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Issue 5: Editorial

The Letter, Issue 5, Autumn 1995, Pages i - iii


It is not inappropriate that now, when on the one hand psychoanalysis is being questioned once again as to its scientific status and when on the ofher hand there is in Ireland a great flowering of interest in both the practice and teaching of psychoanalysis, that this issue of The Letter opens with two papers which return to Lacan's formulations with regard to The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. Implicit in the first article which appears here, Cormac Gallagher's commentary on Lacan's own synopsis of that work, is a question which might well have made a more apt title for his work, a question which reminds us, in a way which is as pertinent here today as when it was first posed thirty years ago in France, that if one is to have anything to offer to the field of psychoanalysis then certain issues must be faced. And the question: Are you serious about psychoanalysis?

Following on this paper is Charles Melman's treatment of the same work, an account which you will see could also be re-titied This "book" is mut a book'. This paper followed Cormac Gallagher's at a morning of seminars held at the School of Psychotherapy in St Vincent's hospital. The spirit in which it was delivered might well be seen to contradict Lacan's opening statement (in the preface to the English edition of The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis) that there is no friendship there, in the space thait supports this unconscious', - since Charles Melman's expressed wish was to save us from the fate which was his. In delivering his lecture his wish was that we would not have to spend, as he did, the next thirty years trying to decipher the meaning of that text. The reproduction of his account there requires that I make a brief comment which, ironically, finds its support in his commentary on the difference between speech and writing and the ditticulties in translating the one into the other. Since we have had to rely on the transcription of a taped recording of his lecture in order to present his work to you it was inevitable that we invent the punctuation. Any resultant error that may have crept in I claim as my own. Those of you who attended that lecture will understand when I say that I hope there has been no introduction into in of a post-éffacié and that the text here-given retains the character of the word as spoken.

Rik Loose's paper represents a work in progress on the subject of addiction, a topic about which he notes that Freud, and subsequently psychoanalysis, had little to say. Rik Loose's efforts to address the subject attest to the fact that what has, in a sense, been a missed encounter with regard to the topic of addiction can become a raison d'être for a future work. Equally this paper is a witness to the fact that a silence in no way entails that there is nothing to be said

As introduction to the papers of Helen Sheehan and Sandra Carroll, the one pursuing a literary theme, the other venturing into the field of art, one might well recall Lacan's comments in the English preface to The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. Helen Sheehan's paper speaks of James Joyce, about whom Lacan there states that 'he is the simplest consequence of a refusal - such a mental refusal! - of psychoanalysis, which as a result his work illustrates'. It is this illustration of psychoanalysis which Helen Sheehan sees in Joyce's collection of stories, Dubliners, that provides the basis for her paper, tracing the meanderings of a perverse refusal through the avenues of our own capital city. Immediately following this comment on Joyce Lacan confesses to his 'embarrassment where art - an element in which Freud did not bathe without mishap - is concerned'. Sandra Carroll, in her account of Dalf, chronicles the meetings of the persons of both Freud and Lacan with the enigmatic artist. Each encounter of psychoanalyst with artist appears to have been a non-event in which the only common ground that became apparent was the insistence of all concerned on the lack of one. Sandra Carroll's paper attempts to redress this lack. Perhaps re-dressing is the only option when the situation risks becoming embarrassing or the subject too embarrassed!

In this issue we are also privileged to be able to present two papers from our colleagues in Belgium. Paul Verhaeghe's paper is the text of a lecture he delivered at LSB college on the subject of the non-existence of both The Woman and the sexual relation, while Filip Geerardyn's paper returns to Freud's early works and, in particular, to the very different desires of Breuer and Freud with regard to the puzzle with which hysteria presented each. Given Freud's response to the puzzle, he sets out to define what is to be required of the therapist today.

André Michels, who will travel from Luxembourg to Dublin later this year to deliver a series of lectures on the subject of perversion, writes in this issue of the status of the Oedipus myth, so central to the theory of psychoanalysis and yet so rarely examined today in a climate in which we perhaps can all too easily cease to question ourselves with regard to the most basic tenets of our field, taking for granted what was originally hard-won territory.

In conclusion, I would remind the reader that our own response to the question of whether or not we are serious about psychoanalysis will be evidenced by the Second Congress of APPL, taking the Co-ordinates of Anxiety as its theme, to be held at the Education and Research Centre of St Vincent's hospital. We hope to bring you the harvest of that gathering at a future date.

Helena Texier


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