24 de agosto de 2010



Presented by MARCO FOCCHI

Prepared by Ellyn Altman, Ph.D.

Marco Focchi is a Psychoanalyst practicing in Milan with a number of publications to his credit. He is a member of the World Association of Psychoanalysis with the title of AME. He has held positions of leadership in the Italian psychoanalytic community. Dr. Focchi raised provocative questions and provided comprehensible answers to the subject of "Encounters with Sexuality". With continuous references to the work of Lacan and when relevant to underpinnings from the work of Freud, Dr. Focchi grounded his remarks in psychoanalytic theory, clinical data and research, and literary references (e.g., Lolita by Nabokov, "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allen Poe, and The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum).

Throughout his presentation Dr. Focchi clarified the Lacanian position that sexuality is not something natural that develops spontaneously, growing in the human being with the growth of his body. Instead he explained that (1) sexuality for the human being is linked to language and therefore is traumatic and (2) there is no sexual relation. What follows are major points he discussed to answer the questions he raised.

Sexuality is mixed with nature and with culture, immersed in a web of language. The encounter with sexuality is also an encounter with the word that marks the body and separates the speaking being from an exclusively natural (biological) existence.

Dr. Focchi reported his study of inquiries made on the website of his colleague which fell into two themes of interest among the questioners: (1) how do I get my sexual partner to do what I want, and (2) what is (statistically) normal in sexuality? This brought into question the normative side of encounters with sexuality; the ("scientific") work of Alfred Kinsey; the naiveté of Kinsey's human subjects regarding sexuality; and the search for information from a knowledgeable expert. Illustrating with the novel "Lolita” written in English by Russian born author Nabokov who lost the "play language" of his early life, Dr. Focchi discussed lalangue and everyone's loss and wound. With the poem "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allen Poe, Dr. Focchi illustrated the lost object. He explained that the "word" opens experience to interpretation. His words eloquently conveyed that life is not merely biological and natural but more-- a wound for which there is no remedy. The recognition of this by an analysand -- a recognition that the wound is irremediable and not curable -- permits the conclusion of a psychoanalysis.

With references to the libretto of the opera Don Giovanni, the World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig, and The Sexual Revolution by Wilhelm Reich, Dr. Focchi addressed the Lacanian position that the woman does not exist, because there is no category in the unconscious for "the woman". He explored the complexity of the knotting of Eros (life drive) and Thanatos (death drive) and the "evil" in jouissance, which he stressed was Lacan's very distinctive and very important way of seeing things. Taking up the issue of packaging and marketing sex education in illusory form, he identified the misguided notion of setting people free of neurosis by eliminating all censors as well as the impossibility of teaching the secret of the jouissance of sexuality.

Dr. Focchi explained that the sexual rapport is what animals have: i.e., they have an instinctual capability to find a partner. Animals have an instinctual drive with precise knowledge that leads to locating a partner and sexual rapport. For humans he reiterated that Lacan said that there is no sexual rapport. Dr. Focchi cautioned that this does not mean that human beings do not make love. He offered two clarifying statements: (1) there is no reality in humans that corresponds to sexual rapport and (2) when we encounter sexuality we encounter the inconstancy of the other sex, which is the feminine sex and which is also the "other sex” for the woman.

In the culmination of his presentation Dr. Focchi's commented on semblance (to fool), which he metaphorized articulately with the "masquerade”. Deception is accomplished by each member of the masked pair. When the mask falls, the participants are exposed to non-existence. This enabled him to discuss Freud's notion of overvaluation and clarification of the disappointment in whom the other "is" rather than what the other "does", the latter often being the distractor in sorting out contemporary interpersonal surface problems. He elaborated with Lacan's perspective on alternatives or choices available to the analysand. In addition to the familiar rejection of the other when the deception or lie is exposed, there is also the alternative to allow oneself to tolerate and accept deception and carry on.

The value of the Dr. Focchi's presentation was demonstrated by the interest expressed at the conclusion with enthusiastic questions and comments. The questions elicited further elaboration by Dr. Focchi into increasing the depth of the psychoanalytic process.

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