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The Letter, Issue 36, Spring 2006, Pages 28 - 34


Florencia F. C. Shanahan

Lacan's Twenty-First Seminar is not easy to follow. Not only because of Lacan's style in the transmission of psychoanalysis, but also because - it seems to me - it is placed, as a hinge, at the very heart of a decisive turning-point of the clinic in which this transmission is based.

What kind of subject do we operate with? The Lacanian subject can be defined as 'the effect that permanently displaces the individual from the species, the effect that separates the particular from the universal, the case from the rule'[1]. It is not then the universal subject of language that the analytic action is addressed to, but the singular product of the encounter between language and a certain body.

I will consider one paragraph that caught my attention while reading Seminar XXI, aimed at teasing out what sort of clinical problem Lacan is trying to posit, and the consequences this may have in relation to the position of the analyst within the psychoanalytic treatment.

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