August 7, 2017
by Jan Simončič
In 1975, Lacan spoke at the Yale University, where a student posed him a question: which are his favourable theoreticians of psychoanalysis? Lacan did not fall for the syntagm “theoreticians of psychoanalysis”. Thus, in his answer, he only spoke of analysts.
One may find interesting that such a question appeared precisely in the US, namely in the place where the first attempts of commodification of psychoanalysis had been made. Psychology reduced psychoanalysis to one among other theories and tried to deprive it of its specificity. Psychology wanted to neutralize precisely the singularity of the psychoanalytic clinic, and thus deployed particularity to translate it into the category of the universal.
Therefore, it may not seem unusual that the Slovenian modification of Lacanian psychoanalysis (represented by the signifier “theoretical psychoanalysis” alias “psychoanalysis without the clinic”) sells so well precisely in the US and Anglo-Saxon world. Is this not (commodity) fetishisation of psychoanalytic theory as stand-up performances that are supposed to please the audience and readers?
Historical conditions for psychoanalysis in Slovenia were never favourable. Therefor there are but a few analysts here. A problem has been pending for about 35 years. Namely, Lacanian psychoanalysis was presented in Slovenia as an academic subject. And Lacan himself emphasised that university discourse is a continuation of the master discourse by other means. This is why there are fewer analysts here than those who call themselves “theoretical psychoanalysts” and who use psychoanalysis for their therory.
What is the meaning hereby given to this expression therory? It means execution of terror (in the name of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis) over psychoanalysts, analysands, and those who would desire to enter into analysis.
The root theos associates theory with theology, which includes the supposition of the Other, joining philosophical and religious discourse. Because of that joint, as well, there are Lacanian philosophers, who are fascinated with the question of “orthodoxy”. This question arises in theology as the structure of religious belief and it raises precisely the question of terror. Lacan spoke about that already in his text Kant avec Sade, where he introduced the other side of categorical imperative as sadism. In the Slovenian space this means both imperative/sadism of pure theory and imperative/sadism of pure clinic.
As Marx already emphasised, the philosopher is a effect of the state’s operation. Philosopher and policeman occupy the same position, because they have the same task, which is the task of controlling. In Slovenia, precisely this procedure originates from university discourse. Its presupposition always consists in what Foucault called power-knowledge (savoir-pouvoir). The effect is that their knowledge about psychoanalytic theory supposedly (by supposition of the student, who is structurally positioned as a hystericised subject) gives power to “theoretical psychoanalysts”, but at the same time contributes to an incredibly strong resistance to analysis itself.
This is how in Slovenia, for over 35 years students’ (naïve) supposition has been taken advantage of, the supposition being that “theoretical psychoanalysts” are subjects supposed to know (which is the supposition an analysand has in relation to their analyst). This is how the “academic-theoretical psychoanalyst” sets up his position of “some kind” of psychoanalyst, who uses the supposition of the student. But in fact the “academic-theoretical psychoanalyst” does not withdraw from their position of savoir–pouvoir, because they represent the interests of dominion, and the interest of their subjective desire to govern.
What kind of statements are then part of such a terror and who asserts them?
“Theoretical psychoanalysts” as philosophical academics boast about being acquainted with many psychoanalysts all around the globe, but when one asks them in distress for a contact of a Lacanian psychoanalyst, they do not reply. This is only one of the modes by which they block entrance into analysis from the position of power. Not only do they take a reactive position of blocking an act, they also take an active position in the form of enunciating.
They use clinical diagnoses for diagnosing themselves or others, for example students, which is what is particularly problematic, because they do that with the authorisation of the university as master discourse, but without psychoanalytic training and even without having had their own analysis. The key reason for it is that some “theoretical psychoanalysts” were in analysis, but they produced negative transference and did not continue it afterwards. The consequence is a split – psychoanalysis remained an object of desire, while the real extent of its clinic remained disavowed.
They tell psychoanalytic analysands not to fetishise their own analysis. That is where a question emerges, what fetishising means for someone and why would a “philosopher/theoretical psychoanalyst” say something like that? Perhaps it is because entering analysis means to lose the position of savoir-pouvoir? Because entering analysis means that psychoanalysis cannot be the phallus for the subject. And furthermore, who should not fetishize their own analysis? Psychoanalyst? Analysand? Or perhaps a “theoretical psychoanalyst”?
For Freud fetish is linked with sexuality. Fetish is that object, which represents a subject’s belief that woman (more precisely the mother) has a penis. This is a defence from castration anxiety. Namely, if mother does not have a penis, then it could also happen to a man that he would lose his penis. This is why the subject need that object (it could be a commodity), which enables him to heal his split. Fetish is thus fundamentally linked with the concept of the phallus. For a “theoretical psychoanalyst”, psychoanalysis is a phallus that gives them power – power to dominate another from the position of the Master by commanding and diagnosing. However, psychoanalysis is not at all a phallus and it cannot be a phallus.
So, why did Lacan never speak about “theoretical psychoanalysts”? Because the expression “theoretical psychoanalyst” is an oxymoron. Psychoanalysis is possible only after crossing the metalanguage about psychoanalysis – it is possible because of the supposition of the unconscious, discovered by Freud, and the inventions it produces. And the latter have to be produced also by analysand in the analytic situation. Psychoanalysis exists only in its inventions, thus in its practice that can become theory of psychoanalysis only after the emergence of the real. It is not a philosophically-speculative theory, which phallicises the subject who speaks about it. It is theory, worthy of this name and this status, because it is a turning point both of subjective and of social history.