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Lacan’s object small a: an elephant in the room

This paper investigates the key question in Žižek’s article “The joke of psychoanalysis”, published in this edition of Psychoanalytische Perspectieven. This key question concerns what Lacan saw as the fundamental distinction between psychology and psychoanalysis, namely the affirmation of the scission between object small a and S(A).  

In the present article, this enigmatic claim of Lacan is examined in the light of the philosophical discussion concerning sense and reference as well as in what concerns the mechanism of a scission in repetition at the end of an analysis. It will be argued that a bidirectional interrogation between psychoanalysis and philosophy, that lies at the core of the work of Žižek and the Ljubljana Lacanian School, can be highly useful and relevant to frame the deadlocks of both clinical practice and philosophical thought.

Towards Gay Science: The End of Analysis as the Analysis of the End

In an attempt to account for the end (the goal, the direction) of the psychoanalytic treatment, Jacques Lacan has formulated quite a few principles and ideas over the course of his seminars and writings. Amongst these principles, the notion of the ‘traversal of the fantasy’ has come to occupy a priviliged position, despite the fact that it is effectively a hapax in Lacan’s works. This paper offers a succinct study of an alternative principle, which is rarely recognised in the context of discussions on the end of analysis, notably the principle of the signifier of the barred Other S(Ⱥ). The study of this principle generates the thesis that the end of analysis may be conceptualised as the analysis of the end, which constitutes the point where knowledge becomes ignorance, and the point where the symbolic order becomes ‘de-phallicised’. In the discourse of the analyst, the analysis of the end re-appears in the place of the product, where the master signifier symbolises the function of loss. For the knowledge of the psychoanalyst, this implies that a knowledge in the place of truth can only be maintained as a gay science, in the Nietzschean sense of a poetic, joyful and amusing knowledge.

The Subject’s Responsibility: The Beginning and the End of Analysis

Responsibility is a crucial notion in psychoanalysis. This article begins with a discussion of the preliminary sessions and the installation of the supposed subject of knowledge as the clinical moment in which the analysand takes up responsibility for his suffering. The second part of this article deals with the fate of the subject supposed to know in analysis as illustrated by the author’s testimony of a moment of pass in his own analysis. The analysis of two crucial dreams proves both the intransigence of a religious dimension in transference and the responsibility of the analyst in this matter. The final section of this article discusses the way in which this religious dimension can creep into and undermine psychoanalytical associations.