The mythification of memory: Freud, Lacan and Sebald’s Austerlitz

This paper explores the theme of memory and the process of remembering, linked to the inception of psychoanalysis and Freud’s work with his first hysterical patients which taught him that remembering, or rather, reminiscing, forms a crucial part of every analysis. Remembering is imprecise and is therefore of immense significance. What doesn’t fit into the narrative of life is “trauma.” It is what could not be assimilated by the subject and thus it is separated from “memory” (Braunstein, 2010, p. 6). In developing this, I will assess Freud’s early work with female hysterics and his work on technique, as well as Lacan’s elaborations of Freud’s technique in his work in the fifties which instrumentalise the importance of “dialectic” in supporting the analysand’s speech and remembering. What is essential is the “reconstruction” of the past and not simply reproducing it. W.G. Sebald’s compelling novel Austerlitz (2001) serves as a complimentary text in assessing the subjective significance of memory and remembering.

Suggestion and transference

Both Freud and Lacan distance themselves from any use of suggestion in analysis. Nevertheless, Lacan remarks in “The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power” both that there is a connection between suggestion and transference and that Freud was aware of that connection; namely that transference is itself an analysis of suggestion. Lacan will argue that transference is itself an analysis of suggestion in a very specific sense, namely to the extent that there is a kind of suggestion that directly supports the symbolic work intrinsic to analysis. The confusion is cleared up when one properly connects the fundamental rule of psychoanalysis with its origin in Freud’s experiments with suggestion and with the efficacy of working with signifiers.

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).