Transmission according to Jacques Lacan

by Julia Evans on August 1, 2018

There follows three comments made by Jacques Lacan. Any further contributions welcomed. Thank you.

First published on 3rd January 2014

Julia Evans 

Seminar I

Availability given here Seminar I: Freud’s papers on technique: 1953-1954 : begins on 13th January 1954 : Jacques Lacan or here

JE notes: It was during a reading group of this seminar, many decades ago, that Jacques Lacan’s texts suddenly started to make sense to me. At the time, I had been struggling with the distinction between development and training. Before this conjunction, I had been defining the difference by way of symptoms. This new understanding promised a new way of distinguishing the two apart.

30th June 1954 : Chapter XXI : Truth emerges from the mistake : p272

We will leave it there for today.
Let me immediately urge those of you who have found this discourse interesting, indeed who have been stirred up by it, to ask me questions next time – not too long, since we have only one seminar left – on the basis of which I will try to plan the conclusion, if one may speak of conclusion. This will serve as a knot, with which to broach a new chapter next year.

I am more and more inclined to think that next year I will have to divide this seminar into two if I want, on the one hand, to explain President Schreber and the symbolic world of psychosis to you, and on the other hand to show you, starting off with Das Ich und das Es, that ego, super-ego and Es are not new names for old psychological entities. I thus hope to make you see that it is in the movement of the dialectic which I have engaged you in this year that the structuration introduced by Freud takes on its true meaning.

7th July 1954:Chapter XXII: The concept of analysis:  p273-275

Who has any questions?

MME AUBRY: J understand that at the conjunction of the imaginary and the real one finds hate, on condition that one takes conjunction in the sense of rupture. What I don’t understand quite so well is finding love at the conjunction of the symbolic and the imaginary.

I am delighted by your question. Perhaps it will enable me to lend to our last meeting of the year the familiar atmosphere which I prefer to the magisterial.


Leclaire, surely you must also have things to ask. Last time after the session you said to me something remarkably like a question-I would have really liked you to have talked about transference, even so.

They are tough, those even so’s - 1 do nothing but talk to them about it and they’re still not satisfied. There are profound reasons why the subject of transference always leaves you craving for more. Nonetheless, we are still going to try today to deal with this subject.

If I wanted to represent the three times of the structuration of speech in search of truth on the model of those allegorical paintings which proliferated in the romantic era, like virtue pursuing crime, aided by remorse, I would tell you – Error taking flight in deception and recaptured by mistake. I hope you can see that that paints a picture of transference for you, such as I try to get you to grasp it in the moments of suspension which the avowal of speech undergoes.


What, in short, are you still craving for? Perhaps for the articulation of what I have been telling you with the usual conception of transference?

DR LECLAIRE: When one looks at what is written on transference, one always gets the impression that the phenomenon of transference falls in the category of manifestations of an affective order, of emotions, in contrast with other manifestations, of an intellectual order, such as procedures aimed at understanding, for instance. Hence one always finds it a bit difficult to give an account of your view of the transference in the current, ordinary terminology. Definitions of transference always say that it is a question of emotion, of feeling, of an affective phenomenon, which is categorically opposed to everything which, in an analysis, can be called intellectual.

Yes. . . You see, there are two ways of applying a discipline which is structured as a teaching. There’s what you hear, and then what you make of it. These two planes do not overlap, but they can be made to join up in a certain number of secondary signs. It is from this angle that I see the fertility of every truly didactic action. It is not so much a question of transmitting concepts to you, as of explaining them to you leaving you the task, and the responsibility, of filling them in. But something else is perhaps even more imperative, which is to point out to you those concepts which should never be made use of.

If there is something of that order in what I teach you here, it is the following – I urge you, each of you, at the heart of your own search for the truth, to renounce quite radically – if only provisionally, to see if one doesn’t gain by dispensing with it – the use of an opposition like that of the affective and the intellectual.

That by using it one gets into a series of blind alleys is only too obvious for it not to be tempting to follow this instruction for a while. This opposition is one of those most contrary to analytic experience and most unenlightening when it comes to understanding it.

You ask me to give an account of what I teach, and the objections that this teaching may encounter. I teach you the meaning and the function of the action of speech, in as much as that is the element of interpretation. Speech is the founding medium of the intersubjective relation, and what retroactively modifies the two subjects. It is speech which, literally, creates what installs them in that dimension of being I try to get you to glimpse.

We are not dealing here with an intellectual dimension. If the intellectual is to be located somewhere, it is at the level of the ego-phenomena, in the imaginary projection of the pseudo-neutralised ego-pseudo in the sense of lie – that analysis has exposed as a phenomenon of defence and of resistance.

If you are with me, we will be able to go a long way. The question is not so much one of knowing up to what point one should go, the question is more one of knowing if one will be followed. In fact that is an element which allows one to discriminate what one can call reality.

Over the ages, throughout human history, we witness advances which one would be quite wrong to take to be those of circumvolutions. These are the advances of the symbolic order. Follow the history of a science like mathematics. For centuries it stagnated on problems which are now transparent to ten- year old children. And yet these were powerful minds which pondered them. We were stuck on the solution to equations of the second degree for ten centuries too many. The Greeks could have solved it, since they found out cleverer things concerning the problems of maxima and minima. Mathematical progress is not progress in the power of thought of the human being. It comes good the day some man thinks of inventing a sign like this, , or like that, [mathematical sign for integration]. That’s what mathematics is.

The position we are in is different, more difficult. Because we have to deal with an extremely polyvalent symbol. But it is only to the extent that we succeed in formulating the symbols of our action in an adequate manner that we will take a step forward. This step forward, like every step forward, is also a retroactive step. That is why I would say that we are, in a way, in the middle of building up, to the extent that you follow me, a psychoanalysis. Our step forward in psychoanalysis, is at the same time a return to the aspirations of its origin.

So what is at issue? A more authentic understanding of the phenomenon of transference.

Seminar VII

Availability given Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: Jacques Lacan or here

See also notes from the reading group on 30th November 2013: Discussion of Seminar VII: 16th March 1960: Can Psychoanalysis Constitute the Kind of Ethics Necessitated by our Times?  Or here

Seminar VII: 16th March 1960: Chapter XIII: The death of God : p169

I wondered how I should take up the thread of our discussions, how I should start out again today.

As the result of conversations I have had with some of you, I said to myself that there would be some value in my giving you an idea of the lectures, comments and conversations in which I engaged in Brussels[i]. The fact is, when I have something to communicate to you, it is always related to the line of thought I am pursuing, and even when I take it out into the world, I do little more than take it up more or less at the point I have reached.

That may seem to you to be an unconventional way of proceeding, but given the distance we still have to go, I don’t even like to put myself in the teaching situation, since a psychoanalyst who speaks to an initiated audience is in the position of a propagandist. If I agreed to talk at the Catholic University of Brussels, I did so in a spirit of mutual assistance; it was in order to support the presence and the activities of those who are our friends and colleagues in Belgium. This concern is not for me the primary one, of course, but it is a secondary one.

The Founding Act : 21st June 1964

Availability given  ‘Founding Act’ 21st June 1964: Jacques Lacan or here

Note: JE thanks Hara Pepeli for reminding her of this reference in a message sent to Forum LSNLS : 13th December 2013  at 19:01

Quote: I intend this title to represent the organism in which there is work to be accomplished-work which in the field Freud has opened restores the cutting edge of its truth; which brings the original praxis that he instituted under the name of psychoanalysis back to the duty that in our world is incumbent upon it; which, through a sustained critique, denounces the deviations and compromises that encumber its progress while degrading its use. This objective of our work is inseparable from the training to be dispensed within this movement of reconquest. That is, those that I have trained myself are admitted as fully qualified, just as anyone who can contribute to demonstrating that the experience of this training is well-grounded is invited to join. Those who enter this School will undertake to fulfil a task that is subject to both internal and external supervision. In exchange they are assured that nothing will be spared in order that anything valuable they do gets the attention it deserves and in the appropriate place. To carry out this work we shall adopt the principle of sustained elaboration in small groups. Each group (we have a name to designate them) will be composed of at least three people, five at most, four is the right balance. PLUS ONE responsible for the selection, the discussion and the outcome to be accorded to the work of each. After a certain period of functioning the elements of the group will find themselves invited to permutate into another group. The position of responsibility will not constitute a hierarchy for which service rendered might be capitalized into access to a higher grade, and no one will have to regard himself as demoted for entering into the rank of work at the base. For the reason that every personal endeavour will place its author under conditions of critique and supervision to which all work undertaken will be submitted in the School. This in no way implies an inverted hierarchy but a circular organization whose functioning-which will be easy to program-will firm up with experience. We will form three sections whose progress I will assure along with two collaborators who will second me in each.

JE states: So transmission, under transference and governed by Lacanian principles, differs from an expert or senior analyst transferring a body of knowledge to his auditors.


[i] Lecture I, Regarding Morality, Freud Has What it Takes : Faculté Universitaire Saint-Louis, Brussels : 9th March 1960 : Jacques Lacan : See here

Lecture II, Can Psychoanalysis Constitute the Kind of Ethics Necessitated by our Times?: Faculté Universitaire Saint-Louis, Brussels : 10th March 1960 : Jacques Lacan : See here

Note on translation by JE: ‘Discourse to Catholics’ was translated as ‘Lecture to Catholics’ by Dennis Porter (p179: Ch XIV) and as ‘lectures, comments, and conversations in which I engaged in Brussels’ (p169). Therefore, I suggest that ‘Engaging with Catholics’ is nearer to what Jacques Lacan describes. This will be the title given throughout LacanianWorks.

P3-52 of Jacques Lacan, The Triumph of Religion , preceded by Discourse to Catholics : translated by Bruce Fink : 2013


The “Engaging with Catholics” includes two lectures – given on 9th and 10th March 1960 in Brussels, at the invitation of the Faculté Universitaire Saint-Louis – which were billed as “open to the public.” Jacques Lacan refers to them in Chapters 13 and 14 of Seminar VII, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis. (See Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: Jacques Lacan or here )

Lacan refers to them in Seminar VII : 16th March 1960 : Chapter XIII – The Death of God : p169 of Denis Porter’s translation and Seminar VII : 16th March 1960 : See the notes for the ‘Reading Seminar VII Group : 30th November 2013 at LacanianWorks : Category — A. Reading Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis : Available here )

Julia Evans 

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, Earl’s Court, London

Further Texts

Lacanian Transmission here

Of the clinic : here

From other LW working groups : here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud : here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

Jacques Lacan in English or here