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Issue 15: Editorial

The Letter, Issue 15, Spring 1999, Pages i - iii


As usual this present issue of THE LETTER, the final issue of volume V, is given over to the proceedings of the Annual November Congress of the Association for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in Ireland. The theme of this fifth APPI congress emerged in consequence of the labours of the collective participants of the Monday-night reading group which set itself the task of working through Lacan's seminar on The Logic of Phantasy as with a fine-toothed comb. Although not all of the contributors whose work is represented here were part of that regular gathering together of heads, the articles which make up this issue can easily be seen as the remainders left over from equally fervent headscratching with relation to the subject posed there. And this reference to the fine-toothed comb, the gathering together of heads and the headscratching is anything but incidental. Rather, it refers directly to what Freud considered he had unleashed with psychoanalysis, -a plague certainly, but an altogether quite familiar one. The outcome represented here is really the result of the 'nitty-gritty' of psychoanalytic work.

We open with Lieven Jonckheere's contribution to the question of what might be constituted by 'the traversing of phantasy', -what this phrase might encapsulate and what the effects of any such 'traversing' might be. These he approaches via a detailed account of transformations in the life and work of Marcel Duchamp, in consequence of the falling apart of the fundamental phantasy, attempts to plaster it back together and, finally, what he considers to be its traversal. Rather than being a psychoanalysis in absentia of Duchamp, this work aims at drawing on the testimony of his life and work to better understand what is at stake in the theory and clinical work of psychoanalysis. Towards this end, the detailed account of Duchamp's life serves Jonckheere well in illuminating what is involved in the stumbling block inherent to the clinical vignette from his own practice included in this paper, as it also serves him in conceptualising what the end of an analysis might constitute.

This is followed by two other papers which stem from the direct encounter with clinical work. Patricia McCarthy looks at perversion and obsessional neurosis as responses to the impossibility of the sexual act, and at the logic which 'sets the subject up', -a phrase which must be taken in both its senses; firstly, in that it institutes the subject and secondly, in that from that point on it implicates him as 'dupe' in the drama of that moment. This attention to the logic underpinning the subject would seem crucial to any determination of the structure one is dealing with in any clinical encounter and serves to point up the weakness of direction in any practice which sets out from a theory privileging signs and symptoms, on the basis of behaviours, for example.

Following on this is my own contribution to the congress in the form of an hypothesis as regards the emergence of certain features of the clinical picture in the case of hysteria, not least of which is the apparent necessity of splitting the man into the chivalrous, idealised one, the Saviour and the malevolent, perverse one, the Abuser. In particular the attempt at revealing the logic underlying the insistence on this latter, the cruel and desirous seducer, may have something to add to the debate on False Memory Syndrome if only in a very oblique way. This contribution arises out of a consideration of clinical elements which arise with such regularity that they cannot be ignored, indeed they refuse it.

Patricia Stewart enlightens us as regards The Basic Neurosis of Dr Bergler, mentioned by Lacan in the Logic seminar, and while pointing up his theoretical shortcomings also draws attention to the areas in which his work is instructive.

In light of Lacan's remarks in The Logic of Phantasy, Tony Hughes writes on the use to which Marx's notion of 'exchange value' can be put in psychoanalysis as a basis upon which to explain the impossibility inherent to the sexual 'relation',in the course of which he picks out the relevance of the discourse on algebra and the 'golden number'.

Cormac Gallagher's contribution is a translation of Lacan1s own summary of The Logic of Phantasy.

During a special session of the congress, Maeve Nolan, Peter Byrne and Barry O'Donnell participated in a debate on the topic of the so-called False Memory Syndrome. A final section of this issue brings together the various participants' contributions, each approaching the topic from diverse angles determined by the particularity of his or her own formation but converging on the same point, a return to Freud. This section is prefaced by an introduction by Anthony McCarthy who chaired the congress debate.

Helena Texier


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