Summary: The article highlights the importance of therapeutic labor and open-ended psychoanalytic treatment in a therapeutic community while trying to express how a psychoanalyst should not defensively withdraw one’s desire to listen in the face of people who are homeless and impoverished (which would only reveal the resistance of the analyst), but can deploy an ethics given some variations to the more ‘classical’ psychoanalytical frame so that the homeless subject is able to speak about their own suffering.

Mouth at rest: notes on silence as psychoanalytic technique

Psychoanalysis is a process that works with discourse, language, and speech. “Nothing takes place in psychoanalysis,” wrote Freud in his introductory lectures, “but an interchange of words between the patient and the analyst” (1916, p.17). Of course, Lacan also conveys that “psychoanalysis has but one medium: the patient’s speech” and emphasizes that “[t]he obviousness of this fact is no excuse for ignoring it” (1953/2006, p.206). Speech is the object of the analysand’s elaboration and this “ribbon of sound,” as Saussure called it, is the production of whatever comes to mind within the presence of the analyst as Other in the transference (1986, p.102). But what about when the ribbon of sound ceases? I raise this question since it seems the obviousness of speech has perhaps detracted somewhat from the obviousness of its opposite: nonspeech or silence. If the analysand’s unconscious is structured like a language, then the manifestation of this language must be supported through and necessarily implies the silence of the analyst.