By means of two short cases taken from a practice with “special” youngsters, the author illustrates the resilience of the signifier. Fundamental and epistemological problems of psychoanalysis are constantly surfacing in that sort of clinical material and this applies even to trivial examples. It raises questions such as what is the unconscious? How can one know it? Time and again one is confronted with the duplicity of the signi¬fier, in practice as well as in theory. This can make it particularly difficult to maintain one’s intervention as psychoanalytic. Despite the failing symbolic, which can never bring about a complete effect in the real, the analyst is obliged to operate with the signifier. More so, the unconscious only gains the right to exist through the speech of a subject to a sujet supposé savoir, and only there, in the desire of the “patient” that talks to the analyst (who is a former “patient” himself), can psychoanalysis attempt to restrict the duplicity (amongst it the deceit of its own decay).
Psychopathy as a concept has always been subjected to reductionist thinking, causing it to be heavily contested within psychiatry and psychoanalysis. On the basis of research involving prisoners and the insights of the Belgian psychiatrist-psychoanalyst Léon Cassiers, the author describes recurring patterns in the relation of the psychopath towards the Other and towards language. Fundamental to psychopathy is the defence mechanism of the Retraction of the Law in which an initial Bejahung is followed by a retraction. The aim of this retraction is to escape the lack and the division by the signifier. A case study of an impostor is used to illustrate the theory.