By means of two short cases taken from a practice with “special” youngsters, the author illustrates the resilience of the signifier. Fundamental and epistemological problems of psychoanalysis are constantly surfacing in that sort of clinical material and this applies even to trivial examples. It raises questions such as what is the unconscious? How can one know it? Time and again one is confronted with the duplicity of the signi¬fier, in practice as well as in theory. This can make it particularly difficult to maintain one’s intervention as psychoanalytic. Despite the failing symbolic, which can never bring about a complete effect in the real, the analyst is obliged to operate with the signifier. More so, the unconscious only gains the right to exist through the speech of a subject to a sujet supposé savoir, and only there, in the desire of the “patient” that talks to the analyst (who is a former “patient” himself), can psychoanalysis attempt to restrict the duplicity (amongst it the deceit of its own decay).
Wild Children, Wild Language Theories: Lacan’s View of the Signifier through an Analysis of Kaspar Hauser and Victor of Aveyron
This article illustrates Lacan’s theory of language and the signifier using the story of two feral children. It is first argued that the failure to educate Victor of Aveyron to become a subject is related to the inaccuracy of his educator’s theory of language. The function of language is not to communicate one’s needs, nor is it the signifier’s function to refer to an object. The signifier only refers to other signifiers and it signifies absence. It is in that way that it raises an infant to be a cultural being. It was this process that guaran¬teed the socializing and subjectification of the second feral child, Kaspar Hauser.