Discussing the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesj, a tale of the quest for immortal¬ity, and digressing from time to time towards the epics of Homer, the author searches for the essence of the literary hero. The psychoanalytic reading offered here does not aim to uncover some underlying truth about the author or his characters, but rather to elucidate the functioning of the text in relation to the reader. This functioning turns out to be multi¬layered. At first the epic offers its reader the possibility of imaginary identification. But it does not stop there: archaic heroism invariably turns out to be connected with the theme of death. Death, in epical context, represents the ultimate lack no hero can overcome. Faced with the inevitable failure of the hero, the reader also cannot escape from con¬fronting this lack. The positive note of the epic resides in the fact that it shows how this lack can be the foundation of the journey the hero undertakes, the story that develops around him, the subjectivity he symbolizes.
The way in which obsessional neurosis is dominated by the attempt of the subject to liberate itself from the grasp of the mother is illustrated with a fragment from the analysis of an obsessional man. Both the castration of the mother and the problematic character of the Name-of-the-Father take a central place. It is observed how the subject is hired by the mother in her search for an object capable of filling her lack. This is the seduction of the mother: by pretending that the child would be able to be or to have what she is missing, she strokes its narcissism, and in the process, she rejects the desire of the future obsessional. For its part, the subject starts to desire what the mother demands and is captivated by the metonymic glide of objects, none of which are able to fill the maternal lack. Because of the mortal immobilisation and the constant frustration following from the identification with the phallus, the subject will try to buy itself out of being the phallus by having it. That is what happens at the stage of privation. Refusing to accept the castration of the mother, whether through identification, possession or exploitation of the phallic object, each time the desire of the mother surfaces, it presents an anxious threat for the obsessional, who fears being reduced to that same phallic object. Trying to fine-tune anxiety and desire leads him to construct a paradoxical universe, the frame of which is formed by an Other, designed as both total and without object simultaneously. This Other is no longer grounded in a cut, but is based on a distance: everything which belongs to the field of the real is being pushed into the realm of the hypothetical. Delay and doubt play an important role in this and help to create an “impossible” object, enabling the virtual existence of the Thing to contine.
The pathic, which is fundamental to all practice, releases this practice from a thematic, goal-directed and measurable realisation. It turns practice into a process that is continuously transforming itself in a wide variety of initiatives which are supported by a pathic continuum, like reception, taking time and polyphonic-tinged encounters. In this way Institutional Psychotherapy tries to take shape within a care system that is, in and of itself, closed.