Protecting the Child from the Family Delusion : 8th November 2008 (Barcelona) : Éric Laurent

by Julia Evans on November 8, 2008

Text given by Éric Laurent, General Delegate of the WAP (World Association of Psychoanalysis), on the 8th November 2008 at the 7th Congress of the ELP (ELP – Escuela Lacaniana de Psicoanálisis del Campo Freudiano)

Translation: Florencia F.C. Shanahan (not reviewed by the author)


– by Irish Circle of the New Lacanian School here

– Available here


The Baring of the Fiction

Two Schools

Self-Engendering / Failure

The Position of the Psychoanalyst

Our Compass

Reference to Lacan

It has not been possible to trace some of these references &

– This step was articulated by Lacan in the 60s : may refer to Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: from 18th November 1959 : Jacques Lacan or here : See

a) p73 of Dennis Porter’s translation : Seminar VII : 23rd December 1959 : On the horizon, beyond the pleasure principle, there rises up the Gut, das Ding, thus introducing at the level of the unconscious something that ought to oblige us to ask once again the Kantian question of the causa noumenon. Das Ding presents itself at the level of unconscious experience as that which already makes the law. Although it is necessary to give this verbal phrase, “makes the law,” the emphasis it receives in one of the most brutal games of elementary society and that is evoked in a recent book by Roger Vailland. It is a capricious and arbitrary law, the law of the oracle, the law of signs in which the subject receives no guarantee from anywhere, the law in relation to which he has no Sicherung, to use another Kantian term. That is also at bottom the bad object that Kleinian theory is concerned with.

Although it must be said that at this level das Ding is not distinguished as bad. The subject makes no approach at all to the bad object, since he is already maintaining his distance in relation to the good object. He cannot stand the extreme good that das Ding may bring him, which is all the more reason why he cannot locate himself in relation to the bad. However much he groans, explodes, curses, he still does not understand; nothing is articulated here even in the form of a metaphor. He produces symptoms, so to speak, and these symptoms are at the origin of the symptoms of defense.

b) Seminar VII : 20th January 1960 : Chapter VII heading : The Kleinian Myth of the Mother

c) P106 of Dennis Porter’s translation : Seminar VII : 20th January 1960 : Here we are then in the company of das Ding, trying to get along with it.

What I am saying should in no way surprise, for I am only trying to point out to you what is going on in the psychoanalytical community. The analysts are so preoccupied with the field of das Ding, which responds so well to the internal necessity of their experience, that the development of analytic theory is dominated by the existence of the so-called Kleinian school. And it is striking to note that whatever reservations or even scorn another branch of the analytic community may express for that school, it is the latter that polarizes and orients the whole development of analytic thought, including the contribution of our group.
Let me suggest then that you reconsider the whole of Kleinian theory with the following key, namely, Kleinian theory depends on its having situated the mythic body of the mother at the central place of das Ding.

To begin with, it is in relation to that mythic body that the aggressive, transgressive, and most primordial of instincts is manifested, the primal aggressions and inverted aggressions. Also in that register which currently interests us, namely, the notion of sublimation in the Freudian economy, the Kleinian school is full of interesting ideas – not only Melanie Klein herself but also Ella Sharpe, insofar as on this point she follows Klein completely. Recently, an American author, who isn’t at all Kleinian, has written on sub- limation as the principle of creation in the fine arts. In an article that I shall come back to later, entitled “A Theory Concerning Creation in the Free Arts,” after a more or less exhaustive critical examination of Freudian formulations on sublimation and of Kleinian attempts to explain its full meaning, the author, M. Lee, ends up attributing to it a restitutive function. In other words, she finds there more or less of an attempt at symbolic repair of the imaginary lesions that have occurred to the fundamental image of the maternal body.

I will bring the texts involved, if you don’t know them. But I can tell you right away that the reduction of the notion of sublimation to a restitutive effort of the subject relative to the injured body of the mother is certainly not the best solution to the problem of sublimation, nor to the topological, metapsychological problem itself.

Note: I put out a plea for help in tracing the M. Lee reference here or Seminar VII: 20th January 1960: p106 : Request for help with a reference on 1st June 2013. So far, there has been no result.

d) Also p107, & p111, &

e) P115 of Dennis Porter’s translation : Seminar VII : 27th January 1960 : After leaving you the other day, I was conscious-stricken as I often am when I feel that I haven’t exhausted the bibliography on a subject I am treating, and I looked up that very afternoon two articles by Melanie Klein that are referred to by Glover. They have been collected in Contributions to Psychoanalysis

The first of the articles, “Infant Analysis,” of 1923, contains some very important things on sublimation and on the secondary phenomenon of inhibition – that is to say, on how, in Klein’s conception, functions in the child that are sufficiently libidinalized through sublimation are subsequently subjected to an effect of inhibition.

I am not going to spend time on this, for it is to the very conception of sublimation that I want to draw your attention; all the misunderstandings that follow derive from the lack of insight into this problem.

It was the second, 1929 article, entitled “Infantile Anxiety Situations Reflected in a Work of Art and in the Creative Impulse,” that I regretted not having looked at. It is short, but as sometimes happens, it gave me the satisfaction of fitting my purposes like a glove.

See Infant Analysis: 1923 : Melanie Klein or here

&  Infantile Anxiety-Situations Reflected in a Work of Art and in the Creative Impulse : 1929 : Melanie Klein or here

e) p117 of Dennis Porter’s translation : Seminar VII : 27th January 1960 : This tale is narrated with a lack of critical distance at the hearsay involved, which cannot fail to inspire some reservations. Such a miracle of technique is after all worth subjecting to some fundamental questions. But it is not very important from our point of view. Melanie Klein finds confirmation of a structure that seems to her illustrated admirably there. And you cannot fail to see how that structure coincides with the central plan I use to present a topological diagram of the way in which the question of what we call the Thing is raised.

As I said before, the Kleinian doctrine places the mother’s body there, and she locates the phases of all sublimation there, including such miraculous sublimations as that of this spontaneous accession – one might call it an illumination – of a novice to the most expert forms of pictorial technique. Mrs. Klein finds her theory confirmed – and that no doubt explains her lack of astonishment – by the series of subjects painted by her patient with the purpose of filling up the empty space.

f) & p307 of Dennis Porter’s translation : Seminar VII : 29th June 1960

– Lacan has given us a version of the father from the perspective of the object a through the following formula: “A father only has the right to respect, or at least to love, if that love is –you won’t believe your ears- perversely orientated [père-versement orienté], that is to say, if he makes a woman the object a cause of his desire. But what of this a woman welcomes has nothing to do with the issue. What she deals with is other objects a, which are the children” 9. Footnote 9 : Lacan J., R.S.I, Ornicar n°3, Seminar of 21st January 1975.

See Seminar XXII: R. S. I. : 1974-1975: from 19th November 1974 : Jacques Lacan or here for access to two translations of this session.

P166-167 of Jacqueline Rose’s translation : Seminar XXII : 21st January 1975 : No matter who must be able to be an exception for the function of the exception to become a model, but the reverse is not true–it is not that no matter who can drag in the exception for it, based on this fact, to constitute a model. That is what usually happens (l’ état ordinaire)– no matter who attains to the function of exception that the father has, one knows with what result: in most cases, that of his verwerfung by the filiation he engenders, with the psychotic result I denounce.

A father only has a right to respect, if not to love, if said love, said respect, is–you are not going to believe your ears–père-versely oriented; which is to say, makes of a woman an object a that causes his desire.

But what a woman a-ccomodates (a-cueille) of it thus has nothing to do with the question. She is occupied with other objects a, her children, for whom the father nonetheless intervenes–exceptionally, in the best case–to maintain repression, in the happy mi-deum, [le juste mi-dieu Footnote 4] the version proper to him of his père-version. Père-version, the only guarantee of his function as father, which is the function of a symptom, as I have written it.

It suffices that he be a model of the function. That’s what the father must be, inasmuch as he can only be an exception.

Footnote 5. mi-dieu : substituting dieu (‘god’) in the expression le juste milieu (‘the happy medium’); later there is a further pun on dieu and dit (that which is spoken) (tr.).

– If a man occupies himself with the objects a of a woman, Lacan adds: whether he wants it or not (my emphasis) he will occupy the position of the father.

p167 of Jacqueline Rose’s translation : Seminar XXII : 21st January 1975 : He can only be a model of the function in realizing the type. It little matters if has symptoms if adds to them that of the paternal père-version, which is to say that its cause is a woman, whom he has acquired to make children for him, and that, whether he wants to or not, he takes paternal care of these children.

Normality is not the paternal virtue par excellence, but only the happy mi-deum, just said; that is, the right not-said (non-dit). Naturally, on the condition that it is not too obvious, this not- said; which is to say that one does not see right away what is in question in what he does not say –which is rare.

It is rare that it succeeds, this happy mi-deum. This will renew the subject, when I have time to take it up with you again. But I have already said it in passing in an article on Schreber– there is nothing worse than a father who proffers the law on everything (sur tout)–No father educator above all (surtout), but rather in the background (en retrait sur) of all the schoolmasters.

I have been led to speak to you of a woman, since I have told you that the woman does not exist.

Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, Earl’s Court, London

Related text

Institution of the Phantasm Phantasms of the Institutions (E.C.F., Paris) : 17th October 1991 : Éric Laurent or here

Further texts

Of the clinic : here

Lacanian Transmission : here

Some Lacanian History : here

Topology : here

From LW working groups : here

By Éric Laurent here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud : here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here