Un réel pour le XXI sciècle
IXth Congress of the WAP • 14-18 april 2014 • Paris • Palais des Congrès • www.wapol.org

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The Desire of the Analyst
by Pierre Naveau

Pierre NaveauIn the first chapter of Seminar XI Lacan asks; "What is the analyst's desire? What does it have to be in order to operate?"[1] And in the last chapter of this same Seminar he puts forward – it's well known – that "the analyst's desire is not a pure desire » and that « it is a desire to obtain the absolute difference"[2].

He then explains that the difference he's talking about is the one that "occurs" when the subject, "confronted by the primordial signifier", "comes", for the first time, "into the position of submitting to it"[3]. Such a difference shows itself hence forth to be "legible"[4] in the form of an interval – be it that of the subject's division or of sexuality. So then the analyst's desire operates in as much as it provokes the intervention of this interval, that is to say, its opening. So, one might say, the interval intervenes. The analyst's desire is considered here from the point of view of its relation to the symbolic. But, between the first and last teachings of Lacan, the accent moves from the symbolic towards the real. During his presentation of the theme for the next WAP congress, Jacques-Alain Miller pointed out that "in order to enter the Twenty First century, our clinic should center on dismantling the defense, disorganizing the defense against the real"[5]. From this perspective, the analyst's desire must then be approached from the point of view of the relation to the real: "The analyst's desire", as Miller put it, "is the desire to attain the real, to reduce the Other to its real and to liberate it from meaning"[6]. Beginning with his lesson of December 2nd 1998, J.-A. Miller called our attention to this Lacanian expression: disturbing the defense. This expression is to be found in the lesson of January 11, 1977 in Seminar XXIV: "The unconscious, in short, is that we speak (…) all alone. We speak all alone because we only ever say but a single and same thing – except if we open ourselves to dialoging with a psychoanalyst. There is no way to do differently than to receive from an analyst what disturbs the defense."[7] In his class of December 2, 1998, J.-A. Miller pointed out that disturbing the defense is not the same thing as interpreting repression. We find the term – disturb – in the passage from "The Direction of the Treatment" where Lacan evokes the case of the man with the shell trick. A brief reminder: the patient, showing himself to be impotent, proposes to his mistress the introduction of a third man in the dance. That's what she has a dream about. To resume it here: Although she has a phallus, she still wants to have one. The effect of the telling of this dream is immediate. No sooner told than the patient recovers his means. Lacan's commentary (in substance): "The woman here restores with a trick a game of elusion that the analysis disturbed"[8]. As an aside, this expression "game of elusion" which refers to the defense, is intriguing. In any case, the moral of the story, says Lacan, is that "There's no use having it when your desire is to be it"[9]. Couldn't we say about the case of the man with fresh brains that Lacan indicates to Kris that instead of interpreting the defense, it would have been preferable on the contrary to disturb it? Here also, a quick recap. Kris's interpretation is this: the patient defends himself from stealing other people's ideas by accusing himself of wanting to steal them. In fact, he is not stealing. He accuses himself then of wanting to steal in order to stop himself from stealing. That, says Lacan, is what's called "analyzing the defense before the drive which, here, manifests itself in its attraction to the ideas of others"[10]. Also, to the analyst who a few years earlier slipped into saying "That's not done"[11], Lacan retorts: "You're missing the point". Lacan, leaning on the patient's passage to the act states clearly what it is to disturb the defense. He directly addresses Kris: "It's not that your patient isn't stealing that's important here. It's that he's stealing nothing. That's what should have been made clear to him."[12] This nothing indeed indicates what it's about: "It's the idea that he could have an idea of his own that doesn't occur to him"[13]. The real, certainly, surprises. But it's up to the analyst to surprise the real, there where resonates at the same time the repercussion of the traumatism. It's not about the surprised analyst that Reik mentions, but about the analyst surprising and – the term is J.-A. Miller's – the analyst "surpriser".

Translated by Julia Richards

  1. Lacan J., The Seminar, book XI, [The Four Fundamental concepts of Psychoanalysis] Les quatre concepts fondamentaux de la psychanalyse, Seuil, Paris, 1973, p. 14.
  2. Ibid., p. 248.
  3. Ibid., p. 248.
  4. Ibid., p. 161.
  5. Miller J.-A., "The Real in the Twenty First Century" [Le réel au XXIe siècle]. Presentation of the theme of the IXth congress of the WAP, La Cause du désir, n° 82, « Engouement pour la clinique », Navarin éditeur, 2012, p. 94.
  6. Ibid., p. 94.
  7. Lacan J., The Seminar, book XXIV, L'insu-que-sait de l'Une-bévue s'aile à mourre, lesson of 11 January 1977, Ornicar ?, n° 14, p. 7.
  8. Lacan J., "The Direction of the Treatment" [La direction de la cure ], Écrits, Seuil, Paris, 1966, p. 632.
  9. Ibid., p. 632.
  10. Ibid., p. 599.
  11. Ibid., p. 600.
  12. Ibid., p. 600.
  13. Ibid., p. 600.