Messager 423 - 2011/2012
VERS TEL AVIV 41 / TOWARDS TEL AVIV 41
Xe Congrès NLS 16-17 juin 2012 / 10th NLS Congress 16-17 June 2012
12 avril 2012
12 April 2012
Vers le Congrès de la NLS
"Lire un symptôme"
‘Reading a Symptom’
The aim of this rubric is to gather different commentaries, reflections or questions that emerge from chosen quotes, or from extracts of Freud’s or Lacan’s texts. By gathering different thoughts and voices, ‘Reflections’ will take us towards ‘Reading a Symptom’ and in the end to our meeting in Tel Aviv. ‘Reflections’ invites you to participate in this project.
“The psychoanalyzable symptom can be interpreted: it is certainly a message, but its consistency is only semantic: it includes this jouissance discovered by Freud as a limit to the power of interpretation, in the so called "negative therapeutic reaction." In this the symptom, if supported by a structure identical to the one of language, is not articulated in a spoken process, but "inscribed in a process of writing."4 This was explicitly formulated by Lacan since 1957.”
From my experience as analysand and analyst, a negative therapeutic reaction occurs in any adequately progressing analysis of a psychoanalyzable symptom.
It was precisely when a partial solution had been achieved, which supposedly could have been expected to bring about an improvement in patients' condition, that Freud encountered an aggravation of their illness, an exacerbation of their symptoms. In 1923 he first used theterm “negative therapeutic reaction” for this clinical finding, for which he gaveseveral explanations: a form of defiance against the physician, a benefit of the illness, or finally guilt feelings that find gratification in the illness and do not wish to relinquish the punishment embodied by the illness. Reading Freud's text with Lacan, these explanations may be seen to be associated with the three registers discerned and conceptualized by Lacan: the imaginary, the real, and the symbolic.
In 1948 Lacan attributed the negative therapeutic reaction to the subject's inability to bear the thought of being released by anyone but oneself (Aggressiveness in Psychoanalysis – Écrits).
Until the fifth seminar, Lacan stressed the signifier exclusively. Accordingly, he perceived the cure as actualization of the subject by speech coming from elsewhere, and the negative therapeutic reaction as a rejection of the signifyingchain and reluctance to be part of it, even as far as an irresistible slide towards suicide – a fairly specific feature of the negative therapeutic reaction – among unwanted children, who gradually refuse to ‘play along’ and literally want out. They do not accept their situation, and want nothing to do with this signifying chain in which their mother has reluctantly involved them (Lacan, Fifth seminar).
In his last teaching, Lacan uses the term ‘symptom’ to connote that which derives from the real, and equates the association between interpretation and symptom as having an inflating and swelling effect, similar to a greedy fish that constantly gobbles up interpretations. As to the proliferation and swelling of the symptom, whichfollowing Freud may be defined as a negative therapeutic reaction, Lacan says that “we must supposedly strive for the symptom’s real to explode. The question is – how can this be effected?” (Lacan, 1973,The Third).
A restriction of the interpretation of psychoanalyzable symptoms, i.e. symptoms comprising a coded message, is manifested in the jouissance of the negative therapeutic reaction. This is proof of the interpretation’s limits but also of the consistency of the psychoanalyzable symptom. Its consistency is in the order of the written word – if, states Miller, if one accepts Lacan’s basic paradigm whereby the unconscious is structured as language. If so, the answer to the question of how to cause the symptom’s real to explode, with the aim of proceeding beyond the negative therapeutic reaction, is also in the order of the written word.
*member NLS, Giep-NLS
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Nouvelle École Lacanienne de Psychanalyse — New Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis
Association Mondiale de Psychanalyse – World Association of Psychoanalysis