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The Case Of The 'Falling Man': An Examination Of The Function Of Demand In Analytic Practice

The Letter, Issue 26, Autumn 2002, Pages 133 - 161



Carol Owens

You know that what we are trying to do here, namely in the difficulties, in the impasses, in the contradictions which are the fabric of your-practice- it is the most elementary supposition of our work that you should be aware of it - is to try to bring you back always to the point where these impasses and difficulties can also show themselves to you with their full significance...[1]

One is aware here of the terrible temptation that must face the analyst to respond, however little, to demand.[2]

Since I have been struck in my own practice with the difficulties of dealing with demand in its various guises, and since this management of demand and its function within the analysis strikes me as being a core element of Lacanian analysis, I wish, in this paper, to go some way toward a technical and clinical exegesis of the difficulties and problems which the concept of demand poses in an analytic treatment.[3] Meriting a mere page of entry in Evans' Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis[4], Evans inscribes the concept of demand as originating from the 1956-7 seminar, and gently orders its progression through Seminar V and the Direction of the Treatment paper culminating in a short gloss on Seminar VIII. While Nobus,[5] in his commentary on Lacanian practice does much greater justice to the concept, weaving it in and out of his broad discussion on Lacan's 'return to Freud' project, still, I feel that the concept is underplayed in terms of what I believe to be its crucial place in the clinical practice of Lacanian psychoanalysis. It is true that Lacan himself does not privilege demand as one of the fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis, yet throughout Seminar XI demand is discoursed in relation to desire, in relation to the transference, and ultimately foregrounded in his concluding notes to the seminar where he reproduces the 'internal eight' schema, and makes the crucial point that in the transference demand is separated from the drive only to be brought back by the analyst's desire.[6] So, the appropriate handling of demand is always the responsibility of the analyst and this locates it as a fundamental technique of analysis.

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