Report of the Knotting Seminar in Athens

Images intégrées 1


HELLENIC SOCIETY of the NLS  –  Knotting Seminar in Athens

22th September 2012, Report by Despina Karagianni

     At the Knotting seminar that took place in Athens in front of a large number of participants, the main speaker was Dominique Holvoet, President of the NLS. His presentation was an introduction to orient our work towards the 11th Congress of the NLS, which is going to take place in Athens on 18 and19 May 2013.

Dominique Holvoet accomplished an association between the previous (reading a symptom) and the forthcoming (Psychoanalysis and the Psychotic Subject: From Forced Invention to Belief in the Symptom) Congress. The main points of his presentation are summarised here: 

The approach of the two terms, Psychoanalysis and Psychosis should be based on a reversal of the perspective in psychoanalysis which emerges with a sequence of substitutions. The first one is the substitution of interpretation with the term: reading a symptom; it is indicated with a reversal in orientation. The new direction is beyond meaning to the materiality of the letter. A re-substitution with the term statement (constat) is aiming at the mark of the signifier on the body. This mark concerns the mythical moment when the signifier strikes the body[1]. Our work towards Athens should take the form of a research on the following question: what consequences will such a reversal of perspective have on psychosis?

Psychoanalysis does not approach psychosis as a taxonomic category; it is rather interested in the way each subject – based on his symptom – is integrated into civilization. This integration presupposes one’s ability to use the common language as a social link, on the one hand, and, on the other, it presupposes a private language, formed by the writing of the symptom[2]. In Freud the universality of Oedipus posed as a “civilizing device” regulating jouissance with the assistance of prohibition. Ever since the paternal figure had already started unsettling. Psychoanalysis then moved from the dimension of the psychic conflict to that of the formal envelop of the symptom as a way of handling jouissance.

In his classical period Lacan highlights the symbolic status of the paternal figure. The function of the paternal metaphor regulates jouissance and stabilizes meanings, giving them a phallic value. The failure of such a function leads to a condition where the subject cannot find refuge in language in order to handle the phenomena of jouissance. The consequences (of such a condition) not only afflict the body but the linguistic code as well, transforming it to a neo-code. Jacques-Alain Miller points out a second metaphor, where the paternal figure gives way to the Name-of-the-Father, a signifier that could be replaced by other master signifiers. Psychosis is characterized by a jouissance which fails to be channelled as a whole ‘under’the Name-of-the-Father. Lacan names it non-negativable jouissance.

We, therefore, draw the conclusion that the Other of the second metaphor is not of the order of the One; he is rather barred, not coherent. Lacan suggests the following matheme[3] Images intégrées 1which can be written as barred A / –φ. Dominique Holvoet gave us a simplified version of the matheme barred A / φ  as follows: barred A / j .

From the Name-of-the-Father as a consistent Other we move on to its multiplication. Therefore, jouissance can be signified in several ways, not just by the paternal one. While in classical Lacan the handling of the Real was based on the signifier, it is now expected from the entire field of the language. Ultimately, it seems that the Real is the one that regulates the signifier, a finding that will lead Lacan to consider the language as an organ. Τhe relevant extract from l’Etourdit reads: “… an animal has a stabitat[4] which is language, that inhabiting it in a labile way is moreover what makes an organ for its body, – an organ which, by thus ex-sisting from it, determines it by its function, this even before it finds it.  It is even by this that it is reduced to finding that its body is not-without other organs, and that the function of each of them, poses a problem for it, – from which the schizophrenic said is specified by being caught without the help of any established discourse.”.


Inasmuch the Other does not exist, he is nothing but an invention; psychoanalytic treatment consists of such an invention. Psychoanalysis does not concern the production of meanings, but rather a reconciliation with our private language, the particular Other we have invented. The subject is urged to render language his own tool, to tinker with it. 


We can summarize the two lacanian periods (from the 1st metaphor to the 2nd), as follows:


Classical Lacan – 1st metaphor          ®

(On a Question Prior to Any Possible Treatment of Psychosis)

Later Lacan – 2nd metaphor

(The Subversion of the Subject and the Dialectic of Desire)

Interpretation                                        ®

Desire                                                   ®

Statement – Constat


The Real is being treated by the:


Signifier                                                ®

The Signifier is being treated by the:




Symbolic Order                                     ®

Discourses                                             ®

Bricolage, Do-it-yourself

Semblant                                               ®



Belief in the symptom is a wording of Eric Laurent about a forced invention. However, not all subjects have access to the established discourses in order to be able to support their invention. Dominique Holvoet raises a number of questions to consider towards our research in the field of psychosis: To what extent is it necessary to believe in the symptom so that it can function?  What about the Name-of-the-Father in the case of ordinary psychosis, from which we have to learn without generating it to the whole clinic? How is the Name-of-the Father transformed for the contemporary subject? And, finally, in what way does the Name-of-the-Father, despite being more “ordinary”, still function? 

The role of the psychoanalyst is fundamental. He should be the boundary for the wandering of the psychotic subject. And despite the fact that the analyst himself has acknowledged the lack of the Other, he still uses him (the Other) as a tool. Dominique Holvoet concludes that the point is not the murder of the father in an analysis – this would no way result in the death of libido. What Lacan called pure psychoanalysis requires, at first, the reduction of the father to the dimension of a semblant and, consequently, the discourses of the analysand to follow the same destiny.  This leads to a do-it-yourself that constitutes the dignity of a non-further reducible symptom.



In the clinical part of the seminar, Sharon Zvili Cohen, psychologist, member of the Israel Society (GIEP) of NLS, presented the first clinical case, entitled “Too little too late – time traces”.

It is a case of a woman whose main symptom is her relation with time, that is her difficulty in managing and calculating time.  Being the apple of her mother’s eye was some kind of imaginary compensation for her. After her mother’s death, a dog took the place of a phallic substitute and, thus, a rudimentary stability was maintained. Only after the dog’s death the subject suffered from something which she called “depression”.  She started therapy many years later, only when she was confronted with the death of her second dog as well as with the loss of her ability to become a mother.

Throughout her life, this subject is overwhelmed by a jouissance of a living-dead; she is floating. Her symptomatic relation with time is related to the rivalry to her stepmother, whose presence causes something like a bleeding to the maternal inheritance, thus to the subject herself.  It seems that the psychoanalyst functions as a pillar for her; the sessions become some kind of punctuation to the floating of time.



The second clinical case, entitled “Ulysses or the artist and his object” was presented by Helen Molari, psychiatrist, clinical tutor at the Psychiatric Hospital of Attica and member of the Hellenic Society of NLS. The case involved a manic subject who was hospitalized and has been monitored by her since.

Initially, the phenomenology of the clinical case was delineated in accordance with Kraepelin. Further on, the formation of the subject in relation to the problematic of the object was presented, according to Lacan.

Until his forties the subject was stabilized; having his father as an imaginary brace as well as his art, since he is a stage designer and a painter. The invasion of the digital technology into the field of art as well as a confrontation with his father struck him, undermining the only solutions he had.

In this case, the failure of object a to compress jouissance, leaves the subject exposed to an interminable metonymy of the signifying chain and, furthermore, to a limitless excitation of the body. Being an Other who does not demand, but guarantees the order of things, the therapist accompanies the subject in his attempt to create a sinthome so that the signifier and jouissance can coexist within the social link. Since this subject has a repertoire of real objects available, artistic creation functions in order to restrain jouissance through a punctuation of naming.



Despina Karagianni


French Bibliography


Lacan, J., (1960). Subversion du Sujet et Dialectique du Désir. Ecrits, Paris, p. 819.

Lacan, J., (1966). Question Préliminaire à tout Traitement Possible de la Psychose, (1958),    Ecrits, Paris, p. 557.

Lacan, J., (2001). L’étourdit. Autres écrits, Paris, Seuil, p. 474.

Miller, J.A. (2004). L’invention psychotique. Quarto. Le marché des symptoms. No. 80-81. p. 6-13.


English Bibliography

Lacan, J., (2006). On a Question Prior to Any Possible Treatment of Psychosis (1958). Ecrits. Norton, pp. 464.

Lacan, J., (2006). The Subversion of the Subject and the Dialectic of Desire (1960). Ecrits. Norton, pp. 694.


[1] The body should be conceived here as a set of organs, whose function has not yet been found.

[2] The symptom here should be perceived as an alternative social bond.


[3]   Subversion of the subject

[4]   Condensing stable and habitat



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