From Institution to Discourse. “Texte d’humeur”

This critical analysis of both the foundation and the organisation of the psychiatric institution, and of the way in which staff function and patients are treated, shows that unconscious mechanisms of the human psyche rule the institution in the same destructive manner as they do in the outside world. The institution is not a rational construction nor is it run by special driving forces, but rather is a place where the repetition of psychic tragedies and the drama of Eros and Thanatos prevail. Further, it functions as an overall mothering and securing structure where, when things go wrong, the fatherly repressive side takes the upper hand. And what of the rights of the patient? What kind of humanity drives the work within an institution? The author argues that the psychoanalyst plays a permanent subversive role within the institution, in order to make new effects possible, provided that the specific ethics of the psychoanalytic discourse are taken into account.

Nothing for nothing: Lacan and language in the 1950’s

This paper explores how the influence of cybernetics within structuralism contributed to Lacan’s theory of the signifier as (functioning within a) structure. By examining his Freudian exploration within the broader scheme of American and French thought, the author extrapolates the link between these two theoretical paradigms and the implications that this had for his work. It is argued that in contrast to the apparent ease with which the structuralist paradigm was incorporated into Lacan’s theory, the surprise of his Seminar attendees when presented with cybernetics in 1954 was not altogether warranted. By exploring the close interaction between Jakobson and Lévi-Strauss during the 1940s, the author shows that the structuralist paradigm was already quite heavily invested by cybernetics. In commenting on two slightly different translations of an intervention that Lacan makes during the Bonneval Colloquium with Jean Hyppolite, the author pinpoints a likely turning point within Lacan’s work, within the context of his thesis on the temporality of the signifier and its relationship to the Freudian notion of repetition.

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The Laws of Repetition, A Meditation

In this meditation, the author enumerates, in reference to his clinical practise as well as to his reading of Freud and Lacan, six laws of repetition: 1. repetition is continuous; 2. repetition operates in function of life; 3. repetition does not come down to mere reproduction but exists only through variation; 4. in repetition, smaller and bigger “rounds” are to be differentiated; 5. repetition operates in function of the cruelty of jouissance; 6. when one realizes that, beyond any mastering of the smaller rounds of repetition, the big round finds its way, then it already is too late.

Remembering versus Repeating

Taking Kierkegaard, i.e. one of Lacan’s main references with respect to the notion of repetition, as a starting point, the author firstly situates this reference in Lacan’s seminar. It is argued that Lacan confronts Kierkegaard’s notion of repetition with the Platonic idea of reminiscence. Further it is shown that according to Lacan it is repetition rather than reminiscence that structures human experience. Secondly the author revisists Kierkegaard’s On repetition (1843) and argues that a sharp distinction should be drawn between Kierkegaard’s conception of repetition and the Greek one. Finally it is shown that Kierkegaard’s philosophical insights were at odds with the very way in which he faced life (Regine) and death (father).

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Care and Repetition: About good, truth and writing

This article deals with the formidable challenge of repetition for therapeutic or educational care. Two forms of repetition are differentiated: one driven by the Oedipal life drive, the other by the death drive. Through a close reading of the classic myth of Oedipus Rex, the encounter of these forms of repetition is demonstrated. This myth also offers three main perspectives from which this work may be grasped: good, truth and writing. Originating in a project for abandoned children in a school for special education (De Sassepoort), the possible benefits of assisting children through writing is supported.

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