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Symptom And Anxiety

The Letter, Issue 31, Summer 2004, Pages 67 - 78


Barry O'Donnell

What follows is the text of a talk presented at the sixth annual conference of the Affiliated Psychoanalytic Workgroups held in Omaha, Nebraska in September 2004. The APW began several years ago with the aim of providing lines of communication between otherwise disconnected Lacanian groups in the United States. The 2004 conference was hosted by the Centre for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, Creighton University, Omaha. This centre was established four years ago and provides a locus of study and discussion for people coming from different perspectives and training in the fields of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, including Lacanian and Kleinian. Originally suggested by Tom Svolos, the Centre has been supported with tremendous enthusiasm by Daniel Wison, Professor of Psychiatry in Creighton University, a self-confessed biological psychiatrist with a doctorate in anthropology.

What came across was a sense of a group of people meeting and talking because they have questions about the work they are doing. There was a remarkable ease with which discussion took place in response to the papers delivered despite the challenging nature of the material. Some of those present spoke of work in different settings where they were introducing an analytic position. Tor example, one spoke of her work in a university counselling service, another of his work in a probation context, and a third in a challenging social services setting in a ghetto of an American city.

The conference was entitled 'Working with the Symptom' and it provided me with an opportunity to return to Lacan's Seminar on Anxiety which we had read in a reading group some years ago. What follows is a version of the paper I delivered.

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