Affects: the discussion in Seminar VI &VII : 26th November 1958 : p32, developed in Seminar VII : January 20th 1960: p102

by Julia Evans on June 1, 2013

These points arise from the Reading Seminar VII Group, on Saturday 1st June, 2013

In drawing the distinction between psychological knowledge before and after Freud, Jacques Lacan refers to a previous discussion of affects.

From Seminar VII: January 20th 1960: p102 of Dennis Porter’s translation:

I don’t need to do more than remind you of the confused nature of the recourse to affectivity; it reasches a point where, even when the reference is made within analysis, it always leads us toward an impasse, toward something that we feel is not the direction in which our research can really make progress.

I suspect that this refers to his examination of Edward Glover’s article ‘The Psycho-Analysis of Affects’ (available The Psycho-analysis of Affects: 1939: Edward Glover or here  ) in Seminar VI: sessions of 19th November 1958, 26th November 1958 & 3rd December 1958 (Availability Seminar VI: Desire and its interpretation: 1958-1959 : from 12th November 1958 : Jacques Lacan or here )

Some quotes from the discussion in Seminar VI:


This is articulated in Freud. It is not enough for him to articulate it once, he articulates it a hundred times, and in every connection he comes back to it. It is precisely here that there enters in the enigma of what is called the transformation of this affect, of what proves in this connection to be particularly plastic, and that by which all the authors moreover once they approach this question of affect, namely every time they see it, have been struck, I mean to the extent that no one dares to touch the question, because what is altogether striking is that I who practice an intellectualist psychoanalysis, am going to spend the year talking about it, but that on the contrary you can count on the fingers of one hand the articles in analysis devoted to the question of affect, even though psychoanalysts are always full of it when they are talking about a clinical observation, because of course they always have recourse to affect. There is to my knowledge a single worthwhile article on this question of affect, it is an article by Glover which is spoken about a good deal in the writings of Marjorie Brierley. There is in this article an attempt to take a step forward in the exploration of this notion of affect which leaves something to be desired in what Freud said on the subject. This article is moreover detestable, like the whole of this book which, devoting itself to what are called the tendencies of psychoanalysis, gives a rather nice illustration of all the really impossible places that psychoanalysis is trying to lodge itself, in passing by morality, personalism, and other such eminently practical perspectives around which the blah of our epoch likes to spend itself.

From Seminar VI: 26th November 1958 (3) : p32 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation available at