The subject and the lie: from méconnaissance to mensonge

In this paper the author discusses Lacan’s changing theory of the subject in the early texts of the Écrits and relates it to the notion of “the lie” in psychoanalysis. As Lacan’s view of the subject shifts form the Imaginary to the Symbolic, the source of man’s primordial discord and alienation shifts from being located in the relationship to the image to finding its source in the relationship to the signifier. We could qualify the shift from an imaginary to a symbolic subject theory as a shift from one kind of not wanting to know to another, as a shift from one kind of lie to another. We discuss this as a shift from méconnaissance in the Imaginary to mensonge in the Symbolic. We conclude with a few remarks on the notion of truth in psychoanalysis, the consequences for clinical practice and the role of the psychoanalyst, who is now redefined as a practitioner of the symbolic function.

The clinical interpretation of Don Quixote

In this contribution we take a psychoanalytic look at the novel The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. We follow the clinical adventures of Don Quixote and the diagnostic interpretations he comes across on his journey. We discuss a number of psychoanalytic case formulations that situate the knight in the realm of psychosis and that endeavour to construct the clinical logic of his adventures. Via a discussion of Lacan’s remarks on bovarysm and a consideration of the relationship between literature and psychoanalysis, we come to a second section, where we find our knight again, now no longer as a model of madness, but as a paragon of normalcy. Here Don Quixote has become a paradigmatic example of the way human identity and subjectivity are rooted in narrative and fantasy. Here each one of us becomes a Don Quixote, wandering through the world, guided by delusions and misapprehensions. We conclude with an examination of the way in which the fiction of psychoanalysis relates to the fiction of the subject. Here we encounter the psychoanalyst as a Don Quixote.

Clinical Considerations about Addiction: In Search of the Addicted Subject

In this contribution the author examines the specificity of a psychoanalytic orientation in clinical work with addicts. A psychoanalytic approach focuses on the subject and his discontent, rather than on the object, the consumed substance, and does not limit itself to the trivia of the substance use but searches for that for which the drug or alcohol use is a solution. A psychoanalytic focus on addiction aims at what lies beyond the supposedly simple stimulus-response cycle of need and its satisfaction and situates need within the dynamics of desire, related to the Other and mediated by speech. Drug use circumvents those dynamics, which has consequences for the transference. The author contrasts a psychoanalytic treatment, aimed at the symbolic working-through of desire and the letting go of imaginary identifications, with an imaginary treatment, aimed at installing an identification with “the addict” or “the former drug user” with accompanying terminology and prescribed behaviour. Arguments are illustrated throughout with clinical case material.