“The place of the real [...] explains both the ambiguity of the function of awakening and of the function of the real in this awakening.”
Jacques Lacan, Seminar XI: Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis

Freud explored the moral responsibility of the content of the dream in his text Some Additional Notes on Dream Interpretation as a Whole, specifically in the section B of this work.  He takes two models of dreams as the paradigm of moral responsibility: dreams of anguish and dreams of self-punishment.  From there, Freud raises the question about the relationship between jouissance and the dream.

As Freud states: “The ethical narcissism of humanity should rest content with the knowledge that the fact of distortion in dreams, as well as the existence of anxiety [anguish]-dreams and punishment-dreams, afford just as clear evidence of his moral nature as dream-interpretation gives of the existence and strength of his evil nature.  If anyone is dissatisfied with this and would like to be ‘better’ than he was created, let him see whether he can attain anything more in life than hypocrisy or inhibition.”[1]

Freud had already, in The Interpretation of Dreams, raised the ethical question of the relation of the responsibility of the dreamer and the jouissance in play at the navel of the dream.  Beyond the meaning of the dream, the question of jouissance and responsability was present from the start of the work of psychoanalysts with dreams.

Later on, Lacan took the nightmare as the paradigm of the failure of the symbolic matrix in the face of the irruption of the Real.  The unconscious as a network or net of signifiers fails to transform, process and catalyze the Real that bursts and converts a dream into a nightmare.  This work is described on detail in Seminar XI, specifically in the two firsts sections—The Unconscious and Repetition and Of the Gaze as Object petit a.  Here, Lacan introduces the object petit a with a double value: as a condenser of jouissance and one of the forms of representation of the Real.  This Real is the one that is wrapped up by a net of signifiers, using for examples the parapraxis at the dream of Signorelli as well as the nightmare of the father that sees his son burning.[2]  Lacan states: “How can we fail to see that awakening works in two directions and that the awakening that re-situates us in a constituted and represented reality carries out two tasks? The real has to be sought beyond the dream in what the dream has enveloped, hidden from us, behind the lack of representation of which there is only one representative.  This is the real that governs our activities more than any other and it is psychoanalysis that designates it for us”[3]

This is what allows Jacques Alain Miller to say that we wake up from the nightmare to continue sleeping and thus re-establish the equilibrium of our representations: “The awakening to reality is only a fugue from the awakening to the real, that awakening that is announced in the dream when the subject approaches, as Freud points out, that about which the subject wants to know nothing.”[4]

Emphasizing that jouissance is a substance that requires a body, and thus understanding a body as a substance made out of jouissance, is opposed to that field full of semblants offered by the symbolic: identifications, meaning, etc.  With this in mind, we ask: What is the relevance of the relationship of this transferential unconscious with the jouissance that emerges in these two types of dreams that Freud exposes to us in this work.

From the last teaching of Lacan, what could we say about dreams: Are they a compass of a moment of jouissance of a parlêtre, a speaking-being?  How do we work with dreams, keeping in mind this opposition between the transferential unconscious and the real unconscious?  Or, rather, could we say that the dream is a formation alien to the real unconscious?  Especially since the meaning is nothing more than a deceptive strategy of hidden jouissance, what Lacan calls joui-sense?

Or is the dream still a critical element of the analytic experience, from entry to exit?

In the next Clinical Study Days, we invite you to think about the notions of the dream and jouissance in the contemporary clinic, taking as reference the different moments of Lacan's teaching, as well as the developments made by Jacques-Alain Miller about Lacan’s last teaching. What does our practice say today about current use of the dream and its relation to jouissance within the analytic experience?  And at this juncture, what status can we give to the body of this parlêtre, speaking-being, when it is taken by this symbolic fracture that is evidenced in the nightmare or in the dream of punishment when the body is being assaulted by the anguish that comes out of this mismatch?

These are some of the questions that will guide our work over the next year in preparation for our Clinical Study Days. We also invite you to hold these questions to orient the case presentations and following discussion that we will have during the Clinical Study Days 13.

Juan Felipe Arango

[1] Freud, S. (1925). “Some Additional Notes on Dream-Interpretation as a Whole.” The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIX (1923-1925). Hogarth: pages 123-138

[2] Lacan, J. (1964) Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. W. W. Norton & Company: page 60.

[3] Idem.

[4] Miller, J.-A.  (1987)  Despertar [Awakening], Matemas I. Ed. Manantial:  page 120.  [Translation from Spanish to English by Isolda Alvarez. Translation not reviewed by the author.]

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.


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.

Since 2005, psychoanalysts of the World Association of Psychoanalysis, working in the United States, have sponsored the Clinical Study Days. While Lacan was certainly a prodigious thinker in many fields, he was above all else a psychoanalyst. The CSD is an event for anyone interested in Lacan to gather and discuss clinical work in the orientation given by the teaching of Lacan and by Jacques-Alain Miller.

Indeed, if Lacan is our first point of orientation, Miller is our second. It was Miller who Lacan himself identified as the person who was able to read him, a notoriously difficult task. But, beyond that work in the realm of meaning, it was Miller who was able to do something with Lacan’s teaching 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 these Schools that are the means by which psychoanalysis has passed from generation to generation through the formation of new psychoanalysts.

The CSD offers speakers and participants an opportunity to work together with psychoanalysts and is vital to the life of the School.


Chair: Juan Felipe Arango (Miami, FL)
Thomas Svolos (Omaha, NE)
Maria Cristina Aguirre (New York, NY)
Alicia Arenas (Miami, FL)
Karina Tenenbaum (Miami, FL)
Isolda Alvarez (Miami, FL)
Liliana Kruszel (Miami, FL)


NPAP, 40 W 13th St, NYC
We will screen “The Madness Among Us” (A Loucura entre Nós; Fernanda Fontes Vareille, 2016), followed by a discussion with Marcelo Veras. The film is based on a book Veras wrote about his time as director of a psychiatric institution in Salvador, Brazil. It focuses on the patients' lives and challenges they face outside the institution and raises questions about central paradoxes of humanity.

6:30-7p: On-site registration for Oct 4-5 ($80) or see below
7-9p: "Madness Among Us" Film Screening + discussion with Marcelo Veras, hosted by Nancy Gillespie

NPAP, 40 W 13th St, NYC
One of Lacan's first steps, after his careful reading of Freud in Seminars I and II, was to create a topology to account for Freud's second elaboration of the unconscious: the Ego, Id, and Superego. Lacan called it his L-schema, the variations of which would serve as the basis for the topology that runs through to the end of his teaching. This topology was necessary for the conception of a clinical elaboration that separated the field of jouissance in neurosis and psychosis. This first Lacanian clinic made us more comfortable with the distinction between the loss of reality in dreams and madness. Freud himself was very concerned with this separation. However, toward the end of Lacan's teaching, we come to consider a clinic based on the phrase "everyone has a delusion". Thus this continuist clinic introduces new questions for the Lacanian topology of reality. The tripartition of jouissance established after the theory of Borromean knots will show us how this happens. In this sense, we may ask whether dreams are an extension of reality, or its rupture?

9:30-10a: On-site registration + Lacanian journals for sale
10a-Noon: Marcelo Veras on "The Lacanian Topology of Reality" (PART 1) + discussion hosted by Jeff Erbe
Noon-1:30p: Lunch
1:30-2:30p: "The Jitters", A Clinical Case by Azeen Khan + discussion with Marcelo Veras
2:30-3p: Coffee + snacks
3-5p: Marcelo Veras on "The Lacanian Topology of Reality" (PART 2) + discussion hosted by Cyrus Saint Amand Poliakoff

For all inquiries, contact Jeff Erbe at

875 6th Avenue, Ste 1705
**LC, NLS, & WAP Members Only**
10a-12:30p: We will discuss Lacan’s Italian Note (1973) and the questions: (1) what is the knowledge we create in a Lacanian School? and (2) how do we establish a School of Lacanian psychoanalysis in the US?

Marcelo Veras is a Psychiatrist at the Federal University of Bahia and Analyst Member of the School (AMS), of the World Association of Psychoanalysis (WAP) and the Escola Brasileira de Psicanálise (EBP). He holds a Masters in Psychoanalysis from Paris 8 and PhD in Psychology from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Marcelo is the Former Director of the Escola Brasileira de Psicanálise, Former Director of the Juliano Moreira Psychiatric Hospital (the largest in northeastern Brazil), and author of The Madness Among Us and Selfie, Therefore I Am.