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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.

Psychoanalysis and Philosophy of History: Frank Ankersmit and Eelco Runia on the Relation Between Past and Present

In this paper, the author discusses the relation between psychoanalysis and philosophy of history. He talks about the influence of psychology and psychoanalysis on Frank Ankersmit and Eelco Runia, two central figures in contemporary philosophy of history. According to Ankersmit, the notion of trauma plays a central part in the way in which we deal with our past. Ankersmit also uses patients suffering from de-realization as a guiding example to clarify his understanding of the relationship between reality, language, trauma and experience. Eelco Runia on the other hand refers to the use of the Lacanian concept of the “real”. In the way we deal with the past, this concept manifests itself in two different ways. The first involves the concept of the “presence of the past”, together with the psychoanalytically well-known concept of “parallel processing”. The second one concerns the notion of the sublime act as it manifests itself in certain kinds of historical events. Runia also links this to Daryl Bem’s self-perception theory.

Working and the Death Drive: On Literature and Children with Behavior Disorder

With reference to Mannoni (1979), it is argued that the clinical practitioner must, based on his own experience, continuously “retranslate” his theoretical language into his mother tongue. As an example, this paper focusses on how the author retranslates the Freudian notion of the death drive and Lacan’s category of the real, based on his educational and therapeutic work with children with behavior disorder. It is argued that these theoretical conceptions cover something that is not there but that nevertheless is operative. What is one to do when confronted with something that is not there but nevertheless is operative? The answer proposed is that one has to inscribe the subject in the sexual relation through the act of writing. This directive is illustrated via clinical work with children suffering from a psychically “silent” mother and is argued through a revisiting of the work of Fernando Pessoa.