The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power:10th-13th July 1958 : Jacques Lacan

by Julia Evans on July 10, 1958

This is the first of two papers given by Jacques Lacan at the Colloque International de Royaumont, 10th-13th July 1958, invited by the Société Française de Psychanalyse


– English translations

– Published in French

– Quote from Cormac Gallagher’s introduction

– References

– Translation Query – écartelé

– References to Sacha Nacht

– Commentaries & Background Information

– Further Texts

Publication in English:

1) Translated by Alan Sheridan:

p226-280 Écrits: A selection: Jacques Lacan, Routledge, 1989 or Tavistock 1977 :

Available here


Note : 7th December 2018 : To request a copy of any text whose weblink does not work, contact Julia Evans: : For fuller details, see Notice : Availability of texts from LacanianWorks by Julia Evans or here


2) Translated by Bruce Fink:

p489 Écrits:The first Complete Edition in English: Jacques Lacan, W. W. Norton, 2006 : Information Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan or here

3) Translated by Cormac Gallagher: : and available here

Publication in French:

1) By École lacanienne de la psychanalyse: pas tout Lacan  and available: ‘1958-07-10 : La direction de la cure et les principes de son pouvoir (43p)’ or here

2) Published as ‘La direction de la cure et les principes de son pouvoir’: La Psychanlyse: vol 6: P.U.F.: 1961 p149-206

Quote from Cormac Gallagher’s introduction

(Full available here) :

This trenchant and extensively documented critique of post-Freudian psychoanalysis condenses and articulates the themes that Lacan had dealt with in his seminars of the 1950’s e.g the graph of desire, the technique of operating with the signifier.  Its rejection of the accepted view of the analyst as master and teacher foreshadows later discussions on transference and the Four Discourses.


P29 (Section 7) of Cormac Gallagher’s translation Perversion sexuelle transitoire au cours d’un traitement psychoanalytique (French only) : July 1955 (Geneva) : Ruth Lebovici or  here

Commentaries & Background Information

Note:  7th December 2018 : To request a copy of any text whose weblink does not work, contact Julia Evans: : For fuller details, see Notice : Availability of texts from LacanianWorks by Julia Evans or here

1) Translator’s Note & Bibliography Note : Available Écrits, a selection (Jacques Lacan) : 1977 : Alan Sheridan or here

2) Classified index of the major concepts: 1966 : Jacques-Alain Miller : Page 326 – 331 Alan Sheridan’s translation : Availability given here

3) & Commentary on the graphs : 1966 : Jacques-Alain Miller : Page 332 – 335 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : Availability given here

4)  Ch 7: The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power : P263-331 of A Reader’s Guide to Écrits : available A Reader’s Guide to Écrits: 1982: John P. Muller and William J. Richardson or here

Translation Note

I thank Bruno de Florence  for his help in untangling this one.

In Vincente Palomera’s commentary of ‘Direction : July 1958’, on Saturday 5thApril 1997, in London, he queried the translation of ‘écartelé’. Details are given below.

Julia Evans notes that ‘cartel’ is included in this word. Jacques Lacan puts the ‘cartel’ as the basis for psychoanalytic institutions in see ‘Proposal of 9th October 1967 
on the psychoanalyst of the School’: Jacques Lacan  or here  & (Founding Act – 1964) “Each of the small groups (we have a name for designating the groups)” states Lacan, “will be composed of at least three individuals, five at most, four being the proper measure (or number is a possible translation). PLUS ONE charged with selection, discussion and the outcome….. After a certain period of functioning, the elements of a group will be invited to shift to a different group.”‘Founding Act’ 21st June 1964: Jacques Lacan  or here.

This current note follows study of Seminar IV : 19thDecember 1956 (See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacanor here) where the position & function of the fourth is put up for question using the card game, Piquet (paragraph 17 ‘function of the quart’) The quart has 4 cards, whereas in bridge there are 4 players, with one being the dummy.

The passage in French :

Allons plus loin. L’analyste est moins libre encore en ce qui domine stratégie et tactique : à savoir sa politique, où il ferait mieux de se repérer sur son manque à être que sur son être.

Pour dire les choses autrement : son action sur le patient lui échappe avec l’idée qu’il s’en fait, s’il n’en reprend pas le départ dans ce par quoi elle est possible, s’il ne retient pas le paradoxe de ce qu’elle a d’écartelé, pour réviser au principe la structure par où toute action intervient dans la réalité.

P5 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation, of the preceding paragraph :

One cannot regard the phantasies that the analyser imposes on the person of the analyst in the same way as the ideal gambler might guess his opponent‘s intentions. No doubt there is always an element of strategy, but one should not be deceived by the metaphor of the mirror, appropriate as it may be to the smooth surface that the analyst presents to the patient. An impassive face and sealed lips do not have the same purpose here as in a game of bridge. Here the analyst is rather bringing to his aid what in bridge is called the dummy (le mort) in order to introduce the fourth player who is here to be the partner of the analyser, and whose hand the analyst, by his play, will try to get him to divine; such is the link, let us say of abnegation, that is imposed on the analyst by what is at stake in the game of analysis.

One might pursue the metaphor by deducing his game according to whether he places himself ‘on the right‘ or ‘on the left‘ of the patient, that is to say, in a position to play after or before the fourth player, to play, that is to say, before or after him with the dummy.

But what is certain is that the analyst‘s feelings have only one possible place in the game, that of the dummy/dead; and that if it is revived the game will proceed without anyone knowing who is leading.

P5/6 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation :

6. Let us take this further. The analyst is even less free as to what dominates strategy and tactics, namely, his policy, where he would be better advised to take his bearings form his lack of being (manque à etre) rather than from his being.

To put it another way: his action on the patient, as well as the idea that he forms of it, escapes him, as long as he does not start again from what makes it possible, as [p5] long as he does not remember the paradox of its many-sidedness and revise from the beginning the structure by which any action intervenes in reality.

P230 of Alan Sheridan’s translation :

6. Let us take this further. The analyst is even less free as to that which dominates strategy and tactics, namely, his policy, where he would be better advised to take his bearings from his want-to-be (manque à être) rather than from his being.

To put it another way: his action on the patient escapes him through the idea that he forms of it as long as he does not grasp its starting-point in that by which it is possible, as long as he does not retain in the paradox of its four-sidedness, in order to revise in principle the structure by which any action intervenes in reality.

P493 of Bruce Fink’s translation :

6. Let us go further. The analyst is even less free in what dominates both his strategy and tactics – namely, his politics, where he would do better to take his bearings from his want-to-be than from his being.

To put it another way: his action concerning the patient will escape him along with the idea he forms of his action, as long as he does not reconsider its point of departure in terms of what makes his action possible and does not preserve the paradox of its quadripartition, in order to revise at the core the structure by which all action intervenes in reality.


So écartelé is translated by ‘many-sidedness’, ‘four-sidedness’ and ‘quadripatition’ which is possibly the nearest.

Its etymology is given as to pull in pieces (1165) & for a condemned man to be pulled apart by four horses (1422) : Seeécartelé

An example of this punishment is of Robert-Francois Damiens who in 1757 became the last Frenchman to suffer the dreadful punishment of drawing and quartering. Damiens attempted to assassinate King Louis XV, inflicting, however, only a slight dagger wound.

He may be best-known today as the subject of the jarring opening passage of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, in which the full flower of this medieval torture is described in detail by way of contrasting it with the regimented penal institutions that would sprout up in a few decades’ time.

There are drawings available of this punishment being executed, on the web. Foucault’s text, as translated by Alan Sheridan, is available excerpt, Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish –…  or

Further conversations: Écartèlement (substantive) was indeed a punishment reserved for those convicted of regicide. In French history, Damiens is the only known chap to have been convicted of regicide. Foucault (in Surveiller et punir) uses quotes from the archives of his trial.

Écartèlement is an attempt at breaking the unity of the body.

So perhaps Lacan’s use of Écartelé, links  an attempt at breaking the unity of the body with the attempt to kill the King, as in Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego : 1921 : Sigmund Freud. The killing of the leader brings about a transformation.


References to Sacha Nacht

See also What is concealed by the so-called “Cht” and why? : 9th March 2019 : Réginald Blanchet or here

– p1 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation, quote : What nobility of soul we display when we reveal that we ourselves are made from the same clay as those we mould!

Now that‘s a nasty way of putting it. But it lets those it is aimed at away lightly, since they shamelessly confess, in the name of psychoanalysis, that they are working on the ‘emotional re-education of the patient‘ [22].

P.D.A.- a work entitled: La Psychanalyse d’aujourd’hui
[Psychoanalysis today] published by P.U.F., to which I refer to only because
of the naive simplicity with which it presents the tendency in psychoanalysis to degrade the direction of the treatment and the principles of its power. A work for outside consumption no doubt, but also an obstruction inside. Therefore I will not quote the authors, who make no properly scientific contribution in it.

[22] PDA: see successively p. 133 (emotional reeducation), and p.133 (the PDA’s opposition to Freud on the primordial importance of the two-person relation), p.132 (on the cure “from the inside”), p.135 (what is important… is not so much what the analyst says or does as what he is), p.136, etc., passim, and also p.162 (on saying goodbye at the end of the treatment), and p.149 (on dreams) [Bruce Fink’s note : Sacha Nacht, “La clinique psychanalytique. La relation d’objet”]  [JE notes that this chapter may not be published in English, though Chapter 3 Psychoanalytic Therapy by Sacha Nacht is. Copy available o request]

[Note : See Clinical analysis : 1956 : Maurice Bouvet or here for details of P.D.A. whose overall editor is Sacha Nacht]

– p3 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Let those who wish me well in my struggles not be concerned at the thought that I am exposing myself here once again to opponents who are always only too happy to send me back to my metaphysics.

Because at the heart of their claim to be satisfied with effectiveness, the statement is made that ‘the analyst cures not so much by what he says and does but by what he is‘ [22]. Nobody, apparently, demands an explanation for such a statement, nor does anyone appeal to their author‘s sense of shame when, with a tired smile at the derision he incurs, he falls back on goodness, his goodness (we must be good, no transcendence implied), to put an end to the fruitless debate about the transference neurosis.5 But who would be cruel enough to question someone bent double under the weight of his suitcase, when the way he is carrying it already shows that it is full of bricks?

Jacques Lacan’s note [22] is reproduced in the above point.

P4 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : This does not prevent people believing that they are really getting somewhere when they discover the learned notion that psychoanalysis must be studied as a situation involving two. It is no doubt hedged about by conditions that restrain its movements, but it remains that conceiving the situation in this way serves to articulate (and with no more artifice than the emotional re-education referred to above) the principles of a training of an ego described as ‘weak‘, by an ego that people like to believe has the energy, on account of its ‘strength‘, to carry out such a project. That it is not expressed without a certain embarrassment is shown by the strikingly clumsy regrets that are offered, like the one specifying that there must be no compromise on the need for a ̳cure from within‘ [22][Footnote 6]. But it is all the more significant to observe that the assent of the subject, referred to in this passage, comes only secondarily, as an effect of what was first of all imposed.

It is not for fun that I point out these deviations but rather so that their danger may serve as beacons on our route.

[22] is given above.

Footnote 6 : I promise my readers not to weary them any more in what comes, with such foolish formulae, which here have really no other use than to show where people have got to in the analytic discourse. I apologised to my foreign listeners who no doubt have just as many available in their own tongue [langue], but perhaps not at quite the same level of platitude.

P6-7 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : We recognise here a down-at-heel mirage that has already been rejected as untenable by the most academic psychology of introspection. Yet this regression is celebrated as a return to the fold of ‘general psychology‘.

However, it does solve the problem of the analyst‘s being.[Footnote 7] A team of egos no doubt less equal than autonomous (but by what stamp do they recognise one another in the self-sufficiency of their autonomy) is offered to Americans to guide them towards happiness, without upsetting the autonomies, egotistical or otherwise, that pave with their non-conflictual spheres the American way of getting there.

Footnote 7 : In France the doctrinaire of being, quoted above, went straight to this solution: the being of the psychoanalyst is innate [c.f. P.D.A., I, p136] [JE notes see [22] above for quote from p136]

– P13 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : 6. In this perspective, transference becomes the analyst‘s security, and the relation to the real the terrain on which the combat is decided. Interpretation, which had been postponed until the consolidation of the transference, now becomes subordinate to its reduction.

As a result, interpretation is reabsorbed into a ‘working through‘, which might very well be translated as transference work, which serves as an alibi for a sort of revenge taken for the initial timidity, that is to say, for an insistence that opens the door to all kinds of forcing, put under the flag of ‘strengthening the ego‘ [21-22].

For [22] see above.

[21] PDA. (Abbreviation given above), p. 51—52 (on “pregenitals” & “genitals”, passim (on the strengthening of the ego & the method for doing so), and p102  (on distance from the object as the principle of a method of treatment)  [See  Clinical analysis : 1956 : Maurice Bouvet or here]

– p23-25 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : This ectoplasmic conception of the object soon revealed its dangers when it became degraded into the crude dichotomy expressed in the opposition of the pre-genital character and the genital character.

This over-simplified thematisation is summarily developed by attributing to the pre-genital character the accumulated features of projective unreality, of greater or lesser degrees of autism, of restriction of satisfaction by the defences, of the conditioning of the object by a doubly protected isolation from the destructive effects that connote it, in other words an amalgam of all the defects of object relations with a view to showing the motives for the extreme dependence that results from them for the subject. A picture that would be useful despite its inveterate confusion, if it did not seem made to serve as a negative to the puerility of “the passage from the pre-genital form to the genital form”, in which the drives “no longer take on that character of a need of uncoercible, unlimited, unconditional possession involving a destructive aspect. They are truly tender, loving, and even if the subject does not show himself to be oblative, that is to say disinterested, and even if these objects” (here the author recalls my remarks), “are as profoundly narcissistic as in the previous case he is capable of comprehension and adaptation to the other. Indeed the intimate structure of these objectal relations shows that the object‘s participation in his own pleasure is indispensable for the subject‘s happiness. The proprieties, the desires, the needs of the object” – what a mess! – “are taken into consideration to the highest degree.”

However this does not prevent the ego from having “a stability that runs no risk of being compromised by the loss of a significant Object. It remains independent of its objects.”

“Its organisation is such that the mode of thought that it uses is essentially logical. It does not spontaneously present regression to an archaic mode of apprehending reality, affective thinking and magical belief, playing only an absolutely secondary role; symbolisation does not grow in extent and importance beyond what it is in normal life.” (!!) ―The style of the relations between the subject and the object is highly evolved.” (sic) 10

10 Parentheses by the author of the present report.

This is the promise held out to those who ―at the end of a successful analysis…realise the enormous difference between what they once believed sexual joy to be and what they now experience.”  [21, p55]

We are led to understand that for those who have this joy straight off, “the genital relation is in short, untroubled” [21].

Untroubled except for conjugating itself irresistibly in the verb to bang your behind against the chandelier, whose place here seems to me to be marked for the future commentator to have time of his life.

– P29 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : But that an animal odour should find its way into a technique that is conducted largely by ̳following your nose‘, as they say, is not just ridiculous. Students from my seminar will recall the smell of urine that marked the turning point in a case of transitory perversion, which I used as a criticism of this technique. It cannot be said that it was unconnected with the accident that motivates the observation, since it is in spying, through a crack in the wall of a public lavatory, on a woman pissing that the patient suddenly transposed his libido, without anything, it seemed, predetermining it: infantile emotions bound up with the phantasy of the phallic mother having until then taken the form of a phobia [23].

It is not a direct link, however, any more than it would be correct to see in the voyeurism an inversion of the exhibition involved in what is correctly diagnosed as an atypical phobia: as the patient‘s anxiety had been teased for being too tall.

[23] states R.L., “Perversion sexuelle transitoire au cours d’un traitement psychanalytique”, Bulletin d’activités de l’Association des Psych- analystes de Belgique 25, p.1—17 (118, rue Froissart, Brussels).  See Perversion sexuelle transitoire au cours d’un traitement psychoanalytique (French only) : July 1955 (Geneva) : Ruth Lebovici or here   Note : Ruth Lebovici’s husband was Serge Lebovici, (See Notes & References for Jacques Lacan’s Seminar IV : 21st November 1956: Information here : who was a contributor to Sacha Nacht’s Collection : La psychanalyse d’aujourd’hui, Ruth Lebovici’s supervisor was Maurice Bouvet. One of his obsessional cases was examined in Seminar IV : 21stNovember 1965 and is included in Nacht’s collection.. See Clinical analysis : 1956 : Maurice Bouvet: See here

– p40-41 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Those analysts that we can say are fascinated by the sequellae of frustration are only taking up a position of suggestion that reduces the subject to restating his demand. This no doubt is what is meant by emotional re-education.

Goodness is no doubt more necessary here than anywhere else, but it cannot cure the evil it engenders. The analyst who wants the good of the subject, repeats what he was formed by, and sometimes, even deformed. The most aberrant education has never had any other motive than the good of the subject.

A theory of analysis is conceived, which unlike the delicate articulation of Freud‘s analysis, reduces the source of symptoms to fear. It engenders a practice in which what I have called elsewhere the obscene ferocious figure of the superego is imprinted, in which there is no other way out of the transference neurosis than to make the patient sit down by the window and show him all the smiling aspects of nature, adding “Off you go! Now you‘re a good child.” [22]

V Desire must be taken literally (à la lettre)

  1. After all, a dream is just a dream, we hear it said today [22]. Does it mean

nothing that in it Freud recognised desire?

Desire, not tendencies. For we must read The interpretation of dreams to know what is meant by what Freud calls desire.

We must pause at the vocables Wunsch and its English translation Wish, to distinguish them from désir; nothing could less suggest concupiscence than their damp squib splutter. They are voeux.

See [22] above.


Jacques Lacan comments Dream ‘fresh brains’ in Seminars I, III, VI & X and Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis : 26th & 27th September 1953 & Direction of the Treatment : 10th to 13th July 1958 or here

Intervention on Siegfelt Bernfelt ‘Observations on Sublimation’ : Seminar VII, 2nd March 1960 : Pierre Kaufmann or here

Ego psychology and interpretation in psychoanalytic therapies (Case ‘fresh brains’) : December 1948 (New York) [1951] : Ernst Kris or here

Intellectual Inhibition & Disturbances in Eating (Dream ‘fresh brains’) : September 1933 [Published1938] : Melitta Schmideberg or here

P10 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : The therapeutic effect of inexact interpretation : a contribution to the theory of suggestion : October 1931 : Edward Glover or here

Other references given References to Jacques Lacan’s texts in LacanianWorks posts. Or here


Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst in Earl’s Court, London


Note :  7th December 2018 : To request a copy of any text whose weblink does not work, contact Julia Evans: : For fuller details, see Notice : Availability of texts from LacanianWorks by Julia Evans or here


Further posts:

Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan or here

Autres Écrits: 2001 : Jacques Lacan or here

Lacanian Transmission here

Some Lacanian history here

Of the clinic here

Topology 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

Translation Working Group here

Use of power here