Report on the ICLO-NLS Seminar with Pierre-Gilles Guéguen

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Report on the ICLO-NLS Seminar

with PierreGilles Guéguen

Dublin, 6th December 2013


The third clinical conversation with members of the WAP in the series for  2013-14 entitled “The Names of the Real in the 21st Century” took place in St.Vincent’s Hospital Fairview on December 6th on  the topic ‘The Status of the Fantasy from Seminar VI toSeminar XXIII’with Pierre-Gilles Gueguen, AME of the ECF, NLS and WAP.

Pierre-Gilles opened the seminar by referring to Jacques-Alain Miller’s introductory address on the next NLS Congress in a text titled ‘The Other without Other’, where J.-A. Miller writes that the core of Seminar  VI  is not interpretation, but ‘it is the subject’s unconscious relation to the object in the desiring experience of the fantasy’. [1]

In this text, Miller précised that the object of desire is for the first time differentiated from the other person, partner or ambition, it is unconscious desire and asks what does desire aim at?.  For Lacan desire is a desire for an object that causes it, that is object a. In addition to the oral and anal objects Lacan adds the gaze in Seminar X and the voice in Seminar XI. There is a continuous thread in Lacan’s thought evolution to link desire as a lack of something, a lack of being – the locus on the body of the subject will lead Lacan to formulate the drive as a source of jouissance in his later teaching.  

Object a escapes the Name-of-the-Father and the paternal metaphor. This is important to understand in today’s practice and theory, putting the accent on the fact that the Name-of-the-Father is a concept of early Lacan, as civilization shows us that the position of the Name-of-the-Father does not regulate the position of the subject today. In the contemporary clinic of psychoanalysis the Name-of-the-Father is inoperant though there are still analysts who maintain the orthodoxy of the Name-of-the-Father.

The orientation of Seminar VI is based on a phrase – there is no sexual relation – that will appear later in Lacan’s teaching in Seminars XIX and XX in the 1970s: there is no harmony between partners except through the prism of the fantasy. The world and the relationship we have with the world is mediated by what Lacan calls ‘the window of the fantasy’  in Seminar XI: the fundamental fantasy is the unconscious fantasy. While the patient complains about his symptom, he does not complain about the fundamental fantasy – usually because he does not know about it. It is uncovered only through analysis, free association and through repetition. The fundamental fantasy emerges via the sayings of the analysand.  It repeats itself over and over again and is not susceptible to interpretation.  In other words the fantasy as such, whether it is the fundamental fantasy of a man or of a woman, is equivalent to a supplementary jouissance, to a jouissance that does not obey the phallic function.

This raises some issues that J.-A. Miller confronts when he writes that ‘psychoanalysis takes place at the level of the repressed and of the interpretation of the repressed thanks to the subject supposed to know’.[2] Today, analysands are still encouraged to free associate as much as possible – this is the dimension of the transferential unconscious, however ‘in the 21st Century it is a question of psychoanalysis exploring another dimension, that of the defence against the real without law and without meaning.[3] The thesis is, that this defence against the real is the fantasy or as Miller writes it‘..the real unconscious is not intentional: it is encountered under the modality of “that’s it”, which you could say is like our ‘amen’.[4]  

At the end of lesson on 23rd May 1959 Lacan tries to define anew what is our mission, our duty as psychoanalysts. He affirms once again the task of the analyst is not to adapt the subject to reality. The key of the dimension of truth demands of the subject  ‘those that concern his being’. In the dimension of fantasy there is no promise of happiness. The fundamental fantasy can bring the subject to loss and Lacan shows this in writing about Hamlet: the realization of Hamlet’s fundamental fantasy will bring his own death. There is no desire if there is no sexual fantasy that sustains that desire which Lacan also declines in another way – ‘there’s no such thing as pure desire’. Wanting-to-be cannot sustain itself without a wanting to find a testimony of being, something that brings life to desire which otherwise would be a desire for a void. J.-A. Miller says that ‘in an analysis to act is to act in such a way that the imaginary takes charge in the analytical experience of the real’[5] There is no knowledge in the real, only knowledge about the real. The closest we can go to the real is through the formula of the fundamental fantasy. The real is what cannot be said, it can be approached or circumscribed by the symbolic and imaginary, but we cannot say what the real is made of. Even the object is not the real – the object is the excitation of the part of our body, for example, the oral object is the sensation that eating produces in the mouth and the body.

The jouissance of the body is autistic: thanks to love and to the fantasy we can have relationships with partners – but in the end jouissance is autistic. Pierre-Gilles tells us that Lacan makes an important clinical point indicating that the analyst should not interpret the fundamental fantasy, as it encourages the analysand to stay attached to it. Since desire has to be sustained and mixed in with fantasy, it can be perverse if not sublimated: desire is always mixed with sexual desire, with sadism, with masochism.

Lacan offers something in Seminar VI which will last until Seminar XXX111 and more – as he asks, how do we operate if we cannot interpret the fundamental fantasy, what can we do? To answer this, Lacan elaborates on the separation and alienation of ‘the cut’ and in Seminar VI, he gives examples of the object that can be cut in neurosis and psychosis.

With regards to psychosis Pierre-Gilles spoke about the cut in the delusion via the example of Schreber. While Schreber’s fantasy is of a woman submitting to copulation, the object is the voice: it is through the voice and the voice of god that he can derive his fantasy.Lacan does not make a separation between what a psychoanalyst does with a psychotic subject and what he does with a neurotic or perverse subject. The question for psychoanalysis is where to do the cut, making the cut at the right moment.

It is the differentiation between the text of the fundamental fantasy and the object that is at stake. This is consistent with what we know from Freud. The analytic task would be to operate a good separation, that is, to keep the desire going, sustained by the fundamental fantasy and still separate from the object – that is, what is in the analysand that he does not want to know about himself.

Pierre-Gilles concluded his seminar by sharing a case and two vignettes with us. The case was of a young boy who attended analysis for eighteen months. Via the case Pierre-Gilles brought to life some of the elements that he spoke about in his earlier conversation, for example, by interpreting, by making the cut, the analyst produced a before and an after that was clearly marked for the young analysand.  For Lacan, that is the definition of the analytic act or as Pierre-Gilles says, the analyst sees the effect of something, on the subject when he says it. The analyst identified the master signifier for this child which related to the paternal metaphor and the different moments when movement took place within the analysis. The analysis concluded with the child choosing a path of life and hope instead of endless repetition.

In the first vignette Pierre-Gilles spoke about a young hysteric woman whose symptom – related to the father – brought the body and her fantasy into play and the question of being either a woman or a mother as it seems it is not possible for her to embody both positions.

The second vignette related to a young girl who is very unhappy as her mother is expecting another child. Via dreams and drawings, this child reveals her fantasy and the transferential relationship allows her subjective desire to emerge.

In the afternoon session, Florencia Shanahan  and Rik Loose shared two extremely interesting clinical presentations. The first case put into question and opened up a dialogue as to the differential diagnosis of the subject in question. The second case – a completed analysis – concerned the gaze and the jouissance of the gaze and Pierre-Gilles commented that it was a rich and wonderful case.

The day was an important one for ICLO members. On behalf of ICLO-NLS we thank Pierre-Gilles for his presence and generous contribution to the formation our members.

Claire Hawkes (ICLO)


[1] Presentation of the theme of the next Congress of the NLS to take place in Ghent (May 2014), given in the closing address to the 11th Congress of the NLS. To be published in Hurly Burly 10.

[2]Miller, J.-A. The Real in the 21st Century in Hurly Burly. Issue 9. 2013



[5]Lacanian Ink, 16. Miller. J.-A. The Experience of the Real in Psychoanalysis. 1998

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