After a crisis, what emerges?

by Julia Evans on August 4, 2014

Two items, recently engaged with, raise questions:

1)  What emerges after a crisis?

This question is put in Gil Caroz’s presentation on 10th May 2014, at Ghent, towards the next Congress of the New Lacanian School in Geneva, 9th to 10th May, 2015: Moments of Crisis : 10th May 2014 (Ghent) : Gil Caroz : Details here.  Quote: If crisis is sometimes the source of tears and pain, it is also a necessary passage towards invention and novelty.

2) The following poem, from an Israeli poet, was read out as part of marking the outbreak of World War One.

The Place Where We Are Right

Yehuda Amichai 1924-2000 

From the place where we are right

Flowers will never grow

In the spring.


The place where we are right

Is hard and trampled

Like a yard.


But doubts and loves

Dig up the world

Like a mole, a plough.

And a whisper will be heard in the place

Where the ruined

House once stood.

Jacques Lacan puts this question: 

Seminar VII : 25th May 1960 : p246 of Dennis Porter’s translation : Availability given Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: begins 18th November 1959 : Jacques Lacan or here.

And this comes about through pleasure, Aristotle tells us, leaving us once again to reflect on what might be meant by pleasure and at what level and why it is invoked on this occasion. What is this pleasure to which one returns after a crisis that occurs in another dimension, a crisis that sometimes threatens pleasure, for we all know to what extremes a certain kind of ecstatic music may lead? It is at this point that the topology we have defined – the topology of pleasure as the law of that which functions previous to that apparatus where desire’s formidable centre sucks us in – perhaps allows us to understand Aristotle’s intuition better than has been the case heretofore.

My current take on this question…. 

Warning: I am still walking through rather than understanding.

It seems to me that crisis happens when all our certainties (The Place where we are Right) cease to function.  Certainties imply that I think I am in control, so a relationship to power is implicated.  What emerges after the crisis, may be a similar power system which seems to give control and certainty or a transformation may take place, allowing something new to emerge. In order for a transformation to take place, certainties have to be let go. This gap is not covered unless a relationship of trust (or even love)  is put in place. The one certainty about relationships is that they fail, so this putting in place is risky.

Within the world of regulation of the Talking Therapies,

two strands of argument have recently attracted my attention :

a) Should we be concerned that organisations set up by the government, HCPC – Health  & Care Professions Council and PSA – Professions Standard Authority, and others, those large organisations which regulate practitioners, UKCP – United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapist, BACP – British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapist and BPC – British Psychoanalytic Council, cannot guarantee that those found negligent in their practice in ‘fitness-to-practice’ courts, will not continue practicing?

b) Should those who practice to the One Standard of practice, regular session times & duration, regular meetings at the same time each week, according to their practice manuals, be challenged on their charging for ‘missed sessions’? Sessions are charged whatever is the reason for non-attendance and notice given.

The South African Government apparently thinks that this is an unfair practice and is ruling against it.


a) Now the HCPC, PSA, UKCP, BACP & BPC all agree that practices involving conversations between two people, can be regulated by driving down The Standards from top (those who know what an ethical practice is) to bottom (the practitioner) of the organisation. Further, they assert that this process and its strict implementation ‘safeguards the health and wellbeing (HPO2001)’ of users and makes these practices risk-free.  Therefore, they are all working ‘from the place where we are right’ with its attendant position of being in control. There is no acknowledgement of the fallibility of human relationships. Any breakdown in the relationship may be defined as abuse and the cause ascribed to the failure to implement these regulations. Abuse has the tautological definition of ‘that which has upset the complainant enough for them to take action’ and this abuse must be measured against the standards. The system feeds on itself – at no point is something new allowed to emerge. Please note: I have many times stated over the last 15 years that criminal acts must be prosecuted. Criminal abuse, be it sexual, physical, financial, bullying, and so on, should be tried in the criminal system first and not ‘fitness-to-practice’ cases.

So should those pilloried by the system as unsafe or unethical, be allowed to practice? I think it is impossible to contain relationships of trust by such a system. Further, I think it is unhealthy and starts limiting any transformational effects. And I think those organisations delusional enough to sign up to this system, need to take responsibility for their actions or admit : it does not work.

b) In their practices, practitioners have the choice of using top-down power, working to standards set in concrete, or to work within a relationship of trust.  This does not mean there are no limits in place but they are not set in concrete and driven down from a great height. If they work within The Standards, including charging for missed sessions, whatever the reason, then they need to be aware that from the outside of ‘the place where we are right’, this may seem to be unfair.


I suspect that this is not the last time I will be musing on the differences between these two relationships to power and certainty and their effects. To finish, I quote from Giles Fraser who brings a different aspect of this distinction to the fore:

It’s a controversy as old as the fifth century BC. “Man is the measure of all things,” said Protagoras. No replied Plato. Nothing imperfect can be the measure of anything. And there we have the essence of a philosophical squabble about the possibility of human objectivity that is as alive in modern newsrooms as it was in the Athenian agora. : Loose canon, How can journalists be objective and unemotional when writing about dead children : Giles Fraser : The Guardian : Saturday 2nd August 2014 : Available here