Anatomy of a Title for a Congress
Anatomy is the science that studies the structure and form of living beings. Let us see if it is possible to apply it to the title of the Congress and to the Congress itself.*
Where does this title come from? And where does it lead us?
To start with, it is a title that functions as a libidinal pole. It attracts libido, interest. The Congress has an attractive title, one that is interesting and also composite. It was created through the superposition of pieces.
Previous Congresses of the AMP started with titles constructed on the basis of a concrete concept or Lacanian term: the symbolic (It is no longer what it was), the real (A Real for the 21st Century), the parlêtre (The Unconscious and the Speaking Body). Titles organised around the authority conferred by an S1.
The Ordinary Psychoses and the Others, under Transference is a title that cannot be captured or encapsulated in the same way. Note that it is a composite of pieces ordered by a logic, but does not allow itself to be enclosed in an S1. The One can perhaps be found in the clinical theme, which is psychosis, although it is in turn distributed (the ordinary, the others) and localized (under transference).
On the other hand, the title for the 2018 Congress follows a ternary, SRI, with the expectation of beginning a new series. But which? There was air of anticipation. Different possibilities were discussed. Jouissance and its interpretation? Jouissance and desire? None of these was fully convincing or could impose itself.
In Rio a Congress was concluded for the first time without any theme or title for the next one having been announced. The search was then extended beyond Rio, with the conversation continuing by email between Jacques-Alain Miller, the Directors of the 9th Congress and some other colleagues, Miquel Bassols and Angelina Harari (present and future Presidents of the AMP), Guy Briole and Marcus André Vieira (Directors of the previous Congresses). Miller suggested giving a clinical orientation to the next Congress; there was the feeling that with the parlêtre we had entered a zone of a certain theoretical aridity in which it was difficult to continue advancing. We all remember his closing talk: we have spoken a lot about the body and very little about the unconsciousi.
The ordinary psychoses appeared as a theme of research in which we all immediately felt concerned. Bravo! But at the same time we were aware that the theme of psychosis could lead us out of the strictly analytical field. We wanted to maintain the orientation without succumbing to the slippage of psychoanalysis applied to therapeutics. In his next email Miller wrote the title that we had already reached, “The Ordinary Psychoses and the others”, adding below “under transference”. To the satisfaction of all – now we had a title!
It is this “under transference” that keeps us within the psychoanalytic field. And that is why whenever possible we write the title in two lines, and when not, with the use the comma, but we prefer to maintain it as it arose. That is to say that under transference does not strictly form a subtitle but is part of a single title in two lines, which is why it is written in lower case. There are things that do not allow them to be written without certain complexities.
It should also be noted that the title of the 9th Congress is the result of transference in action. A transference that keeps the broad working community that is the WAP/School One active. When this transference functions, it happens that what advances or is produced at one point has repercussions and allows progress in other places. This is also part of the anatomy of the title, because the Barcelona Congress has links with the NLS Congress held in Dublin in July 2016 on “Discrete Signs in the Ordinary Psychoses.” The success of the NLS Congress had repercussions when it came to thinking about the theme for the WAP Congress in 2018. Transference was the communicating vessel, the libido shuttle, from Dublin to Barcelona via Rio de Janeiro.
The analytic community is the field of a circulation of signifiers that accounts for the vitality of psychoanalysis. If psychoanalysis is alive, it moves and awakens because it has the ability to become a sounding board for the changes that are occurring in the world. Modifications in the symbolic, in the imaginary and in the real of jouissance cannot but have effects on subjects. They cannot but have effects on the unconscious and therefore on analytical practice.
“Psychoanalysis is changing, this is a fact,”ii said Jacques-Alain Miller in his presentation for the Rio Congress, and the ordinary psychoses allows one of these changes to be dated. Of course it is not the only one. To mention another we could recall the decline of interpretation that opened psychoanalysis up to the post-interpretative era in which the unconscious interpretsiii. These are moments of rupture in which the real of psychoanalysis manifests itself, that is to say, when the analytic experience shows its position of anteriority in relation to the episteme, which experiences a jolt. Not infrequently these are moments of upheaval for the analytical community as well.
The jolt of ordinary psychosis will be twenty years old. And this, despite what the lyrics of the tango say, is something. In the time since its initial appearance, there has been a movement from disbelief and initial distancing by some all the way to unconditional adhesion and quasi-generalizations of the concept by others, and sometimes the two have been the same. Now we are surely in another moment, the era of the discreet signs that was opened in Dublin.
The question that we can then pose is where this leads us to. Where does this title lead us? The interesting thing is that we cannot answer this question before holding the Congress. One cannot know it without doing it. This is also a question of transference. This is why each in his or her own way could consider this question: what do I expect from the Barcelona Congress? What do I want to get out of it?
Some not only have the question, but also the answer. This is the case for Xavier Esqué, with whom I share the Direction of the 11th Congress. He has already indicated that what he hopes to get out of it is a clarification for the orientation of the treatment of the ordinary psychoses.
So, we are where we are thanks to the mobilizing power of transference. What will lead us to come up with some answers and especially some new questions, depends to a great extent on this power of mobilization.
Let us now apply the term anatomy in its sense of “dissection or cut”iv. Let us dissect the title. This is how Xavier and I set about organising the text presenting the argument for the Congress: the ordinary / the other / under transference. Here I will not comment on that presentation, which is available on the websitev. I propose rather to raise other questions that were not included there because they were only put into play in the course of organizing the Congress and from the new readings to which it has given rise.
The Lacanian psychoses
It takes a while to accustom oneself to the Lacanian psychoses.
Without taking the psychiatric clinic as our reference, the Lacanian psychoses as such seem to be something quite particular. Where are they found? What are the models?
If we take a broad view of them, they soon come into focus: they appear with Freud’s Schreber, continue with Lacan´s Joyce, are found in the practice of patient presentations and are brought up-to-date with ordinary psychosis.
Within this stylized perspective it is striking that the major paradigms for the approach to clinical psychosis, Schreber and Joyce, were not “cases” treated in analysis, which has not prevented the analytical clinic and episteme from basing themselves in them. It is also notable that in the patient presentations the patient in question is not under the treatment of the analyst who presents them either.
It is thus a question of clinical instances or paradigms where transference occupies a paradoxical position. We cannot say that there is an analytical transference in the Freudian or classical sense, that is, in the sense of a transference from the analysand onto the analyst because there is no analysand, but it should not automatically be deduced from this that there is no analyst.
If these psychoses, which do not stop teaching us, are “cases” without analytical transference, where then is the transference? What transference is at work here? It should be recognized that what operates is the analyst’s transference to the case, or even to psychosis itself. This would be valid for Freud and Lacan as well as for anyone who approaches psychosis motivated by the desire to be taught by it.
Lacan never stopped insisting that work with psychoses, the interest in psychosis, is essential for an analytical formation. Why? Among other reasons, because of its capacity for de-formation. Psychosis is a testing ground where many prejudices are de-formed, especially those that get in the way of the analytic act.
Because what is the first thing you encounter with psychosis? Segregation. And not only by the universal discourse, but by psychoanalysts themselves.
In the text presenting the argument of the Congress, we write that one of the effects of the introduction of the ordinary psychoses has been to render irremediably unsustainable the idea of a supposed “normality”, an idea that furthermore could never be attributed to Lacan without betraying him.
Saying Lacanian psychoses means that we accept with Lacan that psychosis is not a deficit, despite the persistence of the idea of a neurotic normality in comparison with the psychosis that would be the result of the non-inscription of the Name of the Father in the place of the Other. This perpetuates in Lacanian terms something that goes in a direction opposed to that of Lacan himself.
The point is that we can affirm with Lacan that psychosis is not a deficit while considering neurosis as the “normal”, in the sense of norm-male (norme-mâle or phallic normalization), also with Lacan. This is not something reducible to a question of the different periods of his teaching. It is not a question of knowing whether or not it involves the same Lacan, because he is the same and not the same at the same time.
In the binary clinic neurosis/psychosis it was easier for what I’ll call this deficit fantasy to function in a more or less hidden way. But things changed with the clinic of the sinthome and the repairing of the knot, because the difference and the opposition in which all norms are sustained fall from their privileged position.
That this construction, the phallic construction, loses its privileged place has effects not only on the deficit conception. We also see them in the increasing push to the trans. We are seeing and will see more and more effects of all this, for example in the cases of children who present saying that they belong to a sex different from that which is biologically theirs. It opens up a clinical field that takes account of the “creativity of the human species”vi, a field that requires an open position as well as a delicate manoeuvre from the analyst.
This is another difficulty in thinking about the clinic that we practice today, because it is a clinic without opposition. Not because opposition does not exist, which would involve the disappearance of language as well as being a poor reading of the “everybody is mad”, but rather because it is not the only thing to consider. Generalized delusion does not mean generalized psychosis, but rather that everybody is delusional: some with the father and others with another more singular element. “All discourses are but defences against the real”vii.
Psychoanalysis that changes
All of this is to say that psychoanalysis is changing. To say that “this is a fact” means that it has already happened. It has already changed. The 2018 Barcelona Congress is itself a discreet sign of this change.
We are used to saying that the ordinary psychoses arose when the classical references no longer provided an orientation for clinical experience, because the binary clinic leaves to one side a broad field of jouissance that cannot be grasped with it. But what should be noted is that it is the clinic, beyond the norme-mâle, that pushes us to search for new references.
It is after Encore, having broached the impasses of feminine sexuality and a jouissance not limited by the phallus, that Lacan takes the hand of Joyce in order to situate foreclosure in another way. Entering into the paradigm of the non-relation, foreclosure extends and becomes generalized. The sexual non-relation, the habitat of all speaking beings, rests in the foreclosure of a signifier. The signifier that would specify Woman, as an all, does not exist. This renders null and void every binary, normalizing structure, and opens the field of a jouissance not treated by the exception.
It could be said that the name of the father is then made “ordinary”. The father becomes ordinary when he becomes one mode of repair among other possible modes. Lacan already marked the first steps of this path when he made the father appear as père-versely oriented, in other words, toward the mother as a woman. If the traditional father is losing his hegemony it is because he fails to treat this feminine jouissance.
This jouissance semblantifies everything symbolic. Recall the operation carried out by Lacan in Seminar IV, with Little Hans, when everything becomes symbolized for the child: the mother, the phobia, the horse… Only now, it’s the other way around, everything symbolic becomes a semblant in the sense that we now see its limitation in treating the real.
We can then understand that it is not easy to do without this “normality”. But this is essential in order to sustain the analytical act. It is key to analytic formation. Not only because normality is segregating but also because it is also limiting to take account only of what belongs to the male order of jouissance, for both men and women.
How is it that with Joyce Lacan can go beyond Encore? Because this allows him to open up that field where the jouissance that the phallus does not deal with, though it locates its edges, is situated in the body. This is the field of the parlêtre. From the perspective of the parlêtre the phallus is only an ordinary mode of employment of jouissance. And what an analysis teaches is that the problem of sex is never ordinary, neither for men nor for women.
With ordinary psychosis we are in the field of generalized compensation. It will always be necessary, whether by way of the Name of the Father or not, for a symbolic-imaginary construction to give meaning to the real outside meaning. To give meaning to the jouissance that animates sexed bodies without any explanation.
That is why the clinic opened up by the ordinary psychoses does not consist in looking for deficiency or difference, which constitute the field of the extraordinary, but rather in isolating the ordinary and at the same time original way in which each one makes sense of their existence. And manages to get out of bed every morning, which is no small thing.
* Presentation for the first preparatory evening of the 9th Congress in the Catalan Community of the ELP. Originally published in the review Freudiana, nº 80.
Translated by Philip Dravers and Roger Litten
i Miller, J.-A., “Habeas Corpus”, The Lacanian Review 3 (2017), pp. 94-100.
ii Miller, J.-A., “The Unconscious and the Speaking Body”, Hurly-Burly 12 (2015), pp. 119-132.
iii Miller, J.-A., “La ponencia del ventrílocuo”, Introducción a la clínica lacaniana, ed. Gredos, Colección RBA-ELP, Barcelona, 2006.
vii Miller, J.-A., “Ironic Clinic”, The Psychoanalytical Notebooks of the London Society, 7, 2001, p. 9.