NLS Congress – What Veronique Voruz thinks about it


The second paternal metaphor


his closing address at the NLS Congress in Tel Aviv, Psychosis, or Radical Belief in the
Éric Laurent poses the necessity for psychoanalysis to invent other ways to
speak of psychosis in light of the generalization of the psychotic effort to
all. As an effect of this generalization, he says that: “the day will likely
come when the word ‘psychosis’ will be so out of sync with the spirit of the
times that instead we will be speaking in terms of ordinary delusions”.
In other words, psychoanalytic theory will increasingly be moving towards a continuist clinical approach – as Yves
Vanderveken outlined in his intervention towards the next NLS Congress last
month here in London.


this brief intervention, I wanted to speak about the second paternal metaphor
because I think that if, in his 2012 paper, Laurent re-introduced this concept,
formalised by Jacques-Alain Miller in his 1985-6 course Extimité, it is so that we may use it to
support our effort to move towards the continuist clinical approach on our
horizon. But before, I would like to make a few clarifications.


few preliminary points


  • What
    is this psychotic effort said to be generalized?

is the effort that we each have to make to treat the drive and phenomena of
jouissance beyond what is ready-made for this purpose in civilisation. Such
treatment can take place either by making use of the Name-of-the-Father or
through the symptom: repression or formal envelope.


  • Why
    this generalization?

curbing of jouissance is what is at stake in civilization – to the extent that
humanity can be defined as a conflict
between jouissance and the law
– but our civilization is prey to the paradoxical logic of the superego. A
central working hypothesis in our orientation is that the incitement to
jouissance characteristic of the capitalist discourse, a discourse in which the
only universal identification available is that of consumer
has for correlate addiction as a mode of relation between a subject and any
object (x): addiction is a mode of relation between subject and object specific
to our times, to the extent that it refers to the generalized inability for a
subject to not consume a given object (x).
The rise of addiction as the main contemporary form of the symptom has to be
correlated to the dissolution of the bond between S and s, which has been commented by Miller
and Laurent in many places.
The effect of this dissolution is the weakening efficacy of truth in treating
the real.   


two elements constitute the background for our clinical work: addiction as a
mode of relation between $ and a, and
the averred status of all discourses as semblant, with the disorientation that


the theory of our praxis


we need to adjust our theoretical apparatus for two reasons.


  • First,
    we need to account for what we have called in our field the emergence of
    ‘ordinary psychosis’.
    The coining of this signifier is an epistemic
    move by Jacques-Alain Miller designed to gather up unclassifiable cases under
    a single term and to define our “research project”, as Éric Laurent put it in
    Tel-Aviv. For my part, I think this term is essentially a stepping stone on
    our journey to try and speak more precisely about the changing effects of
    subject produced by the matrix of our civilization
    and in a way that circumscribes the real more closely. The Dublin Congress
    will be particularly important in this respect; it will be an occasion to
    continue inventing a clinical language more closely tailored to singular
    experience. The title – Discreet Signs
    in Ordinary Psychoses
    – is particularly well chosen to push us to think
    without resorting to categories, or at least to make use of them without
    essentialising their signification.


  • Second,
    because the question of the necessarily singular treatment of one’s jouissance
    has become key for all. To the extent that the Name-of-the-Father could be
    considered a ready-made solution, even when it operates, it appears to no
    longer be sufficient for most individuals to lead a pacified existence.  


treatment of jouissance by language


to the question of the subject’s treatment of jouissance is Lacan’s invention of
the paternal metaphor, which refers to the metaphorisation of jouissance by the
Other of the signifier, and so to its transformation into desire. We could think
that the paternal metaphor is a concept that belongs to the binary clinic
Neurosis/Psychosis because it is Lacan’s formalization of the Freudian invention
of the Oedipus complex, and that it should therefore be of the past. Or we could
take Jacques-Alain Miller’s lead in his text on the speaking body
and work with the idea that concepts need to be constantly woven anew in
psychoanalytic theory (this is Miller’s own choice: to metaphorise the term unconscious by that of speaking body). And so with the paternal
metaphor: the concept can be actualized and be used in the continuist perspective. Thus in Psychosis, or Radical Belief in the Symptom,
Éric Laurent proposes a simplified formulation of the second paternal
metaphor, developed by Jacques-Alain Miller in Extimité. Miller’s argument in Extimité in complex and I haven’t had
the time to work through it sufficiently for today but I hope we can place it on
our agenda for the Congress. I will just say a few words to open up the


first paternal metaphor: the historical step of monotheism


Extimité Jacques-Alain Miller is
trying to articulate jouissance with the Other of the signifier. For this
purpose, the paternal metaphor is obviously a crucial concept. Addressing the
question of what of Judaism is present in Freud, Miller specifies that it is not
the father, but the function of the
father, which is present in both Freud and Judaism. Miller historicizes the
emergence of this function with regards to religion: “the emergence of paternal
monotheism consumed the great maternal religion”.
Here he is referring to the prohibition by the Jewish religion of the orgies and
sexual rites that were practiced in order to access the divine by polytheistic
religions, as a way of establishing the existence of the Other as Other of
jouissance. By extension, “what Lacan called the paternal metaphor is exactly
that: the Name-of-the-Father coming to metaphorise the desire of the Mother.”
Implicit in Jacques-Alain Miller’s elaboration of the “historical step of
monotheism” is the double status of the Other. The Other of the signifier
metaphorises the Other of jouissance, and orders it by means of the phallus.
This is the formula of the first paternal metaphor as we know it:





put it more structurally, the paternal metaphor allows language “to house the
phenomena of jouissance”
– this is written by Laurent A over J – by localising jouissance in the body,
delineating phallic zones. In this perspective, what we call psychosis is the
failure of language to do so: there is, then, a delocalization of jouissance to
non-phallic zones.


from the perspective of the second paternal metaphor, we can learn that this is
also the case for neurosis, because the Other in the second paternal metaphor is
inconsistent: this is what Lacan develops in Seminar X, arguing that A is divided by


second paternal metaphor


second paternal metaphor
is simplified by Laurent as follows: “it is language itself [which] takes charge
of the phenomena of jouissance”, bearing in mind however that, whereas the first
paternal metaphor implies a consistent Other metaphorising the Other of
Jouissance and transforming all of jouissance into phallic jouissance, the
second paternal metaphor implies an inconsistent Other, (barred A over J),
implying that not all of jouissance can
be metaphorised
. All subjects have to deal with an irreducible remainder,
although to a lesser or greater extent of course:


second paternal metaphor is a generalisation from the singular psychotic effort
to the clinical field as a whole. From the psychotic subject we also have to
learn how the neurotic subject forms a language from his symptom, and that this
symptom stems from both the first and second paternal metaphors.[xvi]


Hurly-Burly 8, p.

Ibid. at

“Towards a Generalisation of
the Clinic of Discreet Signs”, published in NLS-Messager 1779.

Miller, J.-A., « Rien n’est plus humain que le crime », Mental 21 : « L’humain est peut-être précisément le
conflit entre les deux versants de la Loi et la jouissance. », p.

See the third lesson of L’Autre
qui n’existe pas et ses comités d’éthique
1995-6, unpublished.

As argued by Marie-Hélène Brousse in her introduction to issue 88 of La Cause du désir,

For example in
L’Autre qui n’existe pas, op. cit.

Miller J.-A. ed. (2005), La convention d’Antibes – La psychose ordinaire
(Paris: Agalma/Le

Miller J.-A. (2008), “Ordinary Psychosis Revisited”, Psychoanalytical Notebooks 19

Miller J.-A. (2003), “Intuitions Milanaises [2]”,

Miller J.-A. (2014), “The Unconscious and the Speaking Body”, Hurly-Burly 10.

Lessons of 29 January and 5 February 1986,

Laurent É., “Psychosis, or Radical Belief in the
Symptom”, op.

See also Miller J.-A., « Introduction à la lecture du Séminaire L’angoisse de Jacques Lacan », in La Cause freudienne 58 and 59.

Miller takes the second paternal metaphor from Lacan’s “Subversion of the

Laurent É., ibid. p.

NLS Congress 2016
Dublin, 2nd and
rd July

Discreet Signs in Ordinary

Clinic and Treatment


Congress: 140 euro, until 1st March

180 euro, after

Students (- 26 years old): 70 euro

90 euro, after 1st March 2016


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