Trauma in Reverse : 27th April 2002 (New York) : Éric Laurent

by Julia Evans on April 27, 2002

Published in Ornicar ? digital 204 (3 May 2002).

A version of this paper was read at the conference Trauma and Its Aftermath: Eight Case Studies and the Lacanian Orientation, held in New York City on 27-28 April 2002 by the New York Freud-Lacan Study Group. This conference was conceived in the aftermath of 11th September 2001.

Originally published as Le trauma à l’envers d’Éric Laurent in Ornicar? digital N° 204- Vendredi 3 Mai 2002 : Available in French :

The translation found on the internet by Greg Hynds has a link which no longer works.  The translator is unknown. Also available at   /laurent

An extract is published in Quotes towards ‘Trauma : Les traumatismes dans la cure analytique’ : 9th April 2013 : Christiane Alberti & Marie-Hélène Brousse : See here together with other relevant texts.


P3 : Freud came to know these syndromes because during the war and immediately after he was consulted as an expert.  : Sigmund Freud, “Memorandum on the Electrical Treatment of War Neurotics (1920),” in the Standard Edition, vol. XVII, p. 213: “This painful form of treatment introduced in the German army for therapeutic purposes could no doubt also be employed in a more moderate fashion. If it was used in the Vienna Clinics, I am personally convinced that it was never intensified to a cruel pitch by the initiative of Professor Wagner-Jauregg.”

P4 : During World War II, a more liberal trend in the treatment of war neurosis prevailed, …: JE suggests consulting British Psychiatry and the War: 1947: Jacques Lacan : See here

P6 : Freud distinguished between the anxiety experienced at the time of birth and that which arises from the loss of the maternal object. Freud dared to turn the necessary loss of the mother into the model of all other traumas. : Sigmund Freud, Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety (1926d), Addendum C, in the Standard Edition, vol. XX, p. 170: “The situation of missing its mother is not a danger-situation but a traumatic one. . . . Thus, the first determinant of anxiety, which the ego itself introduces, is loss of perception of the object. . . . The traumatic situation of missing the mother differs in one important respect from the traumatic situation of birth. At birth, no object existed, and so no object could be missed.”

P7 : the paper “Negation” of 1925, in which Freud says that the object isn’t found, but refound, always found on the basis of a primordial loss : Sigmund Freud, “Negation,” in the Standard Edition, vol. XIX, p. 237-8: “The first and immediate aim, therefore, of reality-testing is, not to find an object in real perception which corresponds to the one presented, but to refind such an object, to convince oneself that it is still there.”

P8 : Starting in 1953, Lacan proposed to take account of it by inscribing language in a particular closed space, the torus. : From p105 of Alan Sheridan’s translation of The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis (Rome) : 26th September 1953 : Jacques Lacan  or here : To say that this mortal meaning reveals in speech a centre exterior to language is more than a metaphor ; it manifests a structure. This structure is different from the spatialization of the circumference or of the sphere in which some people like to schematize the limits of the living being and his milieu: it corresponds rather to the relational group that symbolic logic designates topologically as an annulus.

If I wished to give an intuitive representation of it, it seems that, rather than have recourse to the surface aspect of a zone, I should call on the three-dimensional form of a torus, in so far as its peripheral exteriority and its central exteriority constitute only one single region.

This schema satisfactorily expresses the endless circularity of the dialectical process that is produced when the subject brings his solitude, to realization, be it in the vital ambiguity of immediate desire or in the full assumption of his being-for-death

P9 : This model presents the particularity of designating an interior that is also an exterior. : See also p101 of ‘On the origin of the Other and the post-traumatic object’ : 6thNovember 2004 : Éric Laurent published in translation by Alan Price in Lost in Cognition : 2014 : Karnac Books. [For details see Lost in Cognition: Psychoanalysis and the Cognitive Sciences : 2014 : Éric Laurent  or here] Quote : This model has the particularity of designating an interior that is also an exterior. It is profoundly linked to the conception of space in general. Reflections on topology allow us to move towards “progressive liberation from the notion of distance in geometry” (Luminet, 2008 p262) Luminet J.-P (2008) The Wraparound Universe (translated by E. Novak) Natick, MA : Peters : Footnote 7, p117 : This is determined on the basis of a magnitude that was defined by Simon Lhuilier in 1813 as the genus of any given closed surface : “It can also be defined for any type of closed surface, and it is then called the genus. The genus of the torus is 1, that of a sphere is 0, and that of a sphere equipped with H handles is H.” (Luminet 2008 p262)

P9 : “The symptom can appear as a repetitive statement about the real. . . . The subject cannot answer to the real unless by symptomatising it. The symptom is the answer of the subject to the trauma of the real.” : Probably a reference to Miller : See p101 to 102 of On the origin of the Other and the post-traumatic object : 6th November 2004 (Lyon) : Éric Laurent or here : Quote : This allows the real to be figured in an “exclusion that is internal to the symbolic”. “The symptom can appear as a repetitive statement about the real. […] [It] is the subject’s response to the traumatic aspect of the real” (Miller 1998 p63) Here I am reproducing the diagram proposed by Jacques Alain Miller which represents this real point : From p63 of The Seminar of Barcelona on ‘Die Wege der Symptombildung
’ : probably Autumn 1996 : Jacques-Alain Miller : See here

P12 : It is in this sense that Lacan could say that ‘the analyst is traumatic’ : From session of 4th May 1972 of Seminar XIX : The Psychoanalyst’s Knowledge – Seven Talks at St Anne’s Hospital : 1971-1972: begins on 4th November 1971: Jacques Lacan or here : PVI 4 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Quote :

Once we speak, it is a fact that we suppose something about what is spoken, this something that we imagine is supposed in advance, even though it is sure that we only ever suppose it subsequently.

It is simply to the fact of speaking that there is referred, in the present state of our knowledge that it can be perceived that what speaks, anything whatsoever, is what enjoys itself as a body, what enjoys a body that lives it out as what I already stated about the ‘tu able’, namely, as tutoyable, about a body that it tutoies and a body about which it says ‘tue-toie’ along the same line.

What is psychoanalysis? It is the mapping out of what is understood as obscure, of what is obscured in understanding, because of a signifier which marked a point of the body. Psychoanalysis, is what reproduces – you are going to find yourselves on an ordinary track – a production of neurosis. On this [pVI 5] everyone is agreed. There is no psychoanalyst who has not seen it. This neurosis that is attributed not without reason to the action of parents can only be reached in the whole measure that the action of the parents is articulated precisely – this is the term with which I began the third line – from the position of the psychoanalyst. It is in the measure that it converges towards a signifier that emerges from it that neurosis is going to be ordered in accordance with the discourse whose effects have produced the subject. Every traumatic parent is in short in the same position as the psychoanalyst. The difference, is that the psychoanalyst, from his position, reproduces the neurosis and the traumatic parent for his part produces it innocently.

What is at stake is to reproduce this signifier from what was its efflorescence. The operation of the analytic discourse is in short to create a model of the neurosis.

[JE comments : it may be that Jacques Lacan is referring to all parents as traumatic]

P12 : the one who knows that “language is a virus,” as the title of one of the songs of the performance artist Laurie Anderson has it. :

Bruno de Florence writes on 23rdAugust 2018 at 20:16 : “Language is a virus from outer space” is originally a sentence from one of William Burroughs’s novel, The Ticket That Exploded. Laurie Anderson’s song is inspired from it.

See the exhibition “Language Is A Virus From Outer Space”, which took place in 2014:

Burroughs (son of the adding machine chap) invented the cutup technique.

As an artist, these clarifications are important to me.

Watch the virus in action :


Note : If links to any required text do not work, check If a particular text or book remains absent, contact Julia Evans


  Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, London


Further texts

On the origin of the Other and the post-traumatic object : 6th November 2004 (Lyon) : Éric Laurent or here

The Seminar of Barcelona on ‘Die Wege der Symptombildung
’ : probably Autumn 1996 : Jacques-Alain Miller or here

Quotes towards ‘Trauma : Les traumatismes dans la cure analytique’ : 9th April 2013 : Christiane Alberti & Marie-Hélène Brousse or here

Of the clinic : here

Topology : here

On Trauma :here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud : here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

By Éric Laurent here

By Julia Evans here