Lacanian Review Online: WHAT’SUPWAP? EOL


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5th December 2020

Conversation EOL 2020: TRAUMAΣ


The trauma has already happened and there is no going back. We analysts give it a place, both in psychoanalytic  treatment and also in specific encounters that we sometimes offer in particular circumstances.

The theme that guides the work of our Conversation, navigates through the waters of psychoanalysis in intention as well as in its extension. These notions, as Lacan points out, maintain a horizon of knotting among themselves, [1] that is, the position obtained in the intention also makes it possible to orient oneself in the extension.

The signifier trauma‒whose diffusion was driven by psychoanalysis itself‒ has permeated contemporary discourse: it is used to explain as much as it is imagined that it prevents.

The broadening of the scope of scientific discourse has precipitated the generalized use of the dimensions of cause and effect with the consequence of determining what will become traumatic.

As it becomes a more transparent and commonsense notion, what we call trauma in psychoanalysis becomes more enigmatic.

Therefore it is essential to locate what it is for us that makes an event acquire the value of trauma.

In its various aspects, it is a theme that runs through the history of psychoanalysis. This was founded at its birth, before 1900. Lacan continues to evoke it until the end of his teaching in 1980. [2] The last teaching from which we still have to continue to draw consequences to orient ourselves today to a problem that is more than current.

Whereas Freud reads trauma diachronically, Lacan uses the axiom of the sexual non-rapport to establish his synchronic formula. "Somehow this gives us the axiom of trauma, and does not allow us to know when, how or with whom the trauma occurred or will occur …" [3]

It was Freud who introduced him to psychic traumatism. From the trauma of seduction as an incident that actually occurred and its abandonment—which gives rise to the foundation of psychoanalysis as such—to the traumatic dreams of repetition as an example of the failure of the pleasure principle and the location of the death drive as an intrinsically human horizon, trauma is linked to the irruption of a jouissance.

Of course, one might ask what kind of jouissance it is; is jouissance itself traumatic?

Once detached from psychic causality, Lacan operates by wrinkling the trauma and articulating it with the signifiers hole (trou), human and symptom. He then speaks of troumatisme, [4] of troumains [5] and of what sintraumatizes. [6] We have here three aspects, which at the same time articulate with each other, and can guide our task.

This year, the totally unprecedented global phenomenon has a name: COVID-19. It produced an unprecedented perforation in all discourses.

We are faced with an event that, on the one hand, questions us about the current status of the concept of trauma, and on the other, about the tools that we have to read the different modes of response that are appearing, both collectively and individually.

It is precisely on the hole of the trauma, in the place of that real, that the fundamental fantasy as a screen tries to cover that very first traumatizing encounter and, at the same time, the founding of the parlêtre. In a second round, something will be traumatic when its impact is such that it breaks or tears apart that screen. This fantasmatic screen functions as a veil and, at the same time, as an obstacle to make use of what each person finds there as an answer, since it is from that gap that the symptom will emerge as a response to the trauma of the real. [7] This point opens up a renewed interest in the notion of the symptom as a singular invention in the face of the structural hole. A place where "one invents what one  can." [8] The testimonies of the AS [Analysts of the School] can be a privileged place to seek out traces of the singularity of these inventions.

There is, of course, no pre-established treatment in the clinic in intention, but neither is there in extension. Faced with the hole created by the trauma, it can be healing to be able to restore the fabric of meaning that was present in its irruption. However, at the same time that it is proposed to the parlêtre to communicate the traumatic experience, we know that by structure he will experience the limits of communication, barred S.

At this point, we ask ourselves: if it is not by way of meaning, how does the analytic act play its part with respect to trauma? In what way does the notion of trauma deeply question how we are to understand the analytic operation?

We await, then, the contributions of each analyst, one by one, from which we can carry out a work of collective elaboration.

Nicolás Bousoño, Irene Greiser, Esteban Klainer and Débora Rabinovich
Mirta Berkoff (Plus one)


Translated by Isolda Arango-Alvarez
Reviewed by Maria Cristina Aguirre & Jeff Erbe

Image by Alicia Leloutre

This argument appears in the original in Spanish at:
1. Lacan, J.: “Proposition of 9 October, 1967 on the Psychoanalyst of the School,” trans. Russell Grigg, Analysis, no. 6 (1995): 1-13.
2. Lacan, J.: “Le malentendu : Dissolution, séminaire du 10 juin 1980,” Ornicar? no. 22/23 (1981) : 11-4.
3. Miller, J.-A., Causa y consentimiento, Paidós, Bs. As., 2019, p. 138.
4. Lacan, J., Les non-dupes errent: Seminar XXI, lesson of 19 February, 1974, unpublished.
5. Lacan, J., Le moment de conclure: Seminar XXV, lesson of 17 January, 1978, unpublished.
6. Lacan, J., The Sinthome: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XXIII, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. A.R. Price (Cambridge: Polity, 2016), 124.
7. Miller, J.-A., “On die wege der symptombildung” in: Freudiana 19, ELP, Barcelona, 2001, pp. 7-56.
8. Lacan, J., Les non-dupes errent: Seminar XXI, unpublished.

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