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Issue 16: Editorial

The Letter, Issue 16, Summer 1999, Pages i - ii


This issue of the letter opens with the text of one lecture given by Charles Melman at LSB college on his most recent trip to Dublin, taking addiction as its subject matter. The topic had been suggested by the prospective audience in light of the work being currently undertaken at the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies in the college, under the guidance of Rik Loose, by staff and students of the Masters programme in Addiction Studies, attempting a psychoanalytic examination of the phenomenon. Melman's lecture serves as a starting point to orientate and ground the possibility of the treatment of addicts, a treatment which he proposes begins with a proper naming of the drug the toxicomaniac is enraptured with; his fix is the 'sexiolytic', it does away with sex! And, given our own nation's long acquaintance with addiction through the phenomenon of alcoholism, it only takes a moment's reflection to realise that this sexiolytic effect has been common knowledge for a long time, only, less elegantly, we called it 'brewer's droop'.

Where Melman's article provides us with a focal point from which to begin to develop a theory of addiction in general, Hubert article details one very particular manifestation of it, -the phenomenon of the addicted gambler, highlighting what constitutes the difference of this one from a more ordinary predilection for what we would call 'a flutter', - the occasional gamble.

Michels, in his article on 'institution', continues an elaboration of this theme which we have been happy to present in the various issues of THE LETTER as it has developed for him, -pertinent as this theme is at the moment given the current climate of moves toward institutionalising and accreditation of the various psychotherapies throughout Europe and, more important still, given the question with regard to transmission in general and how this relates to the transmission of psychoanalysis.

Laberge's article teases out the various accounts of the real in Lacan's work and its articulation with respect to the symbolic, underlining the oft contradictory and paradoxical nature of his usage of the term throughout the many stages of his theorising, and especially focusing on the period of theorising which resulted in the famous 'there is no sexual relation' of Seminar XX.

McCarthy's article deals with another aspect of this real, this time in a clinical case, where a family is bereaved through a father's suicide. The article records the children's attempts to deal with death in general, with his death in particular, and especially with what the circumstances of this one's death by his own hand attempted to transmit to the generation in his wake. His daughters' attempts to arrive at a sense for it all are poignantly presented to us in a child's drawing (Fig. 2) and a child's story, Charlotte's Web.

It is the aforementioned Seminar XX which provides the theme for articles by both CVCallaghan and Johnston, -O'Callaghan looking to it in relation to both feminist theory and Kristeva's theory of the semiotic, in order to extrapolate a theory of the feminine, whilst Johnston looks at it in relation to love and the theory of sexual difference.

And it is not at all odd that this issue, which begins with a consideration of the addict's attempt to answer the difficulties posed by the 'absence' of the sexual relation by means of enrapture with a substance, should end with an article which refers to Zizek's account of the same impossibility in the sexual relation: a girl kisses a frog who in true fairytale fashion turns into a handsome young man. This handsome young man in his turn kisses the beautiful young girl, who turns into ... a bottle of beer!

So much for the illusion of the ideal couple.

Helena Texier


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