Crossing the hot sands

We often ask why analysands conduct their work, that is, why they enter into an analysis and why they eventually remain there for some time. We know that it typically has something to do with a sudden desire for change, which reveals, after some time and beneath all that they say, that there actually a commitment to remaining the same.

We also know that analysands typically enter into an analysis because they have it in their minds that somebody out there can help them, and that, moreover, somebody else has the technical knowledge which they do not have. These analysands will spend a great deal of their time challenging that very notion. It is precisely by challenging the notion that there is a subject-supposed-to-know that they reveal themselves as analysands all the more committed to the idea that there is one out there.

In any case, they also sometimes want a cure. Today more than ever there are two broad types of analysands: those who want to cure a particular symptom or cluster or symptoms (and in short order), and those who don’t know what they want but seem to want more than a cure. Perhaps what they really want is a transformative experience from somebody else who can tell them what must want for that to happen.

I do not want to dwell on this question any further for today. Instead I want to open up the following question: why do psychoanalysts take on analysands? It is an altogether different question. It is a bit like asking what God wants from his people, except that in asking this question we are already presuming the existence of the one who wants something. A good analysis is one where such a question is not asked by the analyst. The psychoanalyst is the one who brings out the hidden questions that motivated all that the analysand says within the clinic. In other words, a good analysis is one where the analyst becomes cast-off from the analysand, where the analyst effectively ceases to exist to some degree.

But we can not deny that there is something of the analyst, though the analyst is not as real as he or she would like to position himself. The analyst can not possibly be in the real, hard as he or she might try. We all know the story about the discovery of the counter transferences, and so on. But this does not go far enough: the analyst is not in the real, he merely makes a semblance at being in the real.

However, what we can say, unlike the analysand, is that the analyst has been in the real, has touched the real, has hit the truth, and, therefore, has had the experience of the real carried through into the analysis with him. The analyst makes a semblance at being in the real, and this, precisely, is the symbolic power of his name.

We can not say this about the analysand. The analysand, with the analyst as his guide, goes in search of the real, and, when the analyst effectively intervenes the analysand confronts the hole of clinical reality. The cause of the clinical reality is the place where the analyst has been, his passage through the real (in such a way that the analyst has become one precisely by stepping with bare feet over the hot sands of the desert and making it to the other side).

This is what it means to cross the floor from the couch to the chair.

The obverse side of the clinic, that is, of the discourse which once compelled them, is the one where the real becomes the agent of the discourse. This is why Lacan said that the discourse of the master has only one counterpoint. That counterpoint is not found in variations on the capitalist’s discourse, and it is not found in the hysterical or obsessional discourses. It is found in the analyst’s discourse alone.

It is only at this moment that a new name might be invent, the name of the psychoanalyst. The psychoanalyst is the name for the pass from the imaginary of the couch, across the hot sands of the real clinical floor, to the symbolic seat of the analyst’s chair.

That’s a hypothesis, anyway.


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