Cecilia Wu: Reflections on Marcus Coelen’s Philological Psychoanalysis

Here are some notes, reflections and questions on Marcus Coelen, Hannah Wallerstein, and Jamieson Webster’s presentations and the conversations that followed: 1) The Lending of Material, and the Dance of Withholding – Marcus names the 3 compliances or plasticities of materiality of psychoanalysis: contingency, soma, and language. – To consider compliance not as conformity to the mandates of a control room, but as that which lends and is not yet meaningful – To consider the sense of what is put forth without exercising the privileged agency to take it up – To withhold interpretation and suspend judgment (aphexia). To think of this gesture of holding in suspension as a kind of dance that is not ‘horrified with its hands tied behind its back’ – ...Read More

Genevieve Morel: The Unsinkable Fantasy

“Because the symptom is a source of complaint, we speak about it in psychoanalysis, to get rid of it. To the contrary, fantasy is so enjoyable that there is no incentive to speak of it, as Freud had noticed. We would rather keep to ourselves this intimate and painless satisfaction. Yet, without addressing the fantasy, there is no hope for symptoms to give in, even though they appear to be altering. However, the fantasy cannot be deciphered, even as the symptoms it is built on are spoken of. What can be done then? With the use of clinical and literary examples, we will assess how Lacan theorized psychoanalysis as a staging of the fantasy, hence reversing the Freudian perspective. One possible outcome of analysis could therefore entail a loss of the fantasy’s substance, leading to a re...Read More

Marc Strauss: On Female Obsessional Neurosis

“What is the obsessional neurosis as such is not an easy question, because even the most characteristic symptom such as the ritual or the OCD, as it is called nowadays, belongs to the most different personalities. Lacan used the structural model because there is no symptom that would characterize one structure or clinical type. The diagnosis is based on the coherence of the whole that corresponds to the way a speaking being arranges impossibility: the impossible unification of the living substance of the body and of the subject represented by the signifier.” Click here to read full text in The European Journal of Psychoanalysis – Number 2 – February 2014

Patricia Gherovici & Jamieson Webster: Observations from Working with Female Obsessionals

“Where have all the beautiful hysterics gone? Lacan once asked. Is it possible that there may have been a shift from obsessionality as a defining core feature of male neurosis, what Freud calls a “preference” or “choice”, to obsessionality as a veneer that covers over hysteria in women as much as men. We would like to offer some observations and speculations from our clinical practice in the United States where more and more often we encounter what we see as a tendency to female obsessionality and investigate what might be different about obsessional features in men and women, and also, how this might define differently the direction of the treatment.” Click here to read full text published in The European Journal of Psychoanalysis – Number 2 – February 2014  

Jamieson Webster & David Lichtenstein: Jacques Lacan’s Return to Freud and Its Clinical Implications II

A common misconception concerning Jacques Lacan is that his work was inherently un-clinical— that he did not discuss clinical issues concerning technique or provide clinical cases—making him more of a philosopher or meta-theoretician. In this course, we hope to dispel this mischaracterization and begin with key clinical cases touched on by Lacan during his Seminars from 1952-1980, from Freud’s Little Hans and The Case of a Female Homosexual, to his discussion of cases by other psychoanalysts such as Ernst Kris, Ella Freeman Sharpe, and Joan Riviere. Through this reading of cases and Lacan’s often unknown and extensive commentary on them, we hope to touch on some key Lacanian concepts— the signifier, desire, castration, the Real, and feminine sexuality— in order to better grasp their place ...Read More

Marc Strauss in Conversation with Das Unbehagen on Psychoanalysis and the Obsessional

If we want to speak of female obsessional neurosis we first have to know what obsessional neurosis is as such. This is not an easy question, because even the most characteristic symptom, such as the ritual or OCD, as it is called nowadays, belongs to the most different personalities. Indeed, what does someone who cries all day in thought of her dead father have in common with a person who cannot leave the house without verifying twenty seven times whether the gas and the taps are turned off? Lacan used the structural model because there is no symptom that would characterize one structure or clinical type. Put differently, the diagnosis is not based on a characteristic detail, since there is no such detail, but on the coherence of the whole that corresponds to the way a speaking being arran...Read More

Evan Malater: UnBadiou – A Seminar on Badiou, the Event, and Unbehagen

Let’s start with Badiou’s description in Ethics regarding what he calls the “truth process.” Remember that the three major dimensions of a truth-process are as follows: the event, which brings to pass ‘something other’ than the situation, opinions, instituted knowledges; the event is a hazardous unpredictable supplement, which vanishes as soon as it appears the fidelity, which is the name of the process: it amounts to a sustained investigation of the situation, under the imperative of the event itself; it is an immanent and continuing break the truth as such, that is, the multiple, internal to the situation, that the fidelity constructs, bit by bit; it is what the fidelity gathers together and produces (Badiou, Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, 67-68). Badiou categ...Read More

Manya Steinkoler: When dumbness, or unbehagen before the master, becomes “Shakespeak,” comradery and joy in shared lack

“I taught Shakespeare’s Coriolanus this summer in an Introduction to Literature course at a community college. Students from Azerbaijan, Albania, Japan, Israel, Italy, Bangladesh, China, the Philippines, Mexico, the south Bronx, and even two heavily tattooed Iraq war veterans still in their twenties wrestled with this late Shakespearean masterpiece. The jumble of accents, cultural ideologies, life experiences, and even ages— one student was in her midsixties and going to college for the first time, one African American working mother of two was doing the same—would prove magical; a kind of nonmeaning and missed meaning that was always present and served paradoxically like a witch’s brew to buoy up the text, allowing the class to embark together on the journey of Shakespeare’s ravagin...Read More

David Lichtenstein on the formation of Das Unbehagen

“In late March 2012, about 30 psychoanalysts, psychoanalytic students, and candidates from several different institutions and affiliations in New York, a group composed for the most part of those who are nowadays referred to as early career professionals, gathered to talk about the contemporary state of psychoanalytic formation and training. They met under the signifier Unbehagen, a reference of course to Freud’s text Das Unbehagen in der Kultur (1930). But how should we take the meaning of this Unbehagen? When the essay was first being translated into English, Freud suggested to the translator, Joan Riviere, that it might be rendered as Man’s Discomfort in Civilization. But she settled on Civilization and its Discontents. The German dictionary Langensheidt simply suggests unease for...Read More

Das Unbehagen Founding Letter

Jamieson Webster and Michael Garfinkle The original ‘Unbehagen’ that led us to call this meeting stemmed from our experience of training at The New York Psychoanalytic, and getting involved in the politics of the American Psychoanalytic Association, and the International Psychoanalytic Association. These experiences produced a schism between our will to progress through the training to become credentialed psychoanalysts and the pleasure of psychoanalysis, the latter diminishing in the face of the training experience. As our discontent increased, we began speaking to many people from institutes across the city and elsewhere, as well as colleagues in clinical psychology doctoral programs, social work programs, and those wishing to be, or training as, lay analysts, and there seemed to be a ge...Read More

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