Lacan and Levi-Strauss or Freuds Return 1951-1957

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She shows how a sensitivity to the subjective experience of all concerned can have dramatic effects, and how a psychoanalytic ear can allow us to understand both the problems and the progress of prematurely born babies in a new way. Is someone radically different after an analysis? Drawing on literature, philosophy and a range of psychoanalytic theorists and practitioners, Luis Izcovich addresses the effects of psychoanalysis on the individual who has the desire and the courage to enter an analytic treatment and take it to its endpoint.

The subject bears the marks of his childhood and these have repercussions on the choices that he makes in life. Do these marks determine him or does he have a choice in making his destiny? How do the transformations brought about in the transference change the subject?

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And does the analysis leave a distinguishing and locatable mark? Luis Izcovich attempts to answer these questions from a Lacanian perspective. CFAR Publications. Sexual Ambiguities — Genevieve Morel How does one become a man or a woman?

The Trainings of the Psychoanalyst — Annie Tardits If psychoanalysis, for Freud, was an impossible profession, what consequences would this have for psychoanalytic training? Lacan and Levi-Strauss or The Return to Freud — Markos Zafiropoulos Lacan and Levi-Strauss are often mentioned together in reviews of French structuralist thought, but what really links their distinct projects? Lacan, however, is articulating a position that is a radical extension of that of Levi-Strauss, who posited the totem as a kind of zero point that inaugurates culture through an identification of the group with the signifier of the dead father.

Lacan on the other hand says that the Name-of-the-Father is no such thing, but functions as "the signifier of the lack of this zero symbol. What Lacan indicates is that the unconscious subject does not find a stable identity in relation to the Other. The primary trauma that founds the unconscious is the discovery precisely that the Other is castrated, that the Other is lacking.

The Name-of-the-Father, while founding the subject, founds him in relation to the very signifier of the lack of the zero point. As Lacan notes, in the "Neurotic's Individual Myth":. The assumption of the function of the father supposes a simple symbolic relation, where the symbolic fully covers over the real.

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It would be necessary that the father would not only be the name-of-the-father, but also that he represent in his plentitude the symbolic value crystallized in his function. But it is clear that the full overlapping of the symbolic and the real is absolutely ungraspable. At least in a structure like our own, the father is always to some degree, a father discordant in relation to his function, an impoverished father, a humiliated father, as Mr. Claudel says. Lacan's continued work on articulating the consequences of the lack of a zero point will lead to, among other things, what he has called his only true invention in the field of psychoanalysis, the objet petit a.

Lacan's critique of Levi-Strauss brings us to another aspect of Zafiropolous' argument, an aspect that is according to him actually the main motivation for writing the book. Zafiropoulos' contention is that subsequent generations of Lacanian psychoanalysts have ignored, or even "repressed" the significance of Levi-Strauss's contribution to the history of psychoanalysis. His book is an attempt to counter this "repression" and to do so he admirably documents the significant impact for Lacan of his encounter with Levi-Strauss' seminal texts.

While the evidence of the influence is quite conclusive, the contention that the debt is repressed is less convincing. As Dr. Zafiropoulos himself notes, there are numerous acknowledgements of Levi-Strauss by Lacan in his remarks and writings. Elizabeth Roudinesco, in her biography of Lacan Roudinesco, , dedicates an entire chapter to the encounter of Lacan with the writings of Levi-Strauss. Zafiropolous however, complains that Lacan's Return to Freud is only attributed to his encounter with Hegel and Saussure.

Zafiropolous laments the insufficient recognition for the influence of the social sciences on psychoanalysis, charging that among the "best readers of Lacan, this presence [of Lacan's use of French ethnology, especially of Levi-Strauss] seems to have been ruined by the shadow of philosophers and linguists. Zafiropoulos, This is a provocative assumption, and not one to be uncritically accepted. Psychoanalysis' status as a science is a question that Lacan addressed throughout the entire span of his teachings.

The dilemma of the scientific status of psychoanalysis is that while modern science aims at eliding the subject of science from the equation, this "objective" position is one that psychoanalysis neither can, nor should, aspire to. The object of psychoanalysis is precisely the subject. Lacan proposed different conclusions at different times. For example he attempted to clarify psychoanalysis' scientific status by referring the structure of the unconscious to the scientific field of structural linguistics in order to show that there is "something qualify-able under this term [of the unconscious] that is assuredly accessible in a completely objective manner.

It had that ambition. It tried to act as if it was a science. Lacan here seems to be saying something akin to what he had said twenty-five years earlier. Lacan notes that there are those who contend that psychoanalysis is not really a science, but only an art. This is an error, he says, if one means by "art" a technique, an operational method, a set of recipes.

It is not an error, however, if one uses the word "art" in the "sense that one used it in the Middle Ages when one spoke of the liberal arts—you know the series that went from astronomy to dialectics, through mathematics, geometry, music and grammar. Psychoanalysis is actually the only discipline that could be comparable to these liberal arts, in that it preserves this relation to the measure of man to himself—an internal relation, closed upon itself, inexhaustible, cyclical, that is ultimately carried by the usage of speech.

What Lacan points out is that psychoanalysis is singular and particular, and that is the difficulty in establishing its scientific status.

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At some level it undermines the very concept of scientific status. It is also interesting to note that in his attempts to clarify the scientific status of psychoanalysis, Lacan refers to linguistics, not anthropology. Here is perhaps a more viable explanation for the apparent lack of acknowledgement for Levi-Strauss. Not that Lacan is forgetting his debt to Levi-Strauss in referring to linguistics after all, he often credits Levi-Strauss , but rather the significance of Lacan's dialog with Levi-Strauss is that it introduced him to linguistics and the structure of language.

Zafiropolous wishes to see a filiation from Levi-Strauss to Lacan. If there is a question of filiation, it is that of Levi-Strauss and Lacan in relation to Saussure. Their exchange was on the basis of their shared debt to Saussure. It is not obvious that there can be an alliance with the social authorities. Nevertheless, Freud assures us that The harshest truths are heard and recognized at last, after the interests they have injured and the emotions they have roused have exhausted their fury Future Prospects, p.

We must be able to wait Future Prospects, p. Freuds prophecy aims far beyond the clinic of the individual case, since it suggests that such treatment would be facilitated if the social authorities gave up their virulent attitude towards psychoanalysis; the social progress of truth, in turn, would weaken both the causes and the morbid mainsprings of the neuroses. Freud sketches out for his companions the scope of his analytic project and what could be expected if unconscious truth were brought to light collectively: The success which the treatment can have with the individual must occur equally with the community.

Sick people will not be able to let their various neuroses become knowntheir anxious over-tenderness which is meant to conceal their hatred, their agoraphobia which tells of disappointed ambition, their obsessive actions which represent self-reproaches for evil intentions and precautions against themif all their relatives and every stranger from whom they wish to conceal their mental processes know the general meaning of such symptoms, and if they themselves know that in the manifestations of their illness they are producing nothing that other people cannot instantly interpret.

The effect, however, will not be limited to the concealment of the symptoms which, incidentally, it is often impossible to carry out; for this necessity for concealment destroys the use of being ill. Disclosure of the secret will have attacked, at its most sensitive point, the aetiological equation from which neuroses arise Future Prospects, p. We see once again that Freuds ambition does not lie in a clinic of the individual case, but aims instead at the masses; Lacan reaffirms this to his disciples, in order that, in the days before their second congress, they will not forget this part of their collective adventure.

What should we retain from this? First, that to reach the goalthe aetiological equation of the neurosesFreud is not really counting on reinforcing the institutional authority of psychoanalysis or on obtaining more social recognition; instead, he is betting that the secret that motivates neuroses will come out into the open and that illusions will be weakened. He is also wagering that the resistances that, especially in men, come from the father-complex, will be weakened.

The power that Freud counts on to reach the heart of the neuroses is less that of an institution than of truth. The question of the collective, once again, is not so much an extension of his clinical practice, but is instead active in the very aetiology of the neuroses; therefore, illusions, the suggestions made by the powers that be, and the chronic need for authority are met with in the analysts office as well as in the rest of the social field. The year in which Freud made these statements, , was crucial in the history of the analytic movement.

On 30 March of that year, Freud, along with Sandor Ferenczi24 had founded the first international Freudian association the Internationale psychoanalytische Vereinigung. This group would keep this name until , when it became the IPA.

If it is necessary to choose between the authority of truth and that of the analytic institution, the Freudian perspective would choose the symbolic power of unconscious truth, which alone is able to reduce both neuroses and the collective sense of discontent. In these texts, the psychoanalytic institution is a secondary base of analytic power.

The true master of the Freudian orientation is the unconscious text and the truth that lies in the symptom: We must not forget that the analytic relationship is based on a love of truththat is, on a recognition of realityand that it precludes any kind of sham or deceit.

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Sandor Ferenczi He was born in Hungary into a family of emigrant Polish Jews. Analysed by Freud, he devoted himself to the psychoanalytic cause. A member of the secret committee beginning in , he participated in directing the Freudian movement. In , he started to try to reform psychoanalytic technique and invented the active technique before returning to the theory of trauma.

He was Freuds favourite disciple. At this point, I have said enough to make it possible to see why Lacan, in his return to Freud, and particularly in his seminar that addressed Freuds papers on technique in Seminar I , struggles with the outcome of resistance, the resistance that, if progress is to occur, forces the analyst to choose which authority to rely on; it must be the authority of the ego or of truth.


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Now, it is precisely by deciphering the symbolic envelope of the symptom that Freuds desire can operate. Yet for Lacan in , who is Freud? Lacans transference to Freud The inauguration of the return to Freud coincides with the beginning of the institutional splitting that would lead Lacanas we shall see laterto leave the analytic association that Freud founded in We need to examine what he says about his relation to Freud during this period and what makes Freuds speech authoritative for him, while also asking: What, for him, gives its authority to the Freudian discovery?

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In the Freudian field, one of the names for authority is the superego. In the first session of the seminar that of 18 November , which ended on 7 July , Lacan mentions the super-ego in order to rethink it by linking it, notas he had done from to to the first imaginary identifications of the mirror stage26, but to language: The super-ego is a law deprived of meaning, but one which nevertheless only sustains itself by language. If I say you turn to the right, its to allow the other to bring his language into line with mine. I think of what goes through his head when I speak to him.

This attempt to find an agreement constitutes the communication specific to language. This you is so fundamental that it arises before consciousness. Censorship, for example, which is intentional, nevertheless comes into action before con-.

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