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Anxiety: Preserving The Objet A

The Letter, Issue 8, Autumn 1996, Pages 95 - 103

ANXIETY: Preserving the objet a

Helen Sheehan

Lacan makes it clear in his Seminar on Anxiety that anxiety is a phenomenon, that it has an object and moreover there seems to be a precise place where we can locate this phenomenon.[1] But to do this we need to understand a little of how the subject comes into being and how in turn the subversion of the subject will come about. But this in turn will necessitate our having to confront our own anxiety, and who likes to have to do that? The coming into being of the subject will necessarily involve him in jouissance but this kind of enjoyment as such is really forbidden to the speaking being. But it is through this jouissance that we can begin to learn something about our indebtedness to the Other, because of something having been lost -this lost object which Lacan came to name the objet a.

Two questions arise at this time -what is this object and what does to subvert the subject imply? This is a question which cannot be arrived at fully at this stage but it is fair to say that the object in question is the objet a, the object which causes our desire and that the subversion must be a little like turning the back to the front, -the reversal that Freud has shown to take place with the Uncanny.[2] This will involve the doubling around of all the old familiar things, including the ego itself, into something else which we can see in a completely new way and which may involve our having to take a step back into another area of darkness, where vestiges of childhood pain and anxiety lie dormant. We then realise that we are in familiar territory.

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