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Sitting There Saying Nothing. What is Involved in the Psychoanalytic Act?

The Letter, Issue 61, Spring 2016, Pages 23 - 30


Helen Sheehan

This paper explores what is at stake when speaking about the Psychoanalytic Act - this with reference to Lacan’s ‘67-’68 seminar of the same name. The central place of Freud’s repetition compulsion as a given of discourse is emphasized. Questions related to what it means to practice as a psychoanalyst, including the interrogation of Being, the end of analysis and the function of psychoanalytic societies, are also raised.

Keywords: Metaphysics; repetition; discourse; the analyst as instrument; the end of analysis; Carl Rogers; psychotherapy

To arrive at a preliminary definition of the Psychoanalytic Act[2] as described by Lacan in his seminar of 1967-1968 we have to begin by coming to terms with endings, with all their equivocations. There are four such endings that underline this seminar. I will briefly mention three and then say something about the ending appropriate for our psychoanalytic purpose - that which Freud calls Analysis Terminable and Interminable. The other endings are: the end of Metaphysics, the end of Theology and the end of Science.

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