, held at Fordham University, Lincoln Center Campus, had a full and intense program, that included 10 papers and 2 lectures given by Fabian Naparstek: “The Act as a New Link” and Pierre-Gilles Gueguen, Special Delegate of the WAP for the USA: “The School as invented by Lacan”. Their presence, participation and their contribution in the discussions were invaluable.
There were 5 clinical case presentations: Franck Rollier (Antibes, France), Dinorah Otero (New York), Ellie Ragland (Columbia, Missouri), Jeff Erbe (New York) and Pam Jespersen (Omaha); 3 theoretical papers: Ed Pluth (Chico, California), Fabio Azeredo (Philadelphia) and Tom Ratekin (Washington D.C.) and 2 first person testimonies: Cyrus Saint Amand Poliakoff (New York) and Eugenia Varela (Paris, France). Each paper had a discussant Nancy Gillespie (New York, NY), Juan Felipe Arango (Miami), Karina Tenenbaum (Miami), Alicia Arenas (Miami), Samya Seth (New York), Josefina Ayerza (New York), Maria Cristina Aguirre (New York), Ellyn Altman (New York) and Tom Svolos (Omaha), whose task was to extract the most salient points in each paper and to facilitate the discussion. The idea was to dedicate enough time to each presentation, to construct the case and to extract knowledge and transmit a teaching.
The CSD 6 was well attended by 45 people from different corners of the USA, Canada and Europe. The exchanges between the audience and the presenters were lively and very enriching and continued during the coffee breaks and the reception held on Saturday evening.
Clinicians demonstrated originality and creativity in the direction of the treatment. Each case had an original way of dealing with the psychoanalytic act, as producer of transference, installing the subject supposed to know, reducing jouissance and inventing singular, unique interventions.
The enthusiasm for the next Clinical Study Days was evident. We already have our main theme: Demand and Desire in Psychoanalysis. The date and place will be determined soon.
Maria Cristina Aguirre
February 29, 2012 New York.
CLINICAL STUDY DAYS 5
'Reading the Unconscious
New York January 15-16, 2011
From Clinical Study Days 5: "Reading the Unconscious" the following texts by Thomas Svolos and Alicia Arenas were presented at a Roundtable held January 16, 2011, on "The Unconscious in the Contemporary World"
"The Supposed-To Know-To Read-Otherwise" Thomas Svolos
"The Supposed-To Know-To Read-Otherwise." This signifier that I have chosen for my title is a translation of a word Lacan uttered on December, 20, 1977. Elaborating on the sujet-supposé-savoir, he tweaked the word a bit to come up with "le supposé-savoir-lire-autrement." Allow me to offer my translation of the passage where this occurs, in Seminar XXV: "There is surely writing in the unconscious, even if only because the dream, the principle of the unconscious--it is what Freud said--the lapsus and even the Witz are defined by being readable. A dream, it happens, one doesn't know why, and then, apres-coup, it reads itself; a lapsus also and everything that Freud said about Witz are truly notorious for being linked to this economy that is writing, an economy different from speech. The readable, it is in that that knowledge consists. And in the end, it's not much. That which I said about the transference I timidly advanced as being the subject--a subject is always supposed, it is not of the subject, as expected, it is only the supposed--the supposed to know. And what does that mean? The supposed-to know-to read-otherwise. The otherwise in question, it is truly that which I write, even myself, in the following way: S(/A) [the signifier of the lack in the Other]. Otherwise, what does that mean?"
If the title of these Study Days is "Reading the Unconscious," and, if the title of this session is "The Unconscious in the Contemporary World," I wish, then, to make the subtitle of my small contribution here as "Reading the Unconscious in the Contemporary World." I would like to address this question from the point that Lacan makes here about the transference: of the supposition, of a subject, who is supposed to know how to read something otherwise, to read it differently. Lacan asks: what does it mean to read something otherwise, to read it differently. Well, then, how do we suppose to read something, the unconscious, more specifically, otherwise in the contemporary world?
Let's look first at Freud, who is not of the contemporary world. What was the Freudian act of reading? Freud's patients presented themselves to him with their symptoms, their conversion reactions, their obsessions, their phobias, and so forth. And, through the act of listening to these patients, he discovered, he created the notion of the Unconscious, the Other Scene, and he, in the most classical phase of his work, worked by an act of reading these symptoms, and dreams, and Witz, and lapsus, differently. Whereas his patients perhaps believed that there was nothing to be read there, no meaning to be obtained from what we now call these unconscious formations, Freud believed otherwise, believed that they represented an unconscious that could be read. And, Freud's reading was a rigorous one, one in which he found not only meaning, but a very particular meaning in all his cases--the Oedipus complex.
Freud's first published comments on the Oedipus complex appear in The Interpretation of Dreams, and I would like to quote here from the translation by Joyce Creek: "In my experience, which is already very extensive, parents play the main parts in the inner life of all children who later become psychoneurotics. Being in love with the one parent and hating the other belong to the indispensable stock of psychical impulses being formed at that time which are so important for the later neurosis. But I do not believe that in this respect psychoneurotics are to be sharply distinguished from other children of Adam with a normal development in their capacity to create something absolutely new and theirs alone. It is far more likely – and this is supported by occasional observations of normal children – that with these loving and hostile wishes towards their parents too, psychoneurotics are only revealing to us, by magnifying it, what goes on less clearly and less intensely in the inner life of most children. In support of this insight, the ancient world has provided us with a legend whose far-reaching and universal power can only be understood if we grant a similar universality to the assumption from child-psychology we have just been discussing." 
From that point in 1900 to the end of his career, Freud retained a belief in the Oedipus complex, which he found at the heart of all his clinical work. Examine the Rat Man and even the Schreber case, and you can see it in the anticipatory function of this complex in schematizing the material he encountered in his clinical work. It can be granted that later in his work, such as in the third chapter of The Ego and the Id, Freud modified this complex with the so-called negative Oedipus complex, but the critical emphasis persisted: the relative positions of rivalry and antagonism with one parent and love for the other, a configuration of positions of Imaginary relations.
For Freud, this complex is universal: to be found in all social and cultural discursive formations. And, in fact, we need to look at his great later speculations such as Totem and Taboo and Moses and Monotheism as further attempts on his part to delineate this complex by establishing its origins. In this regard, the myth of the primal father is merely an extension of the myth of the Oedipus complex: a desire for knowledge of it in the first moment of properly human history. The critical discontinuity of human from primate – this unknowable moment of our history – is explained by Freud not through science, for which the task is impossible, but through the generation of a myth, myth here serving the function it always does according to Levi-Strauss.
Thus, for Freud, the Oedipus complex is the key to how to read the Unconscious. But, this is not the only dimension of the Freudian act of reading. In her presentation during the preparatory video-seminar series for these Study Days on "Reading the Unconscious," Elisa Alvarenga offered a very nuanced presentation on the interpretation of dreams in psychoanalysis today.  She started with a close reading of the foundational dream of psychoanalysis, the dream of Irma's injection. In her presentation, Alvarenga stated that this dream retains its importance because "it's a dream where we already have two aspects of the unconscious: on the one hand, its connection to the signifier, to the signifier chain, which connects to the experiences of the subject Freud, his history and his suffering, and so, his truth, and on the other hand, its connection to the letter, something that creates a hole in the meaning constructed by language, and then connects to what Freud has called the navel of the dream, the Unerkannt, which Lacan calls the impossible to recognize. This non-recognized is of the order of something that cannot be said, and belongs to what Freud called the Urverdrängung, the original repression, the proper hole of the symbolic, which represents its closing. It establishes the limit of the readable, on the one hand, and also it's the index of what doesn't cease to not write itself." I agree with Alvarenga's formulation here, but I would like to note that the emphasis in Freud has always seemed to me to be on this first aspect of the unconscious, that of meaning, with special privilege to the Oedipal meaning. This second aspect, which really is nothing other than what Lacan mathematizes as the signifier of the lack in the Other, is present, but in Freud marks only a limit, a point of impossibility with regard to interpretation and the psychoanalytic act of reading. Indeed, in the dream of Irma's injection, it appears only as a footnote. And, one might say, it appears only in footnotes or metaphorical references, such as to the rock of castration that the interpretive waves of meaning only crash themselves on. I think it is with Lacan and with our current, what I will call Millerian reading of Lacan, that we have come to fully develop this last aspect, that of a reading, a "reading otherwise" oriented around a signifier not of the Other, but of the lack in the Other.
But: to return to Freud, thus, in my reading, for Freud, to read otherwise, was fundamentally to offer a universal reading, to read the Unconscious through the lens of the Oedipus complex. This was indeed a large part of the scandal of psychoanalysis, subverting many ideals or notions held dearly at that moment in the history of civilization. But, at a certain point, the Freudian message was disseminated through society and culture. One might interpret the crisis in psychoanalysis in the 1920's as a function of the very success of psychoanalysis itself. Psychoanalytic interpretation seemed to lose its efficacy at this moment, and I think we might understand that from within the very context of this notion of "reading otherwise:" reading unconscious formations through the lens of the Oedipus complex no longer worked at the very moment analysands were themselves reading it in those terms. It no longer functioned as an other, or a different, reading.
I want to jump ahead, now, to the work of Lacan. But, here, I would like to quickly make a different kind of remark--elaborate a different point. When I think of the notion of "reading otherwise" with regard to Lacan, I think it is possible to look at the trajectory of his work as various attempts to do just that, to read the unconscious differently. Of course, first, there is the formulation of the unconscious structured like a language, and the concomitant linguistic reading of the unconscious. With the mathemes, there is a formalized and logifying reading of the unconscious. And, with his interest in geometry, the Moebius band, and the torus and later in knots, we have a topological reading of the unconscious. Jacques-Alain Miller has noted at many points in his teaching the way that Lacan works against Lacan--he constantly reformulates, shifts positions, modifies his approach. I think we can understand that as the way in which Lacan never ceases to read otherwise.
But, what about today? What about our contemporary world, as it was put in the title of this session? In his presentation at Commandatuba, Jacques-Alain Miller provided a stunning description, "A Fantasy" he titles it, of our contemporary world--our so-called postmodernity or hypermodernity.  In his presentation, which I will try to summarize quickly here, he noted that now society is no longer organized around a master signifier, an S1, but that our compass--the term he uses--the "dominant place" in our civilization is that of the object a, here no longer the part object of the body, a residue of nature, but industrially produced surplus jouissance, the plus-de-jouir. This plus-de-jouir acts on subjects, which are disoriented, producing an S1, a One of evaluation, the incessant evaluation we find in self-assessment, in the workplace, in contemporary trends in the clinic, and--well, why not--in the explosion of signifiers we find now in the new social media, the constant evaluation in tweets and facebook wall postings, of every aspect and thought and impulse of our lives. And, for Miller, knowledge, S2, then is in the position of the hidden truth (or lie), knowledge now is nothing but a semblant. Well, as you see, this description of the contemporary world is indeed nothing other than the discourse of the analyst. Society today, Miller proposes, in what he calls his fantasy, is structured as the discourse of the analyst.
Well, this is indeed a striking concept, but, as Miller notes, this immediately creates a problem. If the discourse of the analyst previously worked by acting on the unconscious, which was previously organized as the discourse of the master (which, indeed, is what we saw with Freud--an unconscious reigned over by Oedipus, the master of the unconscious), well, what now? If psychoanalysis is no longer the other side of civilization, as Lacan formulated it in Seminar XVII, and if psychoanalysis is now the same structure as civilization, then what? To pose the question in the terms of these Study Days, how do we "read otherwise" in this setting?
I think we must start with a simple point. If we are going to speak about reading the unconscious, we must first have something to read. In other words, if we are to emphasize that our act as psychoanalysts may not be one of listening, listening to speech, but that of reading, of reading a text, the first imperative is that of creating the text of the unconscious. And, how do we do that, but by taking the words of the analysand and adding punctuation. In several places in their work, Miller and Eric Laurent as well comment on the value of interpretation as punctuation. Of course, Lacan emphasized this first, even in the first phase of his teaching, in his elaboration of the short session, he emphasized that "It is therefore, a propitious punctuation that gives meaning to the subject's discourse."  The act of the analyst in interpretation is the act of punctuation. An exclamation point might highlight a word or phrase. A question mark introduces equivocation. An ellipsis erases a long stretch of bla bla bla to bring two important words or phrases of the analysand together. The combination of ellipses and commas may create a series, highlighting a repetition. The combination of an ellipsis and a colon may introduce some causality in the relation of two words or phrases. The combination of an ellipsis and a question mark allows the analysands own discourse to answer the question raised elsewhere in the discourse. Spaces allow us to separate words into constituent phonemes that will resonate through the discourse. Quotation marks highlight the fact that in the analysands discourse, he may be quoting an other. And, of course, can we not represent the very end of the session as nothing other than a page break? Our use of punctuation in interpretation should be as extensive as the exhaustive rhetorical tropes that, echoing Quintilian, Lacan, in "The Instance of the Letter," cites as constituting the defense mechanisms of the unconscious: periphrasis, hyperbaton, ellipsis, suspension, litotes, and so forth. And, indeed, we might even say that it is only with punctuation that the rhetorical character of the unconscious is fully elucidated. For, in the end, this very act of punctuation serves one very clear purpose--it takes the discourse of the analysand, a spoken discourse, and transforms it into a text. To read the unconscious, the unconscious first must be a text. We cannot read the unconscious unless the unconscious is a text, and we provide, as analysts, the punctuation that makes that possible. A subject as a text, indeed, is the very formulation Lacan makes in 1976 in "Preface to the English Language Edition of Seminar XI": "I am not a poet, but a poem. A poem that is being written, even if it looks like a subject."
I want to draw your attention again to Miller's text "A Fantasy." Towards the end of the talk, in a place where Miller is emphasizing the jouissance value of the symptom, namely the symptom as a place where jouissance appears, instead of where it should appear, so to speak, he emphasizes what we can provide in our interpretations as a certain quilting point on this. He makes some comments about the importance not of the words of the interpretation, but of the tone of voice of the interpretation, noting that when people repeat an interpretation of Lacan's, they always repeat it in his tone. He states that "one must bring one's body into play in order for the interpretation to be raised to the power of the symptom." This resonates well with me, in that in my own practice I have found that the most effective interpretations, or the interpretations most commented on by analysands, take that place not as a function of their meaning content, but something else--yes, it may be the tone of the voice, or some grunt or other vocalization, which might be nothing other than the voice object, the voice as object a; or, perhaps some way of looking at an analysand that is noted, the object a as gaze; or, some other body gesture, slapping my hand on a table has had a notable effect in some sessions. If the object a is the agent of psychoanalytic discourse, as Lacan formulates this in Seminar XVII, one aspect of reading the unconscious is the extent to which we might make the object a operative in a psychoanalytic session. Indeed, when I look back at those moments now, I wonder if the very thing that is operative in the sessions is the way in which the analyst might be, in fact, assuming the position of the object a, the object a as Lacan formulates it in the final stage of his teaching, as a semblant, a semblant of being.  In this regard, if we think of the analyst as a parlêtre, a speaking being--why not? this is a possibility--perhaps we ought to place as much care into our act as "being" as our act as "speaking." Why can't we literally accept this aspect of our interpretation--the body act of interpretation--as a form of reading otherwise, bringing the body, as Other, into play in a psychoanalysis?
To take "reading otherwise today" from a different approach, it is worth noting that in "A Fantasy," Miller addresses this question of interpretation in the contemporary world more directly at one point in his text. He states that each of the four terms (or elements, of discourse--a, S1, S2, and $) are "disjointed from the others within civilization. On the one hand, the surplus-jouissance commands; on the other, the subject works; and on again another, identifications fall and are replaced by the homogenous evaluation of capacities, and this while knowledge of different sorts is actively telling lies and nevertheless progressing. We might say that, in civilization, these different elements are scattered and that it is only in psychoanalysis, in pure psychoanalysis, that these terms are organized into a discourse." We might say, then, that a psychoanalysis, taken to its conclusion, is a kind of articulation of the discourse itself, and the act of reading here is perhaps akin to the function of highlighters that I see students using now when they read, the analyst highlighting these four terms or elements within the discourse of the analysand.
I want to conclude this inquiry with a reference to a type of work particular to us Lacanians, a Testimony of the Pass given by one of those psychoanalysts who have taken their analysis as far as it could go and have given testimony to this experience. In particular, I want to take up a point that our president Leonardo Gorostiza made in the Testimony he offered at the Congress of the New Lacanian School in Paris.  He had just described the consulting room dream when he was abruptly seen by a helicopter while watching a woman who allowed herself to be seen by him. The dream led to a shift, which had various repercussions, including a significant shift in his practice. Gorostiaza said it marked a significant conclusion with therapeutic effects, which he theorized along the lines of Lacan's statements that at the end of analysis, the analysand may recognize that he is pure lack, or pure object a. But, Gorotstiza pushed further, in the end, and he did not end his analysis at what seemed a reasonable end. In what became the final moment of his analysis, he emphasizes a neologistic phrase that he elaborated and with which he identified, that he was the "shoehorn-without-measure." This new signifier, which led to what he defined as his identification with the symptom, is described as coming out of a void, a void that was uncovered when "lying truth" vanished. Gorostiza highlights in the Testimony at this point--echoing a superb short theoretical text prepared for the last Congress of the WAP on this theme--the incommensurability between the Truth and the Real, which, for him, came to light in another dream--rather amusing, with a colleague of the WAP yelling "I am the Truth" at him, and he replying "I am the Real!" I think that we must further draw the conclusion that this new signifier "shoehorn-without-measure" is nothing other than the Signifier of the Lack in the Other, a signifier of the "void" or of the incommensurability of the Truth and the Real, to emphasize the two readings that Gorostiza makes. I wish to quote Gorostiza here: "This creation is not of the 'Ego,' but of the subject, who arrived at confronting himself with his absolute difference. A subject who is no longer 'poem,' that is to say, he is no longer represented by a signifier--the signifier 'shoehorn'--before the signifying Other. It is a new subject, 'poet,' having invented a new signifier which, like the real, does not have any sort of meaning." At the beginning of this talk, I offered a quote from Lacan relating to reading, a definition of the transference as a supposed-to know-to read-otherwise. At that moment, Lacan stated that the Otherwise in question is that of the Signifier of the Lack in the Other, which is also named by Alvarenga as that second aspect of the Unconscious. Well, I think that that is precisely what Gorostiza achieved at this moment, the moment of the passage of analysand to analyst, in the elaboration of this 'shoehorn-without-measure,' which indeed is a Signifier of a lack, a void, an incommensurability, in the Other. But, surely we must note that this elaboration is not really a Reading of the Unconscious. Indeed, Gorostiza notes that a new subject, a poet--a psychoanalyst, we might say--is born at this point. Perhaps, at the very end of analysis, it is less a question, then, of Reading the Unconscious, but rather of Writing the Unconscious.
 Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, trans. Joyce Crick, Oxford, page 201
 Elisa Alvarenga, "What's the Importance of Dreams in Psychoanalysis Today," unpublished
 Jacques-Alain Miller, "A Fantasy," Lacanian Praxis #2
 Jacques Lacan, "The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis," Écrits
 Jacques Lacan, Seminar XX
 Leonardo Gorostiza, "From the Instant of the Fantasy to the Desire of the Psychoanalyst," Hurly-Burly #4
CLINICAL STUDY DAYS 4
Clinical Study Days 4: Interpretation in Psychoanalysis
Paraphrasing Gloucester in Richard III, we could say “Now is the fall of our discontent made glorious summer by the sun of Lacan.” A cold, windy, rainy autumn New York weekend was made glorious by the light of Lacan’s teaching during the Clinical Study Days 4 and the forty Lacanians that met to discuss Interpretation.
Thirty nine Lacanian-Americans coming from all over the country (California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas) but also Canada and Mexico; plus one, Pierre-Gilles Gueguen, our Guest-speaker who crossed the Atlantic—once more—not to bring us the plague, but to share and contribute to our learning in Lacanian practice and theory.
The meeting took place at the prestigious Fordham University, Lincoln Center campus, thanks to the connections Professor Manya Steinkoler has with its English Department.
The first afternoon was dedicated to the theme of the next WAP Congress. Pierre-Gilles Gueguen’s lecture on the “Semblant and the Phallus” traced these concepts in Lacan’s work. Two round tables continued the discussion; the first one on The Clinical Concept of the Semblant with Alicia Arenas, Tom Svolos and Maria Cristina Aguirre focused on the different aspects of the semblant in Lacan’s work, its multiple meanings, its relation to the object a, jouissance, and psychosis. The second round table concentrated on “The Semblant in Contemporary Culture.” Cyrus Saint Amand Poliakof, Manya Steinkoler, Ellie Ragland and Gary Marshall discussed the use of the semblant in art, literature, religion and globalized market.
Art and psychoanalysis: “Don’t Blame it on New York!”
We traveled downtown to Chelsea—where all the art galleries are—to the superb setting of X-initiative, ex-Dia Center, that graciously hosted us for a unique event of art and psychoanalysis. Using Fumarolli’s comments on the art market in New York and having as backdrop Marchel Duchamp’s painting “Nude Descending the Staircase,” Pierre-Gilles Gueguen explored the object a in art and psychoanalysis, posing that both are ways of extracting the object, and making the difference with the lathouses, all those objects that proliferate and circulate in our civilization promising the illusion of instant satisfaction. An estimated 120 people were present at this meeting.
Clinical Case Presentations
Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to seven clinical cases and discussions. Our compass was the interpretation, the Lacanian interpretation.
But the unexpected event soon appeared when Pierre-Gilles Gueguen generously surprised us with a case of his own, with a careful elaboration on three particular interpretations in the case.
Dinorah Otero (New York), discussed by Alicia Arenas, presented the case of a young adolescent girl in search of the father whose fantasy was organized in the manner of “A Child is Being Beaten.”
Mercedes Acuna (Houston), discussed by Josefina Ayerza, presented the case of the breakdown of a young man, a short time after the sister had her own breakdown.
Pam Jespersen (Omaha), discussed by Ellyn Altman, presented the case about a man, an artist who was able to separate from his object through his creative work.
Jose Armando Garcia (Miami), discussed by Tom Svolos, explored the use of drugs and the system surrounding it (law, prison, rehabilitation) in a young man as a way to produce a separation from the mother.
Vidhya Selvaraj (Omaha), discussed by Pam Jespersen, surprised the audience with a case of a young autistic man with the freshness and the delicacy of her interventions: “a man does not beat a woman” providing him with a possible identification: to be a man, offering the choice of not being a woman and not being aggressive.
Charles Merward (California), discussed by Maria Cristina Aguirre, showed the ravaging effects an interpretation from a previous therapist using object relations theory had on a woman, an artist, sending her in a compulsory search for virtual sado-masochist satisfaction.
And, last but not least, Cristina Laurita (Pennsylvania), discussed by Ellie Ragland, presented the case of a young woman. The interpretation “nada en el rio” played on the homophonic equivocal of the Spanish word ‘nada” meaning at the same time, nothing and swimming, condensing the fear of the river and the fear of the void, but also as a reference to the mother’s name.
Gastronomic Interpretation The oral object was present not only through the interpretations, the presentations and discussions which were extremely rich and useful to the presenters and to the public, but also in the form of a gastronomic “tour de force” orchestrated by Manya Steinkoler.
Here is her interpretation:
An expert in the oral object, Manya Steinkoler procured the greatest breakfast and coffee-break snacks of New York -- of real New Yorkers not trendy post-modern genderless New Yorkers who eat the kind of bullshit nouvelle foods Zizek critiques such as eggless egg salad and vegetarian meat. This tasting jubilee began on Friday afternoon with the famous Zomick's Babka, or as it is more particularly known by all New York Babka afficionadoes, with the "Zomick's Babka Melt-Away." The Melt Away, made famous by Zomick's kosher bakery, is the very best part of the Babka. It's basically a condensed Babka; there is very little air (in the Babka or in the eater of the Babka); there is very little room or relief in between the chocolate and the crust or in between one's belt and one's belly. Vaccuum-packed, concentrated, fossilized, all of Eastern Europe is essentially compressed into chocolate crumb yeast cake so condensed and rich, it's like a heavy chocolate brick. Who needs the pyramids? Needless to say, the "Melt Away" is obviously the envers of what happens when you eat this cake (the original Ellis Island name, "Pound It On," however, had less marketing success). Yet, if "Melt Away" is understood in the Jonesian spirit of the aphanisis of the subject due to its sublime unity with the oral object, well, so be it, or as they say, Zei Gesund! Some have actually posited that Zomick's Babka is the "mission impossible" Kantian Das Ding an Sich but Kant, who never left Konigsberg was unfortunately not familiar with it so he became a philosopher. Yet many have posited nevertheless that this would not have changed his philosophy because he would have been able to defend Newtonian physics with the gravitational force exerted by the Babka alone. (I remain skeptical). Significantly, at the time of the purchase of the Babka, Prof. Steinkoler was working on a paper on Bartelby and Kafka - thus -- thought impossible by Babka afficionadoes - the jouissance of the Babka was actually increased in this instance by the associative jouissense (who would have thought that a babka could lack?? The adding of jouissense in this instance was diagnostically determinant since its addition demonstrated that it was possible for Babka to lack) (This is debatable, however and could be a topic for further clinical discussion) We should add for those unfamiliar with this delectable dessert and its delightful name, that the word Babka derives from the Polish noun meaning "grandmother." This is why many of her grandchildren have become cardiologists and psychoanalysts.
Saturday morning, attendees were served the famous "Ottomanelli's muffins." These are enormous globular rotund orbs rather like small planets or large Buicks and come in a variety of flavors. As a beloved old Italian man in the neighborhood used to say about these muffins, "Mr. Ottomanelli has no relation to organized crime. But if you want someone's knee-caps broken...hold on to one of those muffins for a few weeks!"
Saturday night we ate at New York's famous P.J. Clark'steakhouse. Our specially prepared menu was entitled, "Gastronomic Interpretation" in honor of the Clinical Study Day. True to the American experience, however, the portions were simply too large to leave any room for interpretation.
Finally, Sunday morning we had what is known as the Sunday New York Breakfast: H & H bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon.
The effects of the Clinical Study Days 4 have been numerous: desire to work, to get together, to exchange…I think we can say, as Obama: ‘Yes, we can…create a Lacanian oriented community in North America!’
We will have our next Study Days next Winter in sunny Miami on the theme “Reading the Unconscious.”
The Scientific Committee of the Clinical Study Days 4 Maria Cristina Aguirre, Alicia Arenas, Thomas Svolos
CLINICAL STUDY DAYS 3
Since Freud, psychoanalysis has been the most empirical of all the discourses of the mind and of the treatment of psychic suffering, for psychoanalysis orients itself around the identification of what is most singular in the experience of each speaking being. While other discourses will bring ideals about the psyche or the cosmos, or will bring utopian faith in the ability of science to reduce the experience of the speaking being to quantitative parcels of information, psychoanalysis holds to the specificity of the experience of each one.
Throughout his work, Jacques Lacan struggled to articulate this fact drawn from his work as a psychoanalyst. In his tenth Seminar on l'Angoisse--anguish or panic--Lacan offered a very particular formulation of this in his concept of the object a. We might say many things about this object. That it is, for example, not the pretty objects that people strive towards in their relationships or other engagements in the world, but rather, perhaps, the less acceptable, less idealized, or maybe even disgusting objects that drive the whole machinery of a subject's relation to the Other, to language and society. And we might, certainly, look upon the Freudian antecedents of the object a, in the partial drives--oral drive, anal drive, phallic drive--to which Lacan offered two additions, the scopic--or visual--drive and the invocatory drive, attached to speech.
But, more important than that, we think that we must focus on what Jacques-Alain Miller has identified in his reading of Seminar X. The object a is a remainder, a waste product we might say. When a subject is inscribed into the Other, and when a person enters into the social and cultural machinery of the world--above all through language--something fails, the process is not complete or perfect. There is a leftover, some aspect of that subject's experience (if we could even use the word) that does not get caught up in the signifying machinery, some remainder, linked--above all--to the body. This particular remainder is perhaps what is most singular for any subject.
This is Lacan's formulation, from Seminar X, for the object a. It is a leftover, a waste product, of the inscription of the Subject, the speaking being, into the field of the Other, of language, of society. And what is so important about this formulation--now over forty years old--is its absolute pertinence for today. In our era, today, when the demand to reduce the human experience to quantitative parcels of information to be organized and acted upon by various forms of biological and psychological therapeutics in an manner that can be further quantified and evaluated is so pervasive, psychoanalysis stands for not only the singularity of each subject, but also--following this path laid by Lacan--offers a discourse that can articulate the very logic of the resistance of the speaking being to any process of reduction, and can identify that irreducible remainder of any subject that is the object a of that subject through the practice of psychoanalysis itself, allowing the suffering subject the possibility of making do with that object differently.
Following Jacques-Alain Miller's "Objects a in the Analytic Experience," we note that the object a can be conceived of in many different registers. There are the partial drive objects noted above, the natural objects, those most closely tied to the body. But then, as well, we can identify cultural equivalents to those objects-- also oral, anal, phallic, scopic, and invocatory. These objects are not the natural, bodily, objects as such, but are cultural products, often linked to the body--from all the varied forms of oral objects implicated in anorexia and bulimia and obesity but also the so-called addictions, to the anal objects associated with acquisition and accumulation of luxury items, to the manipulation of the phallic object of the pharmaceutical industry and pornography industry, to the great production of images and sounds in music and movies that have taken over as culture itself today. These cultural objects are so closely articulated with psychic suffering today.
Through the clinical work that we will examine in our third Study Days, we hope to explore how we can use this notion of the object a in clinical work today, paying special attention to how we might perceive this object in cases--where we might identify a variety of approaches: be it a singular object a, perhaps not so hidden, as we may see in the case of the psychotic, to the complex cases in which the object a is very difficult to identify, deeply embedded in complex psychic structure, but linked to different natural partial drive objects and cultural objects, such as can be found in cases of obsessional neurosis. But, in any case, and in each of the cases that we will present, we will explore and discuss the use the analysts make of this most important invention of Lacan's, the object a.
CLINICAL STUDY DAYS 2
The second Clinical Study Days, sponsored by the World Association of Psychoanalysis in the United States, took place on January 13, 2007 in Miami. The title for the day was “Psychic suffering and the treatment challenges in the postmodern world.” Marie-Hélène Brousse began the day with a very interesting and informative lecture entitled “The treatment challenges of today.” She took up the question, “what is post-modern?” and discussed how the master discourse today responds to and is organized by scientific discourse, and how science has changed our objects and the way we live our lives. She focused on and gave examples of how our current time gives less power to the symbolic and more power to the real; we see manifestations of this in the culture and in the clinical field. With this cultural shift, we encounter changes regarding the limits of jouissance. Brousse discussed how our time is marked by limits set not by prohibition, but rather by what is possible or impossible. Our particular cultural milieu is also marked by burgeoning possibilities. Rather than one Name-of-the-Father we are dealing with “the Multiples,” as described by Jacques-Alain Miller. Brousse discussed the effects of there always being another possibility. She took up these changes and how they manifest in people’s suffering and the current state of treatment. Finally, within this context, she spoke on the role that psychoanalysis can play regarding the cure.
This lecture was followed by five case presentations. Each case was followed by a response from both an invited guest and the guest speaker, Marie-Hélène Brousse, as well as questions and comments from the audience. Alicia Hadida Hassan presented a case from her clinical practice with children. An eight-year-old girl was brought to Hassan because she was “causing trouble at school” and was involved in various incidents including vandalism and violence. Hassan went further than to offer social skills to the girl, which was requested, and rather worked with the little girl’s position within the family and her fantasy of being the only one for her father, as well as the signifiers of being “alone” and “only one.” Indeed, certain signifiers came to the forefront of the treatment. By listening to the child, especially to the elaborate stories that she told, Hassan helped the child find a place of her own, a niche for herself, especially at school. We saw that the treatment helped her shift her subjective position. The response by Heloisa Caldas illuminated what was both unique about the case regarding the specific signifiers and emphasized the psychoanalytic methodology of the case. Broussse highlighted the work of the child’s stories to invent a useful individual myth for the child, and how this is a useful technique when working with children; it particularly allowed a structure to appear and be reorganized.
The next case, “Queen of Petra: a girl without a name” was presented by Dinorah Otero. This was a case of four years of treatment with an autistic child, who was also referred by her school for disruptive behavior. Otero discussed the role of the child’s name and how the lack of a name upon birth represented a lack of a symbolic place for the child within the family. Otero also discussed how she worked with the gaze and the voice in a particular way given the child’s autistic diagnosis. Drawings also played an important role in the case. The case focused on the child’s telling a story through pictures and how this telling made up a construction in analysis. The case portrayed stunning therapeutic effects and showed a big shift in the child’s relation to Otero; the child was able to speak with, indeed confide in, and to gaze at Otero by the end of treatment. Carmen Navarro’s response to the case illuminated the way in which Otero was working in the clinic of the real. She also discussed how Otero managed to create much needed social ties with her patient and how new signifiers emerged via the work. Brousse’s response highlighted Otero’s work with the object, and the shift in the subject from autism to paranoia, and how the patient built a symptom via the treatment.
Yael Baldwin presented “It’s a family affair: A case of bulimia nervosa,” which documented how Baldwin worked analytically within an eating disorders treatment team setting with a college aged woman suffering from bulimia. Baldwin described how the treatment worked at the level of the signifier, and how via speech the patient was able to connect her symptom to her family history, to repetition, and to various identifications with family members. The case also highlighted how the symptom was also linked to the patient’s relationship to knowledge. The case discussed how one can work at the level of speech and desire even when the setting tends toward working at the level of demand. Pam Jesperson responded by questioning and discussing the role of jouissance and the drives in the case. She also highlighted the ways in which the treatment repositioned the subject from the role of victim into a stance of responsibility. Brousse’s response brought up a lively discussion about the differences between Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and CBT models and psychoanalysis, especially the role of the Other in relation to the subject. She also highlighted how the treatment allowed the young woman to build the bulimia as a subjective symptom, an analytic symptom as it related to truth and history, that could then be worked through.
Noemi Kohan’s case “De-stigmatizing psychoanalysis” looked at the demand for medications that provide quick solutions versus the demand for psychoanalysis, and offered a look at the therapeutic effects of a psychoanalytic treatment that lasted eight weeks. The patient discussed his depression and how it related to a career he disliked, the loss of his father, a failing relationship, his lack of a sense of place due to moving, and his progressive social isolation. Kohan showed how via some analytic interpretations that illuminated repetitions in the patient’s life, the patient, in eight weeks, moved from a position of wining demand to a different stance. Mirta Liliana Tedesco’s response to the case highlighted how Kohan’s position as the analyst and her interventions helped the patient move from the imaginary realm to the symbolic realm, and then created differences within the symbolic. Tedesco helped analyze each cut of the session and its effects. Brousse commented on how Kohan woke her patient up and how the use of scansion disturbed his defenses. An interesting discussion ensued that related to the patient’s diagnosis. Was this a case of an ordinary psychosis? What about the Lacanian orientation would allow us to call this an ordinary psychosis as opposed to, for example, an obsessive neurosis? This brought up the topic of the relationship to knowledge and the unconscious as it relates to structure. The final case, “Johnny and why is the devil chasing me?” was presented by Tracy Favre. The treatment was with a middle-aged schizophrenic male in a continuing day treatment program who suffered from devil delusions. Favre described how the major and important questions that emerged from the case were why Johnny demanded treatment as he did, what he needed from treatment, and how she was to work with him in a useful way without him feeling like she was persecuting him, as he often felt others were. Favre discussed how for her, the treatment was a learning process in working with psychosis. In her response to the details of the case, Karina Tenenbaum picked up on how Favre managed not to become the Other that would be a threat to the patient. Tenenbaum also discussed the role of an invading jouissance in psychosis and in the case. Brousse responded by picking up on the patient’s transference and how he was asking Favre to give some order to the chaos of the real in which he lived. Brousse focused on the patient’s demand for knowledge concerning his history and saw this as a positive sign and direction for the treatment. Favre and Brousse spoke about what it means for a patient to construct a personal history with the analyst.
In all of the cases the question of diagnosis arose and was discussed, as was the direction of the treatment and what was specifically Lacanian about each treatment was highlighted. Theory was wedded to the concrete reality of cases.
To conclude the successful day, Thomas Svolos announced that the third Clinical Study Days will be held in the winter of 2008 in Omaha, Nebraska and the topic will be on the object of psychoanalysis, that is the object relating to object a, to the goal or aim of psychoanalysis, and to what psychoanalysis objects to, that is, the subversive side of psychoanalysis. The first two events have been illuminating, and I encourage all to attend the third.
CLINICAL STUDY DAYS 1
On October 23, 2005, in New York City, we presented the first Clinical Study Days of the World Association of Psychoanalysis in the United States. The theme of the CSD was "The Body in Psychoanalysis" and featured the participation of Vicente Palomera.
The program was held in conjunction with the Ninth International Seminar of the Freudian Field sponsored by the New York Freud-Lacan Study Group with Vicente Palomera on "The Subject, The Body, and Jouissance." Our Clinical Study Days featured three case presentations with discussion.
The first presentation was made by Pam Jespersen Elliott (Omaha, Nebraska) of a treatment in which the patient's insistent silence was presented as the greatest challenge in the treatment. The case was also notable for a series of traumas the analysand experienced and the development of an unusual conversion symptom late in the treatment. The difficulties faced within the conduct of the treatment were linked in the subsequent discussion--led by Liliana Kruszel (Member, NEL; Miami, Florida) to the struggle faced by the clinician with the diagnosis itself, especially with regard to the recognition of the structure of ordinary psychosis in the case.
The second case presented by Carmen Navarro (Member, NEL; Houston, Texas) was of an analysis conducted for two years with an analysand with overwhelming anxiety, anxiety which was modulated in the treatment with the stabilizing assumption of a paternal identification. In the discussion--led by Juan Felipe Arango (Member, NEL; Miami, Florda)--we examined this particular use of the Name of the Father and put the dramatic therapeutic effects of the case in the context of the overall analytic direction of the treatment.
The third case was presented by Maria Lopez (Miami, Florida) was of an autistic child who, over a seven year treatment, developed the use of language and the ability to tolerate the Other, initially in form of the analyst, through a remarkable treatment. The discussion--led by Yael Baldwin (West Carrolton, Georgia)--focussed on the specific structure of autism and the theorization of the efficacy of this treatment.
The Cases were preceded by Opening Remarks of Alicia Arenas (Member, NEL; Miami, Florida) on the role of the School on the challenges of psychoanalysis today. Thomas Svolos (Member, NLS; Omaha, Nebraska) gave Closing Remarks on how the earlier Seminar and the Clinical Study Days demonstrated the singular role of the School in the transmission of psychoanalysis. The program was held at Fordham University, thanks to the generosity of Manya Steinkoler. It was followed by an elegant lunch in the Trustee's Dining Room of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which offered further time for informal discussion. The program was attended by over 30 people from many states (and countries), mostly psychoanalysts and other clinicians.
We believe that this Clinical Study Days represent a significant turning point for the development of psychoanalysis in the United States. First: this was the first general gathering specifically directed to the Members of the WAP in the United States, some of us meeting one another for the first time. Second: through the Clinical Study Days, we gave testimony to our colleagues of the vital work done within the Schools in addressing the symptoms and clinical demands of today. Participants less familiar with the contemporary work of the AMP--even some with significant exposure to Lacanian psychoanalysis--commented on the ways in which we put to use various theories developed out of the practice we are engaged in today. The contemporary work of the WAP has little exposure in the United States, and we feel that events such as this are important in demonstrating the value of such work. That said, perhaps even more important was the way in which the clinical discussions demonstrated what was referred to as "the direction of transmission and the principles of its power," namely that the transmission of psychoanalysis is not one of an application of the theory of psychoanalysis or the knowledge we have as psychoanalysts to particular cases. Rather, our practice is developed and transmitted from the specificity of each clinical encounter, the way in which each case develops in its singularity--to which we respond not so much with knowledge, but ideally with a certain know-how, one that we can transmit to one another.
This is the direction of the transmission of psychoanalysis (from the analysand to the analyst), which events such as this will bring to the United States and which was also commented on by several participants. Already, we have seen some effects of the CSD. There is a new demand in the NYFLAG group for a Clinical Seminar. There were also requests for participants for references to concepts such as ordinary psychosis that were brought out in the meeting. Also, new demands for supervision from the Members of the WAP have followed. Following the CSD and lunch, the Coordination Committee met for a review of the event.
We will now plan for a Second Clinical Study Days for early November, 2006, in Miami, Florida. We will plan to regularly host such a meeting in early November, which will coincide with the Journees held in other places throughout the World. We hope that this will become a key event to gather the Members of the WAP and those interested in the Lacanian orientation in the United States.
Coordination Committee of CSD 1:
ADDITIONAL SEMINARS AND EVENTS
2000, Marie-Helene Brousse: 1st International Seminar of the Freudian Field (ISFF), NYPI
4/12/2001 Pierre-Gilles Gueguen: What is the Psychoanalytical Treatment According to Lacan, Maison Francaise
Pierre-Gilles Gueguen, 2nd ISFF, Maison Francaise
4/27-28/2002 Eric Laurent et all: Trauma and Its Aftermaths: Eight Case Studies and The Lacanian Orientation Conference, NYPI
12/6/2002, Jean-Pierre Klotz: Does Hysteria Still exist in the 21st. Century?, Maison Francaise
12/7-8/2002, Jean-Pierre Klotz: Hysteria: From Desire to Jouissance: 3rd ISFF, Maison Francaise
4/25/2003, Vicente Palomera: The Psychoanalyst and Psychoanalysis Today, Maison Francaise
4/26-27/2003, Vicente Palomera: The Direction of the Treatment in Obsessional Neurosis: 4th ISFF, Maison Francaise
10/3/2003, Alexandre Stevens: How Does a Lacanian Institution Work with Mentally Ill Children, Maison Francaise
10/4-5/2003, Alexandre Stevens: The Principles of Lacanian Practice: 5th ISFF, Maison Francaise
2/27/2004, Pierre-Gilles Gueguen: Beyond Oedipus in the Era of Globalization, Maison Francaise
2/28/2004, Pierre-Gilles Gueguen: The Decline of the Father and Its Effects in Today's Symptoms and Jouissance: 6th ISFF, Maison Francaise
4/19/2004, Daniel Sibony: Islam, Terrorism and the Unconscious, Maison Francaise
5/2/2004, Dominique Vallet: Paranoia and Melancholia: Some Similaritie, Maison Francaise
9/24-26/2004, Working With The Symptom, APW, Omaha
10/3/2004, Russell Grigg: Ordinary Psychosis, Maison Francaise
10/28/2004, Marie-Helene Brousse, Maison Francaise
10/29-30/2004, Marie-Helene Brousse: Symptoms and Woman's Jouissance: 7th ISFF, Maison Francaise
2/25/2005, Jean-Pierre Klotz: How Can The Symptom Cure?, Fordham University
2/25-26/2005, Jean-Pierre Klotz: Symptoms and Their Use in Today's Psychoanalysis: 8th ISFF, Fordham University
3/23/2005, Pierre-Gilles Gueguen: Can Subjectivity Ever Be Buried?, Barnard College
10/21/2005, Vicente Palomera: Words and the Body: Lacan's Hypothesis of lalangue and Its Clinical Consequences, Fordham University
10/22/2005, Vicente Palomera: The subject, The Body and Jouissance: 9th ISFF, Fordham University
11/2/2005, Alexandre Stevens: How to Make A Father For Oneself, Barnard College
2/17/2006, Pierre-Gilles Gueguen: Lacan's Hamlet, Fordham University
2/18/2006, Pierre-Gilles Gueguen: The Father: A Real or a Semblant: 10th ISFF, Fordham University
4/27/2006, Eric Laurent: Why the Unconscious Is Not A Natural Phenomenon?, Barnard College
9/15/2006, Marie-Helene Brousse: The Child: Between Family and Science, Fordham University
9/16/2006, Marie-Helene Brousse: The Objects That Determine US: 11th ISFF, Fordham University
2/23/2007, Alexandre Stevens: Psychosis and the Paternal Function: Can One Choose One's Father? Fordham University
2/24/2007, Alexandre Stevens: What Has Changed In The Analytic Treatment Of Psychosis?: 12th ISFF, Fordham University
9/5/2007, Mauricio Tarrab: The Pass: A Testimony Of The End Of An Analysis, Barnard College
10/26/2007, Jean-Pierre Klotz: About Transference: Singularities in the World of Globalization, Fordham University
10/27/2007, Jean-Pierre Klotz: Uses of Transference in the Analytic Experience: 13th ISFF, Fordham University
1/25/2008, Vicente Palomera: Civilization and Its Objects, Lies and Disorders, Fordham University
1/26/2008, Vicente Palomera: The Lacanian Body and Its Objects: 14th ISFF, Fordham University
10/24-25/2008, Alexandre Stevens: The Clinic of Happiness: 15th ISFF, Fordham University
8/11/2010, Marco Focchi: Encounters with Sexuality, Barnard College