Violence and aggression: a lacanian perspective

Although psychiatry often has to work with aggressive patients, the huge amount of coercion and exclusion based on aggression, teaches us that psychiatry does not know how to handle violence. In 1948 Lacan wrote an essay on aggressiveness, trying to approach the phenomenon within a structural framework, albeit without the conceptual tools to work this through. His later work, notably the differentiations between the imaginary, the symbolic and the real, helps us to read aggression in a structural fashion, taking anxiety at the core of the problem. The author wants to expand this by making a differentiation between implicated violence and non-implicated violence. The former is about the aggression as we usually understand it: between subjects, with the feeling one is implicated in it and grounded in anxiety. The latter is carried out as a collective, grounded within discourse that veils anxiety. This violence is essentially dehumanizing for both victims and perpetrators. One is violent because it ‘needs to be done’, justifying its action through discourse. The author explains how in clinical practice, we should read the violence of mental health workers (like coercion or exclusion) and its accompanying anxiety, rather than simply denouncing it. If not, we risk that implicated violence will alter to non- implicated violence, making it even harder to tackle. The author concludes with an example of her own clinical practice and analysis.

On the pitfalls and perils of publishing/poubellication: some lessons from the field

This paper will present the results of a field study that was inspired by the theories of Maleval on the functions of writing for the psychotic subject. More particularly, we wanted to find out to what extent these theories remain valid in the specific context of Villa Voortman, a non-residential meeting place for people with double diagnosis (psychosis and drug abuse) in Ghent (Belgium), where a substantial part of the visitors is engaged in writing. While the study confirmed the three major functions of writing as identified by Maleval (depositing of excess jouissance through the physical act of writing, pouring enjoyment into signifiers, and dumping excess jouissance through publishing), a fourth and major function emerged: the identification with an artist. It is reasonable to suggest that this is a particular effect of Villa Voortman’s policy to facilitate and stimulate subjects to build up an identity beyond their psychiatric label.

Political logic of numerical community: borromean ones in Lacan and Beckett

This paper reads the political logic of a numerical community in Lacan’s figurations on the One and in Beckett’s novel How It Is (1961). It offers a reading of the collective subject in Lacan’s Borromean logic which allows infinite knotting in the Borromean chain but the Borromean property of the “plus one” maintains a special status of the One. If any one of the rings is cut, the whole chain dissolves. While this focus on the One may appear to be undemocratic for the community, the emancipatory aspect lies in that it could be any one. The Borromean knot figures a coexistence of the One and the not-One and this speaks to Beckett’s novel that oscillates between solitude and company. The article finally situates this mathematically ordained community in terms of a split between the One and the All.

Unconscious structure in Sartre and Lacan

Throughout his career, Jean-Paul Sartre had a contentious theoretical relationship with psychoanalysis. Nowhere is this more evident than in his criticisms of the concept of the unconscious. For him, the unconscious represents a hidden psychological depth that is anathema to the notion of human freedom. In this paper, I argue that Lacan’s conception of the unconscious-structured-like-a-language overcomes many of Sartre’s most damning objections. I demonstrate that Lacan shares with Sartre a concern to rid the psyche of hidden depths. Both thinkers therefore reject the depth psychological conception of the unconscious and arrive at strikingly similar positions on the nature of the unconscious. In this way, I show that the conceptual analogues that Sartre develops in order to avoid the psychoanalytic unconscious lead him to a position on the unconscious with which Lacan could be in agreement. This indicates that Sartre’s philosophical position is not as at odds with Freudian-Lacanian psychoanalysis as is typically though.

Ex-machina: sex, knowledge, and artificial intelligence

This paper investigates the relationship between sex and knowledge and its manifestation in the development of Artificial Intelligence. With the concept of the extimate uncanny I analyse the status of the robotic companion as emblematic of the Lacanian non- existent sexual relation. Through a commentary on the 2014 film Ex – Machina, I discuss the staging of symbolic castration, sexuation and the uncanny and suggest that this conceptual reading of the sex-bot is an essential starting point to a more complex understanding of the contemporary significance of Artificial Intelligence and sexualised automatons in the social bond. Via my reading, the figure of the sex-bot is understood to be the vanishing mediator which articulates the onto-epistemological nexus between psychoanalysis and philosophy.

The subject and the lie: from méconnaissance to mensonge

In this paper the author discusses Lacan’s changing theory of the subject in the early texts of the Écrits and relates it to the notion of “the lie” in psychoanalysis. As Lacan’s view of the subject shifts form the Imaginary to the Symbolic, the source of man’s primordial discord and alienation shifts from being located in the relationship to the image to finding its source in the relationship to the signifier. We could qualify the shift from an imaginary to a symbolic subject theory as a shift from one kind of not wanting to know to another, as a shift from one kind of lie to another. We discuss this as a shift from méconnaissance in the Imaginary to mensonge in the Symbolic. We conclude with a few remarks on the notion of truth in psychoanalysis, the consequences for clinical practice and the role of the psychoanalyst, who is now redefined as a practitioner of the symbolic function.