The Place of Acting Out in Psychoanalysis: From Freud to Lacan

Within psychoanalysis acting out is, today, a contested concept, both in terms of its theoretical underpinnings and with regard to its clinical application. In light of this the present paper presents a review of the concept which begins with Freud and moves on to trace the various discussions and controversies which have surrounded the term. It is argued that acting out is a valid and clinically important psychoanalytic concept, though one which retains its value only in virtue of unpacking its relation to the transference. Furthermore it is contended that this relation was initially made clear by Freud, and that this notion has been successfully built on and elaborated by, in particular, Lacan. In the context of discussing acting out, the related concepts of acting in and enactment are examined. The former is seen as representing instances of expressive actualisation, while the latter is found to be wanting in conceptual clarity. Also discussed are the position of the analyst in relation to the transference, and more specifically the problems associated with countertransference based interventions, highlighted by Lacan.

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Inspiration of the cure or technique? The ethical loneliness of the analyst

This paper deals with the question of the meaning of technique in analytical treatment. With Freud, it is acknowledged that the term “technique” is all too often interpreted in terms of rules or instructions for the analyst in relation to good direction for the cure. In contrast, Freud underscored another dimension of technique: that of creativity, a dimension that contributes to the emergence of the subject as well as to the creation of additional degrees of freedom for its speaking; the one in which the analyst, having analysed his own freedom (or lack of it), creates the conditions wherein the subject comes to his own, truthful, speech. The tension between technique in the narrow sense, and technique in the sense of the creative manipulation of transference, is illustrated on the basis of a few clinical fragments.

Lacanian Psychoanalysis as Fraud: On Desire and the Particular Unruly Signifiers

By means of two short cases taken from a practice with “special” youngsters, the author illustrates the resilience of the signifier. Fundamental and epistemological problems of psychoanalysis are constantly surfacing in that sort of clinical material and this applies even to trivial examples. It raises questions such as what is the unconscious? How can one know it? Time and again one is confronted with the duplicity of the signi¬fier, in practice as well as in theory. This can make it particularly difficult to maintain one’s intervention as psychoanalytic. Despite the failing symbolic, which can never bring about a complete effect in the real, the analyst is obliged to operate with the signifier. More so, the unconscious only gains the right to exist through the speech of a subject to a sujet supposé savoir, and only there, in the desire of the “patient” that talks to the analyst (who is a former “patient” himself), can psychoanalysis attempt to restrict the duplicity (amongst it the deceit of its own decay).

A fragment of an analysis with a child, or the importance of language for oedipal structuration

This paper concerns a clinical fragment from the analysis of a four year old child. Several topics relevant for child analysis are addressed. We learn that a child who had abruptly decided to be silent, through the particularity of the transference bond, is once again enough at ease to tell his story. Symbolic exchange, together with the answer of the Other as mirror of language, allows the boy access to the oedipal constellation and allows him to reorient himself psychically. Through a process of drawing, of signifying, being signified, and of writing, we get a glimpse of the significance of language for the Oedipal structuration process.

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