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Issue 47: Editorial

The Letter, Issue 47, Summer 2011, Pages v - vi


Jacques Lacan‘s talk on 10 November 1967 given to psychiatrists, translated by Cormac Gallagher, deals with the formation of psychiatrists, although his remarks are equally relevant to the formation of psychoanalysts. He emphasises that the madman, the psychotic, is at the centre of the field of psychiatry, and suggests that the madman is the only truly free man. He raises a number of other fundamental aspects of formation such as mass effects, organo-dynamism, the o-object, the structure of the unconscious, the difference between the sign and the signifier, the importance of language to the clinic, truth, desire, the non-sense of sexuality, segregation and the mass media. Lacan is not attempting to question the role of psychiatry, although he draws some challenging parallels between the hierarchical structures which permeate both psychiatry and some institutions of psychoanalysis.

Cormac Gallagher presented his paper to a conference at All Hallows, Dublin in June 2011. This is an absorbing and sensitive treatment of Freud‘s journey and how his immersion in Judaic tradition was so influential throughout his work. The paper disturbs the commonly held belief that Freud was an atheist who had no time for religious beliefs because they were founded on obsessional rituals. Freud‘s revelation in 1895 to Fliess, concerning the great clinical secret of psychoanalysis is of utmost importance – that‘ hysteria is the consequence of a presexual sexual shock and obesssional neurosis is the consequence of presexual sexual pleasure later transformed into guilt.‘ Our attention is also drawn to the soul of Freud which underpinned so much of his 'scientific' work.

Terry Ball deals with transference as it is conceptualised by Lacan in his seminar on Transference (1960-61). She limits her reading to the sessions of that seminar which deal with Plato‘s Symposium, and in particular to the dialogue between Socrates, Alcibiades, and Agathon. Her succinct selection of Lacan‘s approach to the importance of the dynamics of the transference is a way in which to encourage us to read this seminar of Lacan in a very careful and reflective way, given the importance of the necessity to be aware of the reversal of the roles of lover and beloved, which is the cornerstone of best practice in our work in the analytic clinic.

Guy le Gaufey‘s scholion from his superbly argued text of Lacan‘s Notall, is the final part of Cormac Gallagher‘s translation of this book which surely ranks as the most thorough and tightly argued text on the impossibility of the sexual relationship. Le Gaufey shows how Lacan in the very end of his life struggled to distinghuish between the lack of a sexual relationship and the fact of the non-relationship. This attempt to make an important distinction between the two consistencies (or non-consistencies) takes us through a labyrinth more intricate than Ariadne‘s, and as a counterpoiseLacan having used the Borromean knot to prove the non-relationship, through a rigorous debate with Soury, seems to arrive at the Aha Erelebnis where he is forced to admit that his conclusion about the non-relationship via the route of the Borromean knot was a failed attempt. Surely this is a case where the process is much more important than the outcome.

Christian Fierens challenges the usefulness of differential diagnosis and putting the human subject into drawers labeled psychotic, neurotic, or perverse. He highlights the fact that psychoanalysts work with multiple theories and structures and we use them in a general way to facilitate a divergence from such structures which indicate a strangeness. The truth of the dream is to be found when we strip out everything that does not correspond to the act of dreaming that it bears witness to our innermost core.‘ Rather than judging the patient we produce the matheme which avoids enclosing him in a diagnosis,‘ thereby opening infinite possibilities for the analyser.

Marion Deane has reviewed Elyn R. Saks book The Centre Cannot Hold: A Memoir of My Schizophrenia. The review itself is an excellent piece of writing and thus encourages us to read this sometimes harrowing and at other times very optimistic approach by Saks, to her journey in dealing with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Tony Hughes

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