The analyst’s position : Thursday 26th October 2017

by Julia Evans on October 26, 2017

This was presented to an Earl’s Court Clinical Group meeting, in London, on Thursday 26th October 2017 and follows these two texts:

Commentary on Maurice Bouvet’s case of Obsessional Neurosis (Seminar IV) : a reconstruction of the case by Julia Evans  on 15th June 2017 or here

Commentary on Maurice Bouvet’s description of Object Relations Theory (Seminar IV) or here  by Julia Evans  on 27th July 2017

Jacques Lacan comments on Object Relation theorists in most of his texts in the early 1950s. (See [i] for details)

Quote from Seminar IV : 28th November 1956[ii] : You will see that the way of handling the object relation in this case consists, very precisely, in doing something similar to what would happen if one were watching a circus act in which a pair are delivering a series of alternating blows to one another; this would involve going down into the [circus] ring and making an effort to be afraid of receiving the slaps. On the contrary, it is by virtue of his aggressivity that he delivers them and that the relation of talking with him is an aggressive relation. At this point, the ringmaster comes in and says, “Look, this is unreasonable; leave off quarrelling, swallow your stick, each of you; then you will have it in the right place, you will have internalized it.” This is indeed one means of resolving the situation and bringing a way out to it. It can be accompanied by a little song, that truly imperishable tune by someone named … who was a kind of genius. (Entry of the Gladiators)

This description is of the Object Relation Analyst position. So who is who?

The ringmaster is the analyst

The analyst is watching a pair delivering a series of blows. This could be a depiction of castration.

The analyst’s position is one of going down into the ring and defending against the slaps.

It is unclear who is in this aggressive relation, though from Bouvet[iii] it is the analyst – the analyst speaks from knowing what the right place is and where there sticks should be – internalised.

In Seminar IV this is critiqued from a number of positions:

Differences in the development of stages

Libido development

What is reality? & what is the correct relation to reality?

The analogy of an electric power plant is used to explain the relation of libido to unchannelled energy.

The processes in use by the analyst – are they imposed from high – the ringmaster descends to sort it out – or is the analyst examining looking at the beyond?

The staging of what is going on is under the control of the analyst, but the analyst’s position is from apart, as an observer at a sporting event.

Other observations

Where is emotion? Especially in obsessional neurosis – I have heard several skilled therapists state that men have to get in touch with their emotions.

Nature of the message & the analyst’s certainty that it is aggressive.

There is no gap, the analyst has absolute certainty that his interpretation of what is said is correct. Nothing goes missing from the transformation of energy

To update to the era of computers

1) The teenagers who trolled this robot embody a new way of relating to the lying truth. Here, the subject no longer receives its own message in an inverted form: it is the subject who sends back to the Other the emptiness of its own semblants.

From ‘Trolling a robot’[iv] (translated by Edward Pluth) By Caroline Leduc : October 19th, 2017 : LRO 68 – Lacanian Review on-line

So what are the differences?

The robot embodies – if that is the correct description of a robot – 1) being present whenever the subject contacts them, 2) having a joint understanding of the meaning bubble or reality which contains both of them, 3) Being able to respond empathetically to each subject, so an understanding of each subject’s meaning.

The object-relation analyst knows what is going on and how the subject has failed in relation to the prescribed developmental stages. See stages article[v]. So (s)he sends the correct message down to the subject, who in the case study rejects it and is told off for quarrelling with the analyst. A Lacanian would be present in the room as an equal human being, and there is no joint understanding of what is going on in the room. Responding empathetically as you know what the subject’s thoughts are is not on.

Some further references to help us distinguish the two different positions

Seminar IV 28th November 1956 p2 EC collective : To strengthen our comparison: it is a matter of demonstrating something which he [the obsessional] has unknowingly articulated for this Other spectator at this place he puts us [the analyst] in, that the transference brings forward. What will the analyst do with this notion of object relations?

P135 – 137 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : The Freudian Thing or the Meaning of the Return to Freud in Psychoanalysis : (Vienna) 7th November 1955 : Jacques Lacan See here : ‘But we are not here to dream between nausea and vertigo. The fact remains that I who am speaking to you, mere desk though I be, am the ideal patient since with me not so much trouble has to be taken, the results are acquired at once, I am cured in advance. Since it is simply a question of substituting your discourse for mine, I am a perfect ego, since I have never had any other, and I leave it to you to inform me of the things to which my regulating devices do not allow you to adapt me directly, namely, all those things that are not your diopters, your size and the dimension of your papers.’

Further quotes available [vi]

How Éric Laurent [vii] describes the difference in positions

‘So there is an absolute all-knowing scientific other.’

This seems to be similar to the object-relations psychoanalyst position. An absolute position is possible.

Éric Laurent goes on:

– The acceptance of this perspective implies a complete blackout on the nature of repression in psychoanalysis and the acceptance of the perspective of a therapy by the generalised wiping out of the contingencies of life.

– They translate into neuronal terms the transgression of social prohibitions that being in love and maternal love make possible.

– We thus come to a scientific foundation of the theory of the social bond as “agape”, distinguished from the sexual. Within this perspective, the main point is to replace jouissance by “reward”. The formation of the social bond can than be understood as a process of reinforcement of the reward system.

– Seen this way, communication depends upon the ability of human beings to attribute mental states to others; that is, it depends upon their naïve psychology

– So there is no effect of meaning without the will to decode the intention of the other.

– The first is that the two interlocutors share a certain theory of the mind [… ] “.[17]
The “theory of mind” attributed to the other makes it possible to give an imaginary version of the place of the Other. It then allows the deployment of a particular mode of inference, which would be characteristic of psychoanalysis. The recourse to empathy thus defines the possibility to have access to the meaning of what the analysand says. The meaning that is situated beyond the decoding of the signified.

– The question is rather to distinguish the two projects of scientific objectivity and psychoanalytic objectality. The object (a) is not demonstrated by science. It is from the object (a) and the symptom that we have to question the effect of science on the way the subject is produced and the regime of its certainties.[20] The principles of Lacanian psychoanalytic practice base the interpretation on the experience of a real proper to psychoanalysis, and not on the conformity with the objects produced by a scientific discourse.


I began by involvement with Lacan’s use of the metaphor of a circus ring. (It is actually possible that Lacan was thinking of Rome’s Colliseum) This seems to me to question what is reality and where is the Other as analyst/what is the position of the psychoanalyst’s role. Laurent draws out the distinction between the object-relation analyst who has a scientific certainty, based in knowledge of what is going on and a Lacanian position, where there is a gap between the flow of the energy and the how it is captured. What is going on at this gap has to be established.

Let’s discuss…….


[i] The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis (Rome) : 26th September 1953 : Jacques Lacan or here

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

Seminar II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis: 1954-1955: begins 17th November 1954 : Jacques Lacan or here

Psychoanalysis and cybernetics, or on the nature of language : 22nd June 1955 : Lecture in Paris : Jacques Lacan or here

Seminar III : 4th July 1956 : (one example) p321 of Russell Grigg’s translation. : See Seminar III: The Psychoses: 1955-1956: from 16th November 1955: Jacques Lacan or here

[ii] In ECp3 Seminar IV : 28th November 1956 : See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here, Lacan comments on Clinical analysis : 1956 : Maurice Bouvet or here :

See also Commentary on Maurice Bouvet’s case of Obsessional Neurosis (Seminar IV) : a reconstruction of the case by Julia Evans  on 15th June 2017 or here

[iii] Clinical analysis : 1956 : Maurice Bouvet or here

[iv] Circulated by NLS-Messager – : as [nls-messager] 2512.en/ LRO: Trolling a Robot : on 22nd October 2017 at 21:25:08 BST

Available here or here

[v] A Short Study of the Development of the Libido, Viewed in the Light of Mental Disorders : 1924 : Karl Abraham : See here : This paper is the most thorough going attempt to establish correlations between the stages of libidinal stages or phases.

A paper tracing the development of stages in Freud is in preparation. Freud bases his ‘stages’ on processes observable in his clinic. The following is recommended: Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess: 30th May 1896 : Known as Letter 46 : See here  : P187-190 of Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s translation : As the fruit of some tormenting reflections, I send you the following solution to the etiology of the psychoneuroses, which still awaits confirmation from individual analyses.

Four periods of life are to be distinguished:

[vi] p254 of Bruce Fink’s translation of The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis (Rome) : 26th September 1953 : Jacques Lacan or here : This Freud, let it be recalled, in touching on the feelings involved in the transference insisted on the need to distinguish in it a factor of reality. He concluded that it would be an abuse of the subject’s docility to want to persuade him in every case that these sentiments are a mere transferential repetition of the neurosis. Consequently, since these real feelings manifest themselves as primary and since the charm of our own persons remains a doubtful factor, there would seem to be some mystery here.

But this mystery becomes clarified if it is viewed within the phenomenology of the subject, in so far as the subject constitutes himself in the search for truth.

From The Project for a Scientific Psychology: 23rd & 25th September & 5th October 1895: Sigmund Freud : See here : p428 to 429 of James Strachey’s translation : Part III An attempt at an account of normal ψ-processes (5th October 1895)

The biological rule of attention, in so far as it concerns the ego, runs as follows : If an indication of reality appears, the perceptual cathexis which is simultaneously present must be hypercathected.

[A fuller quote is available at Notes & references for Jacques Lacan’s Seminar IV : 28th November 1956 by Julia Evans on 2nd July 2017 or here]

[vii] Quotes from The Blind Alleys of Cognitive Psychoanalysis : 24th April 2005 : Éric Laurent or here : reprinted in ‘Lost in Cognition’

Related text

Psychotherapy is imposed: Psycho-analysis© works: Psychoanalysis operates by Julia Evans on 15th December 2010 : Available here


Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, Earl’s Court, London


Further texts by members of the Earl’s Court Clinical Group

By Julia Evans here 

By Bruno de Florence here

By Greg Hynds here

By Owen Hewitson here

Texts presented to Clinical Group meetings

Reading the Recommendations : London, 1st April 2017 (Open Meeting) : by Greg Hynds : Information here

What makes the initial interventions by an analyst work? : 1st April 2017 (Open Meeting) : by Julia Evans : Information here

Commentary on Maurice Bouvet’s case of Obsessional Neurosis (Seminar IV) : a reconstruction of the case by Julia Evans  on 15th June 2017 or here

Commentary on Maurice Bouvet’s description of Object Relations Theory (Seminar IV) or here by Julia Evans  on 27th July 2017

The Yerodia Case : 27th July 2017 : Owen Hewitson : is available here

Comments on the Yerodia Case : A preliminary engagement with ‘Psychoanalytic Violence: An Essay in Indifference in Ethical Matters’ by Dany Nobus by Julia Evans on 30th July 2017 or here

Psychoanalysis, Politics and the Social Bond : acting as a 1-subject, outside of ideals : 5th November 2017 (London) by Bruno de Florence on November 5, 2017 or here

Further texts

Of the clinic : here

Lacanian Transmission : here

Some Lacanian History : here

From other LW working groups : here

Topology : here

From 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