Subject to Change: Jung, Gender and Subjectivity in Psychoanalysis
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I repeat: the putting in question of the subject supposed to know, the subversion of what, I would say, the whole functioning of knowledge implies…. The individual as it can emerge from any act whatsoever, is an individual without essence as all the objects a are without essence. This is what characterises them. Objects without essence which are, or not, to be re-evoked in the act starting from this sort of subject which, as we will see, is the subject of the act, of every act. I would say, in so far as like the subject supposed to know at the end of the analytic experience, it is a subject which is not in the act.
We can summarise what he says here about the progress of analysis in several steps as follows:. To whom does it pay the price of the truth that at the limit the subject treated cannot be cured of? In other words, Lacan is warning against the danger that a psychoanalytic treatment could fall into the trap of becoming a treatment of truth by knowledge. We saw in the passage from Seminar XV quoted above a clear movement from the start to the end of analysis.
Rather than being a singular moment, a deliberately chosen undertaking by the analyst or analysand, it is perhaps better understand it in the sense of an act in a play. It is perhaps by virtue of the fact that the analyst takes on the role of the subject supposed to know, and later the object a, that Lacan employs a term which evokes theatrical connotations. The analyst assumes these roles in much the same way as an actor assumes a character, literally becoming its embodiment. This is the most commonly admitted recourse as regards what is necessary for this passage, all other conditions remaining contingent as compared to it.
He gives us an idea of what practically this means with respect to the analyst:. The way the psychoanalyst acts, however little it may be, but where he properly acts in the course of the task, is to be capable of this signifying interference which properly speaking is not open to any generalisation that might be called knowledge.
Books received: International Forum of Psychoanalysis: Vol 12, No
But just as the knowledge involved is not the supposed knowledge of psychoanalysis that the analyst is presumed to have, neither is it a self-knowledge. Indeed, the effect of psychoanalysis produces the opposite. As Lacan says in the passage above, the subject does not recognise himself in his own negations.
This is an important step away from the aim of acquiring knowledge — whether of oneself or of psychoanalysis — and is fully Freudian in its perspective.
Such influences, however, have as much influence on the symptoms of a nervous illness as a distribution of menu-cards in a time of famine has upon hunger. The solution he proposes is one of identification with the symptom. For me, I do not think so…. To what then does one identify oneself at the end of analysis? Is it that one would be identified to his unconscious? So of what does this repair work that is psychoanalysis consist? Knowing has strictly this meaning….
So, what does it mean to know? To know how to deal with his symptom, this is the end of analysis, we have to recognise that it is short. It does not go away. If the symptom is a representative of the unconscious and the unconscious remains if not eternally, according to his remarks here Other, then rather than be eliminated the subject has to learn how to manipulate his or her symptom.
This, Lacan implies, is what can be hoped for at the end of analysis. Psychoanalysis, Lacan says in Seminar XII, long before the above remarks, is a process of unknotting. Undoubtedly there is something which remains assured in that experience, which is that it is associated with we will call effects of unknotting. The unknotting of things charged with sense which cannot be unknotted by other means , this is the solid ground on which the analytic camp is established. If I use this term, it is precisely in order to designate what results from this closure from which I began my discourse today, breaking through or not the frontiers of the camp.
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The psychoanalyst has the right to affirm that certain things, symptoms, in the analytic sense of the term, which is not that of a sign but of a certain knot whose shape, tightening or thread have never been properly named, that a certain knot of signs to signs, and which is properly at the foundation of what one calls the analytic symptom, namely, something installed in the subjective, which cannot in any way be resolved by reasonable and logical dialogue.
Psychoanalysis is a process whereby a symptomatic knot is gradually undone and associative threads left hanging. But, jumping forward again in his work, Lacan does not believe it is simply a matter of pursuing each of these threads until all is revealed. Rather, they have to be re-knotted in a manner that befits the analysand him- or herself.
Because of the volume of secondary literature on this topic we will only touch on the remarks Lacan makes about Joyce in connection with the end of analysis a few years earlier, in Seminar XVIII. After all, Joyce himself was never analysed, although it is on this very point that Lacan makes his first interjection. But for Lacan this would have done him no good: through his writing Joyce was able to reach what is aimed at in the end of analysis:.
We remember that this is how, at the end of his life, St Thomas Aquinas, described his own work. Or indeed is it psychoanalysis that bears witness to his convergence with what our epoch shows up in terms of an undoing of the link, of the ancient link by which pollution is contained in culture? Is it a matter of collecting in a writing, what was first of all, primitively, song, spoken myth, dramatic procession?
He also gives a definition of the end of analysis, his final recorded thoughts on the topic, so it is worth quoting him in full:. It is not certain that it is necessary; it is enough that we see that of which he is captive, and that is the unconscious.
It is the face of the real, perhaps what you have an idea after having heard me a number of times, perhaps what you have an idea of what I call the real — it is the face of the real in which one is entangled…. Analysis consists of what one knows of why one is entangled in it. It is produced by virtue of the fact that there is the symbolic.
The symbolic is the language [ le langage ] we learn to speak and it leaves its traces. It leaves its traces and, by virtue of this, it leaves consequences which are none other than the sinthome, and analysis consists in giving an account of why one has these symptoms. So analysis is linked to knowledge. Is that very suspect? It is very suspect and it lends itself to all suggestions, which is the very word we must avoid. The sinthome is thus presented here as a substitute for liberation from the symptom.
It is up to the reader to decide whether it constitutes a mixture or a muddle. What I hope to have done in these articles on the end, and ends, of a psychoanalysis is twofold. Secondly, I wanted to show that despite the different pronouncements Lacan makes on the topic across almost 30 years of teaching there are certain common themes which, whilst picked up and dropped in favour of others at times, do nonetheless make frequent reappearances.
This, I suggest, gives us at least the chance of making his views coherent to us. He quotes from a letter Lacan wrote to his former analyst after the scission between the respective groups that each was a leading member of:. I hope to see you in London, whatever happens you should know that you will find there a man more certain of his duties and his destiny. No objectivity can be reached in human matters without this subjective basis. Lacan, letter to his former analyst Lowenstein, after the scission of By Owen Hewitson , LacanOnline. All content on LacanOnline.
A brilliant and detailed account of the end of analysis from Lacanian perspective.
Would it be possible to use some parts in my paper? Sure, just cite this article in your references.
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Drop me a line if you need more — contact lacanonline. Thus if feminist discourse is to provide alternative notions of subjectivity for girls, it needs to engage with the neurotic illusion of enjoyment, the nature of its forbiddeness, and the transgressive impulses it invokes.
I am not arguing that women are essentially masochistic and deserve the advertising industry as some sort of cruel play-mate. Indeed Walkerdine's researches into the narrative structures of cartoon stories in adolescent girl's magazines explore how an advertising-receptive female subjectivity is formed. In these stories taken from mids magazines , girls' desire and ambition are only tolerable when held on behalf of others, or in the role of supporting others.
One of the most commonly recurring themes was of the immensely high moral value placed on girls showing super-human tolerance for cruelty, discomfort and being the object of attack: being 'good' will win through. What is more, what will be won is a paradoxical and impossible prize: a secret sense of goodness at the core of one's being which will be evident to some judging, God-like figure, while unknown to the people one deals with in life, lest it make them uncomfortable, or feel inadequate. Walkerdine's point is that these stories are an example par excellence of how female adolescent desire can be canalised along socially acceptable lines.
My argument is that, in the light of Lacan's analysis, this entwined relationship between desire and suffering is easy to exploit. Unless, that is, one becomes more familiar with the transgressive desires which women usually prefer to let society canalise into shapes which produce sitting ducks as advertising targets.
Therein, I would argue, lies a possible response to Walkerdine's question of how might we begin to think about alternative subjectivities for girls. As Lorraine Gamman and Merja Makinen argue however, feminism has failed to look for an 'unsymbolized signifier that would allow girls access to desire and the symbolic code' Gamman and Mekinen, , p. Consequently, an exploration of the experiences out of which notions of this unsymbolised signifier might develop is called for.
If, as David Miller points out through the work of Barthes, pleasure plaisir ' "contents, fills, grants euphoria", "does not break with culture", "is linked to what is comfortable, -is connective while jouissance imposes as state of loss discomforts unsettles assumptions [leaves] nothing.
What is not allowed is the jouissance of rigorous engagement with anything, ideas in particular. Clearly excluded is the kind of engagement that means that nothing is left the same, that what was assumed to be true may get knocked to bits. The taboo for these girls is aggression, most clearly visible here as the kind of aggression which accompanies spirit and brilliance.
Actually, the situation is a little more complex: what is offered as plaisir as a reward to those who behave themselves is not quite what it seems.
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It is not possible to be nice enough, thoughtful enough or kind enough to claim plaisir from the 'feminine' role. But here we find ourselves back at the possibility of jouissance : the satisfaction derived from the symptom, and the suffering derived from satisfaction. The pursuit of a secret sense of goodness offers endless possibilities for torturing oneself and others, be they with an eating disorder, the self-hating internal critic, or whatever.
Thus perhaps the pursuit of plaisir is subverted into something which glimpses jouissance. The problem is that this is a jouissance which cannot be recognised as such: it operates as a perverse passion and accesses the thrill of destruction in a compulsively repetitious and trivialising way.