LRO: What’sUpWAP? SEXUAL ASSAULT / 50th Study Days of the ECF /Argument – Part 1 by Laurent Dupont

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7th May 2020


50th Study Days of the École de la Cause Freudienne

Argument – Part 1

By Laurent Dupont
Sexual assault, the expression comes from Freud. We quote the passage which concerns Emma: “On two occasions when she was a child of eight she had gone into a small shop to buy some sweets, and the shopkeeper had grabbed at her genitals through her clothes. In spite of the first experience she had gone there a second time; after the second time she stopped away. She now reproached herself for having gone there the second time, as though she had wanted in that way to provoke the assault.[1]” Freud employs the word assault (attentat)[2] to name the violence and the explosion of that which comes to be inscribed in the body of the subject confronted by the irruption of the sexual as atraumatic encounter. The body is marked by it. In Emma’s case, years later, it is by an inhibition, trace in the subject’s body of the first attack. The inhibition is therefore a response to the assault. But where is what causes the assault really situated? Freud’s quoted phrase demonstrates also that there is an element of reproach of the subject addressed to itself; the assault is not solely attributed to the other, but the subject itself is situated at the heart of a psychical conflict from which Freud will try to extract the stakes of the trauma. We have here the premises of that which Freud will develop later, beyond the theory of seduction: it is the sexual itself which is an assault, which is traumatic due to not being inscribed anywhere in the human being as an instinct.
This is what Lacan will point out with his scandalous aphorism: There is no sexual rapport, meaning that the sexual encounter is always traumatic. In a firm response to Françoise Dolto, Lacan gives a concise definition: “the copulatory fact of the introduction of sexuality is traumatizing […] The central bad encounter is at the level of the sexual.”[3] In Television, he will speak of the “curse on sex” [malediction sur le sexe], [4] which we can hear as “the saying it bad on the sexual”. This non-meeting, we cannot but say it badly. The consequence of this bad is diction, is that there is no signifying articulation which can say the sexual rapport. From this fundamental trauma, which Lacan will call troumatisme, is deduced the string of all discoveries of the unconscious of a subject in order to bring into existence that which does not exist and one of them, the fantasy, is what will permit Lacan to think of the end of the analysis. The fantasy allows to make the bet that if we cannot articulate anything about the sexual assault, we can testify, say something, about the traversal of the fantasy.
Certainly there is an infantile sexuality, this no longer needs to be demonstrated, it is taken in the dimension of the fantasy of the child. But the adult hand landing on the child, breaking the taboo, comes to tear up the veil of the fantasy or, at least, operates a violence of unveiling. That which is unveiled, like in Freud’s Emma, is the other’s sexual jouissance without brake, which reveals that which of ours remained veiled. Of that, Vanessa Springora, Adèle Haenel and the others have testified with rigour.
Le’t bet that our Study Days, the 50th, forty years after the creation of the École de la Cause Freudienne, will find a well-saying for that which in the encounter with the sexual makes a break-in, trauma for each one, most often under the veil of the fantasy, there where, for others, it is exactly in the lifting of the veil that the sexual encounter is assaulted.
Translated by Peggy Papada
[1] Freud, S., Project for a Scientific Psychology (1950 [1985]), In J. Strachey (Ed.), Standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (vol. 1. p.354), London: Hogarth.
[2] Freud, in the German edition, writes: Attentate (Assault)
[3] Lacan, J., Seminar XI, The four fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis (1964), edited by Jacques Alain Miller, Seuil, 1973, translated by Alan Sheridan, 1977, Karnac, p64.
[4] Lacan, J., Television (1976), translated by D. Hollier, R. Krause & A. Michelson, 1990, Norton, p.30.
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