The Letter, Issue 9, Spring 1997, Pages 23 - 36
THE PROBLEM OF THE CRUCIAL OBJECT IN PSYCHOANALYSIS*
Lacan considered the o object to be his most original contribution to psychoanalysis and it plays many roles in his theorising about the human subject. It moves from being the object of desire, an imaginary part-object to being the agalma, the object of desire we seek in the other. It gradually loses some of its imaginary status as it takes on connotations of the real and becomes the object cause of desire, that which sets desire in motion. This paper in many ways takes up from a previous one which followed a reading of Lacan's seminar on Transference. My desire to understand the o object was evoked but avoided while writing an article on transference in analysis. Now, following a reading of Seminar XI and Crucial Problems, its centrality is once more apparent and this time it had to be confronted rather than ignored. This continued pursuit of the o object illustrates Melman's point that the o object is;
... the object which ensures that when we pursue a reflection it comes to a limit, which doesn't allow us to draw a conclusion but which sustains or activates our desire to know more about it.
This paper attempts to clarify something about the o object but it is necessary to point out that this grappling with it stems primarily from a reading of Crucial Problems and from Seminar XL There will undoubtedly be new formulas for the o object but as Lacan points out there is no need for 'the preceding ones to find their way to the bottom of your pockets and never come out again'. Whatever revisions it may undergo there is much of value come out again'. to be said about the o object at this stage in his theorising.