Seminar VIII : Transference : 1960 to 1961 : Begins 16th November 1960 : Jacques Lacan

by Julia Evans on November 16, 1960

Includes Lacan’s analysis of Plato’s symposium in order to illustrate his ideas on transference love.



Seminar VIII : Dates of Sessions & page numbers in all published editions




Further posts


In English:

Translated by Cormac Gallagher

Published by Lacan in Ireland

Available here

Bruce Fink’s translation of the French, as edited by Jacques-Alain Miller, published by Polity, 2015 as ‘Transference: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VIII’

In French:

Le Seminaire Livre VIII: Le Transfert : Jacques Lacan : Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller : Published by Éditions de Seuil : 1991

Seminar VIII : Dates of Sessions & page numbers

in Cormac Gallagher’s (pCG) & Bruce Fink’s (pBF) translation & de Seuil 1991 (Fp)

The titles first appear in the 1991 French publication and have been given by Jacques-Alain Miller :


1) 16th November 1960

CG p1-12

BF : In the Beginning Was Love (Plato’s Schwärmerei, Socrates and Freud, A critique of intersubjectivity, The beauty of bodies) : p3-18 : Fp11 – 26

BF/J-AM title : THE MAINSPRING OF LOVE – A Commentary on Plato’s Symposium

2) 23rd November 1960

CG p 13 – 27

BF : Set and Characters (Alcibiades, scholars, The Symposium, a session, Recording on the brain, Greek love) : p19-35 : Fp29 – 48

3) 30th November 1960

CG p28 – 40

BF : The Metaphor of Love : Phaedrus (The other’s being: an object?, From “Know thyself” to “He doesn’t know”, The gods belong to the real, -Orpheus, Alcestis, and Achilles) : p36-49 : Fp49 – 65

4) 7th December 1960

CG p41 – 52

BF : The Psychology of the Rich : Pausanias (The myth of the beloved’s molting, The rules of Platonic love, Calvinist love, Kojève and Aristophanes’ hiccoughs) : p50 – 63 : Fp67 – 82

5) 14th December 1960

CG p53 – 64

BF : Medical Harmony : Eryximachus (On the supposed science in love, From good to desire, Medicine and science, The path of comedy) : p64 – 76 : Fp83 – 97

6) 21st December 1960

CG p65 – 79

BF : Deriding the Sphere : Aristophanes (From the universe to truth, Socrates and his witness, The clown [pitre], Perfect motion) : p77 – 94 : Fp99 – 118

7) 11th January 1961

CG p80 – 93

BF : The Atopia of Eros : Agathon (The commandments of the second death, The signifier and immortality, The analyst’s desire, The tragedian’s macaronic fancy) : p95 – 109 : Fp119 – 136

8) 18th January 1961

CG p94 – 107

BF : From Epistéme to Mýthous (From love to desire, The limits of Socratic knowledge, Socrates “diocesed”, Masculine desirable, feminine desiring, Love as metaxú) : p110 -123 : Fp137 – 152

9) 25th January 1961

CG p108 – 117

BF : Exit from the Ultra-World (The fascination with beauty, Identification with what is supremely lovable, Socrates’ “he did not know”, It takes three to love, The object of unique covetousness) : p124 – 134 : Fp153 – 165

10) 1st February 1961

CG p118 – 129

BF : Ágalma (Ágalma and the master, The fetish function, The god trap, From the partial object to the other, A subject is an other) : p135 – 148 : Fp167 – 182

11) 8th February 1961

CG p130 – 142

BF : Between Socrates and Alcibiades (Why Socrates does not love, “I am nothing”, Socrates’ interpretation, The revelation that is ours) : p149 – 166 : Fp183 – 199


12) 1st March 1961

CG p143 – 154

BF : Transference in the Present (Decline of the Other, Dignity of the subject, Transference is not just repetition, The true mainspring of love, Socrates’ interpretation) : p167 – 179 : Fp203 – 217

13) 8th March 1961

CG p155 – 168

BF : A Critique of Countertransference (The unconscious is, at first, the Other’s, Desire in the case of the analyst, The analytic game of bridge, Paula Heimann and Money-Kyrle, The latent effect linked to inscience) : p180 – 195 : Fp219 – 236

14) 15th March 1961

CG p169 – 179

BF : Demand and Desire in the Oral and Anal Stages (Psychoanalysts and drives, The gaping maw of life, From the pole to the partner, Bout-de-Zan, Counterdemand) : p196 – 208 : Fp237 – 251

15) 22nd March 1961

CG p180 – 189

BF : Oral, Anal and Genital (The jouissance of the praying mantis, The Other, depository of desire, Desire’s dependence on demand, The privilege of the phallus as an object) : p209 – 219 : Fp253 – 264

16) 12th April 1961

CG p190 : a reproduction of Zucchi’s painting called “Psyche surprises Amore” : Also available here

CG p191 – 202

BF : Psyche and the Castration Complex (Zucchi and Apuleius, The tribulations of the soul, The castration complex as a paradox, The signifierness of the phallus, The Analyst’s desire) : p220 – 233 : Fp265 – 280

17) 19th April 1961

CG p203 – 215

BF : The Symbol Φ (Arcimboldo and persona, The lack of a signifier and questioning, The signifier that is always veiled, The phallus in hysteria and obsession) : p234 – 247 : Fp281 – 296

18) 26th April 1961

CG p216 – 227

BF : Real Presence (The contemporary farce, The obsessive’s phallicism, The signifier that is excluded from the signifying system, Phobia and perversion) : p248 – 264 : Fp297 – 312

THE OEDIPAL MYTH TODAY – A commentary on the Coûfontaine Trilogy by Paul Claudel

19) 3rd May 1961

CG p228 – 240

BF : Sygne’s No (…where we are supposed to know, Contemporary tragedy, Twiching on the part of life, A breach beyond faith) : p265 – 279 : Fp315 – 331

20) 10th May 1961

CG p241 – 253

BF : Turelure’s Abjection (The father’s (hi)story, The father duped at dice, How Freud operated, The object of desire is its instrument, Three generations suffice) : p280 – 296 : Fp333 – 351

21) 17th May 1961

CG p254 – 266

BF : Pensée’s Desire (Saying no, Tragedy is reborn…, …as is desire, myth, and innocence, The Other incarnated in this woman) : p297 – 311 : Fp353 – 369

22) 24th May 1961

CG p267 – 278

BF : Structural Decomposition (The analyst: object or subject?, The structural analysis of myth, So-called normality, The earliest Versagung, The subject exchanged for [the object of] his desire) : p312 – 328 : Fp371 – 386


23) 31st May 1961

CG p279 – 291

BF : Slippage in the Meaning of the Ideal (Effects of the psychoanalytic group, Action as a response to the unconscious, There is no such thing as a metalanguage, Love and guilt, “Extrojection”) : p329 – 343 : Fp389 – 404

24) 7th June 1961

CG p292 – 305

BF : Identification via “Ein Einziger Zug” (The primitive monad of jouissance, Introjection of the imperative object, The Other in the mirror stage, The three modes, On rich people and saints) : p329 – 343 : Fp405 – 422

25) 14th June 1961

CG p 306 – 315

BF : The Relationship between Anxiety and Desire (The place of anxiety as a signal, a i(a), The unbearable object, The place of pure desirousness, Desire as a remedy for anxiety) : p360 – 371 : Fp423 – 435

26) 21st June 1961

CG p316 – 326

BF : “A Dream of a Shadow Is Man” (A fly in the field of the Other, With an analyst, man awakens, Abraham and partial love, Fro narcissism to the object, The fox and the tip of his nose) : p372 – 384 : Fp327 – 450

27) 28th June 1961

CG p327 – 338

BF : Mourning the Loss of the Analyst (The little a of desire, The Sadean line, “I desire”, The relationship between I and a) : p385 – 398 : Fp451 – 465


BF : Translator’s Endnotes : p399 – 431

BF : Editor’s Notes : p432 – 434

BF : Index : p435 to end


References & where to find Quotations


Comments on Love as “giving what you do not have”

Love as “giving what you do not have” is a major theme in Seminar VIII

See p46 & 121 of Bruce Fink’s translation :  

Seminar VIII : 23rd November 1960 : p26 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : The second thing that I wanted to say – as you will see – that we rediscover at every moment, which will serve us as a guide, is that love is to give what one does not have. This you will also see arriving at one of the essential hinges of what we will have to encounter in our commentary.

Seminar VIII : 18th January 1961 : p105-106 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : But the good thing about feasts is precisely that at them there happen things which upset the ordinary order and that Poros falls asleep. He falls asleep because he is drunk, which is what allows Aporia to make herself pregnant by him, namely to have

this offspring which is called Love and whose date of conception coincides then with the birth-date of Aphrodite. This indeed is why it is explained to us that Love will always have some obscure relationship with beauty, which is what is in question in the whole development of Diotima, and it is because Aphrodite is a beautiful goddess.

Here then the matter is clearly put. The fact is that on the one hand it is the masculine which is desirable and that, it is the feminine which is active, this at least is how things happen at the moment of the birth of Love and, when one formulates “love is giving what one does not have”, believe me, I am not the one who is telling you this in connection with this text in order to produce one of my hobby horses, it is quite evident that this is what is in question here because the poor Penia, by definition, by structure has properly speaking nothing to give, except her constitutive lack, aporia. And what allows me to tell you that I am not forcing things here, is that if you refer to number 202a of the text of the Symposium you will find the expression “to give what one does not have” literally written there in the form of the development which starting from there Diotima is going to give to the function of love, namely: aneu tou echein logon dounai – it fits exactly, in connection with the discourse, the formula “to give what one does not have” – it is a question here of giving a discourse, a valid explanation, without having it. It is a question of the moment when, in her development, Diotima is going to be led to say what love belongs to. Well, love belongs to a zone, to a form of affair, a form of thing, a form of pragma, a form of praxis which is at the same level, of the same quality as doxa, namely the following which exists, namely that there are discourses, ways of behaving, opinions – this is the translation that we give to the term doxa – which are true without the subject being able to know it.

Further Comments on Love as “giving what you do not have”

From Seminar IV : 23rd January 1957

See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here

Para 28  : I indicated that, in accordance with the hysterical structure, the hysteric is someone who loves by proxy: you can see this in a host of observations of hysterics. The hysteric is someone whose object is homosexual, and who approaches this homosexual object by way of identification with someone of the opposite sex.

Para 32 :   In other words, this situation rests on the distinction that I made with regard to primitive frustration, with regard to what can be established in the mother-child relation – that is, the distinction that the object belongs to the subject only after her being stripped of it. It is only after this frustration that her desire subsists, and this frustration only has a meaning insofar as the object subsists after the frustration has occurred. The situation rests on the differentiation that is made in the mother’s intervention at this point – that is, in another register, whether she gives or does not give and whether this giving is or is not a sign of love. Here the father is made to be the one who gives this missing object symbolically. But he does not give it, because he does not have it. The phallic deficiency of the father is what traverses the whole observation as an absolutely fundamental and constitutive ingredient of the situation. 

From notes to p96-97 of Jacqueline Rose’s translation of ‘Guiding Remarks’

Love as “giving what you do not have” is also referred to in the Notes to p96-97 of Jacqueline Rose’s translation, Guiding Remarks for a Congress on Feminine Sexuality : 1958 [Presented in Amsterdam, 5th September 1960] : Jacques Lacan See notes here 


Seminar VIII : 1st March 1961


P149 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : See Some aspects of transference : 4th April 1951 (London?) : Daniel Lagache  or  here 

Seminar VIII : 12th April 1961

* P190 & 191 [BFp220 & Fp265] of Cormac Gallagher’s translation, there is a reference to Jacopo Zucchi’s Painting in the Borghese Gallery which Jacques Lacan names as Psyche surprises Amore : See

Seminar VIII : 10th May 1961

Possibly a reference in The Urgency of Mourning : 28th March 2019 : Michele Laboureur or here

Seminar VIII : 24th May 1961

Possibly a reference in The Urgency of Mourning : 28th March 2019 : Michele Laboureuror here

Seminar VIII : 31st May 1961

* P283 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Traumdeutung : The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud or here 


* From p283 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation quoted in Jacques Lacan’s intervention : Gestapo or Geste à peau – an evolving discussion  by Julia Evans on 30th November 2017 or here  

P283 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation, Lacan states ‘One could highlight the one of his texts where he says, very early on, in the Technical Papers : “Let us take advantage of the openness of the unconscious because it will soon have found some other trick”.’ May refer to : On beginning the treatment (Further recommendations on the technique of psychoanalysis I) : 1913 : Sigmund Freud : Published by : available  here  : P123 of SEXII  : Anyone who hopes to learn the noble game of chess from books will soon discover that only the openings and end-games admit of an exhaustive systematic presentation and that the infinite variety of moves which develop after the opening defy any such description. This gap in instruction can only be filled by a diligent study of games fought out by masters. The rules which can be laid down for the practice of psycho-analytic treatment are subject to similar limitations.

Seminar VIII : 14th June 1961

* p306 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Inhibitions, Symptoms & Anxiety : 1926d : Sigmund Freud

Seminar VIII : 28th June 1961

* near end “Analysis of a single dream : 1937 : Ella Sharpe or here

* p337 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego : 1921 : Sigmund Freud


Seminar VIII : 16th November 1960 :

* p6-7 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : referenced in The symptom in the perspective of the speaking body in civilisation (audio) : 19th May 2016 (London) : Éric Laurent : See here

Seminar VIII : 23rd November 1960

* P14-16 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation The symptom in the perspective of the speaking body in civilisation (audio) : 19th May 2016 (London) : Éric Laurent : See here

* p25-26 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation: There are two things which I noted in my former discourse about love and I recall them. The first is that love is a comic sentiment, and you will see what will illustrate it in our investigation. We will complete in this connection the loop which will allow us to bring forward what is essential: the true nature of comedy. And it is so essential and indispensable that it is for this reason that there is in the Symposium, something which since that time the commentators have never been able to explain, namely, the presence of Aristophanes. He was, historically speaking the sworn enemy of Socrates; nevertheless he is there.

The second thing that I wanted to say – as you will see – that we rediscover at every moment, which will serve us as a guide, is that love is to give what one does not have. This you will also see arriving at one of the essential hinges of what we will have to encounter in our commentary.

Seminar VIII Lesson 4; Wednesday 7 December 1960

* p52 explanation : at whatever moment of analysis you tackle this text you will see that there is one thing and one thing only that Socrates articulates when he speaks in his own name, it is first of all that Agathon’s discourse, the discourse of the tragic poet, is utterly worthless.

It is said: it is to spare Agathon’s feelings that he is going to have himself replaced as I might say, by Diotima, that he is
going to give his theory of love through the mouth of Diotima.
I do not see at all how you can spare the feelings of someone who has been executed. This is what he does to Agathon. And starting from now – even if it is only to object to me if there
is reason for it – I would ask you to highlight what is in question, which is that what Socrates is going to articulate
after all the beautiful things that Agathon in his turn will have said about Love, which is not alone here all the goods of Love,
all the profit that one can draw from Love but, let us say, all
its virtues, all its beauties… there is nothing too beautiful
to be accounted for by the effects of Love… Socrates in a
single flash undermines all of this at the base by bringing
things back to their root which is the following: Love, love of what?

From love we pass to desire and the characteristic of desire, if it is a fact that Eros, era, that Eros desire’s is what is in question, namely what it is supposed to bring with it, the beautiful itself, is
terms it is lacking,
 lacking to it endes, endeia, in these two terms it is lacking, it is identical of itself to the lack in these two terms. And the whole contribution of Socrates in his
personal name in this discourse of the Symposium is that starting from there something is going to begin which is very far [from] reaching something that you can catch hold of, how is this conceivable. . . up to the end we plunge on the contrary progressively into a darkness and we will find here the antique night is always greater.. . And everything that there is to be said about the thought of love, in the Symposium begins here.

Seminar VIII : 25th January 1961

* See The Paradoxes of Transference : 15th February 2014 : Miquel Bassols or here

Seminar VIII : 1st February 1961

* See  The Paradoxes of Transference : 15th February 2014 : Miquel Bassols or here

Seminar VIII : 1st March 1961

* From p151 is referenced in Shame, an old-fashioned affect? : (Paris) November 2009 : Jean-Luc Monnier : See reference 10 here : The quotation follows:

10 Lacan J, ., Le séminaire, livre Vlll, Le transfert, Paris, Seuil, 200l, pp.213-4:

Seminar VIII : 1st March 1961 : p151 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Socrates is no longer there anything but the envelope of what is the object of desire. And it is indeed to mark clearly that he is nothing more than this envelope, it is for this reason that he wanted to show that Socrates is with respect to him the slave of desire, that Socrates is subjected to him by desire, and that
even though he knew it he wanted to see Socrates’ desire manifesting itself as a sign in order to know that the other object, agalma, was at his mercy.

Now for Alcibiades it is precisely the fact of having failed in this enterprise that covers him with shame and makes of his confession something so heavily charged. The fact is that the demon of Aidos, of Shame, of which I gave an account before you
at one time in this connection is what intervenes here, this is what is violated. It is that before everybody there is unveiled in its most shocking trait, secret, the final mainspring of desire, this something which forces it to be always more or less dissimulated in love, the fact is that its aim is this collapse of the Other, capital 0 into the other, little o, and that, in addition on this occasion, it appears that Alcibiades failed in his enterprise, in so far as this enterprise was specifically to knock Socrates off his perch.

* Book cover of the Polity publication (Bruce Fink’s translation) has almost the same quote as above.

P176 of Bruce Fink’s translation / p213 as published in French

“Alcibiades attempted to seduce Socrates, he wanted to make him, and in the most openly avowed way possible, into someone instrumental and subordinate to what? To the object of Alcibiades’ desire – ágalma, the good object.

I would go even further. How can we analysts fail to recognize what is involved? He says quite clearly: Socrates has the good object in his stomach. Here Socrates is nothing but the envelope in which the object of desire is found.

It is in order to clearly emphasize that he is nothing but this envelope that Alcibiades tries to show that Socrates is desire’s serf in his relations with Alcibiades, that Socrates is enslaved to Alcibiades by his desire. Although Alcibiades was aware that Socrates desired him, he wanted to see Socrates’ desire manifest itself in a sign, in order to know that the other – the object, ágalma – was at his mercy.

Now, it is precisely because he failed in this undertaking that Alcibiades disgraces himself, and makes of his confession something that is so affectively laden. The daemon of Αįδώς (Aidós), Shame, about which I spoke to you before in this context, is what intervenes here. This is what is violated here. The most shocking secret is unveiled before everyone; the ultimate mainspring of desire, which in love relations must always be more or less dissimulated, is revealed – its aim is the fall of the Other, A, into the other, a.”

Jacques Lacan

Seminar VIII : 31st May 1961

* Favourite quote from the Earl’s Court Clinical Group (30th November 2017) with relevance to interpretation : (p334 of Bruce Fink’s translation) : See Jacques Lacan’s intervention : Gestapo or Geste à peau – an evolving discussion  by Julia Evans on 30th November 2017 or here   

From p283 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation:

Where has all this come from? From the “turning point” of 1920. Around what does the turning point of 1920 turn? Around the fact that – the people of the time said it, the heroes of the first analytic generation – interpretation no longer functioned as it had functioned, the atmosphere no longer allows it to function, to succeed. And why? This did not surprise Freud, he had said it a long time before. One could highlight the one of his texts where he says, very early on, in the Technical Papers : “Let us take advantage of the openness of the unconscious because it will soon have found some other trick”.

What can that mean for us who want nevertheless to discover from this experience – which has involved a sliding on our part also – see reference points? I can that the effect of a discourse – I am talking about that of the first analytic generation – which, while dealing with the effect of a discourse, the unconscious, does not know that this is what is in question, because, even though it was there – since the Traumdeutung – as I teach you to recognise, to spell out, to see that what is constantly in question under the term mechanisms of the unconscious is nothing but the effect of discourse…. it is indeed this, the effect of a discourse which, dealing with the effect of a discourse which, the unconscious, does not know it, necessarily culminates at a new crystallisation of the these effects of the unconscious which makes this discourse opaque. A new crystallisation, what does that mean? That means the effects that we note, namely that if no longer has the same effect on patients when they are given certain glimpses, certain keys, when certain signifiers are manipulated before them.

But, pay careful attention to this, the subjective structures which correspond to this new crystallisation, do not need, for their part, to be new. Namely these registers, these degrees of alienation, as I might say, that we can specify, qualify in the subject under the terms for example of ideal ego, ego-ideal, it is like stationary waves – whatever is happening – these effects which repulse, immunise, mithridatize the subject with respect to a certain discourse, which prevents it from being the one which can continue to function when it is a question of leading him where we ought to lead him, namely to his desire. It changes nothing about the nodal points where he, as subject, is going to recognise himself, establish himself. And this is what Freud notes at this turning point. If Freud tries to define what these stationary points, these fixed waves are in the subjective constitution, it is because this is what appears very remarkably to him, to be a constant, but it is not in order to consecrate them that he occupies himself with them and articulates them, it is to remove them as obstacles. It is not in order to establish, as a type of irreducible inertia, the supposedly synthesising ‘Ich’ function of the ego, even when he speaks about it, puts it in the foreground, and it is nevertheless in this way that this was subsequently interpreted. It is to the extent that precisely we have to reconsider that as the artefacts of the self-establishment of the subject in his relationship to the signifier on the one hand, to [p284] reality on the other. It is in order to open up a new chapter of analytic action.



Quoted in ‘On the signal of Anxiety in an emergency’ by Elena Levy Yeyati, :  Circulated on 5thMarch 2019 by New Lacanian School Messenger : Towards the NLS Congress in June 2019, on Uregent! : Available

Seminar VIII : 14th June 1961

P309, Seminar 25, of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : But then, look at what this offers us in terms of an effective articulation, think of what really happens in animal psychology.

Among social animals, among herd animals, everyone knows the role played by the signal before the enemy of the herd: the cleverest and the best of the herd animals is there to smell him, to scent him, to pick him out. The gazelle, the antelope lift their (6) noses, give a little bell and there is no delaying: everyone heads off in the same direction. The notion of signal in a social complex, the reaction to a danger, here is where we grasp at the biological level what exists in an observable society. Here it can be perceived that this signal of anxiety, it is indeed from the alter ego, from the other who constitutes his ego, that the subject can receive it.


Also of interest : Seminar VIII : 14thJune 1961 : p309 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : ….which is the one of the problem of the three discs. This function of haste, namely this way in which man precipitates himself into his resemblance to man, is not anxiety. In order that anxiety should be constituted, there has to be a relationship at the level of desire. This indeed is why it is at the level of phantasy that I am leading you today by the hand in order to approach this problem of anxiety. I am going to show you well in advance where we are going and we will come back again in order to make a few detours around the kernel of the problem.


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Julia Evans 

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, London


Further posts:

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By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

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Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here

By Julia Evans here  or here   

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