Deadlocks and Dangers of the Diagnosis of Psychopathy

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.

Humane Psychiatric Care in De Meander: A Matter of Ethics

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.

How ‘normal’ is ‘pathological’? Psychiatry and clinical psychology as a new means of disciplining.

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.

Writings around Das Ding

In this article das Ding is characterized as the structural a priori condition for memory and, more broadly, for the subject in its desire. First, the fundamentally conflicting nature of the psychical apparatus as outlined by Freud in his Project for a scientific psychology (1950a[1895]) is examined. The elaboration of the opposition between the primary processes or the pleasure principle on the one hand and the secondary processes or the reality principle on the other is of crucial importance. The ambiguity that characterizes this opposition is related to the Freudian notion of das Ding as the residue of the process of judgement through which a subject tries to grasp the outside world and the Nebenmensch. Das Ding, as the primordial outside of the subject, is then characterized, with Lacan, as the centre around which the subjective world of the unconscious is organised but from which it is nevertheless excluded. Finally, the implications of this theory for the desiring subject on the one hand and for an articulation of the ethics of psychoanalysis on the other are addressed.

Inspiration of the cure or technique? The ethical loneliness of the analyst

This paper deals with the question of the meaning of technique in analytical treatment. With Freud, it is acknowledged that the term “technique” is all too often interpreted in terms of rules or instructions for the analyst in relation to good direction for the cure. In contrast, Freud underscored another dimension of technique: that of creativity, a dimension that contributes to the emergence of the subject as well as to the creation of additional degrees of freedom for its speaking; the one in which the analyst, having analysed his own freedom (or lack of it), creates the conditions wherein the subject comes to his own, truthful, speech. The tension between technique in the narrow sense, and technique in the sense of the creative manipulation of transference, is illustrated on the basis of a few clinical fragments.