Words still matter: Lacan and the role of the signifier in therapy today

In 1966, Lacan wrote “On an Ex Post Facto Syllabary”, a short rarely read essay that holds a key to what is radical and still important regarding what makes psychoanalysis relevant today, and that is the role of the signifier and the symbolic in mental health treatment. The following article describes Lacan’s critique of Herbert Silberer’s concept of the functional phenomenon as an example of the resistance that theorists and practitioners have towards the role of the unconsious and the symbolic. This is a detailed look at Lacan’s critique, and how the imaginary is still a trap, as well as a discussion of how a focus on the signifier and language serves as an alternative.

Frege and Lacan: A Transcendental Line of Thought

This paper analyses the idea that Frege and Lacan can be connected through a transcendental line of thought. From this viewpoint Frege’s development of modern formal logic is considered as a moment in modernity that shows that the challenge of formalization or mathematization is in fact a challenge of identification of both subject and object. Lacan’s thinking is in accord with this endeavour, but it articulates more explicitly and symbolically the connection between formalization and identification. A crucial point in our argument is that a transcendental viewpoint is not necessarily incompatible with a lacanian viewpoint, to the extent, namely, that attention is paid to the idea that subject and object are first and foremost of the order of writing or the symbolic.

Suicide and Death-Drives

The death-drive runs as a red thread through a reading of Lacan. Starting from a clinic of suicide, Lacan proposes a theory whih is based on a split that is present at every level of the human structure: the real (biological), the imaginary (narcissistic), the symbolic (linguistic), up to and including the fantasma (primordial masochism). We attempt to draw a lesson from this concerning the cure and the problematic field of mental health.

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.

Unhinging the familiar: The uncanny in Henry James’s The turn of the screw

The Turn of the Screw (1898) is one of the most Gothic short stories ever written by modernist author Henry James. Its effect on the reader can be quite unnerving, uncanny even. Though Sigmund Freud’s essay on The Uncanny (1919a) has often been used by scholars of Gothic literature to define and explain certain thematic aspects of these stories (the double, castration anxiety, repetition compulsion, and so on), the uncanny in The Turn of the Screw goes further than the usual suspects. Rather then confining it to the eerie appearance of ghosts or the declining mental state of the tale’s female narrator, the uncanny in James’s complex story can be traced back to something more fundamental that is both tangible and elusive at the same time: the actual text supporting the story – or failing to do so. Reconsidering Freud’s notion of the uncanny from a basic Lacanian perspective will help to explore a dark, distressing dimension of textual language that can otherwise be easily overlooked.