Notes on Seminar VII: 18th November 1959 : p7 to 15 : Reading Group of 6th October 2012

by Julia Evans on October 6, 2012

 (Wo es War, … & polymorphous perversion & definition of Jouissance & Happiness)  

Keep an eye on posts to  at the category ‘Reading Seminar VII’, here

Related texts

Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: from 18th November 1959 : Jacques Lacan or here

The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here

Please note : The following includes comments on Marie Bonaparte, Helene Deutsch, Ernest Jones, Maquis de Sade, Masters & Johnson, Aristotelian Ethics, Hamlet, Sigmund Freud’s & Jeremy Bentham’s view of Happiness, Perverse versus Perversion, Hamlet and desire (from Seminar VI) & Commentary on Sigmund Freud’s ‘Interpretation of dreams’ . (Availability The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here)

Comments on p1-7 available Notes on Seminar VII: 18th November 1959 : p1-7 : 15th September 2012 Reading Group Meeting by Julia Evans on 15th September 2012 or here : The following is in addition to these notes.

Perverse: Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959 : 4th paragraph, p4: ‘… from the moment of those first soundings, from the sudden flash of light that the Freudian experience cast on the paradoxical origins of desire, on the polymorphously perverse character of its infantile forms, …’

& bottom line p4 ‘perverse jouissance’

See Further comments on ‘perverse jouissance’: Seminar VII: session of 18th November 1959 by Julia Evans on 22nd October 2012 or here

A further reference which builds on this theme:  Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959: p5, 3rd paragraph:  Jacques Lacan states: Where a certain category of desires is involved, there is, in effect, no ethical problem for Aristotle. Yet these very desires are nothing less than those notions that are situated in the forefront of our experience. A whole large field of what constitutes for us the sphere of sexual desires is simply classed by Aristotle in the realm of monstrous anomalies – he uses the term “bestiality” with reference to them. What occurs at this level has nothing to do with moral evaluation. The ethical questions that Aristotle raises are located altogether elsewhere – I will give you an idea later of their thrust and essence. That is a point of special importance.

Translation: Jouissance: Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959 : bottom line p4:

Jeffrey Mehlman translates ‘jouissance’ as ‘bliss’ starting at p89 of Introduction to the Names-of-the-Father Seminar : 20th November 1963: Jacques Lacan : See here : ‘Can we ourselves not move beyond the name and the voice? – and take our bearing from what the myth implies in that register accorded us by our progress, that is: on the three themes of erotic bliss [jouissance], desire, and the object?’  from p89 in ‘Television/A challenge to the Psychoanalytic Establishment’ : New York, W. W. Norton : 1990

Wo es War: Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959 : Paragraph 3, p7

Some further comments on this phrase from Introduction to the Names-of-the-Father Seminar : 20th November 1963: Jacques Lacan : See here  

III : It was before the God of Moses, in the last analysis, that Freud’s pen stopped writing. But Freud is surely beyond what his pen transmits to us.

The name of that God is the name ‘Shem’, which, for reasons I explained to you, I would never have pronounced, although some do know its pronunciation. We have a number of others, for example those given us by the ‘Ma’asot’, and which have varied over the centuries. In Chapter 6 of ‘Exodus’, ‘Elohim’, who speaks from the burning bush – which should be conceived of as his body, ‘kavod’, which is translated as ‘glory’, and concerning which I would have liked to show you that it is a matter of something quite different – says to Moses: ‘You will go unto them and say unto them that my name is Ehieh asher ehieh.’ Which means nothing other than ‘I am what I am’. The property of the term, moreover, is designated by nothing other than the letters composing the Name, always a few letters chosen from the consonants.

Last year, I worked up a bit of Hebrew on your behalf. The vacation I am about to give you will spare you a similar effort. ‘Je suis’: I am [or, I follow] the procession. There is no other meaning to be given that ‘I am’ other than its being the name ‘I am’. ‘But it is not by that name’, says Elohim to Moses, ‘that I revealed myself to your ancestors‘, and that is what brought us to the point at which I proposed that we meet.

‘God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not of the philosophers and the scientists’, writes Pascal at the head of the manuscript of his ‘Pensées’. Concerning which may be said what I have gradually accustomed you to understand: that a God is something one encounters in the real, inaccessible. It is indicated by what doesn’t deceive – anxiety. The God who manifested himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but first of all to Abraham, manifested himself by a name by which the ’Elohim’ of the burning bush calls him, and that I have written here. It is read: ‘El Shadday’.

The Greeks who did the translation of the Septuagent were much better informed than we are.  They didn’t translate ‘Ehieh aser’ as ‘I am the one who am’, That’s not quite it, but at least it has a meaning. They thought like the Greeks that God is the supreme Being, ‘I’ equals ‘Being’.

P90 in ‘Television/A challenge to the Psychoanalytic Establishment’ : translation Jeffrey Mehlman :  New York, W. W. Norton : 1990

From the Reading group of 6th October, 2012

 Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959 : p7, paragraph 4:

More on ‘Wo es war, soll Ich werden’ Quote: ‘That “I” which is supposed to come to be where “it” was, and which analysis has taught us to evaluate, is nothing more than that whose root we already found in the “I” which asks itself what it wants.’

Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959 : p8

Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959 : p8, paragraph 2:

Jacques Lacan questions what is a psychoanalyst: ‘Are we analysts simply something that welcomes the suppliant then, something that gives him (JE prefers them or him or her) a place of refuge? Are we simply, but it is already a lot, something that must respond to a demand, to the demand not to suffer, at least without understanding why? – in the hope that through understanding the subject will be freed not only from his ignorance, but also from suffering itself.’

This builds on Jacques Lacan’s previous reference: Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959 : p4, paragraph 4 : Here we are touching on a perspective that has been little explored in analysis. It seems that from the moment of those first soundings, from the sudden flash of light that the Freudian experience cast on the paradoxical origins of desire, on the polymorphously perverse character of its infantile forms, a general tendency has led psychoanalysts to reduce the paradoxical origins in order to show their convergence in a harmonious conclusion. This movement has on the whole characterized the progress of analytical thought to the point where it is worth asking if this theoretical progress was not leading I the end to an even more all-embracing moralism than any that has previously existed. Psychoanalysis would seem to have as its sole goal the calming of guilt – …’

Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959 : p8, paragraph 3:

In this paragraph, Jacques Lacan puts up for question the whole clinic of evaluation against standards as used in the UK Government’s mental health clinic or happiness factories. ‘Isn’t it obvious that analytical ideals are normally to be found here? They are certainly not lacking. They grow in abundance. The evaluation, location, situation, and organization of values, as they say in a certain register of moral thought, that we propose to our patients, and around which we organise the assessments of their progress and the transformation of their way into a path, is supposed to be part of our work.

Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959 : p8, paragraph 4:

Jacques Lacan names three ideals which are applied, as standards, to the clinic: 1: the ideal of human love  2) the ideal of authenticity (p9, paragraph 4) & the ideal of non-dependence or, (quote) ‘more precisely, of a kind of prophylaxis of dependence.’ (p10, paragraph 3)

Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959 : p8, paragraph 4:

Jacques Lacan puts a number of ideas up for question: love fulfilled, genitalization of desire, genital love, : ‘the ideal of genital love – a love that is supposed to be itself the model of a satisfying object relation: doctor-love’. Bruno de Florence commented that Jacques Lacan is probably referring to work by William Masters and Virginia Johnson.  See below for a description of this work from Wikipedia and news of their son.

Masters and Johnson: From Wikipedia: available here

The Masters and Johnson research team, composed of William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson, pioneered research into the nature of human sexual response and the diagnosis and treatment of sexual disorders and dysfunctions from 1957 until the 1990s.

The work of Masters and Johnson began in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis and was continued at the independent not-for-profit research institution they founded in St. Louis in 1964, originally called the Reproductive Biology Research Foundation and renamed the Masters & Johnson Institute in 1978.

In the initial phase of Masters and Johnson’s studies, from 1957 until 1965, they recorded some of the first laboratory data on the anatomy and physiology of human sexual response based on direct observation of 382 women and 312 men in what they conservatively estimated to be “10,000 complete cycles of sexual response.” Their findings, particularly on the nature of female sexual arousal (for example, describing the mechanisms of vaginal lubrication and debunking the earlier widely-held notion that vaginal lubrication originated from the cervix) and orgasm (showing that the physiology of orgasmic response was identical whether stimulation was clitoral or vaginal, and proving that some women were capable of being multiorgasmic), dispelled many long standing misconceptions.

They jointly wrote two classic texts in the field, Human Sexual Response and Human Sexual Inadequacy, published in 1966 and 1970 respectively. Both of these books were best-sellers and were translated into more than thirty languages.

A possible consequence of thinking of a sexual relationship as a performance which can be coached against a standard or ideal?


Masters and Johnson’s married sex fiend son ‘exposed himself to officers in Central Park area notorious for gay cruisers’ :  William H. Masters III, 60, was arrested for unlawful exposure last year in Central Park :  This weekend, he was arrested for aggravated indecent exposure in Michigan : His parents, William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson, were pioneers in the field of human arousal and sexual dysfunction : By Emily Anne Epstein in the Daily Mail : Published 18:22, 6 September 2012 : Available here

Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959 : p8, paragraph 5:

Further comments on psychoanalysis, as limited by the ideal of “love fulfilled”: Quote ‘… love as hygiene, I would say, to suggest what analytical ambition seems to be limited to here. … But so as to give it a more marked emphasis, I will point out that analytical thought seems to shirk its task when faced with the convergent character of our experience. This character is certainly no deniable, but the analyst seems to find in it a limit beyond which it is difficult for him to go.  To say that the problems of moral experience are entirely resolved as far as monogamous union is concerned would be a formulation that is imprudent, excessive, and inadequate.’

Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959 : p9

Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p9 paragraph 2

Was will das Weib? – What does a woman want/she desire?

Quote Lacan: In this connection the topic I have placed on the agenda of our forthcoming conference, namely, feminine sexuality, is one of the clearest of signs in the development of analysis of the lack I am referring to with regard to such an investigation. It is hardly necessary to recall what Jones learned from a source to my mind is not especially qualified, but which, believe it or not, is nevertheless supposed at the very least to have transmitted in his exact words what she heard from Freud’s own mouth. Jones tells us that this person told him confidentially that one day Freud said something like “After some thirty years of experience and thought, there is still one question to which I am still unable to find an answer; it is ‘Was will das Weib?’” What does woman want? Or more precisely, “What does she desire?” The term “will” in this expression may have that meaning in German.

a)  the original reference

[Freud] said once to Marie Bonaparte: ‘The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is “What does a woman want?” – Sigmund Freud: Life and Work (1955) by Ernest Jones, Vol. 2, Pt. 3, Ch. 16 . In a footnote Jones gives the original German, “Was will das Weib?”

b)  About Ernest Jones.

There is a triangle operating here. Why does Jacques Lacan state that Jones was told confidentially?  What game is Marie Bonaparte up to?

Here is more about Ernest Jones: Published by the Archives of the British Psychoanalytical Society: here : Quote: Alfred Ernest Jones :1879-1958 : neurologist and psychoanalyst : Ernest Jones was born in Gowerton in Wales on 1 Jan 1879. He began his degree in medicine at the University of Cardiff but completed it at University College London in 1900.Jones discovered the work of Sigmund Freud in 1906 and soon began to practice psychoanalysis. He first met Freud at the first International Psychoanalytical Congress held in Salzburg in 1908. In the same year, Jones emigrated to become Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and whilst in North America, he organised the inaugural meeting of the American Psychoanalytical Association in 1911.After a brief analysis with Ferenczi, Jones returned to London in 1913 and set about forming the London Psychoanalytical Society, only four of whose original fifteen members were psychoanalysts. The Society was dissolved after the end of the First World War.In 1919, Jones managed to re-establish contact with the psychoanalytic community in Europe and founded the British Psychoanalytic Society, of which he remained president until 1944. He was twice president of the International Psychoanalytical Association (1920-1924 and 1932-1939) and took charge of the resettlement of analysts fleeing Nazi persecution.In 1947, he began writing his three-volume biography of Freud, which he completed in 1957. He died on 11 Feb 1958. He married twice, first to the Welsh singer and musician Morfydd Llwynn Owen in 1917 (she died in 1918) and in 1919 to Katherine Jökl, an Austrian.

c) Why is Marie Bonaparte not ‘especially qualified’ on feminine sexuality?

i)  Quoted from American Psychoanalytic Association, here  : Savior of Psychoanalysis – Princess Marie Bonaparte 1882-196  ….  This comment did not deter Marie Bonaparte from a lifelong exploration of the feminine soul. In Female Sexuality (1953) she advanced a biological theory of bisexuality to explain why a masculinity complex is more common in women than a femininity complex in men and why women must grieve for and accept the loss of her penis. Although later writers have challenged her ideas, she is, nonetheless, a pioneer in the study of female development.  …  Rudolph Loewenstein, one of her many lovers, edited a festschrift for her seventieth birthday Drives, Affects and Behavior: Essays in Honor of Marie Bonaparte (1952).  …  Marie Bonaparte’s generosity was extraordinary. She loaned Freud the money for his ransom by the Nazis. She supported Geza Roheim’s anthropological explorations, and she saved Freud’s letters to Wilhelm Fliess in spite of Freud’s wish that they be destroyed.

ii)  Quotes from Marie Bonaparte’s Theory of Female Sexuality: Fantasy and Biology : by Nellie L. Thompson : American Imago 
Volume 60, Number 3, Fall 2003 
pp. 343-378: Available here : When, in 1985, I asked the British psychoanalyst, J. C. M. Sym, if she had known Marie Bonaparte, she replied with affection and amusement, “Oh, she was a splendid old thing!” Although I knew Bonaparte only through her writings, I intuitively understood and appreciated the aptness of Sym’s characterization. A redoubtable figure, who by turns could be both charming and demanding, self-absorbed and generous, passionately romantic and morbidly realistic, Bonaparte was deeply committed to intellectual pursuits. As we shall see, the poignant and dramatic experiences that shaped her personality also found expression in her psychoanalytic writings,

iii) Excerpts from www.Scandalouswoman.blogspot. Here : Thursday, January 20, 2011 : The Last Bonaparte: The Extraordinary Life of Princess Marie Bonaparte : Princess Marie was brought up isolated at St. Cloud, outside of Paris, her only companions were her wet-nurse and then later her governess.  She rarely saw her father, who she adored, since he spent most of his time with his work with the Geographical Society (he also discovered several species of ferns) and her grandmother had little use for her.  When Marie was child, she showed symptons of tuberculosis which meant that she was even more isolated until her father and grandmother were assured that she would survive.  Because of this isolation, Marie grew up a bit neurotic, worrying that she might die at any moment like her mother.  It wasn’t until she was older, that Marie learned that her isolation was partly because her grandmother and father were not accepted in Parisian society.

At the age of 25, her father arranged her marriage to Prince George of Greece and Denmark, the second son of King George I of the Hellenes.  Prince George was 13 years older than his bride, incredibly tall and handsome.  Marie fell head over heels in love with him, although from the beginning she sensed that they had nothing in common, that while she was happy to listen to her husband, he had absolutely no interest in her or her life.  She also didn’t want to leave her life in Paris and move to Athens, where she was afraid that she would be bored by Athenian society. However, she wanted to please her father who was adamant that the marriage take place. To her father’s surprise, Prince George signed a document giving up all rights to Marie’s fortune, leaving it in her hands to do with what she wished.  Despite her misgivings, she married her Prince on November 21, 1907 in Paris in a civil ceremony and then in a religious ceremony in Athens on December 12, 1907 becoming HRH Princess George of Greece and Denmark.

Marie’s fears proved to be well-founded.  Her husband was emotionallly as well as physically distant, he brooded constantly over his former role as Governor of Cyprus, and he was a little too attached to his Uncle Waldemar, who he spent every summer with in Denmark.  Despite the lack of affection, the couple managed to have 2 children, Prince Peter born in 1908 and Princess Eugenie born in 1910.  Seeking the love and affection denied her by her husband, Marie indulged in a series of discreet affairs with among others Aristide Briand, the French Prime Minister and one of Freud’s disciples Rudolph Loewenstein but she still remained unfufilled sexually. During the Balkan wars and World War I, Marie occupied herself with setting up hospital ships in Athens and serving with the Women’s Emergency Canteens for Soldiers in Compiegne in France.

Marie became interested in psychoanalysis through Rudolph Loewenstein.   She hoped that by being psychoanalyzed by Freud, it might help with her frigidity.  She had already undergone an operation to have her clitoris moved closer to her vagina, after undertaking a study of 243 women which showed that women who had theirs closer easily achieved orgasm during intercourse.  She published her findings in the medical journal Bruxelles-Meidcal under the pseudonym A.E. Narjani.  It was the beginning of a life-long study into female sexuality that culminated in her book Feminine Sexuality that was published in 1953 and republished in 1979.

Her meetings with Freud began a life-long friendship and led her to a new career as a psychoanalyst.  Freud’s famous remark “The great question that has never been answered and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my 30 years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?” was asked of Marie. Freud helped Marie remember that as a child she had seen her wet-nurse and her father’s half-brother Pascal who worked in the stables, not only having sex but also that they had drugged her to keep her quiet while they snuck off to have their affair.  Marie spent increasing time in Vienna not just being psychoanalyzed but also studying with Freud, much to the dismay of her children who were increasingly resentful and jealous of their mother being away.

She became one of Freud’s closest friends, lavishing gifts on him.  When things looked dicey for Freud in Vienna, because of Hitler, Marie later paid the money that Freud needed to get out of Austria, as well as paying to set him and his family up in Hampstead.  She also bought Freud’s letters to Wilhelm Fleiss to preserve them despite Freud’s wish that they be destroyed. When Freud died, his ashes were placed in an urn that Marie had given him.  She later became very good friends with Freud’s daughter Anna. Marie also spent a considerable part of her fortune to help rescue at least 200 Jewish families leave Germany, saving them from the Nazi’s.  She also used her money to help set up a school in Paris to train psychoanalysts. Her wealth contributed to the popularity of psychoanalysis in France, becoming a pivotal figure in the French Psychoanalytical Society.  During her career, Marie only took on 5 or 6 patients at a time, crocheting while they talked.  Most of her sessions took place outside in her garden, and then later on in life when she got older she would see her patients in her boudoir while wearing a lovely peignoir. Later in life, when she and Prince George attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II of England, Marie spent her time psychoanalyzing the gentleman next to her who turned out to be Francois Mitterand, the future President of France.  …  Sources:  Marie Bonaparte: A Life – Celia Bertin, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1982

iv)  My conclusion is that Marie Bonaparte was another who thought the ideal of human love: “love fulfilled” was possible and anatomical.  There is no enigma.

Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p9 paragraph 3

Quote: Why then has analysis not gone further in the direction of the investigation of what should properly be called an erotics? … Have we gone much further on that subject? It will not be a waste of time if I show you the kind of avoidance that the progress of research in analysis has practiced in answering a question that cannot be said to have been invented by it.  Let us just say that analysis, and the thought of Freud in particular, is connected to a time that articulated this question with a special emphasis. The Ibsenian context of the end of the nineteenth century in which Freud’s thought matured cannot be overlooked here. …

From the Internet site, “ODIN”, here.: The Dramatist: HENRIK IBSEN (1828-1906) : Author, Professor Bjorn Hemmer, Bjorn Hemmer is a professor at the University of Oslo : Extracts: Henrik Ibsen was also a major poet, and he published a collection of poems in 1871. However, drama was the focus of his real lyrical spirit. For a period of many hard years, he faced bitter opposition. But he finally triumphed over the conservatism and aesthetic prejudices of the contemporary critics and audiences. More than anyone, he gave theatrical art a new vitality by bringing into European bourgeois drama an ethical gravity, a psychological depth, and a social significance which the theater had lacked since the days of Shakespeare. In this manner, Ibsen strongly contributed to giving European drama a vitality and artistic quality comparable to the ancient Greek tragedies.

It is from this perspective we view his contribution to theatrical history. His realistic contemporary drama was a continuation of the European tradition of tragic plays. In these works he portrays people from the middle class of his day. These are people whose routines are suddenly upset as they are confronted with a deep crisis in their lives. They have been blindly following a way of life leading to the troubles and are themselves responsible for the crisis. Looking back on their lives, they are forced to confront themselves. However, Ibsen created another type of drama as well. In fact, he had been writing for 25 years before he, in 1877, created his first contemporary drama, “Pillars of Society”.

Life and writing : … In lbsen’s last drama, “When We Dead Awaken”, he describes the life of an artist that in many ways reflects on his own. The world renowned sculptor, Professor Rubek, has returned to Norway after many years abroad, and in spite of his fame and success, he feels no happiness. In the central work of his life, he has modeled a self-portrait titled “Remorse for a ruined life” During the play he is forced to admit that he has taken the pleasure out of his own life as well as spoiling others’. Everything has been sacrificed for his art – he has forsaken the love of his youth and his earlier idealism as well. It follows that he has actually betrayed his art by relinquishing these essentials. It is none other than his old flame Irene, the model who posed for him in his youth, who goes to him in his moment of destiny and tells him the truth: it is first when we dead awaken, that we see what is irremediable that we have never really lived.

It is the tragic life feeling itself that gives Ibsen’s drama its special character, the experience of missing out on life and plodding along in a state of living death. The alternative is pictured as a utopian existence in freedom, truth and love – in short – a happy life. In Ibsen’s world the main character strives toward a goal, but this struggle leads out into the cold, to loneliness. Yet the possibility of opting for another route is always there, one can chose human warmth and contact. The problem for Ibsen’s protagonist is that both choices can appear to be good, and the individual does not see the consequences of the decision.

In “When We Dead Awaken” the chill of art is contrasted with life’s warmth. In this perspective, art serves as a prison from which the artist neither can, nor wishes to escape.

Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p9 paragraph 6

Quote: The second ideal is what I shall call the ideal of authenticity. … It is not simply as a oath, stage, or measure of progress that authenticity suggests itself to us; it is also quite simply as a certain norm for the finished produce, as something desirable and, therefore, as a value. It is an ideal, but one on which we are led to impose clinical norms that are very precise. I will illustrate the point in the very subtle observations of Helene Deutsche concerning a type of character and of personality that one cannot describe as maladjusted or as failing to meet any of the norms demanded b social relations, but whose whole attitude and behaviour are visible in the recognition – of whom? – of the other, of others, as if marked by that note that she calls in English “as if,” and which in German is “als ob”.

i)  The paper Jacques Lacan refers to is Helene Deutsch: Some forms of Emotional disturbance and their relationship to schizophrenia:  1942:  The Psychoanalytic Quarterly Vol 11 p301-321 and is available here: Some forms of emotional disturbance and their relationship to schizophrenia: 1942 : Helene Deutsch or here.  In this post are included Helene Deutsche’s references to Sigmund Freud’s works, including a reference to ‘The Ego and the Id’: 1923 : Sigmund Freud : Published by Richard G. Klein at and available here

ii) About Helen Deutsche: From American Psychoanalytic Association web-site: here

Female Psychology – Helene Deutsch 1884-1982

Helene Deutsch, the first important woman analyst in the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, lived a long vital life both in Europe and the United States. Analyzed by Freud, her first analytic patient was Viktor Tausk. Later, she was in analysis with Karl Abraham in Berlin and at the Salzburg Conference, gave her first paper on women, which became “The Psychology of Women’s Sexual Functions.” Criticized by Karen Horney for equating women with masochism, her work has more recently been accepted by feminists because of her attention to problems posed by women’s identification with their mothers. Deutsch formulated a theory of “as if” identification and illustrated it with examples from such fictional works as Mann’s Felix Krull. Arriving in Boston from Vienna in 1935, she played a major role in the Boston Institute as she previously had for 10 years as Director of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute.

Her works include the two-volume The Psychology of Women (1944, 1945), Psychoanalysis of Neurosis (1932), Neurosis and Character Types (1965), and Selected Problems of Adolescence (1967). There is a major biography by Paul Roazen, Helene Deutsch: A Psychoanalyst’s Life (1985), and an autobiography, Confrontations with Myself (1973). Her papers are collected by Paul Roazen in The Therapeutic Process, the Self and Female Psychology (1992).

Sem VII: Session of 18th November 1959 : p10

 Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p10 paragraph 2

At the conclusion of the discussion of the second ideal, the ideal of authenticity, a comment on psychoanalysis : quote: Wouldn’t it be interesting to wonder about the significance of our absence from the field of what might be called a science of virtues, a practical reason, the sphere of common sense? For in truth one cannot say that we ever intervene in the field of any virtue. We clear ways and paths, and we hope that what is called virtue will take root there.

Translation comment:  Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p10 paragraph 4

The pronoun used for an adult subject is ‘he’. I being female find this use of the pronoun difficult as it means that adult subject does not refer to women.  Bruno de Florence disagreed as, using he or she or they, takes away from the one-ness of the subjectivity as compared to the French original.  I still note this as a translation error.

Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p10 paragraph 5

Quote:  It is enough to remember the fundamental, constitutive reservations of the Freudian position concerning education in the broad sense.

This probably refers to:

It almost looks as if analysis were the third of those ‘impossible’ professions in which one can be sure beforehand of achieving unsatisfying results. The other two, which have been known much longer, are education and government.

‘Analysis Terminable and Interminable’ : 1937c : Sigmund Freud

Further details here It almost looks as if analysis were the third of those ‘impossible’ professions in which one can be sure beforehand of achieving unsatisfying results. The other two, which have been known much longer, are education and government. Freud Or here

Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p10 paragraph 5

Quote : ‘orthopedics in its etymological sense.’ i)  Members of the reading group agreed on ‘lean on’ as the meaning to which Jacques Lacan alludes. ii)  From Concise Oxford Dictionary Tenth Edition: p1007: Origin in the 19th century from France: orthopédie, from the Greek ‘orthos’ ‘right or straight’ + ‘paideia’ – ‘the rearing of children’.

Original quote: ‘There is no doubt that all of us, and child analysts in particular, are led to encroach on this domain, to practice in the space of what I have called elsewhere an orthopedics in its etymological sense.’  I think the dictionary definition fits better.

Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p10 paragraph 6: Translation or Meaning

Quote: … but the very essence of the unconscious is defined in a different register fro the one which Aristotle emphasises in the ‘Ethics’ in a play on words, εθος / ηθος (both the ε & the η have signs on top in the book)


i) The group suggested that ethos & ithos were their equivalents.

ii) In the footnote it is noted that both εθος and ηθος derive from a Greek verb meaning “to repeat”. Their meanings came to be differentiated insofar as ηθος is active and refers to the capacity of creatures to form habits, whereas  εθος  connotes a condition in a passive sense.

iii) Arthur B. Miller’s: 1974: Aristotle on habit (εθō) and character (ηθō): Implications for the rhetoric : This paper argues that one understands what Aristotle means by character θō (eethos) by understanding xohat Aristotle means by habit εθō (ethos). As evidenced initially in the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle explicates the relation between habit (εθ) and moral or ethical virtue (ηθικ) and thus also with character (θō). Thus, the sense in which ηθικ means moral or ethical virtue and θō means character is understood within the context of θō or habit. Aristotle sees character (ηθō) as reflecting neither accidental nor isolated behavior, but as habitual behavior.  [JE footnote: xohat:  I have looked this up in my ‘Pocket Oxford Classical Greek Dictionary : 2002’ and the nearest I can find is : Χρáω which means desire or demand. (p350)] : From: Aristotle on habit (εθō) and character (ηθō): Implications for the rhetoric : by Arthur B. Miller:Speech Monographs: Volume 41, Issue 4 :1974 : available here

iv)  I welcome further information on these points though these distinctions do bear on the next translation point.

Translation: Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p10 paragraph 7

The French word is specific to the training of animals so the sentence reads: Ethics for Aristotle is a science of character: the building of character, the dynamics of habits, and, even more, action in [rather than with] relation to habits, training [as in animal training], education.

Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p11

 Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p11 paragraph 1: note of a summary statement:

Quote (bold added): So as to emphasize what today’s premises are leading us toward, I will simply note that although the topics on which I have attempted to open up different perspectives are varied, I will try next time to start from a radical position. In order to point out the originality of the Freudian position in ethical matters, I must underline a slippage or a change of attitude relative to the question of morality as such.

Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p11 paragraph 2

Quote:  In Aristotle the problem is that of a good, of a Sovereign Good. We will have to consider why he emphasized the problem of pleasure, its function in the mental economy of ethics from the beginning.

From: Nicomachean Ethics in Wikipedia : available here : The theme of the work is the Socratic question which had previously been explored in Plato’s works, of how men should best live. In his Metaphysics, Aristotle described how Socrates turned philosophy to human questions, whereas Pre-Socratic philosophy had only been theoretical. Ethics, as now separated out for discussion by Aristotle, is practical rather than theoretical, in the original Aristotelian senses of these terms. In other words it is not only a contemplation about good living, but also aims to create good living. It is therefore connected to Aristotle’s other practical work, Politics, which similarly aims at people becoming good. However ethics is about how individuals should best live, while the study of politics is from the perspective of a law-giver, looking at the good of a whole community.

Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p11 paragraph 2

Quote: It is something that we cannot avoid, not least because it is the reference point of the Freudian theory concerning the two systems φ and ψ, the two psychical agencies that he called the primary and secondary processes.


i)  This is a reference to what Freud’s editors have named ‘The Project’. For availability and further information, please see: The Project for a Scientific Psychology: 23rd & 25th September & 5th October 1895: Sigmund Freud or here

ii) Bruno de Florence noted that in the French edition these are reversed and appear thus:  ‘the two systems ψ and φ’

iv)  the reason for Jacques Lacan using this order is probably given, as follows: P417: PART I I I : AN ATTEMPT AT AN ACCOUNT OF NORMAL Ψ-PROCESSES : 5th October 1895 : part [ I] : Sigmund Freud writes : It must be possible to give a mechanical explanation of what I have termed “secondary processes” based on the effects produced by a group of neurones with a constant cathexis (the ego) upon other neurones with changing cathexes. I shall begin by attempting to give a psychological description of these processes. On the one hand we have the ego, and on the other hand W (perceptions)-that is, cathexes in Ψ arising from ϕ (from the external world).

v)  Definition of ψ and φ : P355: 23rd September 1895: PART I : Editor’s (probably James Strachey’s) footnote: extract : In the manuscript Freud made use of numerous abbreviations, the majority of which have been filled out in the printed version. Apart, however, from customary or easily explicable abbreviations, he employed a certain number of fixed tokens: thus N stands regularly for “neurones” and ϕ, ψ and ω indicate the three systems of neurones (ϕ being often used adjectivally).

vi)  Note: ψ is discussed in Part I: The Ψ Paths of Conduction & The Primary and Secondary Processes in Ψ. 

vii)  φ is the lower case of  ϕ and is the Greek letter phi according to px of the Pocket Oxford Classical Greek Dictionary: 2002

Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p11 paragraph 5

Jacques Lacan’s declaration of direction of travel: ‘Well, as odd as it may seem to that superficial opinion which assumes any inquiry into ethics must concern the field of the ideal, if not of the unreal, I, on the contrary, will proceed instead from the other direction by going more deeply into the notion of the real. Insofar as Freud’s position constitutes progress here, the question of ethics is to be articulated from the point of view of the location of Man in relation to the real.

Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p11 paragraph 6 : ‘utilitarian conversion or reversion’

‘principle of utilitarianism’, from Jeremy Bentham, evaluates actions based upon their consequences. The relevant consequences, in particular, are the overall happiness created for everyone affected by the action.  Quoted from The Internet Enclopedia of Philosophy, here

Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p11 paragraph 6

Quote: It is in Hegel that we find expressed an extreme devalorization of the position of the master, since Hegel turns him into the great dupe, the magnificent cuckold of historical development, given that the virtue of progress passes by way of the vanquished, which is to say, of the slave, and his work.

Comment: i)  The Phenomenology of Mind: 1807 is sometimes translated as The Phenomenology of Spirit.  Jacques Lacan also quotes it in Seminar X: The Anxiety or dread: 21st November 1962. There is also a presentation on it  Jean Hyppolite: p157: The Structure of Philosophic Language According to the “Preface” to Hegel’s ‘Phenomenology of the Mind’  (See  The Structure of Philosophic Language According to the “Preface” to Hegel’s ‘Phenomenology of the Mind’ & Discussion: 19th October 1966: Jean Hyppolite or here for the text ) at the 1966, Baltimore conference where the following was given:  Of Structure as an inmixing of an Otherness prerequisite to Any Subject Whatever: 21st October 1966: Jacques Lacan . Further information available, here 

ii) From Wikipedia on the Master-Slave dialectic available here  : The Master-Slave dialectic is the common name for a famous passage of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, though the original German phrase, Herrschaft und Knechtschaft, is more properly translated as ‘Lordship and Bondage’. It is widely considered a key element in Hegel’s philosophical system, and has heavily influenced many subsequent philosophers.

The passage describes, in narrative form, the development of self-consciousness as such in an encounter between what are thereby (i.e., emerging only from this encounter) two distinct, self-conscious beings; the essence of the dialectic is the movement or motion of recognizing, in which the two self-consciousnesses are constituted each in being recognized as self-conscious by the other. This movement, inexorably taken to its extreme, takes the form of a “struggle to the death” in which one masters the other, only to find that such lordship makes the very recognition he had sought impossible, since the bondsman, in this state, is not free to offer it.

The text of G. W F. Hegel’s ‘Phenomenology of Mind (sometimes translated Spirit) is available at, here

Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p12

Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p12 paragraph 2

Background to ‘Mr Jakobson’ from Wikipedia, here : Roman Osipovich Jakobson (October 10, 1896, Moscow – July 18, 1982, Cambridge, Massachusetts) was a Russian linguist and literary theorist.

As one of the first of the structural analysis of language, which became the dominant trend of linguistics during the first half of the twentieth-century, Jakobson was among the most influential linguists of the century. Influenced by the work of Ferdinand de Saussure, Jakobson developed, with Nikolai Trubetzkoy, techniques for the analysis of sound systems in languages, inaugurating the discipline of phonology. He went on to apply the same techniques of analysis to syntax and morphology, and controversially proposed that they be extended to semantics (the study of meaning in language).

Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p12 paragraph 2: ‘the interest of a work of Jeremy Bentham’s that is ordinarily neglected in the summary of his contribution traditionally given.’

Some information on Jeremy Bentham: taken from Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophers and available here   : Jeremy Bentham was an English philosopher (1748 – 1832) and political radical. He is primarily known today for his moral philosophy, especially his principle of utilitarianism, which evaluates actions based upon their consequences. The relevant consequences, in particular, are the overall happiness created for everyone affected by the action. Influenced by many enlightenment thinkers, especially empiricists such as John Locke and David Hume, Bentham developed an ethical theory grounded in a largely empiricist account of human nature. He famously held a hedonistic account of both motivation and value according to which what is fundamentally valuable and what ultimately motivates us is pleasure and pain. Happiness, according to Bentham, is thus a matter of experiencing pleasure and lack of pain. …

Bentham’s influence was minor during his life. But his impact was greater in later years as his ideas were carried on by followers such as John Stuart Mill, John Austin, and other consequentialists. … 3. Human Nature For Bentham, morals and legislation can be described scientifically, but such a description requires an account of human nature. Just as nature is explained through reference to the laws of physics, so human behavior can be explained by reference to the two primary motives of pleasure and pain; this is the theory of psychological hedonism.

There is, Bentham admits, no direct proof of such an analysis of human motivation—though he holds that it is clear that, in acting, all people implicitly refer to it. At the beginning of the Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, Bentham writes: ‘Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think: every effort we can make to throw off our subjection, will serve but to demonstrate and confirm it.’ (Ch. 1) From this we see that, for Bentham, pleasure and pain serve not only as explanations for action, but they also define one’s good. It is, in short, on the basis of pleasures and pains, which can exist only in individuals, that Bentham thought one could construct a calculus of value.

Related to this fundamental hedonism is a view of the individual as exhibiting a natural, rational self-interest—a psychological egoism. In his “Remarks on Bentham’s Philosophy” (1833), Mill cites Bentham’s The Book of Fallacies (London: Hunt, 1824, pp. 392-3) that “[i]n every human breast… self-regarding interest is predominant over social interest; each person’s own individual interest over the interests of all other persons taken together.” Fundamental to the nature and activity of individuals, then, is their own well-being, and reason—as a natural capability of the person—is considered to be subservient to this end.

Bentham believed that the nature of the human person can be adequately described without mention of social relationships. To begin with, the idea of “relation” is but a “fictitious entity,” though necessary for “convenience of discourse.” And, more specifically, he remarks that “the community is a fictitious body,” and it is but “the sum of the interests of the several members who compose it.” Thus, the extension of the term “individual” is, in the main, no greater and no less than the biological entity. Bentham’s view, then, is that the individual—the basic unit of the social sphere—is an “atom” and there is no “self” or “individual” greater than the human individual. A person’s relations with others—even if important—are not essential and describe nothing that is, strictly speaking, necessary to its being what it is.

Finally, the picture of the human person presented by Bentham is based on a psychological associationism indebted to David Hartley and David Hume; Bentham’s analysis of “habit” (which is essential to his understanding of society and especially political society) particularly reflects associationist presuppositions. On this view, pleasure and pain are objective states and can be measured in terms of their intensity, duration, certainty, proximity, fecundity and purity. This allows both for an objective determination of an activity or state and for a comparison with others.

Bentham’s understanding of human nature reveals, in short, a psychological, ontological, and also moral individualism where, to extend the critique of utilitarianism made by Graeme Duncan and John Gray (1979), “the individual human being is conceived as the source of values and as himself the supreme value.”

Sem VII: 18th November 1959 : p12 paragraph 4 : Etienne Dumont:  From Wikipedia, here : Pierre Étienne Louis Dumont (18 July 1759 – 29 September 1829), known as Étienne Dumont, sometimes anglicised as Stephen Dumont, was a Genevan political writer. He is chiefly remembered as the French editor of the writings of the English philosopher and social reformer, Jeremy Bentham.

Sem VII: 18th November 1959: p12: paragraph 6

‘The fictitious is not, in effect, in its essence that which deceives, but is precisely what I call the symbolic.’  This is reminding me of a familiar Jacques Lacan quote which I cannot remember… about that which deceives…  I welcome help, please!

Sem VII: 18th November 1959: p12: paragraph 7

Meaning of ‘euphony’. Given as the sound of words or the connotation of the sound by the reading group.  From Concise Oxford Dictionary, Tenth Edition: p491 :  Euphony: 1) the quality of being pleasing to the ear. 2) the tendency to make phonetic change for ease of pronunciation. Origin: from French, euphonie, via late Latin. From Greek Euphōnos ‘well sounding’ (based on phōnē ‘sound’)

Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959: P13

Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959: P13: paragraph 2 & 4

Freud and Happiness: ‘Certainly Freud leaves no doubt , more than Aristotle, that what man is seeking, his goal, is happiness. …  (para 4) It does not escape Freud’s attention that happiness as far as we are concerned is what must be offered as the goal of our striving, however ethical it might be. But what stands out clearly – in spite of the fact that it is not given sufficient importance on the grounds that we cease to listen to a man as soon as he steps outside his sphere of expertise – is that I prefer to read in ‘Civilisation and Its Discontents’ the idea Freud expresses there concerning happiness, namely, that absolutely nothing is prepared for it, either in the macrocosm or the microcosm. … As far as Freud is concerned everything that moves toward reality requires a certain tempering, a lowering of tone, of what is properly speaking the energy of pleasure. …

From Civilisation and its Discontents (1929) : pfl: Vol 12. Civilization, Society and Religion: p262-264: [Also SE XXI : Available at Richard G. Klein’s site : See here]  The question of the purpose of human life has been raised countless times; it has never yet received a satisfactory answer and perhaps does not admit of one. Some of those who have asked it have added that if it should turn out that life has no purpose, it would lose all value for them. But this threat alters nothing. It looks, on the contrary, as though one had a right to dismiss the question, for it seems to derive from the human presumptuousness, many other manifestations of which are already familiar to us. Nobody talks about the purpose of the life of animals, unless, perhaps, it may be supposed to lie in being of service to man. But this view is not tenable either, for there are many animals of which man can make nothing, except to describe, classify and study them; and innumerable species of animals have escaped even this use, since they existed and became extinct before man set eyes on them. Once again, only religion can answer the question of the purpose of life. One can hardly be wrong in concluding that the idea of life having a purpose stands and falls with the religious system.

We will therefore turn to the less ambitious question of what men themselves show by their behaviour to be the purpose and intention of their lives. What do they demand of life and wish to achieve in it? The answer to this can hardly be in doubt. They strive after happiness; they want to become happy and to remain so. This endeavour has two sides, a positive and a negative aim. It aims, on the one hand, at an absence of pain and unpleasure, and, on the other, at the experiencing of strong feelings of pleasure. In its narrower sense the word ‘happiness’ only relates to the last. In conformity with this dichotomy in his aims, man’s activity develops in two directions, according as it seeks to realize – in the main, or even exclusively – the one or the other of these aims.

As we see, what decides the purpose of life is simply the programme of the pleasure principle. This principle dominates the operation of the mental apparatus from the start. There can be no doubt about its efficacy, and yet its programme is at loggerheads with the whole world, with the macrocosm as much as with the microcosm. There is no possibility at all of its being carried through; all the regulations of the universe run counter to it. One feels inclined to say that the intention that man should be ‘happy’ is not included in the plan of ‘Creation’. What we call happiness in the strictest sense comes from the (preferably sudden) satisfaction of needs which have been dammed up to a high degree, and it is from its nature only possible as an episodic phenomenon. When any situation that is desired by the pleasure principle is prolonged, it only produces a feeling of mild contentment. We are so made that we can derive intense enjoyment only from a contrast and very little from a state of things.¹ [¹ Goethe, indeed, warns us that ‘nothing is harder to bear than a succession of fair days.’ But this may be an exaggeration.]  Thus our possibilities of happiness are already restricted by our constitution. Unhappiness is much less difficult to experience. We are threatened with suffering from three directions: from our own body, which is doomed to decay and dissolution and which cannot even do without pain and anxiety as warning signals; from the external world, which may rage against us with overwhelming and merciless forces of destruction; and finally from our relations to other men. The suffering which comes from this last source is perhaps more painful to us than any other. We tend to regard it as a kind of gratuitous addition, although it cannot be any less fatefully inevitable than the suffering which comes from elsewhere.

It is no wonder if, under the pressure of these possibilities of suffering, men are accustomed to moderate their claims to happiness – just as the pleasure principle itself, indeed, under the influence of the external world, changed into the more modest reality principle -, if a man thinks himself happy merely to have escaped unhappiness or to have survived his suffering, and if in general the task of avoiding suffering pushes that of obtaining pleasure into the background. Reflection shows that the accomplishment of this task can be attempted along very different paths; and all these paths have been recommended by the various schools of worldly wisdom and put into practice by men. An unrestricted satisfaction of every need presents itself as the most enticing method of conducting one’s life, but it means putting enjoyment before caution, and soon brings its own punishment. The other methods, in which avoidance of unpleasure is the main purpose, are differentiated according to the source of unpleasure to which their attention is chiefly turned. Some of these methods are extreme and some moderate; some are one-sided and some attack the problem simultaneously at several points. Against the suffering which may come upon one from human relationships the readiest safeguard is voluntary isolation, keeping oneself aloof from other people. The happiness which can be achieved along this path is, as we see, the happiness of quietness. Against the dreaded external world one can only defend oneself by some kind of turning away from it, if one intends to solve the task by oneself. There is, indeed, another and better path: that of becoming a member of the human community, and, with the help of a technique guided by science, going over to the attack against nature and subjecting her to the human will. Then one is working with all for the good of all. But the most interesting methods of averting suffering are those which seem to influence our own organism. In the last analysis, all suffering is nothing else than sensation; it only exists in so far as we feel it, and we only feel it in consequence of certain ways in which our organism is regulated.

The crudest, but also the most effective among these methods of influence is the chemical one – intoxication.

Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959: P13: paragraph 2

‘offers itself in terms of a meeting – τνχη’:

which is translated as tuché, an encounter with the real, in Seminar XI: The four fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis: 1964. Tuché is referenced in several places within Seminar XI.

It is translated as chance; fortune, luck; accident on p326 of Pocket Oxford Classical Greek Dictionary: 2002.

I suspect that an encounter or meeting is the meaning Jacques Lacan is giving it.

 Translation: Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959: P13: paragraph 3 : ‘fantasm’ is better translated as ‘phantasy’ so it reads: ‘formulas of the phantasy are significant’.

Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959: P13: paragraph 3

‘It is in this respect that the formulas I gave you last year on the phantasy are significant and that the notion of desire as desire of the Other assumes its full weight. Quoted from Seminar VI: Desire and its interpretation: 1958-1959 : from 12th November 1958 : Jacques Lacan : See  here :  Translated by Cormac Gallagher

There are two references to fantasy and many more to phantasy:

i) Sem VI: session of 21st January 1959 : page 9 of this session or p117: is the formula of how dreams pass into speech via two points.  This reminds me of Jacques Lacan’s previous reference to Freud’s Project.

ii)  Sem VI: 22nd April 1959: p18 of this session or p227: (This is the only reference in Sem VI, I have found, to fantasy or phantasy which also refers to the Other.

This starts with a quotation from Hamlet:

‘How stand I then.

That have a father killed, a mother stained.

Excitements of my reason and my blood.

And let all sleep while to my shame I see

The imminent death of twenty thousand men

That for a fantasy and trick of fame

Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot

Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause.

Which is not tomb enough and continent

To hide the slain? Oh, from this time forth.

My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth!’

Jacques Lacan then continues:

Such is Hamlet‟s meditation on what I would call the object of human action. This object which here leaves the door open to what I would call all the particularities on which we dwell. We shall call this oblativity: spilling ones blood for a noble cause, honour. Honour is also mentioned: to be committed by ones word. We shall call this the gift. Qua analysts effectively we cannot fail to encounter this concrete determination, not be gripped by their weight, whether it is of flesh or of commitment.

What I am trying to show you here is something which is not simply a common form, the lowest common denominator, of all that. It is not just a question of a position, of an articulation which could be characterised as a formalism. When I write the formula $ ◊ o [o usually left as a] put at the end of this question that the subject poses in the Other, which being addressed to him is called the “What do you want?‟, this question which is the ……. in which the subject is looking for his final word, and which has no chance, outside the exploration of the unconscious chain in so far as it travels around the circuit of the upper signifying chain, but which is not, outside the special conditions that we call analytical, something which can effectively be opened up to investigation without this help of the unconscious chain in so far as it has been uncovered by the analyst, by the Freudian experience.

What we are dealing with, is this something to which there can accord, in an imaginary short circuit, in the relationship half-way between this circuit of desire and what is opposite it, namely the phantasy and the structure of the phantasy, its general structure is what I express, namely a certain relationship of the subject to the signifier, this is what is expressed by the $, it is the subject in so far as he is irreducibly affected by the signifier, with all the consequences that this involves, in a certain specific relationship with a certain circumstance which is imaginary in its essence, o, not the object of desire, but the object in desire.

It is this function of the object in desire that we must now approach, since it is because the tragedy of Hamlet allows us to articulate it in an exemplary fashion that we devote this insistent interest to the structure of Shakespeare’s work.

Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959 : p13 paragraph 7

Quote: ‘not in the way as the child who is supposed to have exposed the universal illusion, but more in the manner of Alphonse Allais,’

The following is extracted from Wikipedia: here  : Alphonse Allais (20 October 1854 – 28 October 1905) was a French writer and humorist born in Honfleur, Calvados.

He is the author of many collections of whimsical writings. A poet as much as a humorist, he cultivated the verse form known as holorhyme, i.e. made up entirely of homophonous verses, where entire lines are pronounced the same. For example:

par les bois du djinn où s’entasse de l’effroi,
parle et bois du gin ou cent tasses de lait froid.

Allais wrote the earliest known example of a completely silent musical composition. His Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man of 1897 consists of nine blank measures.

Allais participated in humorous exhibitions, including those of the Salon des Arts Incohérents of 1883 and 1884, held at the Galerie Vivienne. At these Allais exhibited arguably the earliest examples of conceptual art: art, his plain white sheet of Bristol paper Première communion de jeunes filles chlorotiques par un temps de neige (First Communion of Anemic Young Girls In The Snow) (1883) and a similar red work Apoplectic Cardinals Harvesting Tomatoes on the Shore of the Red Sea (Study of the Aurora Borealis) (1884).  He died in Paris. Principal works :  À se tordre, 1891 :  Vive la vie!, 1892 :  Deux et deux font cinq, 1895 :  Amours, délices et orgues, 1898 :   L’Affaire Blaireau (The Badger Case), 1899 :   Ne nous frappons pas (literally Let’s not hit each another), 1900

Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959: P14

Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959 : p14 paragraph 4

I will end today with a note concerning the Traumdeutung (The Interpretation of Dreams: 1900-1901) taken from the ‘Introduction to Psychoanalysis’ [Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis :1915-1917]. A second factor that guides us, writes Freud, one that is much more important and is completely overlooked by the layman, is the following. It is certainly true that the satisfaction of a wish does give pleasure but, as is well known, the dreamer – I don’t think I am going too far when I find here a Lacanian emphasis in a certain way of posing the problem – does not have a simple and unambiguous relationship to his wish. He rejects it, he censures it, he doesn’t want it. Here we encounter the essential dimension of desire – it is always desire in the second degree, desire of desire.

From: Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis :1915-1917 published1916-1917 :Part II Dreams : 1915-1916 published1916:  Lecture 14 Wish-Fulfilment : p250 pfl: Volume 1, Introductory lectures on psychoanalysis. : LECTURE XIV WISH-FULFILMENT (Bold added) : LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, – Shall I remind you once more of the ground we have covered so far? Of how, when we began applying our technique, we came up against the distortion in dreams, of how we thought we would begin by evading it and obtained our first decisive information on the essential nature of dreams from the dreams of children? Of how, after that, armed with what we had learnt from that enquiry, we made a direct assault on dream-distortion and, as I hope, overcame it step by step? We are bound to admit, however, that the things we have discovered by the one path and by the other do not entirely correspond. It will be our task to piece the two sets of findings together and reconcile them with each other.

We found from both sources that the dream-work consists essentially in the transformation of thoughts into a hallucinatory experience. How this can happen is sufficiently mysterious; but it is a problem of general psychology with which we are not properly concerned here. We learnt from children’s dreams that it is the intention of the dream-work to get rid of a mental stimulus, which is disturbing sleep, by means of the fulfilment of a wish. We were unable to say anything similar of distorted dreams till we found out how to interpret them. But it was from the first our expectation that we should be able to regard distorted dreams in the same light as those of children. The first confirmation of this expectation was brought to us by the discovery that in point of fact all dreams are children’s dreams, that they work with the same infantile material, with the mental impulses and mechanisms of childhood. Now that we believe we have overcome dream-distortion, we must go on to enquire whether the view of dreams as the fulfilment of wishes is also valid of distorted dreams.

A short time ago we submitted a series of dreams to interpretation, but we left wish-fulfilment completely out of account. I feel sure that you must have repeatedly been driven to ask yourselves: ‘But where is the wish-fulfilment, which is supposed to be the aim of the dream-work?’ The question is an important one, for it has become the question raised by our lay critics. Human beings, as you know, have an instinctive tendency to fend off intellectual novelties. One of the ways in which this tendency is manifested is by immediately reducing the novelty to the smallest proportions, by compressing it if possible into a single catch-word. ‘Wish-fulfilment’ has become the catch word for the new theory of dreams. The layman asks: ‘Where is the wish-fulfilment?’ And instantly, having heard that dreams are supposed to be wish-fulfilments, and in the very act of asking the question, he answers it with a rejection. He immediately thinks of countless experiences of his own with dreams, in which the dream has been accompanied by feelings ranging from the unpleasurable to severe anxiety, so that the assertion made by the psychoanalytic theory of dreams seems to him most improbable. We have no difficulty in replying that in distorted dreams the wish-fulfilment cannot be obvious but must be looked for, so that it cannot be pointed out until the dream has been interpreted. We know too that the wishes in these distorted dreams are forbidden ones – rejected by the censorship – whose existence was precisely the cause of the dream’s distortion, the reason for the intervention of the dream censorship. But it is difficult to make the lay critic understand that before a dream has been interpreted one cannot enquire about the fulfilment of its wish. He will keep on forgetting this. His rejection of the theory of wish-fulfilment is actually nothing other than a consequence of the dream-censorship, a substitute for the rejection of the censored dream-wishes and an effluence from it.

Translation:  Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959 : p14 paragraph 5

‘theory of values’ probably should be translated ‘theory of virtues’.

Quote: In truth, we can expect Freudian analysis to create a little order I that sphere to which critical thought has turned in recent years, namely, the famous, indeed over-famous, theory of virtues – the very one that allows one of its proponents to say that the value of a thing is its desirability.

From Wikipedia:  Aristotle’s ethics, though always influential, gained renewed interest with the modern advent of virtue ethics. From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, here : Virtue Ethics :  Virtue ethics is currently one of three major approaches in normative ethics. It may, initially, be identified as the one that emphasises the virtues, or moral character, in contrast to the approach which emphasises duties or rules (deontology) or that which emphasises the consequences of actions (consequentialism). Suppose it is obvious that someone in need should be helped. A utilitarian will point to the fact that the consequences of doing so will maximise well-being, a deontologist to the fact that, in doing so the agent will be acting in accordance with a moral rule such as “Do unto others as you would be done by” and a virtue ethicist to the fact that helping the person would be charitable or benevolent.

Translation: Sem VII: session of 18th November 1959 : p14 paragraph 6

‘instincts’ is better translated as ‘drives’.

‘fundamental character of masochism in the economy of drives’: This may be a reference to ‘The Economic Problem of Masochism’ :1924c : Sigmund Freud


I welcome additions to these notes of points or discussions I have missed or any comments you may have.


Related texts

Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: from 18th November 1959 : Jacques Lacan or here

Texts from the Reading Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis group : here

The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here

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 in Earl’s Court, London

Further posts:

On Dreams  here

Some Lacanian history here

Lacanian Transmission here

Of the clinic here

Translation Working Group here

From LW working groups here

Use of power here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

By Julia Evans here

Future dates for the 2012 Reading Seminar VII Reading Group:

Saturday 27th October           10.30-12.30     Room G34 (Ground Floor)

Saturday 17th November        10.30-12.30     Room 102

Saturday 8th December          10.30-12.30     Room G22

The sessions will be located in University of London’s 
Senate House, Malet Street, London,

Dates for the Spring Term should be circulated in November.

You are welcome to join us….


Related texts

Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: from 18th November 1959 : Jacques Lacan or here

Texts from the Reading Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis group : here

The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here

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 in Earl’s Court, London

Further posts:

On Dreams  here

Some Lacanian history here

Lacanian Transmission here

Of the clinic here

Translation Working Group here

From LW working groups here

Use of power here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

By Julia Evans here