LRO: WHAT’S UP WAP? SEXUAL ASSAULT / 50th Study Days of the ECF /Argument – Part 2 by Éric Zuliani

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28th May 2020


50th Study Days of the École de la Cause Freudienne

Argument – Part 2

By Éric Zuliani
Sexual assault haunts the first steps of Freud’s discovery. Researching for a cause that can account for the symptoms -firstly hysterical -, his letters to Fliess and his first writings establish the observation that something is wrong with the sexuality of speaking beings: impotence, premature ejaculation, frigidity are already inscribed in the portraits of patients who speak to him. However, unraveling the thread of the causality of symptoms, Freud only finds one memory replacing an other, one scene substituted by an other scene, forming as many signifying chains which invariably lead to a domain where sexuality and trauma form a knot concerning a real. He deduces an original causality from it, where something assaults the subjective constitution of the speaking being, who is implicated, in its defending body, by the intrusion of the Other, its knowledge, its desire and its jouissance.” [1] The body, precisely, is permanently marked by an excess of senseless sexual excitation which exiles the subject into a forever symptomatic sexuality. How does psychoanalysis operates on this “implication”?
His Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality explore the way by which men and women, equal in relation to the instance of a sexuality no longer linked to biology, are the seat of a sexual activity guided by the imperative of the drive, without including the sexuated Other. Lacan illuminates the baroque montages of the drive, a mixture of the imaginary and the symbolic, and the part which escapes the drive, piercing the sexual encounter with his aphorism: there is no sexual relation. Yes, but there is this jouissance, absolute, outside the body, which harasses you: demanding its rights, it confines you to solitude and puts an obstacle to sexuality. The speaking being is caught between the insistence of the drive and that which pushes him to a yes or a no in his rapport with the Other. Hence Vanessa Springora’s subtle interrogation on the question of consent, which illuminates this non-place of the love encounter where the enjoying body and language attempt to get knotted by means of desire and love. What are these knots? And when the knot is undone, what are the consequences? Sexual assault is lodged in this zone where encounters are invented instead of the non-rapports: sexual non-relation and non-relation of speech. It is also the place where women and men are engaged in unconscious ties without guarantee. The sexual is only there as a horizon, where a man does not enjoy the body of a woman but only his own body, where a woman, in the name of a wanting to be loved (which can at times be ravaging), gives herself to the sexuality of her partner, where the hurtful is never too far away.
The contemporary questions of feminist movements – including #metoo on the violence towards women and the denunciation of a “rape culture” for example, are addressed to men and remain to be explored. The Lacanian orientation can become its addressee. In 1969 Lacan gives an indication which can guide us: “that the whole theory of analysis, as it is sometimes said, has developed along an androcentric channel, is certainly not the fault of men, as is believed. In particular, it is not because they dominate. It is because they have lost their way. From then on, it is only women, and especially hysterical women, who understand something about it.”[3]
Starting from the analytical experience, what do women have to teach us about sex; what is the actuality of men in analysis, of their desiring conditions (which Freud pinned down as neurotic in his time), and of the destinies of these conditions during and at the end of an analysis?
Translated by Peggy Papada


[1] Miller, Jacques-Alain, “The Child and Knowledge”, Psychoanalytical Notebooks 24, 2012.
[2] Springora, V., Le consentement, Paris, Grasset, 2020.
[3] Lacan J., Seminar XVI, From an Other to the other, Lesson of 5th March 1969, Unpublished.
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