The analyst’s position : 5th November 2017 (London) : Julia Evans

by Julia Evans on November 5, 2017

This was Julia Evans’ intervention at an Earl’s Court Clinical Group Meeting. Members are (Bruno de Florence, Greg Hynds, Julia Evans, Owen Hewitson. Each member gave a short presentation on clinical topics, followed by a discussion, with those assembled.

This remains a work-in-progress.  Every time we meet as a clinical group I am in the middle of different references [i]. This look at the analyst’s position in Object relations Theory began with translating Seminar IV : 28thNovember 1956[ii], where Lacan comments on Maurice Bouvet’s case of an obsessional[iii]. The following topics I have been tracing in Sigmund Freud as they are aspects of Lacan’s commentary.

The relation of the energy source to the mechanism which transforms it – there is a gap

The use of the term ‘reality’

Development stages in Freud and Object Relation theory

See Tracing Stages linked to Libido in Freud by Julia Evans on 24th October2017 or here

How libido is used in Freud and Object relations.

Notes and excerpts from these references are in preparation.

In addition I have found many references to Object Relations Theory before and after Seminar IV[iv].

So in Seminar III : 4thJuly 1956 [v] (the final session of this seminar) Jacques Lacan states :  ‘The question of the father centres all Freud’s research, all the points of view he has introduced into subjective experience.

This is entirely forgotten, I’m well aware. Recent analytic technique is clouded by the object relation. The supreme experience that is described, this famous distance taken in the object relation, ultimately consists in fantasizing the sexual organ of the analyst and imaginarily absorbing it. Make filiation [vi] the equivalent of fellatio [vii]? Indeed there is an etymological relationship between these two terms, but this isn’t a sufficient reason for deciding that analytic experience is a sort of obscene chain that consists in the imaginary absorption of an object that has finally been extracted from fantasies.’

So, the question of the father is central and filiation, which is a relationship , is collapsed into a direct connection.

And also from Seminar IV : 28thNovember 1956 [viii] about 4 months later, this is Lacan’s description of the Object Relation’s view of the analyst’s position :

‘You will see that the way of handling the object relation in this case (obsessional neurosis) consists, very precisely, in doing something similar to what would happen if one were watching a circus act in which a pair are delivering a series of alternating blows to one another; this would involve going down into the [circus] ring and making an effort to be afraid of receiving the slaps. On the contrary, it is by virtue of his aggressivity[ix]that he delivers them and that the relation of talking with him is an aggressive relation. At this point, the ringmaster comes in and says, “Look, this is unreasonable; leave off quarrelling, swallow your stick, each of you; then you will have it in the right place, you will have internalized it.” This is indeed one means of resolving the situation and bringing a way out to it. It can be accompanied by a little song, that truly imperishable tune by someone named … who was a kind of genius. (Probably Entry of the Gladiators as suggested by Greg Hynds)’

So the distance is because the analyst’s position is separate from the analysand’s. The analyst is the ring-master so is in control of the location and rules. He is in a similar position to the experimenter in the prison experiment – see Seminar X[x]   He sets up the scene that is the reality and its limits. He descends from on high to sort out the pugilists and knows what is wrong. Further he knows what the right place is, what standard emotionality is.  This is still imposed in many practices of today, and according to Lacan this does bring a resolution to the situation and a way out.

Éric Laurent refers to a different obsessional case of Maurice Bouvet in 2002[xi]and also to the place of the psychoanalyst. Beginning quote p32 : ‘The psychoanalyst is not in the place of the universal Other of good faith in the procedure. He occupies rather, as soon as the process happens and is put in place, the place of the dead one, anticipating the place of the object athat will come to decomplete the Other of signifiers.’

So to Laurent’s comments on the Bouvet case study : p35 : ‘The problem of supervision begins when one has to intervene in the incapacity of the analyst to make himself the cause of desire. This incapacity is the source of all the temptations to give way on the desire of the analyst. It is why in the Discourse at the EFP[xii] the examples given the exhortations bear on the experienced analyst who puts himself in the position of the one who has the knowledge and who, in the same movement, gives way : “before the seat of the obsessional […] gives way to his demand for the phallus and interprets it in terms of coprophagy[xiii]”.’[xiv]…

p36 : ‘This position, as used by the French IPA, following Maurice Bouvet, is still current for some. The interpretation that is criticised consisted in giving way to the siege of the obsessional by responding in terms of the ‘here and now’, in interpreting: “Is that what you want from me? I’ll give it to you”. The demand, interpreted in terms of regressive object, is considered as if it returned to an objective truth, to a veritable objectivation of desire.’

‘In the case of Bouvet[xv] that Lacan criticised in Seminar V : 4thJune 1958 :  p14 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation, the analyst gives way before the siege of the obsessional by interpreting the desire in terms of oral demand for the imaginary phallus. Lacan says that the analyst interprets desire in terms of phallophagy. It is not a question of coprophagy as in the Discourse at the EFP[xvi], but of phallophagy[xvii]. It suffices to put these two phagies together homologically[xviii] to see that it is a question of the same problem.

‘In Seminar V, Lacan develops his critique of a technique according to which the analyst will make himself pressing, insistent, in his interpretations so that the subject consents to swallow, to incoporate on the level of fantasy, the partial object. …. It is the phallus “a question: Has the Other got it or hasn’t he?”[xix]

‘…. It is not a question of wanting to be ready for the generalised fantasmatic phallophagy and of interpreting it in terms of the here and now but, on the contrary, to allow the question to appear as a question. It is a question of distinguishing between an orientation of the treatment towards a relation of two filled with an imaginary object, and a direction that interrogates the place of the Other and leaves room for the question bearing on the completeness of this Other – whether or not he has the phallus.

Thus, Lacan criticises the development of Bouvet’s clinic, which end by centring especially on the elaboration of a fantasy of fellatio, given as comparable to the absorption of a victim. This perspective tramples the question of the Other. It reduces the question of desire on the basis of a fantasmatic imaginary satisfaction. This reduction of desire to the dual dimension of demand, within the framework of the session, is the product of negligence of the third position of the signifier of desire, the phallus.

‘The mechanism is very precise. The analysand lays siege to the analyst, who replies in terms of transferable objects. This is what some, formed in the IPA, call ‘interpreting in the transference’. It was also a question of members of the EFP who were formed at the hinge moment between the SFP and the EFP and which would soon separate from Lacan to form an autonomous group. To say to an analysand “You want to incorporate the phallus as a turd” , there you have what qualifies coprophagy. The operation produced in the two cases, pinned as phalIophagy or coprophagy, provokes a reduction of desire to an imaginary demand that Lacan qualified thus: “it’s the stickiness of what the fantasy implies”‘ [xx].

I am editing this text in July 2018 and I do not have a clear recollection of how this talk concluded, though I probably opened out for discussion at this point. On rereading this, there are some clear distinctions emerging between a Lacanian approach and Object Relation’s Theory. Here is an attempt at a summary:

Éric Laurent, op. cit., puts in place the following distinctions:

A standardised operator versus the opacity of man to man

Laurent p28[xxi]: In the call to supervision of psychoanalytic practice one no longer believes in a standardised operator who would have a clear vision of his action because he would know in relation to the norms of treatment precisely where he would place himself. We are thrown back on opacity of man to man. Thus we have to supervise.

The other of good faith versus the place of the dead one

Qualification of those taking the place of the Other

Laurent p32 : The psychoanalyst is not in the place of the universal Other of good faith in the procedure. He occupies rather, as soon as the process happens and is put in place, the place of the dead one, anticipating the place of the objectathat will come to decomplete the Other of signifiers.

Lacan did not take things in a manner according to which it would be a question of knowing what qualifies the one who occupies the place of the Other, big O. One is never qualified to take it and Lacan was able to say at one moment that the belief in being able to do so is a con [ref 13]: to believe one can occupy the place of the Other in a legitimate fashion is an imposture.

Laurent p33 : The place of the psychoanalyst in Lacan’s teaching is addressed from ‘making oneself dead’ in order then to be situated in the place of the objet petit a: he decompletes the place of good faith and does not identify himself with it.

The analyst taking form as Other versus an empty place

Laurent p39 : In this critique of  ‘phallophagy’ or ‘coprophagy’ we thus hear the denunciation of a change of plan. In place of sending the subject back to the enigma of his game with the desire of the Other, who takes the form of the analyst or of his partners, one fixes the subject to the imaginary object which is simply a means of extinguishing the Other.

Lacan, 26thSeptember 1953, states [xxii : ‘In fact, this illusion that impels us to seek the reality of the subject beyond the language barrier is the same as that by which the subject believes that his truth is already given in us and that we know it in advance; and it is moreover as a result of this that he is wide open to our objectifying intervention.

So the position of the analyst is distinct : object relation’s theory are certain of their position and what should emerge during an analysis, Lacanian’s have no certainty about what is their position or what will emerge.



[i]For example, see The analyst’s position : Thursday 26th October 2017 by Julia Evans on October 26, 2017 or here

[ii]See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here

ECp3 Seminar IV : 28thNovember 1956 where Lacan comments on Clinical analysis : 1956 : Maurice Bouvetor here

See also Commentary on Maurice Bouvet’s case of Obsessional Neurosis (Seminar IV) : a reconstruction of the case by Julia Evans on 15thJune 2017 or here

[iii] Clinical analysis : 1956 : Maurice Bouvet or here

[iv]Examples are from

– The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis (Rome) : 26th September 1953 : Jacques Lacan : See here

– Seminar I: Freud’s papers on technique: 1953-1954 : begins on 13th January 1954 : Jacques Lacan or here

– Seminar II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis: 1954-1955: begins 17th November 1954 : Jacques Lacan or here

– Psychoanalysis and cybernetics, or on the nature of language : 22nd June 1955 : Lecture in Paris : Jacques Lacan or here

– Seminar III : 4thJuly 1956 : (one example of many) p321 of Russell Grigg’s translation. : Seminar III: The Psychoses: 1955-1956: from 16th November 1955: Jacques Lacan or here


[v] Seminar III : 4thJuly 1956 : p321 of Russell Grigg’s translation. : Seminar III: The Psychoses: 1955-1956: from 16th November 1955: Jacques Lacan or here

[vi]   : Filiation is the legal term[Filiation, Lawyers International Law Dictionary] that refers to the recognized legal status of the relationship between family members, or more specifically the legal relationship between parent and child. As described by the Government of Quebec:

Filiation is the relationship which exists between a child and the child’s parents, whether the parents are of the same or the opposite sex. The relationship can be established by blood, by law in certain cases, or by a judgment of adoption. Once filiation has been established, it creates rights and obligations for both the child and the parents, regardless of the circumstances of the child’s birth.

Filiation differs from, but impacts, both parental rights and inheritance.

The statute of limitations period for filiation is thirty years.

[vii] : Fellatio (also known as fellation, and colloquially as blowjob, BJ, giving head, or sucking off) is an oral sex act involving the use of the mouth or throat, which is performed by a person on the penis of another person or oneself (autofellatio). Oral stimulation of the scrotum may also be termed fellatio or tea bagging.

[viii] Page 3 of Earl’s Court Collective translation of Seminar IV. See footnote 1 for information and details of access.

[ix] Jacques Lacan spoke of aggressivity in 1948, see Aggressivity in Psychoanalysis : mid-May 1948 (Brussels) : Jacques Lacan or here

[x] See Seminar X: The Anxiety (or Dread): 1962-1963: begins 14th November 1962: Jacques Lacan: Text in English & References or here

& The Sadeian position in Jacques Lacan’s Seminar X & LacanianWorks posts by Julia Evans on 16thJanuary 2012 or here

&  The Government as Sadeian experimenter by Julia Evans on 17thAugust 2011 or here

Quote : Two reasons for this post: 1) the invention of a stage on which to act

& 2) what those in the sadistic position desire

I started my morning by being reminded that, forty years ago,  Professor Philip Zimbardo set up the famous prison experiment at Stanford University to discover the psychological effects of getting students to play the roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison building

[xi]On the right use of supervision : 2002 : Éric Laurent : Published p27-42 of Psychoanalytical Notebooks Vol 10 2003 : translated by Heather Chamberlain : Originally published in French in La Cause Freudienne No 51, Paris 2002 : For availability see On the Right Use of Supervision : Éric Laurent or here

[xii] Discours à l’EFP (sur la proposition) : 6th December 1967 : Jacques Lacan: Information here : Published in Autres Écrits: 2001 : Jacques Lacanor here

[xiii] Coprophagia  or coprophagy is the consumption of feces. The word is derived from the Greek κόπρος copros, “feces” and φαγεῖν phagein, “to

[xiv] From Discourses at ECF – ibid

[xv] Importance de l’aspect homosexuel du transfert : Charles Bouvet : Revue Française de Psychanalyse : July/September 1948 : published alongside ‘Aggressivity in Psychoanalysis’. See Footnote [ix]

[xvi] Discours à l’EFP (sur la proposition) : 6th December 1967 : Jacques Lacan: Information here : Published in Autres Écrits: 2001 : Jacques Lacan : See here

[xvii] Phallophagy is discussed in relation to the object in Guiding Remarks for a Congress on Feminine Sexuality : 1958 [Presented in Amsterdam, 5th September 1960] : Jacques Lacan: See here

[xviii] :  The original motivation for defining homology groups was the observation that two shapes can be distinguished by examining their holes. For instance, a circle is not a disk because the circle has a hole through it while the disk is solid, and the ordinary sphere is not a circle because the sphere encloses a two-dimensional hole while the circle encloses a one-dimensional hole. However, because a hole is “not there”, it is not immediately obvious how to define a hole or how to distinguish different kinds of holes. Homology was originally a rigorous mathematical method for defining and categorizing holes in a manifold.

[xix] Seminar V : 4thJune 1958 : p16 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation

[xx] It is not known where in Lacan this is stated.

[xxi] Further information On the Right Use of Supervision : Éric Laurent or here

[xxii]  p254 of Bruce Fink’s translation of  The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis (Rome) : 26th September 1953 : Jacques Lacan or here


Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, Earl’s Court, London


Further texts by members of the Earl’s Court Clinical Group

By Julia Evans here

By Bruno de Florence here

By Greg Hynds  here

By Owen Hewitson here

Of the clinic : here

From other LW working groups : here

Text presented to Clinical Group meetings

Reading the Recommendations: London, 1stApril  2017 (Open Meeting) : by Greg Hynds: Information here

What makes the initial interventions by an analyst work?: 1stApril 2017 (Open Meeting) : by Julia Evans : Information here

Commentary on Maurice Bouvet’s case of Obsessional Neurosis (Seminar IV) : a reconstruction of the case by Julia Evans on 15thJune 2017 or here

Commentary on Maurice Bouvet’s description of Object Relations Theory (Seminar IV) by Julia Evans on 27thJuly 2017 or here

The Yerodia Case : 27thJuly 2017 : Owen Hewitson:  is available here

Comments on the Yerodia Case : A preliminary engagement with ‘Psychoanalytic Violence: An Essay in Indifference in Ethical Matters’ by Dany Nobus by Julia Evans on 30thJuly 2017 or here

Psychoanalysis, Politics and the Social Bond : acting as a 1-subject, outside of ideals : 5th November 2017 (London) by Bruno de Florence on November 5, 2017 or here

The analyst’s position : Thursday 26th October 2017 by Julia Evans on October 26, 2017 or here

‘The irreducibility of a form of transmission’ : a case study by Julia Evans on 15thMarch 2018 or here