A big thank you to the entire editorial board of the European Journal of Psychoanalysis, and in particular Sergio Benvenuto, whose encouraging words and attention to detail helped shepherd this special issue into existence.
In 1917 T.S. Eliot wrote an astonishing prose poem entitled “Hysteria” that shows the power of hysteria in the body’s symptomatic swell whose sexuality, just shy of the margin, always threatens to break through. This seductiveness enters into the vicissitudes of identification and counter-identification as it travels between women and men.
This text considers hysteria both historically (the denial of hysteria as a real disorder by “progressist” thought since the XIXth century) and clinically. It refers to some of Freud’s famous cases (Cäcilie, the dream of the Beautiful Butcher’s Wife) as well as to the author’s own practice, in order to show that hysteria remains a very commonplace syndrome today (even in its conversion form), and that the common cliché (also shared by analysts) that the hysteria of Freud’s time has disappeared, is an oblique way to deny the validity of psychoanalysis and to suggest its death.
What do we learn as analysts from the hysteric’s narrative style? Open, fragmented, something insisting as it circles a hole in memory or affect, a sometimes stubborn refusal to close, a multiplicity of positions occupied; these characteristics that immediately become apparent to the analyst when listening to the hysteric might embody an ideal of analytic listening, analytic discourse, and even analytic writing. Using the work of Serge Leclaire, several case examples, and a theoretical investigation of forgetting, repetition, and atonement, the author tries to show the importance of hysteria for rethinking not only how we work with hysteria clinically, but an ethic that the author calls, “always beginning again” that mirrors the difficult position of what it means to be and continue to be a psychoanalyst.
The important role of hysteria for psychoanalysis is well known–it guided Freud and helped him invent psychoanalysis and discover the unconscious. What was the role of hysteria for Lacan? Is there a Lacanian theory of hysteria? This paper explores Lacan’s development from his early training as a Babinskian, that is, someone who believes that hysteria is purely simulation, to the theory of the four discourses when hysteria becomes a type of social link, to his late confession of being himself “…the perfect hysteric, that is, one without symptoms, aside from an occasional gender error.” “…and nevertheless I consider that in a very precise manner I have been guided by hysterics” (Lacan “Propos sur l’hystérie” 5)
Hysteria has changed in appearance, but has not disappeared. According to Lacan, its symptoms can be found in certain behaviors—in the patient’s ‘acting out’—which develop through ‘hysterical intrigue’. Lacan’s interpretation of this pathology helps us to understand the unconscious identifications that mask the desire at play in the hysteric, as well as her belief in an essence of femininity, in the existence of a true woman. Ultimately, it can help us to identify the contemporary forms of this pathology.
This is a case of hysteria in which the anorexic symptom has a specific function: it separates the patient from maternal jouissance. It thus takes on the Name of the Father for the subject. This is an important consideration in treatment.
Brief overview of the changes in the pattern of psychopathologies from the late 19th century to the present allows us to see how social processes influence symptom formation. The main part of the paper is concerned with the anorexic symptom as а production of contemporary liberal discourse. With the example of a clinical vignette the paper considers the special characteristics of influence of universal, cultural and individual aspects on the formation of anorexia as well as the particular qualities of clinical approaches and techniques.
The focus of this article is the function of Speech and Silence in the clinic of Anorexia Nervosa. A Lacanian approach in this field can provide an important contribution to this particular aspect of clinical experience with anorexia. My thesis is that there is a defect of metaphorisation in the use of the function of Speech and Silence in the experience of the subject in anorexia. This thesis finds support in the relationship of anorexic patients with their words and silences as evidenced in both clinical interviews and psychotherapy. This relationship reveals a non-dialectical way of locating oneself in the dimension of language, and a holophrastic rather than metaphorical linguistic practice. A Lacanian approach allows us to both isolate this structural knot in the heart of anorexia nervosa and distinguish anorexia nervosa from hysterical-neurotic forms of anorexia.
The theme of the feminine has undergone considerable transformations in the field of psychoanalytic formalisation: the author illustrates these in a path that goes from Freud to Lacan. From the Freudian universal woman, all ascribable to structure, Lacan moves on to The women, inhabited by an additional pleasure with respect to the phallic, an Other pleasure, not ascribable to structure. He consigns it to the non-universal register of the one-by-one. In addition to its theoretical significance, this perspective has significant implications for psychoanalytic practice too. On the one hand, it revives the importance of work on castration, Freud’s insurmountable “bedrock,” which Lacan instead turned into a strong point; and on the other, it commits analysts to the feminine singularity of each and every one, obliging them to invent new unique solutions for every subject.
Summary: It is because the symptom is a source of complaint that one speaks about it in psychoanalysis, to get rid of it. However, fantasy is so sweet / pleasurable that there is no incentive to speak of it, as Freud noted. We would rather keep to ourselves this intimate and painless satisfaction. Yet without addressing the fantasy, there is no hope that symptoms will give way, even if …
Summary: Hysteria’s notorious history is that of the pharmakon, constantly seducing and subverting the master into the production of a knowledge destined to fall, clearing the space for a question, and this question is the beginning of psychoanalysis, the induction of the transference. Lacan’s conception of the psychoanalytic act is this hystericizing effect which induces the transfere…