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Enjoying The Symptom: A Faithful Suffering

The Letter, Issue 31, Summer 2004, Pages 52 - 66


Marie Walshe

The symptom is the way in which each person derives jouissance from the unconscious.[1]

The neurotic comes to analysis for two reasons: to decipher the truth of the unconscious message she believes is concealed in her symptom, and because she wants to know how she desires. She seeks truth and knowledge. In the 1970s, when he was reflecting upon subjective truth and knowledge, Lacan added the symptom to his three pre-existing registers of meaning, as a fourth order in Seminar XXIII.[2]

The message the symptom writes is an enigma that fixes an enjoyment at the level of the imaginary; it is a message that must be symbolised to become part of the neurotic subject's personal myth. Through the jouissance of the symptom, she identifies with the 'unary trait', that point from where she is seen by the Other. The disassembling of identifications in the transference releases the subject to another possibility: the identification with her symptom. The signifiers of her symptom speak the discourse of that Other from whom she is ontologically separated, by her primary experience of repression, by her insertion in language. Its toxicity derives from the truth that Lacan revealed to us: the signifier is metonymical, leading not to knowledge but to the object cause of desire. Bestowed upon us by the Other, the signifier segregates us from ourselves, from the order of the real, with only jouissance to hint at meaning.

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