Mouth at rest: notes on silence as psychoanalytic technique

Psychoanalysis is a process that works with discourse, language, and speech. “Nothing takes place in psychoanalysis,” wrote Freud in his introductory lectures, “but an interchange of words between the patient and the analyst” (1916, p.17). Of course, Lacan also conveys that “psychoanalysis has but one medium: the patient’s speech” and emphasizes that “[t]he obviousness of this fact is no excuse for ignoring it” (1953/2006, p.206). Speech is the object of the analysand’s elaboration and this “ribbon of sound,” as Saussure called it, is the production of whatever comes to mind within the presence of the analyst as Other in the transference (1986, p.102). But what about when the ribbon of sound ceases? I raise this question since it seems the obviousness of speech has perhaps detracted somewhat from the obviousness of its opposite: nonspeech or silence. If the analysand’s unconscious is structured like a language, then the manifestation of this language must be supported through and necessarily implies the silence of the analyst.

Hermine von Hug-Hellmuth: Preliminary Steps for the Technique of Child Analysis

At the 6th International Psychoanalytic Conference in The Hague in 1920 the Viennese psychoanalyst Hermine von Hug-Hellmuth presented her paper “On the technique of child analysis”. Her lecture discussed the many practical problems and theoretical questions she encountered while “analysing” children in the early twenties. The author reviews the main ideas of von Hug-Hellmuth in light of the work of other psychoanalysts, such as Melanie Klein, Anna Freud, Donald Winnicott, Françoise Dolto. He also determines the current value of the ideas of von Hug-Hellmuth for the contemporary praxis of child analysis. Some of the technical questions are still valid, such as the ethical question regarding the position of the parents and the question of education in child-analysis. On the other hand, some of the technical principles are out of date in light of social changes. The auteur shows that the study of von Hug-Hellmuth’s paper can still inspire every child analyst.

Some Thoughts on “Empty” and/or “Full” Speech

Starting from the effects of the power of speech, the relation between free association and “full speech” is questioned. It is argued that, whereas “empty speech” (i) confirms the very necessity of speech and (ii), establishes or re-establishes the social bond, “full speech” is constitutive on the level of the subject. In addition, some psychoanalytical techniques are highlighted which enable the psychoanalyst to support speech in its different functions.