The Ethics of Psychoanalysis

 

The following is taken from one session in a series of introductory seminars as part of the Lacan Circle of Melbourne’s activities.

 

There is an interesting remark by Miller, in a paper from 2012 on the aims of psychoanalysis. ‘The psychoanalyst’s routine is therapeutic. His business is with the symptom that has to be cured.’ Psychoanalysts can put on airs, and ascribe lofty goals to their practice, but people come to consult with an analyst because something is causing them suffering. As Miller says, ‘If somebody goes to see a psychoanalyst for the sake of knowledge and not to get rid of a symptom it is not very certain that his demand can be received’.  So, whatever one may learn of oneself in the course of analysis, analytic praxis is not reducible to a quest for knowledge. Continue reading

Psychoanalysis and the DSM – a brief discussion and critique

The following was presented at a meeting of the Lacan Circle of Melbourne in July, 2013:

 

Marie-Helene Brousse (2013, p. 24) said of diagnosis that it was considered by Lacan ‘as an act, implying a decision requiring logical argumentation and clinical confirmation’. Alas, this is not the modus operandi for mainstream psychiatry and psychology.

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Disavowal and its Vicissitudes

One of the biggest questions for Lacanian psychoanalysis in the 21st Century – perhaps the biggest – is the question of psychosis. The classical formulation of clinical structures largely divides them into two (and then to subsequent sub-types). These two structures are, of course, neurosis, and psychosis, which correspond to the operations of repression (Verdrängung) and foreclosure (Verwerfung) respectively. One question is whether these two categories are adequate to capture contemporary clinical phenomena and, if not, what alternative formulations may look like, especially with respect to ‘borderline’ symptoms. (It is not the patient, but only ever the clinician who is on the ‘borderline’, hovering between a diagnosis of neurosis or psychosis). The later work of Lacan points to this (the theory of the Sinthome), as does Jacques-Alain Miller’s notion of ‘ordinary psychosis’, and Paul Verhaege’s theory of ‘actualpathology’. These are still early and contested formulations; I’m yet to see much of Verhaege’s work applied in the Anglophone world (though happy to stand corrected if such work exists), and much of what is said or ordinary psychosis could, on closer inspection, apply equally to regular, extraordinary psychosis.

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Biographical and Historical Background to Freud’s Schreber Case

The following was presented to the Lacan Circle of Melbourne in March, 2012. It may be of benefit to anybody who wishes to study the case:

Geradhalter_(Schreber)

The purpose of my discussion today will not be to provide a summary of Freud’s case study of Schreber, but rather, to find Schreber’s place within Freud’s work, and within psychoanalysis more generally. I shall do this by examining the background to Schreber’s memoirs, and then by elaborating upon the context of Freud’s case study. Time permitting, I shall look at the ongoing implications of the Schreber case, particularly from a Lacanian perspective.

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