Freud studies Law

MELMAN Charles
Date publication : 23/05/2018
Dossier : Traduction éditoriaux


It is remarkable that psychoanalysts ignore the Law. Not just because it is uncommon for they to be recruited from that particular university training, but also because, in general, they misrecognise [méconnaissent] he who, without being named as such, imposes himself upon whomever is engaged in a discourse.

It is he, however, who arranges the place of the speakers, the type of jouissance that pertains to this, the sacrifice to be paid for this jouissance, and their failure to realise themselves as man and woman. It is not necessary to be a lawyer to know that it is the Law that codifies this distribution that, otherwise, would be left to the arbitrary nature of the law of the strongest. The Law has ruled upon the functioning of the State in many different historical situations, even when power turned out to be shaky or even absent.

Analysis, however, adds two essential elements to the Law, without being able to be certain of enriching it.

First of all, the fact that a subject—divided—has one foot in one camp, the other in the Other, and it is the social division between master and servant, between the sawing and the sawn (or the boring and the bored), which forecloses the fact that castration bears upon both, and that jouissance is not necessarily on the side that one imagines. Next there is a discourse that exposes the speakers to the risk of war in order to make themselves reciprocally recognised, exposing the Law to a casuistic whose principle has no better justification than the evolutions of public opinion: this is the hysterical discourse.

But might the analytic discourse, on the other hand, privilege a Law between partners which, on the contrary, would be a law in principle? A hasty answer would deny this since the attraction of the surplus jouissance, legitimised moreover by its coming to the place of mastery, justifies the refusal of any limit. It would thus be necessary to disregard the unconscious, by referring to language’s property of imposing castration, to render jouissance compatible with the maintenance of life. Which, of course, is scorned by the cult of consumption.

But the fact that detains us is that through a mixture between analytic discourse and discourse of the master, analytic groups seem to radically lack Law. In the absence of any specific insignia, the unleashing of passions in order to thereby acquire those of the master, is remarkable. To the detriment of the discipline, which has in itself become a pretext. We might consider that, in the same way a lawless State is surrendered to the whim of its master, a lawless organisation is at the mercy of populism.

Ch. Melman - 12 May 2018 


Translation : Michael Plastow

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