The Transmission of Trauma

Arising from the work of Fonagy and others, the question of the transmission of the effects of trauma is examined, particularly in the context of holocaust trauma and the survivors. Possible mechanisms are explored and the place of Freud’s notion of deferred action is discussed and the mode of its possible operation in this context. It is suggested that this notion offers a more specifically psychoanalytic and more adequate approach to exploring what is operative here. Transmission is considered as a possible case of nachtraglichkeit, which might offer a better account of the phenomena being explored. The implications of the above for the particular trauma that is the reality of death are alluded to and it is suggested that the trauma is commonly dealt with through the mechanism of deferred action.

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The Origins of Freud’s Theory of the Unconscious: A Philosophical Link

The recent publication of Freud’s correspondence to his school friend, Edward Silberstein, has provided new impetus for research into Freud’s relationship with the philosopher Franz Brentano. In this paper I will address one possible objection to any claim that the philosopher could have influenced Freud on a theoretical level. It may be argued that there could be no significant theoretical influence because the psychoanalyst constructed a model of mental functioning which presupposes an unconscious, while Brentano was a philosopher of consciousness, who denied the very existence of unconscious ideas. I will demonstrate that, despite his rejection of unconscious mental functioning, Brentano presents a systematic investigation into what he perceives to be the strongest arguments in favour of the existence of unconscious ideas. Although he finds each account to be flawed, Brentano frequently offers a possible corrective, suggesting certain conditions as principles which must be observed by anyone hoping to formulate a reasonable thesis to support the existence of unconscious ideas. I argue that it is this analysis which helped Freud to formulate a coherent account of the unconscious which does not fall prey to the objections Brentano levelled against preceding conceptions of unconscious mental processes.

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Lacan and the “Sophist” – Indications of the Logic of the Subject

In the Seminar Crucial Problems for Psychoanalysis Lacan suggests that the logical conditions for the subsistence of the subject are indicated in Plato’s Sophist. Lacan argues that the same conditions are necessary for there to be a signifier orientated with respect to another signifier as for there to be a subject. This amounts to saying that the subject is the effect of signifiers. This article sketches the conditions Lacan indicates as necessary for the operation of signifiers. This amounts to an account of the conditions for a logic. The article deals mostly with the implications of the discussion of being and not-being in Plato’s Sophist. A new status for not-being is established in the face of arguments proposed by the sophist and seemingly supported by Parmenides. Before the Sophist being and not-being were thought as contraries. Not-being by this account is problematic and ultimately unspeakable. Therefore, Parmenides could prohibit research into not-being. Plato’s dialogue situates not-being in the logical realm and suggests a relation between being and not-being which is marked by otherness and introduces a function of negation which allows what is not present to be presented. Lacan refers to the Sophist because something of the logical status of the subject, in so far as it is the effect of the operation of signifiers (in other words, the logic of the signifier), “overlaps” with the status of not-being established in Plato’s text.

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The Place of Acting Out in Psychoanalysis: From Freud to Lacan

Within psychoanalysis acting out is, today, a contested concept, both in terms of its theoretical underpinnings and with regard to its clinical application. In light of this the present paper presents a review of the concept which begins with Freud and moves on to trace the various discussions and controversies which have surrounded the term. It is argued that acting out is a valid and clinically important psychoanalytic concept, though one which retains its value only in virtue of unpacking its relation to the transference. Furthermore it is contended that this relation was initially made clear by Freud, and that this notion has been successfully built on and elaborated by, in particular, Lacan. In the context of discussing acting out, the related concepts of acting in and enactment are examined. The former is seen as representing instances of expressive actualisation, while the latter is found to be wanting in conceptual clarity. Also discussed are the position of the analyst in relation to the transference, and more specifically the problems associated with countertransference based interventions, highlighted by Lacan.

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The Addicted Subject caught between the Ego and the Drive: The post-Freudian Reduction and Simplification of a Complex Clinical Problem

Texts by Abraham, Rado, Glover and Gross are explored in order to investigate post-Freudian literature on the question of addiction. The reduction of the Freudian field is analysed in order to produce new foundation stones for a theory on addiction by confronting the (post-Freudian) reduced elements with each other. A reading of the post-Freudian literature shows that it is possible to distinguish between different periods in psychoanalytic thinking about addiction. These periods represent, in their own style, a reduction of Freud’s work. A confrontation between the earlier drive-theory and the later ego(self)psychology period, interestingly enough, does not lead to a synthesis of the two into a higher order of thinking on addiction. Surprisingly, it results in the production of new theoretical elements and a shift in thinking about addiction. Thus, despite the lack of fecundity in most post-Freudian thinking on addiction, the possibility nevertheless exists to produce some material on addiction, providing one analyses or interprets, not just the relevant texts, but precisely what is lacking in these texts.

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A Question of Ethics: Dream Interpretation and the Danger of Acting Out

There is a reluctance to talk about the actuality of the clinic. As a clinician, I remain convinced that it is useful to do so. One has to be clear, however, about one’s motive. Quite apart from issues of confidentiality, a clinical account often does not translate well for the reader. In this paper, my motive runs to using the example of a dream, coupled with a potential crisis in the form of an acting out, to illustrate the psychoanalytic act as an ethical act. In addition, I am challenging a critique of the so-called Lacanian clinic. Through this challenge, I am attempting to define, while working within the confines of a circumscribed clinical example, what it is that allows me say, in as much as anyone can say such a thing, that, as an analyst, my actions are ethical. I realise that this precludes other types of intervention, in particular, transference interpretation.

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