Crimes of the Pen

Hardly anyone writes about Lacan’s paper, “A Theoretical Introduction to the Functions of Psychoanalysis in Criminology.” It is one of the least commented on essays in the Ècrits, a Lacanian archive that has gone largely unarchived. Who reads this paper? Why is there no evidence of its effects? Lacan and his co-author, Michel Cénac, write that the question at issue is the relationship among revelation, truth, and efficacy, in the juridical environment and in psychoanalysis. This essay interrogates these various projects that deal in truth effects—criminal justice, psychoanalysis, speech, and writing—by way of the criminology paper and two crime texts that imbricate all of these four coordinates, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, as a way of articulating the relationship between psychoanalysis and literature or psychoanalysis and writing.

Emma Lieber
Nietzsche’s Nose

Perhaps the most central feature in Nietzsche’s philosophy is his effort to formulate a philosophy that would constitute a ”yes” to life. According to Nietzsche, this task presupposes a revaluation of all values. This is because philosophy from Socrates onwards is in his view a denial of life and Christianity, the other pillar of Western thought, is an even more insidious ”no” to life. I think that Nietzsche’s project of revaluating all values is a failure. The central ideas that guide his criticism do not constitute any revaluation of Western, moral values. In the present paper my aim is to show in what sense the central elements in Nietzsche’s thought are firmly anchored in those very values that he took himself to have undermined. However, Nietzsche’s critique of our ”highest” values does reveal some deeply troubling features of these values. This becomes visible in Nietzsche’s struggle with his relationship to other human beings, more particularly with ”love for one’s neighbour”. His difficulties with love – and in question is not the Christian idea of love – produces an ethics of ”decency” that despite its unusually high pitch is still easily recognisable as a typical ethics of respect of a basically Kantian cut. Thus, I will also discuss Kant’s difficulties with love. The high pitch in Nietzsche’s thought is internally connected to the fact that Nietzsche makes explicit some moral ideas that form the repressed core of Western ethics but which are normally (no quotation marks needed) considered too embarrassing and too revealing to be touched upon. One could say that the repression that comes out in Nietzsche’s text drags so to speak with it issues that connect to ”shame” in a way that transcends the normal, social tolerance for shame. Thus, Nietzsche unwittingly reveals the fundamental shame-character of not only his own moral responses, but also of Western ethics in general. Nietzsche’s ethics is, then, not a revaluation but a revelation of Western values or, as I think: of value based ethics in general.

Hannes Nykänen
Mnemo, Mama

Time and time again, Montale’s poems speak to a loved and absent auditor; they address, intimately, a You, a second person or familiar other. You could call this work museic, which would be to say both that it is often musical (deploying a pleasing geometry of sound and sense bordering on the unsayable) and addressed to a muse, a cherished femme figure serving at once as a source, catalyst and inspiration for song.

Benjamin Davidson
Lacanian Psychoanalytic Explorations of Love within Christianity and Islam

This essay introduces a number of Lacanian psychoanalytic coordinates for understanding love within Christian and Islamic perspectives. It attempts to locate a dialogue between Christian and Islamic discourses on love as that which exists beyond possessions. The central premise of this work is to argue for a notion of love that is linked to trauma and certainty. It explores the narrative of love as gaze within the narrative of Orpheus and Eurydice as a foundation for reading Biblical and Quranic scripture.

Duane Rousselle
Where Does Sexuality Come From? Sex and Institution: A Knot

This essay analyzes the origin of sexuality and its relationship with the institution. The issue is addressed from the perspective of psychoanalysis (Freud, Lacan), anthropology (Claude Lévi-Strauss) and philosophy (Foucault, Butler, Zupančič, Žižek). From the analysis of sexual difference as “real/impossible” a perspective comes to light: sex it is not a symbolic construct and not even an extra-symbolic reference, but what marks the irreducible (contradiction) limit of the symbolic order.

Enrico Redaelli
Bunkers, Bubbles, Monuments, and Walls: Pathological Narcissism, Nazi Germany, and Donald Trump

Certain physical structures may symbolically represent internal psychological states. Structures, like bunkers, monuments, and walls are especially rich in psychological meaning. These structures are prevalent when pathologically narcissistic leaders are in power. Bunkers and similar structures provide symbolic protection of the good object from being overwhelmed by split off and devalued bad objects. Monuments, on the other hand, externalize the good object into a seemingly invulnerable and permanent structure in the outside world. This sort of bunker mentality was seen during Hitler’s leadership of Nazi Germany and is now evident with Donald Trump, the current president of the of the United States. Bunkers, bunker-like structures, and grandiose monuments provide pathologically narcissistic leaders with a source of adulation that feeds their grandiose self. When the desire to build such structures is accompanied by the projection of bad object characteristics on to specific groups of people, it may be an early indication that the leader suffers from pathological or malignant narcissism.

Kevin Volkan
Lacan’s Sinthome; or, the Point of Psychoanalysis

Lacan began his seminar on Joyce saying that “sinthome is an old way of spelling what was subsequently spelt symptome,” with no direct explanation of the “meaning” of these spellings or their origins seeming to follow (Lacan 2016, p. 3). Rather, Lacan, like Joyce, repeatedly puns on the “letter” of the words over and over. Oddly enough “for someone who plays strictly on language,” Joyce can be seen to reduce language to what it produces by way of effect, “when one does not analyze” this very effect (Lacan 2016, p. 146). What language produces here – and what Joyce presents – is the sinthome. Even stranger for psychoanalysis (a practice whose etymological roots lie in a Greek word meaning “loosen”), what Lacan presents is that which Joyce puts forth or nominates – along with his name – as impossible to analyze; or, a knot not-to-be loosened or analyzed. Contribution to the Webinar “Subject and Masses”, 2021, 12/02/2021

Edward Dioguardi
Resistance and Revelation: Lacan on Defense

One might gather from a reading of Lacan’s ouvre that he never advanced an explicit and systematic theory of resistance and defense, his early critique of IPA methods notwithstanding. Indeed, the combativeness of this critique may lead readers to think that any talk of defense analysis is non-Lacanian. Yet such an omission of a key psychic phenomenon presents a puzzle for clinicians and theorists alike, insofar as it disallows a reckoning with a real-life phenomenon. Taking as its focus Lacan’s remarks in Seminars 1 and 2, this article pushes beyond Lacan’s critique of Ego Psychology, claiming that it is possible to establish a positive Lacanian theory of defenses and of defense analysis in the clinical context. To this end, the article offers a systematic and standardized reconstruction of a positive – distinctively Lacanian – view of what defenses are, where they come from, and how analysts should handle them. In so doing, it presents his startling claim that resistance itself was ultimately a red herring, an artificial problem occasioned by the analyst’s erred handling of the transindividual defenses speaking through the analysand. Contribution to the Webinar “Subject and Masses”, 2021, 12/02/2021

Lucas Ballestín
One Hundred Years of “Group Psychology and The Analysis of The Ego”: With Addendum

Contribution to the Webinar “Subject and Masses”, 2021, 12/02/2021

Sergio Benvenuto
Book Review Essay: “Conversion Disorder: Listening to the Body in Psychoanalysis” by Jamieson Webster

Conversion Disorder: Listening to the Body in Psychoanalysis Jamieson Webster (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018) 312 pp., £32.00 (hardcover), £32.00 (e-book)

Ricky Varghese
Book Review Essay: “Psychoanalysis, Clinic and Context – Subjectivity, History and Autobiography” by Ian Parker

Psychoanalysis, Clinic and Context – Subjectivity, History and Autobiography by Ian Parker London and New York, 2020, 208pp.

Néstor Braunstein
European Journal of Psychoanalysis