Talk:Discourse of the analyst

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In both Socrates and Lacan, there are two critical dimensions of their position, the fundamental role of the desire of the analyst in propelling the patient’s treatment and the ethical position of the analyst.

First, Lacanian psychoanalysis demands that the analyst thwart the patient’s efforts to know what the analyst wants from the patient.

Lacan writes,

It is in as much as the analyst’s desire, which remains an x, tends in a direction that is the exact

opposite of identification, that the crossing of the plane of identification is possible, through the

mediation of the separation of the subject in experience.[1]

Socrates is keenly aware of this, as well.

He does not enjoin his patients to simply take up his opinions and make them their own; he rejects this identificatory maneuver and maintains his own ignorance.

“I know nothing.”

This does not mean, of course, that analysts do not know anything.

Both Lacan and Socrates were immersed in the intellectual, political, and cultural tides of their days, and Lacan maintains that analysts should strive to become experts in these matters.[2]

It is not, however, that the analyst simply feigns to know nothing.

Lacan writes, "From a certain point of view, the analyst is not fully aware what he is doing in psychoanalysis."[3]

Contrary to the illusion of transparent reflexivity, part of this action remains hidden even to the analyst (Lacan, 1986/ 1992, p. 291).

This is markedly different from the conventional image of the technical expert, the professional.

It is by positing the desire of the analyst as enigmatic, as the desire of the Other, that the operative Lacanian question, Che vuoi? What does the Other want from me? allows the analysand, or patient, towork on and through his or her fantasy.

Yet it is the analyst that brings forth this truth of the subject.

This is also an important qualification to the posttraditionalism “wholesale reflexivity” (Giddens, 1990). In analytic discourse, some element always remains beyond knowledge; the self never becomes fully transparent to consciousness but is inevitably enigmatic, resisting representation.

The second dimension is the analyst’s ethical position.

For Lacan, analysts must become barren before they can be the cause of others’ barrenness; that is, analysts must go through analysis that aims to reconstitute their conscious relation to their desire.

The uniqueness of the Lacanian pass, or the completion of training analysis, embodies precisely the Socratic spirit.

Completion of training to be an analyst is not a matter of fulfilling a set of established requirements or of sitting for a series of exams.

This is merely connaissance or factual knowledge.

The pass asks the passant to testify to his or her experience in analysis as it reaches its logical terminus and to articulate some sort of symbolic knowledge, or savoir.

For Socrates, we learn of his “labors” with Diotima that taught him the philosophy of love in the Symposium.[4]

The analyst must come to resist functions of his ego, to resist patient identification, to allowthe patient’s own unique truth to emerge, or to rephrase, to allow the patient to identify with a (an empty) truth that is the ground of the subject’s being.

This is a truth that resides beyond knowledge.

See Also


  1. Lacan, Jacques. 1973/1981. p. 274
  2. Evans, 1996, p. 198.
  3. Lacan, Jacques. 1986/1992. p. 291
  4. 201d; see also Lacan, 1975/1999, p. 67