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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.

Lacan’s encounter with a Buddhist statue and the gaze as objet

The article examines Lacan’s use of a personal experience recollected from his recent vacation in Japan, recorded in Seminar X (1962-1963) Anxiety. This experience occurred in connection with a Japanese Buddhist statue, and the contemplative relation Lacan observed with respect to it. Lacan utilises his recollection of this experience in his teaching activity, specifically to introduce the question of the objet a in the scopic field. In order to use this experience Lacan was led in the seminar to comment on the relation between psychoanalysis and Buddhism, specifically on the statement that “desire is illusion” and on the central Buddhist teaching of “non-duality” and the article revisits Lacan’s discussion. Lacan also gave the iconographic references which he understood to characterise the statue in question. Some research work reveals the possible identity of this Buddhist statue, both in terms of its actual location and its iconography and identifies it as the “Pensive Prince” or the Bodhisattva Maitreya, situated in Chūgūji monastery at Nara. The article then offers a commentary and analysis of Lacan’s theory of the relation between the eye and the emerging concept of the gaze, in order to illustrate the operation of desire in the field of vision. It shows how Lacan has utilised an example of sublimation in the scopic field in order to communicate to his listeners a development in his theory concerning the gaze as partial object of the scopic drive as well as an historical-cultural sublimation, as exemplified in the Buddhist statue.

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Anxiety is not without an object: a Lacanian speculation on the uncanny

Anxiety poses serious problems in regards to the phenomenological conception of perceptual awareness: what is the particular mode of “givenness” proper to the experience in anxiety? Is the existentialist tradition right to understand anxiety in relation to or in opposition with fear (i.e., as a sort of object-less fear)? The work of Lacan in his Anxiety Seminar (1962-1963) challenges the notion that anxiety can be understood in relation to fear, and it offers a novel way of addressing the troublesome phenomenological problem of anxiety’s object-relation. The formula that he puts forward, and which we explore in this essay, is that “anxiety is not without an object”. As a point of reference, the essay explores the properties of a curious topological object that greatly interests Lacan – viz. the Möbius strip – in order to shed light on a very peculiar class of phenomena, viz. uncanny phenomena. The overall aim is to show how the category of uncanny phenomena comprises a field of experience that forces us to revise the basic eidetic categories of Husserlian and existentialist phenomenology.

Medusa’s gaze: The panoptical ideal questioned

In the 18th century Bentham proposed the idea of the panopticon as a reliable method for exercising power. By capturing the gaze, the guard owns the power of seeing in order to force the prisoner to submit. In this way, the undesirable behaviour of the prisoner can be suppressed. In the 1970’s there were several interesting commentaries: Foucault (philosophical) and Miller (psychoanalytic). This article examines the effects of a panoptical architecture, starting from concrete experiences. A clinical fragment will allow us to argue that the panopticon cannot guarantee the one-sidedness of the gaze (namely, on the part of the guard). As a consequence the panopticon has not only suppressing effects, but is also a possible ground for transgression.

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.