The author considers the role of resistance in analysis and asks specifically if the resistance of the analysand can be considered a measure of the duration of analytic treatment. It is not in any objective sense, but several indications in Freud’s and Lacan’s work indicate that they do draw connections between resistance and the duration of the treatment. Freud’s definitions of resistance are explored as well as several discussions of resistance in Lacan’s early, middle, and later work. Ultimately, Lacan shifts from a notion of the resistance of discourse to one of the resistance of structure—the topological structure of the Borromean knot.
In 1966, Lacan wrote “On an Ex Post Facto Syllabary”, a short rarely read essay that holds a key to what is radical and still important regarding what makes psychoanalysis relevant today, and that is the role of the signifier and the symbolic in mental health treatment. The following article describes Lacan’s critique of Herbert Silberer’s concept of the functional phenomenon as an example of the resistance that theorists and practitioners have towards the role of the unconsious and the symbolic. This is a detailed look at Lacan’s critique, and how the imaginary is still a trap, as well as a discussion of how a focus on the signifier and language serves as an alternative.
This paper explores the theme of memory and the process of remembering, linked to the inception of psychoanalysis and Freud’s work with his first hysterical patients which taught him that remembering, or rather, reminiscing, forms a crucial part of every analysis. Remembering is imprecise and is therefore of immense significance. What doesn’t fit into the narrative of life is “trauma.” It is what could not be assimilated by the subject and thus it is separated from “memory” (Braunstein, 2010, p. 6). In developing this, I will assess Freud’s early work with female hysterics and his work on technique, as well as Lacan’s elaborations of Freud’s technique in his work in the fifties which instrumentalise the importance of “dialectic” in supporting the analysand’s speech and remembering. What is essential is the “reconstruction” of the past and not simply reproducing it. W.G. Sebald’s compelling novel Austerlitz (2001) serves as a complimentary text in assessing the subjective significance of memory and remembering.
This is the case of a five-year-old child who presented to treatment on a path to a psychotic structure. Coming to treatment largely unable to talk or play, and fixated on his experiences of sexual assault, this case follows the child’s treatment as he ultimately adopts a neurotic stance. The case highlights both the role of the child and the role of the analyst in the treatment of children at risk for psychosis.
Psychoanalysis is a process that works with discourse, language, and speech. “Nothing takes place in psychoanalysis,” wrote Freud in his introductory lectures, “but an interchange of words between the patient and the analyst” (1916, p.17). Of course, Lacan also conveys that “psychoanalysis has but one medium: the patient’s speech” and emphasizes that “[t]he obviousness of this fact is no excuse for ignoring it” (1953/2006, p.206). Speech is the object of the analysand’s elaboration and this “ribbon of sound,” as Saussure called it, is the production of whatever comes to mind within the presence of the analyst as Other in the transference (1986, p.102). But what about when the ribbon of sound ceases? I raise this question since it seems the obviousness of speech has perhaps detracted somewhat from the obviousness of its opposite: nonspeech or silence. If the analysand’s unconscious is structured like a language, then the manifestation of this language must be supported through and necessarily implies the silence of the analyst.
Both Freud and Lacan distance themselves from any use of suggestion in analysis. Nevertheless, Lacan remarks in “The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power” both that there is a connection between suggestion and transference and that Freud was aware of that connection; namely that transference is itself an analysis of suggestion. Lacan will argue that transference is itself an analysis of suggestion in a very specific sense, namely to the extent that there is a kind of suggestion that directly supports the symbolic work intrinsic to analysis. The confusion is cleared up when one properly connects the fundamental rule of psychoanalysis with its origin in Freud’s experiments with suggestion and with the efficacy of working with signifiers.