Lacan’s object small a: an elephant in the room

This paper investigates the key question in Žižek’s article “The joke of psychoanalysis”, published in this edition of Psychoanalytische Perspectieven. This key question concerns what Lacan saw as the fundamental distinction between psychology and psychoanalysis, namely the affirmation of the scission between object small a and S(A).  

In the present article, this enigmatic claim of Lacan is examined in the light of the philosophical discussion concerning sense and reference as well as in what concerns the mechanism of a scission in repetition at the end of an analysis. It will be argued that a bidirectional interrogation between psychoanalysis and philosophy, that lies at the core of the work of Žižek and the Ljubljana Lacanian School, can be highly useful and relevant to frame the deadlocks of both clinical practice and philosophical thought.