Psychoanalysis: a symptomatic problem

In this article the author explores why psychoanalysts are often seen as troublesome people and why they give so much critique. Foucault stated that in modernity the epistèmè changed: ‘man’ came in the thinking frame and human sciences were born. In his opinion psychoanalysis has in this epistèmè the position of a counter-science. In this article the author shows how psychoanalysis is different from human sciences in two aspects. First, psychoanalysis has another subject theory. The subject is not seen as something that can be discovered and has authentic qualities, but is fundamentally desiring and divided. Second, the author explains the difference in the way knowledge is grasped in psychoanalysis and human sciences by using Lacans discourse theory. These different points of view, mark the position of psychoanalysis in the modern epistèmè. The author concludes by stating that this is why psychoanalysis is so problematic for others. As a discourse, she is a symptom that appears because human sciences fail to grasp subjectivity. This is why psychoanalysis is fundamentally intertwined with the other human sciences and will probably disappear one day.

The plague: Freud, Lacan & the crisis of critique

During its long history, psychoanalytical theory has developed a criticism dealing with almost the entire domain of human culture and civilization. That theory lays bare the unconscious motives and structures which, on the conscious level, can have all kinds of pernicious effects. The weak point of that criticism, however, consists in its awareness that the unconscious motives and structures it brings to consciousness, after its critical analysis, will remain unconscious and repressed. In that sense, psychoanalytical theory performs a critique of criticism as such. Unmasking falsity and lies does not necessarily result in establishing truth.

This essay outlines the contours of such a psychoanalytical ‘critique of criticism as such’, as well as its implications for contemporary critical thought in general. The essay more precisely focuses on the right-wing cultural criticism, which makes use of criticism’s newly discovered ‘tragic condition’ in order to support a conservative ethical, cultural and political programme. This essay proposes a few points of reference replying to these tendencies in contemporary critical thought.

Esprit de corps, Work transference and dissolution: Lacan as an organizational theorist

Compared to the major impact Jacques Lacan’s theory of psychoanalysis has had on the widest range of disciplines in the arts and humanities, and in the social sciences, its reception in organizational studies has been relatively slow. This is often explained with reference to the fact that Lacan’s writings are difficult, and that he himself was never concerned with the study of organizations. In this paper, it is demonstrated that Lacan did have a profound interest in organizational life, and that it prompted him to formulate a number of key principles for establishing an “alternative” organizational structure, in which hierarchical authority is balanced against a communal, libertarian and solidaristic system of exchange. It is shown how these principles are indebted to Bion’s work with leaderless groups, and to Bion’s “first Northfield experiment” from the early 1940s. During the 1960s Lacan endeavoured to integrate these ideas in what he designated as a “circular organization”, which would operate on the basis of a series of small working groups called cartels, and on positions of “suspended authority”. It is also argued that Lacan’s eventual dissolution of his own School may not have constituted a simple case of organizational failure, but a necessary act of transformational change and permutation. The essay concludes with the proposition that a proper appreciation of Lacan’s significance for organizational studies should start with a critical analysis of his own contributions to the study of organizational life.

The Future of an Illusion: Phenomenology and Psychoanalysis

Starting from Sellars’ distinction between the manifest and scientific portrayals of man, we will develop three different philosophical readings of the possible consequences of this opposition with regard to the question of subjectivity: Dennett’s philosophical reconstruction of neuro-cognitive science; Husserlian phenomenology; and, Freudo-Lacanian psychoanalysis. Particular attention will be paid to the various ideas about the rights and limits of the first-person perspective and the issue of truth and fiction.

The Function of the Gaze and the Mother-Child Relationship in the Subjectification of a Physically Disabled Child

Physically disabled children suffer from the gaze of the people they meet and with whom they interact. They are confronted with their difference and are obliged to take up a position against this confrontation. First, through a review of relevant literature the author characterizes the gaze in the relation between a physically disabled child and the Other. The child’s identity is shaped through what is offered by others. At birth a child is positioned in the family, at the point where parental expectations meet reality and the child’s disability evokes in the parents feelings of guilt and shame. The author asserts that the mother’s gaze reduces the child to their disability. To understand this, the gaze is described as objet a (Lacan, 1973 [1964]). Then, the author explores the physically disabled child’s response to the Other’s gaze. Two possible responses are considered: the child may choose to adopt a seemingly passive position, whereby he undergoes the interaction; on the other hand, the child may explicitly expose him or herself to the Other, perhaps even exaggerating their dysfunction. The author concludes that speaking about the disability can help the child to find the words to talk about their own dysfunction and to take up a bearable position in response to their disability.