On Freud's "Trieb" and the Psychoanalyst's Desire

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Jacques Lacan

The drive, as it is constructed by Freud on the basis of the experience of the unconscious, prohibits psychologizing thought from resorting to "instinct" by which it masks its ignorance through the supposition of morals in nature.

It can never be often enough repeated, given the obstinacy of psychologists who, on the whole and per se, are in the service of technocratic exploitation, that the drive—the Freudian drive—has nothing to do with instinct (none of Freud's expressions allows for confusion).

Libido is not sexual instinct. Its reduction, when taken to an extreme, to male desire, indicated by Freud, should suffice to avert us to that fact.

Libido, in Freud's work, is an energy that can be subjected to a kind of quantification which is as easy to introduce in theory as it is useless, since only certain quanta of constancy are recognized therein.

Its sexual coloring, so categorically maintained by Freud as its most central feature, is the color of emptiness:2 suspended in the light of a gap.

That gap is the gap desire encounters at the limits imposed upon it by the principle ironically referred to as the "pleasure principle," the latter being related to a reality which, indeed, is but the field of praxis here.

It is from precisely that field that Freudianism hews a desire, the crux [principe] of which is essentially found in impossibilities.

Such are the outlines moralists could have discerned therein were our times not so prodigiously tormented by idyllic exigencies.

That is what is meant by Freud's constant reference to Wunschgedanken (wishful thinking) 3 and the omnipotence of thought: it is not megalomania which he denounces thereby, but rather the reconciliation of opposites. 	

This might mean that Venus is proscribed from our world, implying theological decline.

But Freud reveals to us that it is thanks to the Name-of-the-Father that man does not remain bound [attaché] to the sexual service of his mother, that aggression against the Father is at the very heart [principe] of the Law, and that the Law is in the service of the desire that Law institutes through the prohibition of incest.

For the unconscious demonstrates that desire is coupled with4prohibition, and that the Oedipal crisis is determinant in sexual maturation itself.

Psychologists immediately turned this discovery into its opposite in order to draw from it the moral of the importance of maternal gratification—a form of psychotherapy which infantilizes adults, without recognizing children any better.

All too often, the psychoanalyst toes the same line. What is eluded thereby?

If the fear of castration is at the crux [principe] of sexual normalization, let us not forget that, as that fear no doubt bears upon the transgression it prohibits in the Oedipus complex, it nonetheless brings about obedience thereto,5 by stopping its slippage in a homosexual direction [l'arrêtant sur sa pente homosexuelle].

Thus it is, rather, the assumption6 of castration that creates the lack on the basis of which desire is instituted. Desire is desire for desire, the Other's desire, as I have said, in other words, subjected to the Law.

(It is the fact that a woman must go through the same dialectic, whereas nothing seems to oblige her to do so—she must lose what she does not have—which tips us off, allowing us to articulate that it is the phallus in its absence7 which constitutes the amount of the symbolic debt: a debit account8 when one has it, a disputed credit9 when one does not.)

Castration is the altogether new mainspring Freud introduced into desire, giving desire's lack the meaning that remained enigmatic in Socrates' dialectic, though it was preserved in the recounting of the Symposium.

The agalma* in the erwu* proves to be the motor force [principe] through which desire changes the nature of the lover. In his quest, Alcibiades spills the beans regarding love's deception and its baseness (to love is to want to be loved) to which he was willing to consent.

I was not allowed, in the context of the debate, to go so far as to demonstrate that the concept of the drive represents the drive as a montage.

The drives are our myths, said Freud. This must not be understood as a reference to the unreal. For it is the real that the drives mythify, as myths usually do: here it is the real which creates [fait] desire by reproducing therein the relationship of the subject to the lost object.

There is no lack of objects involving profits and losses to occupy its place. 10 But only a limited number of them can play the role best symbolized by the lizard's self-mutilation, its tail being jettisoned in distress. Misadventure of desire at the hedges of jouissance, watched out for by an evil god.

This drama is not as accidental as it is believed to be. It is essential: for desire comes from the Other, and jouissance is on the side of the Thing.

Freud's second topography concerns the pluralizing quartering of the subject that results therefrom—yet another opportunity not to see what should strike us, namely that identifications are determined by desire without satisfying the drive.

This occurs because the drive divides the subject and desire, the latter sustaining itself only in the relation it misrecognizes between that division and an object which causes it. Such is the structure of fantasy.

What can the analyst's desire thus be? What can the treatment to which the analyst devotes himself be?

Will he fall into the kind of preaching that discredits the preacher whose noble feelings have replaced faith, and adopt, like him, an unwarranted "direction"?

One cannot but note here that, apart from the libertine who was the great writer of comedies of the century of genius,11 no one, not even during the Enlightenment, has challenged the physician's privilege, albeit no less religious than others.

Can the analyst take cover behind this ancient investiture when, secularized, it is moving toward a form of socialization which can avoid neither eugenics nor the political segregation of the anomaly?

Will the psychoanalyst take up the torch, not of an eschatology, but of the rights of a primary aim [fin première12]?

What then is the aim [fin] of analysis beyond therapeutics? It is impossible not to distinguish the two when the point is to create an analyst.

For, as I have said, without going into the mainspring of transference, it is ultimately13 the analyst's desire which operates in psychoanalysis.

The style of a philosophical conference inclines everyone, so it seems, to highlight his own impermeability.

I am no more unable to do so than anyone else, but in the field of psychoanalytic training, the process of displacement makes teaching cacophonous.

Let's say that, in teaching, I relate technique to the primary aim [fin première].

I regretted in concluding that, on the whole, Enrico Castelli's profound question was left aside.

Nihilism here (and the reproach of nihilism) relieved me of the responsibility of confronting the demonic, or anxiety, whichever one prefers.