In 2010 I was invited to take part in a cartel with Filip Geerardyn, Wim Matthys and Elisabeth Van Dam for a close reading of Lacan’s text “Kant with Sade”. In the aftermath of this I wrote this text, which is neither a record of the cartel, nor an attempt to interpret or to summarize Lacan’s text. It is the result of following the tracks that Lacan sets out, more a Deleuzian Rhizome than a logical or critical argument. Following these tracks leads to a dramatic discovery. Lacan’s act of writing is an invitation to work through some crucial questions on ethics (Kant and Freud) rather than to consume Sade’s literature or to consider the case of the French libertine.
During the 60s, at a time when many leading philosophers were showing an interest in Sade, the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan also wrote an essay on the literary works of the libertine aristocrat D.A.F. de Sade, often called “The Divine Marquis”. That essay, entitled “Kant avec Sade”, is regularly cited but rarely discussed in any depth by philosophers and psychoanalysts, partly as a result of Lacan’s baroque style of writing, his sloppy formulations, and his suggestive language. However, in spite of this, Lacan’s text is worthwhile reading. The central idea is that Sade’s oeuvre reveals the truth of Kant’s moral philosophy. In his article, the author shows that this remarkable thesis can be understood in at least two ways. Moreover, it is also argued that Lacan’s thesis can be read in a reverse direction, although Lacan himself never says that explicitly. It will be shown in the third section that according to Lacan, Kant is the truth of Sade.
This paper argues that the diagnosis of psychopathy, promoted by the author of the PCL-R Robert Hare, contains many implicit assumptions. It is not the logic pertaining to the decipherment of the subject’s urge to a criminal act that is central within this account, but a calculation of danger and the nomination of evil. Hence, in our opinion scientific research that is rooted in the work of Robert Hare should always question these implicit assumptions. Therefore the author offers a close reading of Hare’s work, in which he discerns a political factor in its incessant attempt to reduce the anxiety related to the Other. In contrast with Hare, an important aspect of Freud and Lacan is highlighted concerning the issues of crime and guilt. Finally, recent attempts to recuperate the concept of psychopathy in psychoanalytic theory are criticized.
This article describes a number of concrete initiatives taken in the De Meander in Melle (near Ghent, Belgium), a psychiatric ward for patients with a mental disability or an acquired brain injury, with the aim of introducing and safeguarding a psychoanalytic ethic. In the latter, the particularity of the patient plays a central role. De Meander tried to achieve this by abolishing many of the ward rules, allowing more space for the singular solution of the patient. Furthermore, the author describes how aggression is addressed differently, in order to learn how to read this rather than punish it. From an ethical perspective, the values and standards of mainstream society are no longer strictly adhered to, but the starting point is the suffering and the questioning of the patient as a unique subject. The author describes how patients of De Meander are given more responsibility for their lives and future. Hierarchical positions are lifted by creating the possibility of circulation between different team members and by using the therapeutic potential of patients. Finally, the author describes how, via volunteer work, an opening to the outside world is created for so-called chronic patients. These various concrete initiatives are illustrated using clinical vignettes.
This contribution originates with a number of problems in the current psychodiagnostic and therapeutic field which give rise to important ethical, clinical and scientific questions: questions that, from a broader social perspective, are interrelated. The criteria for psychopathology depend on socially decided norms and values (ethics), which coincide with the societal context. Current neoliberal discourse dictates a medical model that determines the manner in which scientific research is conducted, resulting in so-called evidence-based DSM-based diagnostics. In the clinic, this psychiatric handbook is used to identify individuals that deviate from the proposed criteria, with the goal of treatment to ‘normalise’ them. This is little more than a form of social standardization and patients are becoming increasingly aware of this. However, what little protest has occurred has had correspondingly little impact. Psychotherapy is hence at a tipping point. To protect our discipline, it is necessary to explicitly see the sea in which we all swim and to question our own role in determining the general perspective.