Towards London 2: Eric Laurent,
"The Case, from Unease to the Lie"
Vers Londres 2: Eric Laurent,
« Le cas, du malaise au mensonge
Towards London 2
Eric Laurent, "The Case, from Unease to the Lie"
We are disseminating here the English translation of Eric Laurent’s text on the case, which figures in the succinct Bibliography of the London Congress: “The Case, from Unease to the Lie” (Le cas, du malaise au mensonge). The text in French was published in the revue La Cause Freudienne, No. 50, February 2002, pp. 27 – 37. Francophone readers are referred to that text.
One will understand the interest of this article for our preparatory work from the very first line: “To know “how one analyses”, we rely on a method that uses examples, clinical cases.” But the “clinical case” has no obvious method of transmission. Not only is the demonstrative position of the single case harshly contested by the prestige of science and particularly by that of the statistical model; but there is also a crisis of the case narrative in psychoanalysis itself. Eric Laurent situates this crisis at several moments in the history of psychoanalysis, from Freud to Lacan, and in Lacanhimself.
Lacan began with the exhaustive monograph in his thesis in psychiatry. However, “As he logicises the unconscious, Lacan takes the psychoanalytic case study towards the exposition of the formal envelope of the symptom, conceived as a kind of logical matrix.” His reading of the Freudian cases, “raised to the level of paradigm”, reveals their logical structure “with unforgettable clarity”.
However, “There is more to a case than bringing the formal envelope to light. A case is a case if it bears witness both to the logical incidence of what issaid [le dire] in the mechanism of the cure and to its orientation towards the treatment of a real problem, a libidinal problem, a problem of jouissance.”
The construction of the case thus includes its vanishing point, a point of real excluded from the signifier: “The formal construction turns around an impossible, which inscribes an empty place in reserve: S (barred A)” – a place that Lacan firstly refers to as being the ‘place of desire’, and secondly as being the ‘place of jouissance’. Demonstration in psychoanalysis is thus the opposite of the discourse of the university, which, in its “research of a single clinical language” effaces the enunciation and “the desire of the psychoanalyst who brought to light a clinical fact as such”. The reference for the psychoanalytic construction of the case is rather the structure of the Witz.
In Lacan’s last teaching, as Jacques-Alain Miller develops in his course and which Eric Laurent refers to (see the Seminar of November 2001 published in the Cause Freudienne No. 52, ‘La ‘formation de l’analyste’), Lacan starts from the disjunction of the truth and the real; “there is no truth on the real”, but there is a symbolic in the real. Lacan always started from this point in order to explain that one canoperate on the real from the symbolic, but this “symbolic in the real”, which he called “structure”, is now called “the lie”; “if there is no truth on the real, there is the lie in the real”. There was an “unease of the case” as long as one was taking things from the side of oppositions such as model/representation or representation/thing of a “mushy Kantism”, says Eric Laurent. Starting from the lie and from the “lying truth” leads him on the contrary to speak of a “poetics of the case”.
We thank Eric Laurent to be able to circulate this article so brimming with new and invigorating viewpoints; it opens up to us numerous paths to explore.
We will circulate other texts next, which, like this one, are situated in a debate that was pursued in the ECF and more largely in the WAP between 2000 and 2002: in Jacques-Alain Miller’s course, in the ECF Study Days of 2001 “You can know how we analyse at the School of the Freudian Cause”, and the WAP Congress in 2002 on “The effects of formation”.
As soon as the Congress Blog becomes accessible - this will be announced by Dominique Holvoet - we ourselves can also enter the debate!
14 December 2010
Translated by Frances Coates-Ruet
Vers Londres 2
Eric Laurent, « Le cas, du malaise au mensonge »
Nous diffusons ici la traduction anglaise du texte d’Eric Laurent sur le cas, qui figure dans la Bibliographie succincte du Congrès de Londres : « Le cas, dumalaise au mensonge ». Le texte en français a été publié dans la revue La Cause freudienne, n° 50, février 2002 (pp. 27-37). Nous y renvoyons les lecteurs francophones.
On comprendra l’intérêt de cet article pour notre travail de préparation dès ses premières lignes : « Pour savoir ‘comment on analyse’, nous procédons par la méthode de l’exemple, du cas clinique. » Mais le « cas clinique » n’a rien d’une méthode évidente de transmission. Non seulement la place démonstrative du cas unique est rudement contestée par le prestige de la science et en particulier celui de la série statistique ; mais il y a aussi une crise du récit de cas dans la psychanalyse elle-même. Eric Laurent en situe plusieurs moments dans l’histoire de la psychanalyse, de Freud à Lacan, et chez Lacan lui-même.
Lacan a commencé par la monographie exhaustive, dans sa thèse de psychiatrie. Cependant, «à mesure qu’il logifie l’inconscient, Lacan fait basculer le récit de cas psychanalytique vers la mise au jour de l’enveloppe formelle du symptôme, conçue comme une sorte de matrice logique. » Sa lecture des cas freudiens, « élevés au paradigme », en fait apparaître la structure logique « avec une netteté inoubliable ».
Mais « la mise au jour de l’enveloppe formelle n’est pas le tout du cas. Un cas est un cas s’il témoigne, et de l’incidence logique d’une dire dans le dispositif de la cure, et de son orientation vers le traitement d’un problème réel, d’un problème libidinal, d’un problème de jouissance. »
La construction du cas inclut donc son point de fuite, un point de réel exclu du signifiant : « La construction formelle tourne autour d’un impossible qui inscrit une place vide en réserve : S(A barr é) - place que Lacan désigne d’abord comme « place du désir », ensuite comme « place de la jouissance ». » La démonstration en psychanalyse est ainsi à l’inverse du discours universitaire, qui dans sa « recherche d’une langue clinique unique », efface l’énonciation et « le désir du psychanalyste qui a mis au jour un fait clinique comme tel ». La référence de la construction psychanalytique du cas est plutôt la structure du Witz.
Dans son dernier enseignement, comme Jacques-Alain Miller le développe dans son cours auquel Eric Laurent se réfère (voir notamment les leçons de novembre 2001 publiées dans la Cause freudienne 52, « La ‘formation’ de l’analyste »), Lacan part de la disjonction du vrai et du réel ; « il n’y a pas de vérité sur le réel », mais il y a du symbolique dans le réel. C’est de ceci que Lacan est toujours parti pour expliquer qu’on peut opérer sur le réel à partir du symbolique, mais ce « symbolique dans le réel », qu’il appelait « structure », est maintenant appelé « mensonge » ; « s’il n’y a pas de vérité sur le réel, alors il y a du mensonge dans le réel ». Il y avait « malaise du cas » aussi longtemps qu’on prenait la chose du côté d’oppositions d’un « kantisme mou », telles que modèle/représentation, représentation/chose, dit Eric Laurent. Partir du mensonge et de la « vérité menteuse » le mène par contre à parler d’une « poétique du cas ».
Nous remercions Eric Laurent de pouvoir diffuser cet article foisonnant de points de vue neufs et revigorants ; il nous ouvre de nombreuses pistes à explorer.
Nous diffuserons prochainement d’autres textes, qui, comme celui-ci, se situent dans un débat qui s’est poursuivi dans l’ECF et plus largement dans l’AMP entre 2000 et 2002 : au cours de Jacques-Alain Miller, aux Journées d’automne 2001 de l’ECF « Tu peux savoir comment on analyse à l’Ecole de la Cause freudienne », jusqu’au Congrès de l’AMP de 2002 sur « les effets-de-formation ».
Dès que le Blog du Congrès sera accessible – cela sera annoncé par Dominique Holvoet -, nous pourrons nous aussi entrer dans le débat !
14 décembre 2010
The Case, from Unease to the Lie
To know “how one analyses”, we rely on a method that uses examples, clinical cases. This method is traditional in the discipline. It is not without being criticised. The prestige of science and statistical series undermines, in human sciences, the lustre of the unique case. The question is not limited to psychoanalysis or clinical disciplines. This calling into question of the case is not an unbroken process. Let us consider History, for example. We witnessed the Annales School's fascination for statistical series and its disdain for the singular case. We now consider that the most difficult thing there is is to write a description of a greatman, of historical contingency, without renouncing the description of the determinants he or she had to stand up against. Inscribing the contingency of the case in necessity is the most delicate thing in what is at stake.
The crisis of the case study in psychoanalysis, the fact that one no longer knows very well how to write one up, and the diversity of recognised narrative modes, signal unease. The latter seems to be organised around a certain number of false oppositions and false dilemmas. Let us cite, without any particular order, qualitative versus quantitative, vignettes versus extensive cases and exhaustive monographs, lengthy series versus isolating the relevant variables in a single case. Scientists balk at inscribing psychoanalytic case studies in the framework of the single case experiment [TN: English in the original], as certain psychoanalysts want them to do. What, then, is an experience that depends as closely on the observer/observed link as that which is installed by transference?
In truth, the problem is the following: psychoanalysis is not an exact science. Mimicking science outside of its domain only leads to parody. It is often the case with statistical series in our field. In this sense the case cannot be “objective”. This does not at all prevent the psychoanalytic clinic and its narrations - that is “symptom types” - from existing. Each case, in its contingency, is inscribed in existing categories. How is it inscribed? The epistemology of classifications renders the function of classification as such apparent. It is a nomination, an “individuation”. To name the case, the demand to speak well, is one of the names of the logic of analytic experience. It directs what the analysand says [le dire], his transference, and the interpretative speech [dire] of the analyst.
The Evolution of the Freudian Model
The Freudian case study initially adopted the form of Goethe’s novels. Dora's suffering owes a lot, in the way in which it is expressed, to the suffering of the young Werther living through German idealism. Yet these case-studies set a model: the dream and its associations, derived from the original form established by Freud in his Interpretation of Dreams to give an account of the initial analytic experience. Freud succeeded in giving a narrative form to structure, freed from the constraints of the ideal. He succeeded in integrating the analytic session – fundamentally knotted in the dis-symmetry between the analyst and the analysand – into one and the same continuous narrative of the subject's dialogue with his unconscious. He also succeeded in transmitting his mode of narration to Abraham and Ferenczi. His romantic taste continued to direct him towards a continuation of the German historical novel, towards the historical dream, presented more or less explicitly as fiction. The splitting of the novelist and his fiction is always more or less present. It can be read in Jensen's Gradiva or in the biographies, turned into novels, of cultural heroes like Mereschkowski's Leonardo da Vinci. Karl Abraham and Otto Rank were very impressed by it. We had to wait for the First World War and the study on the “Wolf Man” to break with these ancient forms. It was to be the last Freudian “case” to take the classic form of the “case study”.
Literature seized upon the resources of the Freudian case study in order to extricate itself from conventional forms. Schnitzler's Traumnovelle, which dates back to 1926, uses Freud to force literature to say more about the sexual content of a subject's behaviour. It was in 1925 that Alban Berg wanted to turn Bűchner's Woyzeck – whose drama includes clinical papers and forensic news items – into an opera. Automatic writing, exquisite corpses, the critical paranoia method, interior monologue and the continuous stream of thoughts became as many places of experimentation for the new literature. Tastes changed. This put literature and case studies in perspective at the moment when, in psychoanalysis, at the “turning point of the 1920s” - there was a crisis in the practice of interpretation – and this had an effect on the model of the narrative of the dream and its associations. The “crisis of interpretation” of the 1920s put the practice of the case study in jeopardy. Instead of a triumphant association resulting in the demise of a symptom, psychoanalysts are faced with a symptom that resists the unveiling of the unconscious. “Case-studies” come to account for the difficulties of each person as well as for the extension of psychoanalysis there where dreams do not have the same currency, in psychosis for example. Far more than for the Freudian model, it is the unit of the psychoanalytic session which is being recounted. Authors try to make their narratives coincide with their practice. The dream of a laboratory notebook underlies this extraction of the crucial moments of a session. The unit of the case study was no longer the destiny of a given subject, but the memorable and transmissible fact, extracted from a session. The short form was to prevail. Melanie Klein invented a new form, the modality of the record of experience, session by session. The “material”, immediately translated into “unconscious” terms by a contribution of the psychoanalyst of the same length, turned upside down the way Freudian narratives were organised. The interest is focused on what we would call “the epiphany” proper to each session, a manifestation of the unconscious in its materiality and a demonstration of the “savoir faire” [“know how”] of the psychoanalyst. She only managed to circumvent the question of publication difficulties by delaying the publication of her analysis of a 10-year old child (Narrative of a Child Analysis) until her death (1960). In this way, she maintained the extensive form of the monograph. It was however to be the last published monograph.
Things would evolve into the clinical vignette, the brief clinical form, at the same time as literature in the broader sense adopted the Freudian procedures to turn it into a new literary object. At the same time also as people no longer took responsibility for “psychoanalysis” as such, but devoted themselves to illustrating only one partial aspect of it.
From History to Logic
It is from within this crisis that the evolution of the method chosen by Dr Lacan, starting with his thesis, fully shows its worth. In his thesis in psychiatry, which led him to the threshold of psychoanalysis, the basis for the method is from Jaspers, and is organised around the concept of personality, but he turns it round to the French perspective of “concrete psychology” . He hopes for the publication of exhaustive monographs on a case [in which there is]: “a dramatic plenitude of the subject-to-subject relation, at the heart of its objective consequences in scientific terms; this dramatic plenitude unfolds in a quest that goes beyond the reality of behaviour, namely to the truth that is constituted in it”. It is a veritable single case experiment relying on the unit of the “personality”. Lacan's transition to psychoanalysis has him abandon the fallacious hopes of an exhaustive method. More exactly, he comes to replace exhaustiveness with coherence at the formal level at which the symptom is established. We will find again an echo of this method in the emphasis placed on the role of the recuperation by each subject of his history. As he logicises the unconscious, Lacan takes the psychoanalytic case study towards the exposition of the formal envelope of the symptom, conceived as a kind of logical matrix.
In the reading he makes of Freud's cases, Lacan “elevates the case to the paradigm”, to the rank of “the example that shows” the formal properties, in the broadest sense, of the manifestations of the Freudian unconscious. The paradigm brings forth structure, and indicates the symptom's place in a class just as well as the elements of substantiality in a subject's life which recur and alternate, or again the modes of declension of the repetition of the same. In this way, the logical and topological structure of the Freudian cases appears with anunforgettable clarity. The logical structure of the circuits that Little Hans makes around the void of phobia is revealed in the reading of the case. Schema R shows the bare bones of Schreber's psychosis, starting from the signifiers isolated by Freud. The quartet in Dora converges with that of the “Young Homosexual Woman” by indicating the group of the transformation of feminine sexuality around the signifier of desire. In the Rat Man, he emphasises the“general combinatory” of the forms of the obsessional labyrinth.
Bringing to light the unconscious combinatory in each of these paradigmatic cases spared us the false dilemmas into which the American psychoanalytic movement was able to retreat. Let us cite a few of them: should we or should we not read Freud's texts as those of a founding father? Does a veritable science have founders? Do we not waste our time reading the original texts? This type of question, speciality of Jacob Arlow , supposes that the question of the scientific status of psychoanalysis be resolved. If it were an exact science, we would no longer have anything to learn from Freud, everything would have been transmitted in full.
These questions come with rhetorical contortions, whereby North American critics must first consider that Freud was mistaken, that he falsified his results, presented unjustifiable discrepancies between his session notes and their publication, and conducted himself in a way that showed base interest in his patients (the aptly named Frink file). In short, you first have to pull theface of the non-dupe for whom there are no great men. It then becomes possible to recognise that Freud's cases are irreplaceable, and you end up siding with the ironic opinion of Harold Bloom, the great literary critic: “Freud is one of the most persuasive modern writers” . Going beyond Freud, rethinking psychoanalysis, bringing to light new concepts to think its object: all this certainly implies engaging with the dialecticaccording to which you learn more from one error of Freud's than from one truth coming from another, as Lacan's “return to Freud” shows.
How can the particularity of the logical construction of each symptom be inscribed in classification types? The symptom’s character of logical coherence affirms that classes of symptoms exist and at the same time it deconstructs them.
There is more to a case than bringing the formal envelope to light. A case is a case if it bears witness both to the logical incidence of what is said [le dire] in the mechanism of the cure and to its orientation towards the treatment of a real problem, a libidinal problem, a problem of jouissance. If we observe this gravitation of the signifying logic in the field of jouissance, then we will be able to speak of a case in the sense in which we rediscover the Latin casus ,that which falls, an unfortunate contingency, or the Freudian Einfall, which covers the same semantic zone.
Further, the subject must also “recognise the part he has played” in this game played logically, like all great games. This participation is the way in which thesubject will have, in return, a hold on the truths revealed to him in the course of the analysis. He invested his being in it, which means, for us, his flesh and his drives, from the moment of insertion into the babbling of the fort-da. The place of this participation, of this “forbidden” [interdite] and not accursed part, is first named by Lacan as the place of desire. Later on it will be the place of jouissance, once he has revised his theory of the symptom. The formal construction turns around an impossible, which inscribes an empty place in reserve: S(A).
This place is recognised as crucial, not only for what is at stake in a treatment, but also for the analytic community. How does the psychoanalytic discourse constitute its community of listeners and presenters? How do they recognise the evidence submitted to them? Is it by way of a common language, a common definition of what a case would be, of what an ideal analysis would be, with a predictable result? The analytic discourse proceeds inversely. The case study includes forms that are regulated in the different psychoanalytic work communities. Models of the genre circulate. But it is in the gap in relation to these models that the quality of the work of each analyst, and his or her presence, are felt. A clinical case is, in this respect too, inscription and gap. How, then, can the pertinence of the gap be recognised?
The fundamental indication that Lacan gave on this point is that demonstration in psychoanalysis is homogeneous to the form of the witticism. It is starting from the effect of meaning [sens] rather than from meaning [sens] that Lacan, in his last teaching, makes the signifier and meaning hold together. He is in this way close to Wittgenstein, at least the second Wittgenstein, and the latter's acute sense of the disjunction between signifier and signified. This is what Jacques-Alain Miller notes in his lecture entitled “The apparatus in order to psychoanalyse” : “Lacan did not stop at the Name-of-the-Father. It is in the same anchoring [agrafe] function that he places what he calls the structure of discourse. When we are in a discourse, signifier and signified balance each other out […] comprehension, including the agreement between signifier and signified, between meaning and the real, is a community affair. […] the veritable meaning of meaning is use [TN: English in the original] rests on a common practice of languagein a given society. This is what he calls “sharing a form of life.” To understand each other, we have to share a practice and a form of life.”
The modus ponens, detachment, occurs in our discourse when a libidinal gain is attained. This is what Lacan retained for the experience of the pass, in which each person defends the demonstration of his own case. This mechanism in which one tells one’s story, at the end of analysis, as if it were a good tale, is structured like a witticism. It radicalises the enunciation of each person.This model for the transmission of psychoanalysis is accepted by certain authors outside of our orientation.
Following its inclination, the university discourse found a solution by, inversely, effacing enunciation from language. Hence its search, always, for a new language, a neo-language, cleansed of the traces of the jouissance of the initial enunciations. The search for a unique clinical language, for a model of a clinical case that would be the common ground [TN: English in original], the common foundation that would allow for an exchange between psychoanalysts, has to do with this attempt. The utopian aim of this language said to be politically correct is that it would allow for a great conduit, as Locke called language, authorising a communication cleansed of the misunderstandings that hinder it. This utopian aim of the university discourse is a clinical enterprise, in the sense that it wants to efface the desire of the psychoanalyst who brought to light a clinical fact as such. It has to do with the same kind of operation that the linguist Jean-Claude Milner showed in his beautiful book on L'Amour de la Langue . We are no longer at the time of a master signifier defining correct usage and tracking down the wild forms of symptomatic inventions in language. We are at the time of a humanitarian ideal of language, wanting to give it a correct universal usage.
The path proper to the psychoanalytic discourse, in the debate on case studies, resides in the contrast between the heterogeneous approach and the universal, expurgated language approach. Far from the expurgated language approach, weneed to bring up to date a clinic of symptoms established on the discovery, by each subject, of what is nameable and what is unnameable in the use that hehimself makes of the language of his community.
From Unease to the Lie of the Case
We suppose, in the Lacanian orientation, another model than that founded on the model/representation hypothesis. It is this model that is the source of unease for the case study everywhere else. The opposition/articulation between thesymbolic and the real is thus thought in woolly Kantian terms, in the opposition between phenomenon/noumenon, representation/thing and model/hypothesis.
Attending J.-A. Miller's course in the year 2001-2002, two points particularly stood out in my mind. One is the articulation between science and orthè doxa. The other is the monstration of the locus of the “lie” in the categories of RSI. He showed us how the category of the “lie” occupies the place of the structure as point of real in the symbolic, extending his developments of his “Barcelona Seminar” . The homology between the two places, between orthè doxa and the lie, is decisive in psychoanalysis in order to separate ourselves from the impassesinherent to an epistemology of the model. It is a key that is decisive for the place of the case study as demonstration in the psychoanalytic discipline.
The formal envelope of the case cannot be separated from its poetics. The word also designates the creation effect obtained by the formalisation of the symptom, both on the side of the analysand and on the side of the psychoanalyst. Poetics in the psychoanalytic discourse comes to the place of pragmatism in the master discourse. The master discourse recognises “the act of language” but attempts to reduce it to the relation to the master signifier. Psychoanalytic poetics implies an act of language which displaces, dislocates the master signifier. It is a poetics that exceeds the analyst and the analysand. As Lacan says, theanalyst is a poem rather than a poet when he accedes to this dimension in language. It is the point at which the orthè doxa – which leans on the structure in the real – bears witness to the “lie” of the real.
The Case and the “State of the Thing”
At the end of 1918, Gotlob Frege received the manuscript of Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus logico-philosophicus. On 28 June 1919, he finally acknowledged receipt and commented on it. He asked him a series of questions: “From the start, I fell upon the expression 'is the case' and 'fact' and I suspect that ‘is the case’ and ‘fact’ are identical. 'The world is all that which is the case' and 'The world is the set of facts'. Is every fact not the case and is all that is the case not a fact? Is it not the same thing when I say A is a fact, as when I say A is the case? Why these two expressions in this case?... And now a third expression appears: 'What is the case, a fact, is the existence of Sachverhalte” . What Lacan designates as “a case” questions another “state of thing”, perhaps a “state of the Thing”, a Dingverhalt. In his lecture of 5 December 2001, J.-A. Miller asked a radical question: would not a veritable case study be that of the AE, displacing in a decisive fashion the status of the analyst's knowledge? It is from this perspective that I re-read the “Preface to the English Edition of Seminar XI”. In this text, Lacan has a position that is indeed “radical” with respect to the knowledge of the analyst. He starts from the outside-sense [hors-sens]: “When the space of a lapsus no longer carries any meaning (or interpretation), then only is one sure that one is in the unconscious. One knows. But one has only to be aware of the fact to find oneself outside it. […] All I can do is tell the truth. No, that isn't so – I have missed it. There is no truth that, in passing through awareness, does not lie” .
When Lacan constructs, a little further on, his category of the real, we can say that he does it the other way round to Wittgenstein’s thesis, which states that “the world is all that is the case”. Lacan starts from the object and not from the world: “[...] the only conceivable idea of the object, that of the object as cause of desire, [is] of that which is lacking”. So we obtain a lack and not a “state of fact”. He then defines the real as lack of the lack, as a “cork that is supported by the term of the impossible”. What Lacan then underlines is that the function of this definition of the real is to secure its antinomy to the true and to verisimilitude. Truth is approached above all in its dream dimension: “The truth of which the so-called unconscious function dreams”.
Where is knowledge, then? It is defined as “the little knowledge”, in the same way that Lacan evoked “the little reality”. He speaks of how “little we know when it comes to the real”. Freud himself, described as an “indisputable theoretician of the unconscious”, is defined as the one who “did not know what he was doing”. Theory is one thing, the knowledge of the analyst is another. They are disjointed.
How can an analyst defined in this way give an account of a case? We will see with an example that that does not leave the analyst without recourse. It simply implies that he should be wary of identifying with the knowledge of the experience – be mindful of letting the supposition of knowledge operate in the right way.
The Aim of an Analyst
I have chosen to comment on the way in which our colleague Gennie Lemoine proceeded in her use of the case study. I got hold of the recent publication of the collection of thirteen years of lectures, interventions, seminars and talks in French-speaking Switzerland under the title L'Entrée dans le temps [Entering Time]. In more ways than one, Gennie Lemoine's book lends itself to questioning the status of the case study in psychoanalysis. Firstly, on account of the numerous cases that are cited there; the question of the narrative is itself thematised as such. More profoundly, something of the book is consonant with this questioning of the status of the case study in the Lacanian orientation, because Gennie Lemoine showcases, insistently, the practice of the treatment as foundation to the diverse theoretical developments that she engages with: “Little stories form an integral part of analytic doctrine […]. Each one contains a lesson to pick out as each person sees fit” . Theory and narrative, this is the entire emphasis of the book, starting with its first part, whose title is “From little and big stories to mathemes”. This questioning continues throughout the book.
The moment when the analyst turns the story into a case is always grasped from a point of encounter, from an event that is proper to the treatment. It is only from there that the narrative of the determinants that weave the subject is organised. It is around the encounter that the book is organised and that it measures up. The author emphasises that the narrative is not organised around knowledge, it is organised around an encounter: “The analyst does not know, for the good reason that he is in the position of little a as agent, in its capacity as object cause of desire. […] The false start does not prevent the encounter of the two desires” .
Let us take as an example the first case presented under the name Aida. This subject comes to analysis as she is living in a mythical time, a death-bearing time. She had an ancestor: “[...] beyond the ancestor, the family history had not yet begun: hence the mythical dimension that this ancestor and his descendants assumedimmediately after. […] There was nothing left any more, only death. She held this against the analyst who, for this reason, became a living being again. […] She could at last, in analysis, encounter the other in the real”. It is from this point that, for the analyst, the case is overturned – that the subject reconnects with her life.
As far as the cases are concerned, we can right away note their multiplicity and the diversity of their sources. There are cases from her practice; there are also cases of supervision, or dialysis. This particular characteristic of easilyintegrating these two sources – rare in the literature – is surely linked to the particular destiny of Gennie Lemoine's supervision with Lacan, which she talks about. There is one psychodrama case study. We also find the great feminine figures of literature commented on by Lacan: Antigone, Medea, Sygne, and others that are specific to her, like the couple formed by Colette Thomas and Arthaud.
The form of cases is very varied. We find long narratives like Karine or Sisyphus, or brief fragments, cases that ‘come as they are’, like L'Androgyne [The Hermaphrodite] or Domina; brief moments like interpretations or veritable dialogues, like the one with a psychotic subject in a psychodrama. It really is a series, “a whole series of examples because not one of them is exemplary; and the series will not be exhaustive, as there are as many treatments as there are interventions” .
Let us begin by examining the analytic cases since they are examples of method. Let us take the case of Karine. She comes to analysis as a woman who lacks nothing. She is heir to a large fortune, has chosen a man who she supports and with whom she has children. If she comes, it is because she has met another man who has made her discover a jouissance that was new to her. She comes so that the analyst can help her choose between the two men: “If you cannot choose, I said to her, do not choose”.
The analyst is sensitive to the devastation [ravage] that loss provokes in this subject who has everything, because she lost her mother very early on. “It is Karine who plays the man, that is to say, the Mother with a capital letter. She has the initiative and the sexual potency […] But, she says, I cannot leave Pierre, everything would crumble. When my first lover left me, I thought I would die from it. My nanny was extremely scared. I suffer all the time and then I amscared”, she adds. “At last she suffers.” It is by leaning on this encounter with pain in the treatment, which she complains about to the analyst, that the latter pushes her interpretation in a decisive way: “I tell her that she is experiencing now the pain that she did not experience when her mother died, the pain she experienced after the first separation without knowing which death she was mourning. I add that she would not be able to spare herself this pain, that it could not remain unfelt”.
Let us move on to another case, the one baptised Wonder-girl [TN: English in the original]. She is a subject who appears closed in on herself for quite other reasons. She is defined as having no filiation, no continuity and no memory. She is a star lost in her image. The analysis will consist essentially, by the handling of the transference, in introducing a loss that is symbolisable bythis subject. It is the encounter with the presence/absence of the analyst that will allow this subject to exit from the ideal. In the paradoxes of the contradictions between the feminine position and the maternal position, theanalyst does not seek to round off the edges, she confronts these contradictions and points them out to the subject: “In sexual love and in the love for the child that she brings into the world, a woman has twice the chances, both painful and fortunate, of confronting symbolic castration” . In cases of single mothers, the analyst accentuates the “terribilitá” of maternal love. About the mother who has her son tell her: “Mummy, you are my Daddy”, or “Later on I will be a mummy”, she comments that “The child will not, for all that, become a case”: “Or, in that case, we would have to say that any case bares the structure” . Concerning that other mother for whom, “her wishing her youngest son – whom she had not wanted – dead came back in a panic-stricken fear of harming him”, the analyst adds: “Let us say that at the same time as she kills him, she works herself to death to make him live, for fear that he may die from it! Now, this hateful and death-bearing love of a mother is not such an exceptional or rare trait. It is a universal trait” .
This desire to meet head-on what is most singular in the pain of each of these subjects is not reserved for women. Let us look at the case of Sisyphus, this “married man and father, who condemns himself to satisfy his wife in every way without managing to do so. This plan completely concealed his own desire. The last caprice of his wife had him undertake to build a house with his own hands. As he works elsewhere to meet the needs of his family, he never succeeds in finishing the house. He says, “I don't manage to plug the hole; there is always a stone missing”. It is Sisyphus. Another time, he dreams that he does not manage to climb a mountain to the top, because the slope becomes steeper and steeper, to the point of becoming vertical. I still remember the horror felt by the analysand in the dream, a horror he communicated to me. It was a veritable torture. At last – I am abridging of course because it required some years to reach the episode that follows – he comes to his session visibly exhausted: he has to finish, his wife is not content, she is never content. And yet he does everything she asks. “I comply”, he says. The word is his. On that point he quite simply asks for a little time off from analysis to finish the house. What is more, he has no more money to pay for the analysis. Is he going to spend his capital? One's capital, in analysis, is the mother, that is to say the source of all subsistence. With the source run dry, death occurs; the analyst sees the trap: the house or the analysis. “I'll expect you at your usual time”, I say. “But I cannot”, exclaims Sisyphus with dismay. Yet he comes: and sometime afterwards, he begins divorce proceedings” . An intervention was made, the analyst concludes. It is again there, the point of encounter, that organises the case. We should note the résumé, the way the case is condensed, to come to the crucial point in it.
It is not only in analyses but also in supervision sessions or dialyses, as Gennie Lemoine says, that the outside-sense [hors sens] encounter in transference is aimed at. It is undoubtedly linked to the way in which G. Lemoine confides in us about how she analysed herself in her supervision with Lacan. She relates the subjective effect produced during one of these supervision sessions. She was very carefully constructing a clinical picture without feeling that she was there. “I was reflecting my analytic relation like a mirror, a mirror offered to Lacan's gaze for approval. So there were only mirrors left. It could have gone on. […] This picture that I was painting was therefore organised on a sort of screen […] I was hoping for the thunderbolt that would free me from it. […]
“-- You must begin to see..."
The sounding of the Lacanian gong was enough to break the mirror. […] The cut had broken the mirror” . Supervision enabled her to break this relation of images. The first example of such an effect in supervision bore the name without-limit (sans-limite). “The analyst tells me that he hears the following words recur insistently: without limits. ‘My analysand does not know any limits’, he says, by way of conclusion […] A memory of a dream that this same analyst had told me then comes back to me, a dream he had not otherwise paid much attention to. Here is the dream: the analysand finds himself at home, in his own house, with his analyst. They speak for a long time (my emphasis). Each person in this house has their own bedroom (how about that!). They speak, that's all. There it is, the without-limit: it is an endless conversation without sexual resolution, with his analyst finally at his mercy. It is the desire of the analysand for hisanalyst that is without limits […]”.
What is essential, the analyst concludes, is to make desire emerge: “Whose desire? The question is problematic” .
The analyst makes this encounter with desire into the decisive support of the subject. “The intervention thus makes a cut and a subjective effect is grasped in it.” Or again: “The experience has a radical function, there is nothing before; and there is only one sort of experience and it is the encounter with the Other. It is a traumatic experience that repeats the traumatism of birth, of the child thrown, expelled into the human world, in which he is a stranger” . The experience of the encounter has, in this way, the place of a “Name-of-the-Father” .
In order to enter into the time of the Other, one needs an experience of this order. The case is organised around it. One summarises, one focuses, and one goes for the target. It is also anentry into the void, an experience of the desert. “Once one is no longer anyone and no longer has an object, then one is in what Lacan calls 'the subjective drama' ”. “The encounter takes place in a phenomenon of two voids which “screen/overlap/cover each other” [“s'écrantent”] in a syncope; in that instant there is no longer anyone. [TN: “s'écranter” is the reflexive form of “écranter”, used by Lacan, with evocations of “faire écran”, meaning “to screen” or “to cover”.] There is nothing more indivisible, apparently, than coincidence in the same void” . This experience radicalises the non-rapport. “What woman really loves is God, God the Father. It is not the man that she has in front of her. And I have developed that in many ways in my texts”. Intervention as Name-of-the-Father - “a fact of cut” which produces a subjective effect – is without doubt one of the versions of the Name-of-the-Father inasmuch as it amounts, in Lacan's last teaching, to a tool, a use. If the symbolic in the real has the lie as its name, the encounter has the form of an outside-sense, from where the lie is a sign for a subject, through an effect that attains the efficacy of a witticism. One version of the desire of the analyst that corresponds to this aim would be to go to the encounter of the encounter.
Translated from the French by Michele Julien
This paper was published in “La Cause freudienne”, 50, p. 27-37, February 2002.