Family Secret Revisited

When Jaap van Hoewijk discovered in 1997 that his father had not died in a motor accident, as he and his sisters had been told 23 years before, but rather had committed suicide, he decided to make a documentary about this discovery. The interview revisits the fascinating story of Family Secret (2001) and focusses on some issues that remain unresolved in the film: 1) relations between van Hoewijk and his mother and other family members during and after the making of the film; 2) what had prompted his search for the truth; 3) his unconscious knowing of this truth, that is, before its discovery; 4) a second family secret related to the first one; 5) the process of reconstructing what happened; 6) the process of rewriting one’s own life history, and; 7) how his film was received.

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.

Playing with Autism and Outsider Art

Throughout the twentieth century, autism has been variously interpreted and as a result has become a flexible signifier. Over the last decade, both the academic world and popular culture have paid particular attention to the self-expression of people living on the spectrum. On the occasion of the most recent exhibition in the Dr. Guislain Museum in Ghent, which put numerous autistic artists in the spotlight, Leni Van Goidsenhoven reflects on conceptual changes within autism discourse, the danger of the savant-rhetoric, cultural interventions and the category of “autistic art”. She moreover shows how Museum Guislain’s project experiments with autism and outsider art by incorporating playful elements.

Nothing for nothing: Lacan and language in the 1950’s

This paper explores how the influence of cybernetics within structuralism contributed to Lacan’s theory of the signifier as (functioning within a) structure. By examining his Freudian exploration within the broader scheme of American and French thought, the author extrapolates the link between these two theoretical paradigms and the implications that this had for his work. It is argued that in contrast to the apparent ease with which the structuralist paradigm was incorporated into Lacan’s theory, the surprise of his Seminar attendees when presented with cybernetics in 1954 was not altogether warranted. By exploring the close interaction between Jakobson and Lévi-Strauss during the 1940s, the author shows that the structuralist paradigm was already quite heavily invested by cybernetics. In commenting on two slightly different translations of an intervention that Lacan makes during the Bonneval Colloquium with Jean Hyppolite, the author pinpoints a likely turning point within Lacan’s work, within the context of his thesis on the temporality of the signifier and its relationship to the Freudian notion of repetition.

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