A Clinical Study Days Workspace


"UNDER CONSTRUCTION..." is the signifier under which our preparatory labor will problematize and elucidate the theme of our upcoming Clinical Study Days 12: "The Psychoanalytic Subject in the Maze: Constructions in Analysis". This signifier is intended to amplify the various construction fragments—artwork, reading, writing, cartelwork, case presentations, pass testimony—that are produced en route to the upcoming encounter in Miami Beach. The following series exposes subjects and speaking bodies at work, each with their singular trait, applied to the theme.

Below you will find work fragments from those that choose and are enjoined to participate, using "bricks" of text and contemporary images, to stimulate work transference.
If you want to contribute material to be considered for this series, we request that you first
register for CSD12 and then send your submission to Jeff Erbe at jeffrey.erbe@gmail.com.

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What a perfect image—the sexual relation between man and woman exists! A denial of Jacques Lacan’s scandalous formulation “there is no sexual relation that can be written”. But on the other hand, it is not written, because it’s an image. Of course the sexual relation can be imagined!

It is a queen image of art, whether classical, baroque, romantic or pornographic, but whatever, always a sublimation of the drive. And sublimation is always a construction. Yes indeed, because if we look closer at this perfectly balanced image, some details appear.

Let us de-construct it, following Thomas Bernhard’s method in his book, Alte Meister. We know that an analysis is always both a construction of a personal myth and a de-construction, as it reduces the unconscious to its bones, a very few words, images and objects, as Jacques-Alain Miller demonstrates in his recently published book L’os d’une cure. The bodies are parallel, and as we know, thanks to geometry, parallels never meet. It has the beauty and perfection of geometry, and this beauty is a barrier to “the Thing”.

Let us change our angle view. She is very busy with his organ; he is very busy with hers. It’s a reciprocal masturbation service delivery, which makes it a very contemporary image! Maybe beforehand they wrote an agreement specifying what parts of their bodies were to be involved. Yet they seem to make one, like Aristophanes said.

They make one out of two, One self-sufficient. But nevertheless they are different and therefore, surprisingly enough, this verifies Lacan’s formula: there is no sexual relation between speaking bodies, just a Jouissance of two ones-alone, gender-free indeed. 

Image: “The Tribe”, Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, 2014

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“The Power of the Cut”

I think we can start talking a about a case when an intervention is revealed a posteriori as a cut. A cut that shows a signifier that became structural. In other words, a signifier that is an organizer of the case, functioning as a Name-of-the-Father.

This would be on the side of the signifier. On the other side, as Jacques-Alain Miller reminds us in his last seminar, From the Symptom to the Fantasm and Return, “not everything is a signifier…it is not enough to discover the signifier logic of the case”.1

The other side of the signifier is its relationship with jouissance. Moreover the power of a signifier itself constitutes a cut of jouissance.

So we have to find in the signifier chain of the subject, through the operation of the cut, the signifier that will reveal the object a

We come to know après-coup, taking into account “the two dimensions of the analytical experience”2, symptom and fundamental fantasm, which jouissance we have achieved: the jouissance of the symptom or the jouissance of the fundamental fantasm?

The satisfaction of the symptom is at hand because the subject comes to talk about it, to complain of it, whereas the satisfaction of the fantasm resists because it is a source of pleasure for the subject.

Following Laurent, we need the analyst’s desire so that the subject can go “to the encounter of the encounter” via the “intervention as Name-of-the-father- ‘a fact of cut’ which produces a subjective effect”.3

Quote: E. Laurent. “The Case, from Unease to the Lie”. Psychoanalytical Notebooks 22.


1. Jacques-Alain Miller, "From the symptom to the fantasm and return.” 2018. Paidós.

2. Jacques-Alain Miller, "Introduction to the Lacanian Clinic", Conferences in Spain, ELP. 2006

3. Éric Laurent, "The Case, from Unease to the Lie". Towards London 2. 2010-2011.

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“Uncanny Constructions”

What an uncanny image! You look at it over and over again trying to make sense of it. The headless people, for instance the headless horseman from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow or the representation of headless saints are well known. A cephalophore is a saint who is generally depicted carrying his or her own head, such as Saint Denis of Notre Dame in Paris. John the Baptist is not considered a cephalophore since he didn’t hold his own head in his hands.

We also find this figure in Dante’s Divine Comedy. The poet meets the specter of the troubadour Bertrand de Born in the eighth circle of the Inferno, carrying his severed head in his hand, slung by its hair like a lantern. Upon seeing Dante and Virgil, the head begins to speak.  

But what about the image above? He has both the head on his shoulders and carries another in his arms. It has the bizarre quality that is the stuff of dreams. It disorients us. It’s troubling. As Jacques-Alain Miller says in The Sovereign Image, “in psychoanalysis the ‘sayable’ prevails over the visible. The dream images were not the concern of Freud but rather the recounting of the dream.”[1]

How does this relate to ‘construction’? The meaning of the image is not self-evident, so an effort is demanded of us. How does one make sense of the nonsensical? Following the analytic experience, we free associate. In response to the image, I asked myself the question ‘why?’ Two answers came to mind. One related to “doubling” in that there are two heads instead of one. So it renders one or the other redundant, evoking the mirror and narcissism. The second association is to anxiety; something appears in the place of the void, of the lack, evoking the fetish as veil of castration.

In the process of analysis this image would have to follow the circuit of different constructions and interpretations in order to separate from its excessive jouissance, but also to reduce any symptoms and inhibitions that are provoked by it.

Do we work with images the same way we work with lalangue? In the presentation of the theme for the Xth Congress of the World Association of Psychoanalysis (WAP) in Rio de Janeiro (2016), “The Unconscious and the Speaking Body,” Miller says, “[w]hen one analyses the unconscious, the meaning of interpretation is the truth. When one analyses the speaking body, the meaning of interpretation is jouissance. This displacement from truth to jouissance sets the measure of what analytic practice is becoming in the era of the parletre.[2]

This is the clinic oriented by the real.

Image: Alessandro Michele for Gucci, Fall Winter 2018


[1] Miller, J.-A., “The Sovereign Image,” The Lacanian Review No.5, p. 41

[2] Miller, J.-A., “The Unconscious and the Speaking Body.” https://www.wapol.org/en/articulos/Template.asp?intTipoPagina=4&intPublicacion=13&intEdicion=9&intIdiomaPublicacion=2&intArticulo=2742&intIdiomaArticulo=2

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“Three Constructions of the Signifier Case

Asked to discuss this photograph in the context of the theme of our upcoming Clinical Study Days, “Constructions in Analysis: The Psychoanalytic Subject in the Maze,” I want to first say something about the background in the photograph.  This appears to be a library, a place for books, maybe organized like many libraries, by themes or authors or subjects and so forth.  And, to an extent, it is thus a representation of knowledge.  I believe that when we invoke the word construction in psychoanalysis, it is often in the context of the construction of a case and  the typical meaning given to the word case is that of a medical nature, described in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED; 1971) as “the condition of a disease in a person,” or, more usually now “an instance of disease, or other condition requiring medical treatment” (p. 145).  With this in mind, the books in this photograph could represent those medical books, which classify diseases, and a construction of this type would be one of an instance, or a particular case, of a general condition.  While this was true for Freud, and to a certain extent the early Lacan, psychoanalysis has now moved away from this use of the case construction. 

Now we can take this in another way by noticing the shelves, which are indeed literally bookcases, evoking yet another meaning of the word case as, “a thing fitted to contain or enclose something else” (OED, p. 146). And, with this meaning, we shift to a more properly psychoanalytic conception insofar as it resonates with the Lacanian notion of construction as “the symptom’s formal envelope”[1][2]. In the elucubrations of the symptom over the course of an analysis, we might say that we are thus constructing the formal envelope of jouissance or the Real at stake for the analysand.

But what about this skull, this thing that just appears in the photograph?  I assert that this is a fact of contingency, something that just appears, seemingly out of the blue, a traumatic eruption on an otherwise placid background.  And indeed that brings us back to the original meaning of case, that of “a thing that befalls or happens to any one; an event, occurrence, hap or chance” (OED, p. 144).  The English word is in fact derived via Old French from the Latin, “to fall.”  Here we arrive at the ultimate stake of construction in psychoanalysis: the working through of semblants and the mirage of truth in order to arrive at what is ultimately a contingent encounter between language and the body.  In analysis, we construct that contingent encounter through the ways in which the contingency was translated into a necessity by the speaking being, elucidating the ways in which the “fixity of jouissance and the opacity of the real” (Miller, “Reading a Symptom,” Hurly-Burly 6) are indeed tied to a contingent encounter.

Image: Robert Buck, Claverck, NY, October 8, 2017


[1] Lacan, J. (2006). “On my antecedents,” in Écrits, eds. J. Lacan and J.-A. Miller, Trans. B. Fink (New York; London: W. W. Norton), 52.

[2] Cf. Miller, J.-A. (1991). “Reflections on the formal envelope of the symptom,” Lacanian Ink 4.

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What do I see? A Rose? Metal jumble? Spiral staircase? Abyss hole? A shoal? Artichoke? Duchamp's "Woman going down the stairs"?....

What do I associate? Definitely Lacan's teaching about the gaze and vision.

Paraphrasing  Jacques-Alain Miller’s Lacan’s Elucidation [1], from the moment we open our eyes, the image we see includes a frame, a special operator that acts on the field of vision by delimiting, isolating, and giving it a unitary value that interrogates the field of perception. Lacan reintroduces the impurity of the percipiens in the scopic field—that is, the drive—which goes beyond the perceptum in the mirror, bringing about the topology of the gaze as object a.

From the point of view of the constructions a subject in the maze is able to build, an image leaves the subject ignorant of what is beyond semblance. As Lacan points out, there is an existing division between the gaze and vision:

"...the interest the subject takes in its own split is bound up with that which determines it - namely a privileged object, which has emerged from some primal separation, some self-mutilation induced by the very approach of the real, whose name, in our algebra, is the object a. The gaze is not a seen gaze, but a gaze imagined by me in the field of the Other.” [2]

The image as strategic construction that serves to veil the structural lack, the gaze instead disorganizes perception and simultaneously introduces the dimension of the Other and the relationship with desire. In the seen image - in the field of consciousness - subjectivity is elided. 

Image: "Daddy in the Dark", John Chamberlain, 1988, DETAIL


[1] Miller, J.A, Elucidación de Lacan. La Imagen Reina. Compilation of Articles from 1981-1995. Published by EOL-Paidós, 1998.

[2] Lacan, J. (1981). Seminar XI, Chapter VII. Norton

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“All Over the Place”

Within the framework of the Clinical Study Days 12, "The Psychoanalytic Subject in the Maze: Constructions in Analysis", this image brought to mind the problematic of jouissance in our practice as it incarnates the core of the psychoanalytic experience. The constructions made out of this experience are always trying to deal with the jouissance at stake, understanding jouissance as that “it” that is always in play. To paraphrase Lacan, jouissance is like honey, you take a piece in a spoon while you are in the kitchen, and suddenly everything is greased with honey, you have it in your hands, there’s honey in the room... all over the place. This is the thing that we cannot forget as psychoanalysts, especially when it is about the construction of a case.

The jouissance is all over the place all the more when it is hidden, submerged under the veil of the signifying chain, or with the makeup of the fundamental phantasy, or in the endless machinations of doubts and obstacles of the obsessive, or in the incessant passion for the lack of hysteria, or in its fiercer form as it presents in psychosis.

This image brought to mind the jouissance, but also, I couldn’t stop thinking of the function of the maze in this movie (The Shining). Hence, the maze that we are referring to when we say “The Psychoanalytic Subject in the Maze” made my thoughts jump to this beautiful text of Freud, “The Loss of Reality in Neurosis and Psychosis.” I’ll take my chances here, but I think we could say that in neurosis and psychosis the speaking being is trapped in a maze, constituted by its singular construction of a fundamental fantasy, which is then deconstructed in the encounter with a psychoanalyst. The question then would be, what is that maze made of? Is it capable of containing this jouissance in any way? Are its walls strong enough to contain “it”?

If we can learn something from the latest teachings of Lacan (keeping in mind his earlier teachings as well), we could say that the image above is a good representation of the issue that touches each one regarding the place of jouissance in our practice. Because even when the subject can count on a strong maze to get lost in, jouissance still takes its toll, with more or less havoc, yet havoc nonetheless. That is why this topic that brings us together for the next CSD12 is so fundamental; yes, we do construct a case, but that is only possible if the analysand accepts our invitation to de-construct its maze (neurosis) or build new halls within it (psychosis).

Image: "The Shining", Stanley Kubrick, 1980


“Veils Fail…”

For the proposed experiment, I have selected Schiele’s nude: with its firm drawing and diffused colors, and then that orange veil which fails to cover the nude itself, yet dominates a good portion of the portrait’s right side. It’s a veil that fails to cover, which we can consider a metaphor of Freud’s time, Vienna at the beginning of 20th Century, as he starts to construct his theory and practice.  

In fact, Freud’s theory is built upon a paradox: a veil that fails to achieve its function. As repression pushes down, the veil is pushed aside, because no veil fully covers its object. So-called Victorian morality was likely more unsuccessful than puritanical. Perhaps at the time it was more the backdrop to Freudian revelations than a concealing veil. Morality tends to be more reactive than dominant.

Freud couldn’t find any major vestiges of inner morality in the human psyche. It was more the other way around: moral constraints fail to repress that which persistently returns, therefore, subjects strive to sustain a morality in the field of the Other. The superego was an integral part of the psychic apparatus, externally perceived, yet inwardly pressing.

Thus, morality is reactive, defensive, and it testifies that the King–as big Other--is naked, and that sexuality claims an object, albeit a partial one. There is no veil that could suffice, and psychoanalysis –as a clinical practice- is built upon this fault. No engineer would recommend constructing a theoretical edifice upon such a fault, but knowing that psychoanalysis is a practice, that is not monolithic, this fault would be more constitutional than foundational.  

Today, we live in times when all veils seem to be dropped, all curtains are open for public display. We seem to be defenselessly confronted with a persistent spectacle that we do not have enough time to react to or process. We might say its an a-moral era, judging by the displays. Yet “pushing to unveil” perfectly describes a new type of morality for our times. Does this mean that our sexuality will finally find its complementary object? It is not yet concluded. A nude body, for instance, could also be a veil in itself. We don’t know what a body is beyond its exhibiting volume, that is, beyond its image. Then, the body as a veil fails as well, and psychoanalysis points at what a real body is beyond the drapery of its skin.

I discovered Schiele’s painting is called “Standing nude with orange drapery,” but images are not w-holly, accounted by their names, so we also might be seeing a “hanging veil with a diffusing drapery.” Given that images are failing veils and names equivocal, psychoanalysis itself is in a constant state of re-construction. The real is pervasive in acknowledging these failures.    

Image: “ Standing Nude with Orange Drapery”, Egon Schiele, 1914

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Body event as (if) construction?         
A Cartel Product by Anna De Filippi (Houston, TX)
November 20, 2018

In his talk, “Structuring and Destructuring of Psychoanalysis”, Yves Vanderveken spoke of the late Lacan’s radical questioning of construction in analysis.[1] Construction covers up a truth that is always experienced in the margins of language. Through this radical questioning, does construction mutate? Yes, Vanderveken specified, in terms of the construction of the fundamental fantasy and in terms of attempting, nevertheless, to speak the unspeakable. The autonomous jouissance of the body does not entirely do away with construction in analysis.

Patricia Tassara Zárate noted in her talk, “How do we get out of the subjective maze?”, that what counts is more a rewriting of this hystory than an exact memory of it.[2] Rather than uncover an essential truth, in a pure deconstructive movement, one constructs from the “trace of a truth that reveals itself as it flees.”[3] Construction is a make-do composition of these traces, which is more on the side of the analysand than on the side of the analyst, who listens for the jouissance of the parlêtre. In turn, the interpretations of the analyst, Zárate elaborated, quoting Silvia Salman, seek to resonate in the “orifices of the sensitive body.” 

In his course “L’un tout seul” (2010-2011) Jacques-Alain Miller states that jouissance is an event of the body.[4] This body event is severed from the dialectical law of desire, which rests on the binary between prohibition and permission, as well as from signification.[5] The body event is the realm of the blunder, trauma, shock, contingency and chance. Symptoms, identifications and signifiers follow from the body events of an analysand’s hystory, working to fix meaning where there is in fact a hole, since the body event cannot be entirely captured or localized in language.

What of a body event that is not of an analysand’s hystory to be remembered or constructed, but is one that takes place within psychoanalysis, between the transferential and real unconscious? Is there a body event that is neither significatory conversion nor corporalization, that neither creates signifiers following from it, as new symptoms, nor inscribes new signifiers back onto the body?[6]

A properly psychoanalytic body event, perhaps, is one of disidentification. “Psychoanalysis makes its space in the lack of this identification between being and body, in maintaining that the subject has a relationship of having with the body.”[7] In this sense, the key body event of an analysis is the act of speaking itself: “the pure percussion of the body by speech.”[8] Is it in this space opened up by psychoanalysis that a construction touching on the real, and not only covering it up, is possible? 

[1] Towards CSD12 video seminar, August 26th, 2018.

[2] Towards CSD12 video seminar, November 4th, 2018. 

[3] Miller, Jacques-Alain (1994). Marginalia to “Constructions in Analysis”. Psychoanalytical Notebooks 22.

[4] Miller, Jacques-Alain (2011). L’un tout seul. Lesson IV, February 2nd, 2011. Accessed online here: http://jonathanleroy.be/2016/02/orientation-lacanienne-jacques-alain-miller/

[5] Ibid.

[6] Cf. Vicente Palomera’s talk, “The Real and the Body,” where he distinguishes between the ‘significantization’ of a body event and the ‘corporalization’ of a signifier. Available online here: https://backdoorbroadcasting.net/tag/ma-psychoanalysis-at-kingston-university/

[7] Miller, Jacques-Alain (1999). Lacanian Biology and the Event of the Body. Lacanian Ink 18, p. 16.   

[8] Miller, Jacques-Alain (2011). L’Être et l’Un. Lesson XV, May 25th, 2011. Accessed online here: http://jonathanleroy.be/2016/02/orientation-lacanienne-jacques-alain-miller/

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“From a Point of Encounter”

“The moment when the analyst turns the story into a case is always grasped from the point of encounter, from an event that is proper to the treatment.”1

I have been invited to participate in Under-Construction, an experiment, where the subject will respond to an image or text. I have accepted the invitation with excitement given its creative and poetic flavor… I suppose we can say the psychoanalytic situation is an experience of an ongoing under-construction…

Encounters usually point to movement, something awakens, something is shaken… The analytic situation, a space where one version of the desire of the analyst corresponds to an aim to go to “the encounter of the encounter.”2 The analyst, a canvas serving and functioning as cause of desire and inspiration. The encounter with the analyst, in this encounter something is written, something is woven, perhaps the analyst is woven by the analysand, and a story unfolds. The analyst’s body, being, essence as a medium or surface where the lines to the story will be written. What occurs then, in the construction of a case? How is it possible to say something of this story. Indeed, a difficult act. Where does the story turn into a case? The analyst, takes a piece or edits pieces of this writing and creates a construction.  The analyst constructs the case as stated by Eric Laurent “always from the point of encounter, from an event that is proper to the treatment.”3

I will give examples from a case I presented at Clinical Study Days 11: Delights of the Ego, The Case of “Me” Not a Zombie… Simon, a homeless man, had been accused of trespassing and was encarcarated. He was transferred to the hospital due to his mental state and frail physical condition. At that point, I was able to receive a referral for Simon to enter treatment with me.

Simon is a man with a lost identity, a saga inter-woven in a long history of homelessness, substance abuse and abandonment by the other. What remained appeared as an empty walking body, perhaps a metaphor of the walking dead. At first, Simon does not have an understanding of the analytic situation and tries to understand what this space is about… There is a crucial moment when he begins to ask questions in an effort to situate himself within the space. Simon asks: “ Can you give me a dollar? Can you give me a pack of M&M’s? I responded: “No, Simon. I don’t give money or snacks here, but I will give you my ear,” turning my head and pointing to my ear. This was a crucial transition and the opening to a new space in the treatment. Simon appeared to have begun appropriating the meaning of the space, and of his and my place within it.

Another important transition occurs in the transference, where the analysand situates the analyst as the brother of his history, thereby facilitating a reconstruction and retelling of a life story. Finally, Simon is able to state: “ I walked the streets like a zombie…but I am not a zombie.” It is from these crucial points of encounter, points essential to the treatment that the story turned into a case.   

1. Laurent, E. (2011). The Case, from Unease to the Lie. Psychoanalytical Notebooks, 22, 81-93.
2. Ibid., p. 93.
3. Ibid., p. 89.
4.. Lopez, M. (2018). The Case of “Me” Not a Zombie… The Lacanian Review, 5, 193-198.

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“Construction in Analysis by the Analysand”
A Bibliography Note by Liliana Kruszel (Miami, FL)
November 6, 2018

On Lacan’s “Geneva Lecture on the Symptom”.

Lacan gave this lecture on June 4th, 1975, a week before the beginning of his Seminar XXIII, ‘Joyce ,the Synthome’, by invitation of the Swiss Society of Psychoanalysis at the Center Raymond de Saussure. The text was established by Jacques-Alain Miller.

This lecture touches upon many topics, from explaining the political circumstances that surrounded the beginning of his teachings, and the reasons for it, to current moments of his theoretical developments.

He argues his teaching was intended to rescue Freudianism from the association Freud created himself. Many of the participants who attended Lacan’s seminar from the beginning, in 1953, were also present in Geneva in 1975. Once a year, Lacan would produce a writing, about his seminars, which became the Écrits later on, as a mode of leaving a testimony of what he was saying. But, for Lacan, neither saying nor writing, could yield full testimony of what constitutes an analyst.

An analyst also cannot be accounted for by what he thinks, because thinking only gives an account of his automatism. Thinking is after all, a way of being cross-eyed, cross-eyed with the imaginary, because if man wouldn’t ‘have’ a body, he wouldn’t be captured by the image of his body. This explains many things. His Umwelt is constructed in accordance with his body image that veils what goes on in that body.

How is that body constructed? Via the gaze. Everything a man thinks is rooted in this construction. It is very difficult for an ‘analyst’ not to be sucked in by this fact, as demonstrated, by what Lacan’s host Olivier Flournoy called, the “analyzed”. Lacan objects to calling an analyst an “analyzed person’”, saying instead that there is a distinction to be made between the “analyzed person” with the “analysand”. The difference not being in the verb mode, but rather based on the implication that in an analysis, it is the analysand who works. It is the analysand that constructs his case, not the analyst. It is necessary though, to give form to the demand of the analysand before you ask them to lay down, or it will be spoiled.

Then, what does the analyst do there in the analytic process? That is what Lacan wondered from the very beginning. For that reason he implemented in 1967 the first form of a testimony of the subject who claims to be an analyst,. It is only he himself— the analysand becoming an analyst—who can give evidence of this. Each one is free to choose to demonstrate that. That was the initial ‘proposition’. The intention was not to prove himself to the authorities, but to others like him, who are also going through this process, to listen from the standpoint of the particularity of the case, not from any previous knowledge, but from their own experience of traversing an analysis. Such testimony achieves authenticity strictly on the basis of it’s particularity. To exit an analysis is to be able to ‘construct one’s own case’ , which is never a matter of didactic analysis. This is, according to the freudian formula Soll Ich Werden, something of the order of a destitution, of poverty, which is not the same as unknotting. 

In Freud’s first writings before 1914, the unconscious was the Unbewusstein, that which is not known. However, Lacan takes this further, arguing the unconscious is not simply that, because what Freud really introduced with psychoanalysis is, that it is not necessary to know what one knows to be able to enjoy from it. That is the meaning extracted from a slip or a dream, which is not a meaning that comes from the analyst, but from the analysand who makes the associations around them. This knowledge that crystalized in the encounter of the words with the body, leaves a trace. It is there, where he puts the meaning.

This language, which is the first equivocation, does not have a theoretical existence, rather it intervenes in a form, close to a lalangue, where something of what was spoken and heard in its particularity, will come back in dreams, in all kinds of stumbling, in all forms of saying. It is in this moterialism (neologism that Lacan makes between word and materialism), where the capture of the unconscious resides. That is to say, what makes each one, who has not found any other way, able to sustain the symptom.  

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“In Regards to Marginalia to Constructions In Analysis by Jacques-Alain Miller”

In the text “Marginalia to Constructions in Analysis”, Miller asserts, “Interpretation strikes a chord and construction binds.”¹

I’m interested in what it is that the construction binds up.

Miller says, “In Lacan, construction and interpretation stand in opposition (…). The construction is an elaboration of knowledge (…).”²

If construction binds up several elements to elaborate knowledge, one can say that we are in the field of the Other. Construction is an answer to the desire of the Other. Answer to an enigma, to a structural lack. That is the bond between construction and fundamental fantasy.

The construction of the fundamental fantasy pinpoints the subject’s jouissance. It is the truth as a fictional structure as Lacan says, quoting Bentham, in the Écrits.

To construct is to give meaning to the real, circling the impossible, but the meaning constructed must be abandoned. It must be abandoned to the extent that the analyst should conduct the analysand “to the fictions of saying, to the nonsense of his history and to the pure contingency of what ends up being his jouissance.”³

¹ Miller, Jacques-Alain. “Marginalia to ‘Construction in Analysis’” (1994), Psychoanalytical Notebooks, no. 22, March 2011, p. 63.
² Ibid., p. 58.
³ Arenas, Alicia. “The desire of the analyst in the clinical experience/the analyst’s desire in the school.” Lacanian Compass members’ monthly virtual conversation, May 24th, 2017.

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This year we’re introducing a new series in which we invite Lacanian Compass members to respond to a prompt, image or text, with associations that relate to our theme. Our desire is to create new social links through our work.


I approach this image not as a whole but from its hole. One detail: the little boy trying to find something behind the image. From my own delusion, I can associate this detail with the position of the analyst, going beyond the imaginary. When a person comes to see an analyst, they come speaking about himself or herself. Speaking to somebody has effects. The transference to the Other produces effects, but the analyst also provokes “a demand to speak well”1—through interventions such as punctuation, interpretation, and the analytic act—to locate the subject in its unconscious formations. We search for the end of analysis at its beginning, using the real as a compass. Only with this orientation to the real does our practice achieve another di-mension. There is no way to say anything about the analytic experience without this compass of the end. Since psychoanalysis has effects like any other psychotherapy, it is only from the perspective of the end that the analytic experience can be distinguished from other practices.

We make constructions based on a delusion, searching for the meaning of our symptoms in the Other, translating our jouissance into the language of the Other. The construction of our delusion, psychic reality or fundamental fantasy is a way to find the truth, while knowing that this truth has a fictional structure. A lie is needed to cover the real.

Following Freud, Lacan spoke in Seminar XXIV about three forms of identification: loving identification to the father, hysterical identification, and identification to a trait, all of which are linked to the Other. But he also introduced a new topology based on a “torus” with two holes, one that opens to the exterior and another to its interior.

If the real is veiled, what is real in the symbolic? Lacan says it is something that doesn’t change, something without value that is fixed. It is not exchangeable, like the metonymy of the signifier, but rather the materiality of the signifier.

“One has recourse therefore to the Imaginary to give oneself an idea of the Real”.2 The new consistency of the imaginary is an identity that is not connected to form nor to the Other. It is the One, the torus in its interior hole. How can we imagine the real? It is an image at the end that provides consistency. Returning to the boy looking beyond the image only to find a hole, I ask: is this image a construction or is it real?

*This text is a result of a work progress in a cartel. 

1.  Laurent, É. (2011). The case, from unease to the lie. Psychoanalytical Notebooks 22.
2.  Lacan, J. Le Séminaire de Jacques Lacan, Livre XXIV, L'insu que sait de l'une-bévue s'aile à mourre, 1976-1977, unpublished.

Image: “School of Beauty, School of Culture,” Kerry James Marshall, 2012, DETAIL

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“When the Symbolic Becomes Homogeneous With the Real”
A Bibliography Note by Liliana Kruszel (Miami, FL)
September 24, 2018

On Freud's "A Child is Being Beaten"

This article by Freud from 1919 is a rich theoretical and clínical study, because in it there are three big developments.  On the one hand there is the issue of fantasy or phantasm, product of a reconstruction of reality, then it deals with the genesis of masochism, and finally touches on the question of feminine sexuality, in a different way than he was doing before in prior texts, "Three Essays for a Sexual Theory" (1905), and "Childhood Sexual Fantasies" (1908), where the primacy was on the phallus for boys and girls. 

On the other hand, a discussion opens up, that he will continue the following year, in "Beyond the Pleasure Principle" (1920), about the intimate relationship between pleasure and displeasure.

Freud in this article develops a presentation where he points out the phases and transformations of the fantasy, detailing the process that underlies and the meaning it takes for its transformation. In this fantasy there are parts that are conscious and others that need to be reconstructed in analysis, aspects linked to a satisfaction. This repressed aspect that has to be reconstructed, is linked to the Oedipal meaning as cause, with a concomitant guilt associated to the incestuous desire. Dialectic of the repressed and its return.

Lacan, like Freud, through a very detailed study of the phantasm, shows the transformations of it, pointing out at the same time the importance of the signifier in the economy of such a phantasm.  

In "Seminar 4," he says that in the act of beating a child, the subject reads in the imaginary, a falling of the preference of the father’s love. The father that beats a child, denies his being, his existence.  He goes on to pose that the genesis of perversions is not the lack of evolution or development  of the partial drives, or a simple primitive fixation, and that there were there from the beginning, but they participate, as well as neurosis do, in the Oedipal drama.

Lacan in "Seminar 4," situates in schema lambda this imaginary relation in opposition to S and the Other, where the unconscious word is situated, that can take different forms, and is excluded from the subject but appears in all his symptoms, testimony of signifying elements of the relation to the other.  

Following this development of the phantasm in Freud, Lacan observes a symbolic reduction, that has eliminated the meaning from the intersubjective structure, to leave a rest that is de-subjectified, meaning that the subject is not implicated in it, and the fantasy conserves the charge that is not revealed, not assumed by the subject.  All that signification is reduced to an image with all the libidinal satisfactions of what this scene represents.  All the drama of significations reduced to one image.  A child is beaten.  It is in this very sense that Lacan will underline the prevalence of the image in perversions, depleted of any original meaning that needs to be restored through the work of the unconscious, “it is about the image as a last testimony of something that needs to be articulated in the unconscious and put into play through  transference in the analytic experience”.  

In "Seminar 5," Lacan calls it the ‘phantasmatic solution,’ in the symbolic plane.  The phallus, as soon as the subject tries to interpret the desire of the mother, enters the symbolic dialectic of the signifier that represents the lack around which all this dynamic is possible. 

On page 41 of “ Feminine Positions of Being,” Eric Laurent says (the translation is mine): “For Lacan , the feminine masochism of Freud becomes a paradox of the Other Jouissance.  The human hope of completeness, is based on the structural renunciation of the loss of the mother as primordial imagined object.  Lacan’s discovery of the relations between the Real, the death drive, primary masochism and femininity, constitute an advancement from Freud’s arguments, and the Real of that loss, has structural consequences for each subject, be it a man or a woman.”

After "Seminar 20," Lacan will speak of the feminine jouissance as a supplement, that is opposed to this idea of the lack.  This idea of the supplement is to follow another hint/tip that Freud left, that points to the reduction of the feminine being as derived from the masochistic drive.  A jouissance beyond the phallic jouissance, beyond the pleasure principle.

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“Construction of the Clinical Case from the Standpoint of an Encounter”
A Bibliography Note by Liliana Kruszel (Miami, FL)
September 13, 2018

On Eric Laurent’s text: “The Case, from Unease to the Lie”

Under the subtitle, “The Aim of the Analyst,” Eric Laurent comments on the book by Gennie Lemoine, “Entering Time.”  This is a book that lends itself to questioning the status of the case study in the Lacanian Orientation. The book showcases the practice of the treatment's foundation, based on the diverse theoretical developments she engages with, each containing a lesson to pick out as “each person sees fit.” Theory and narrative is the entire emphasis of the book and the first part is called: “From little and big stories to mathemes.”

Laurent then adds: “The moment when the analyst turns the story into a case is always grasped from a point of encounter, from an event that is proper to the treatment. It is only from there that the narrative of the determinants that weave the subject is organized."  It is around the encounter that the book is organized and that it measures up. The author emphasizes that the narrative is not organized around knowledge, but rather around an encounter: “The analyst does not know, for the good reason that he is in the position of little a as agent, in its capacity as object cause of desire […]The false start does not prevent the encounter of the two desires”.

If the symbolic in the real has the lie as its name, the encounter has the form of an outside sense, from where the lie is a sign for a subject, through an effect that attains the efficacy of a ‘witticism.’

The unease would come from the questioning of the clinical case and its transmission, which would demonstrate how one analyzes. We rely on a method that uses examples. Not only is the demonstrative position of the single case harshly contested by the prestige of science and the statistical model, but by the crisis throughout the history of psychoanalysis itself. Laurent will demonstrate this in this paper.