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Desire of the analyst

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French: désir de l'analyste
Jacques Lacan

The term "desire of the analyst" is ambiguous, and oscillates between two meanings in Lacan's work.

Desire Attributed to the Analyst

In the first sense of the term, the "desire of the analyst" refers to the desire that the analysand attributes to the analyst (in addition to knowledge) in psychoanalytic treatment, rather than the desire proper to the analyst (in his mind or psyche).

The analyst is therefore a "subject supposed to desire" (as well as a "subject supposed to know").

Desire Proper to the Analyst

In the second sense of the term, the "desire of the analyst" refers to the actual desire of the analyst, which animates the analyst in the way he directs the treatment.

Psychoanalytic Treatment

In psychoanalytic treatment

The task of the analyst throughout the treatment is to make it impossible for the analysand to be sure that he knows what the analyst wants from him; the analyst must make sure that his desire "remains an x" for the analysand.[1]

In this way the analyst's supposed desire becomes the driving force of the analytic process, since it keeps the analysand working, trying to discover what the analyst wants from him.

"The desire of the analyst is ultimately that which operates in psychoanalysis."[2]

By presenting the analysand with an enigmatic desire, the analyst occupies the position of the Other, of whom the subject asks "Che vuoi?" ("What do you want from me?"), with the result that the subject's fundamental fantasy emerges in the transference.

Definition

This is easier to define negatively than positively.

It is certainly not a desire for the "impossible".[3]

Nor is it a desire to "do good" or "to cure"; on the contrary, it is "a non-desire to cure."[4]

Identification

It is not a desire that the analysand identify with the analyst:

"The analyst's desire . . . tends in a direction that is the exact opposite of identification."[5]

Rather than identification, the analyst desires that the analysand's own unique truth emerge in the treatment, a truth that is absolutely different to that of the analyst; the analyst's desire is thus "a desire to obtain absolute difference."[6]

Ethics

It is in the sense of a "desire proper to the analyst" that Lacan wishes to locate the question of the analyst's desire at the heart of the ethics of psychoanalysis.

Training

How is it that the analyst comes to be guided by the desire which is proper to his function?

According to Lacan, this can only occur by means of a training analysis.

The essential requirement, the condition sine qua non for becoming an analyst, is to undergo analytic treatment oneself.

In the course of this treatment there will be a mutation in the economy of desire in the analyst-to-be; his desire will be restructured, reorganized.[7]

Only if this happens will he be able to function properly as an analyst.

See Also

References

  1. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book XI. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1977. p. 274
  2. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p. 854
  3. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p. 300
  4. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p. 218
  5. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book XI. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1977. p. 274
  6. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book XI. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1977. p. 276
  7. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre VIII. Le transfert, 1960-61. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p. 221-2