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Summary: Jacques Lacan entered an ongoing dialogue between psychoanalysis and Catholicism when he delivered his Discourse to Catholics (1960) to the Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis. In the 1950s, the Catholic Church under the leadership of Pius XII taught its members to be wary of psychoanalysis due to its focus on desire in the unconscious. Lacan instead argued the essential connection between ethics and desire in Freud’s work and the role of psychoanalysis in facilitating the articulation of desire. Later, in The Triumph of Religion (1974), Lacan argued religion incompletely excretes meaning to conceal problems science discovers, and the world is confronted with the Real. While psychoanalysis directs attention to the Real, “what doesn’t work in the world,” Lacan predicted religion would eventually excrete enough meaning to make psychoanalysis irrelevant. Yet the Church’s position in this dialogue has changed. Joseph Bergoglio attended psychoanalysis in the 1970s and, as Pope Francis, has sought to move the Church away from the moralism of the past, which tied ethics to behavior compliance, and towards nonjudgment which sees ethics enacted through mercy. Rather than continue to sustain concealment of the Real (as the Church has done with clergy sexual abuse), Francis wants to move the Church closer to the Real through his emphasis on people on the margins, evidence of what is not working in the world.

The Psychotherapeutic Labour of the Subject within Visual Creative Therapy

This paper explores what happens in the subject when creating visual art. It is argued on the first level that there are four steps in the creation process: (i) forming the image; (ii) creating the object; (iii) the decision to finish; and (iv) the separation. On a more advanced level, one needs to be aware of the essential difference between the status of the creative process in neurosis and psychosis. It is argued that within a neurotic structure the process of creation (sublimation) witnesses the acceptance by the subject of the emptiness of the Thing behind the object created, whereas within a psychotic structure visual expression should be considered a symptom, a therapeutic phenomenon. Insight is gained into the specific way in which linguistic mechanisms enter visualisation through the case of Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern, a German psychotic outsider.

Three Psychoanalytic Readings of the Buddhist Emptiness

Both Buddhism and psychoanalysis show us alternative ways to bear human suffering. Buddhism teaches us the path of emptiness (śūnyatā), psychoanalysis that of sublimation. In this comparative literature study we explore how we can conceptualize the realization (jñāna) of emptiness based on the psychoanalytic conceptual framework. For this comparison we respectively use Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā and Lacan’s seventh seminar, supplemented with secondary literature. In the process of sublimation an object is elevated to the dignity of the Thing. In order to understand the buddhistic emptiness we make a distinction between the metaphysics of emptiness, indicating an intellectual understanding of emptiness, and the realization (jñāna) of emptiness, which refers to the meditative penetration of emptiness. When one realizes emptiness and one sees reality like it is, one is free of attachment (taṇhā) or fixation. We offer three psychoanalytic readings of the buddhistic emptiness. In a first reading we follow Lacan’s definition of sublimation and as such consider the Thing as a source of evil. This reading is compatible with the metaphysics of emptiness. In a second and third reading we adapt Lacans definition of sublimation by restricting the Thing to an empty and unknowable space. This is compatible with Lacan’s conceptualization of the Thing based on his reading of Kant’s Critique of the Practical Reason. This redefinition of the Thing in Lacan’s conceptualization of sublimation we conceive as the alternative sublimation. This adaption is necessary to understand what Buddhism means by the realization of emptiness.

Lacanian Sublimation and Verticality

This is a study of the relationship between sublimation and verticality in architecture – specifically Gothic architecture – and in psychoanalysis – more precisely, the Lacanian formula that sublimation “raises an object to the dignity of the Thing” (Lacan, 1986 [1959-1960]: 133). We begin the analysis of this relationship from Freud’s assertion in Civilization and Its Discontents that the “verticality” of man (“die Aufrichtung des Menschen“) is “the beginning of the inevitable process of civilization” (Freud, 1930a [1929]). We will then study the logic of dissatisfaction, as a producer of the big push towards the Top, whilst demonstrating that the circle established between the building of civilization and the operation of sublimation is not just a beneficial, but also a dissolute, circle. This circle shows the link between sublimation and the death drive (Freud, 1923b), thus implying the danger of the operation (Lacan, 1994 [1956-1957]; Lacan, 1986 [1959-1960]). We will also try to show that Freud’s thesis about verticality is related to sublimation, working to change the order of the drive whilst making it higher, “höheres Ziel” (Freud, 1908a). The “höheres Ziel” of Freudian psychoanalysis is connected to the “quanto altius” of architecture, the latter having been pioneered by Suger, abbot of Saint-Denis. We will conclude our study by showing what post-Freudians did with the verticality of Freudian sublimation, and what the art historian Worringer (1967 [1927]), did with Gothic verticality.

The Logical Times of Sublimation and Architecture

This article begins by analyzing Lacan’s famous formula from the seminar The ethics of psychoanalysis: sublimation “elevates an object to the dignity of the Thing” (Lacan, 1986 [1959-1960]: 133). Our hypothesis is that this operation has a logical sequence. We will demonstrate that Gothic architecture can account for the logic of sublimation and we will articulate the difference between “primitive sublimation” and sublimation as “elevation”: the former describes a sublimation that works without the imaginary – we shall refer to this as the creation of “holy (sacred) void” of architecture – the latter works with the imaginary but through a symbolic elevation that puts us in an indirect relationship with the real.