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Maeve Nolan – The Problem of the Crucial Object in Psychoanalysis


THE LETTER 09 (Spring 1997) pages 23-36


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 XI1 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.

The Problem of the Crucial Object in Psychoanalysis

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