The four fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis
Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis ‘’’Le séminaire, Livre XI: Les quatre concepts fondamentaux de la psychanalyse’’’. 1964
January 15 1964, marks the opening session of the seminars at the École Nationale Supérieure where, in the presence of celebrities (Lévi-Strauss, Althusser, Fernand Braudel) and a new younger audience, Lacan talks about the censorship of his teachings and his excommunication from official psychoanalytical circles.
He wants to train analysts and, at the same time, address the non-analyst by raising the following questions: Is psychoanalysis a science? If so, under what conditions? If it is - the "science of the unconscious" or a "conjectural science of the subject" - what can it teach us about science?
The 1973 title has often been contested in favor of the 1964's: ‘’Les fondements de la psychanalyse’’, which implies neither that it is a matter of concepts, nor that there are only four of them.
"No progress has been made that has not deviated whenever one of the terms has been neglected around which Freud ordered the ways that he traced and the paths of the unconscious."
The main problem remains that of transference: the Name-of-the-Father is a foundation, but the legacy of the Father is sin, and the original sin of psychoanalysis is Freud's desire that was not analyzed.
Of the four concepts mentioned, three were developed between 1953 and 1963.
Freud defined ‘’Trieb’’ as a montage of four discontinuous elements: "Drive is not thrust (‘’Drang’’); in ‘’Triebe und Triebschicksale’’ (1915, S.E. XIV) Freud distinguishes four terms in the drive: ‘’Drang’’, thrust; ‘’Quelle’’, the source; ‘’Objekt’’, the object; ‘’Ziel’’, the aim.
Lacan integrates the aforementioned elements into the drive's circuit, which originates in an erogenous zone, circles the object and returns to the erogenous zone.
- the active (to see)
- the reflexive (to see oneself)
- the passive (to make oneself be seen).
The first two are autoerotic; only in the passive voice a new subject appears, "this subject, the other, appears in so far as the drive has been able to show its circular course." The drive is always active, which is why he writes the third instance as "to make oneself be seen" instead of "to be seen."
"The reality of the unconscious is sexual reality - an untenable truth," much as it cannot be separated from death. "’’Objet a’’ is something from which the subject, in order to constitute itself, has separated itself off as organ.
It must be an object that is separable and that has some rapport to the lack.
At the oral level, it is the nothing; at the anal level, it is the locus of the metaphor - one object for another, give the feces in place of the phallus - the anal drive is the domain of the gift; at the scopic level, we are no longer at the level of demand, but of desire, of the desire of the Other; it is the same at the level of the invocatory drive, which is the closest to the experience of the unconscious."
Here, he asserts the split between the eye and the gaze when he analyzes Holbein's ‘’The Ambassadors’’ as a "trap for the gaze" (‘’piège à regards’’), but also as a ‘’dompte-regard’’ (the gaze is tamed by an object) and a ‘’trompe-l'oeil’’.
This object is the heart of the organization of desire through the framework of the drives.
How then is it possible to reconcile desire linked to the signifier and to the Other with the libido, now an organ under the shape of the "lamella," the placenta, the part of the body from which the subject must separate in order to exist?
A new conception of repetition comes into play, whose functionning stems from two forces: automatism on the side of the signifier and the missed yet desired encounter on the side of the drive, where ‘’objet a’’ refers to the "impossible" Real (that as such cannot be assimilated).
If transference is the enactment (‘’la mise en acte’’) of the reality of the unconscious - what Lacan's deconstruction of the drive wants to bring to light - if desire is the nodal point where the motion of the unconscious, an untenable sexual reality, is also at work, what is to be done?
The analyst's role is to allow the drive "to be made present in the reality of the unconscious": he must fall from the idealized position so as to become the upholder of ‘’objet a’’, the separating object.
‘’’Le séminaire, Livre XI: Les quatre concepts fondamentaux de la psychanalyse’’’. French: (texte établi par Jacques-Alain Miller), Paris: Seuil, 1973. English: Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis (edited by Jacques-Alain Miller), New York: Norton, 1978.