Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

The Analyst at Work: Laura - or the Sexual Borders of need1/The Analyst at Work Response to Jacques André's 'Laura - or the Sexual Borders of Need'

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

The Analyst at Work: Laura - or the Sexual Borders of need1/The Analyst at Work Response to Jacques André's 'Laura - or the Sexual Borders of Need'

Article excerpt

Laura comes for analysis four times a week. These are face-to-face sessions; she rejects the couch. It is imperative that she does not lose sight of me; the same vigilance that prevents her from falling asleep at night accompanies every one of our sessions. She knows about being abandoned on a couch and underwent its alternately frightening and infuriating effects with a woman analyst over several years. The same anger is directed at this woman and her mother for the same reasons: coldness, distance, incomprehension and indifference ... In the armchair, her body sends messages of discomfort and exhaustion that led me to invite her to use the couch, at least as a bed to rest on. She curtly informed me that I should not imagine she would fall into any trap as crude as that: "I'll move to your couch when the analysis is over". On the day she has no session she feels the scarcely woven thread of the analysis unwinding and something inside her collapsing; several times a day she can decide to break off the analysis. The sessions themselves often still bear its trace: "I'm not here, I'm out the door" [in French, je me barre also literally means 'I block myself'].

However fundamental, the statement of the analytic rule is not universal; it preserves the trace of its own particular history - the discovery of repression at work in the psychoneuroses. What does the rule ("Say whatever goes through your mind ..." [Freud, 1913, p. 135]) mean to the person to whom it is addressed? Abandon the constraints of ordinary conversation, allow room for any secondary thoughts that occur to you, do not hesitate "to go a long way back" [Freud quote here, literally "to go back to the Flood"]. Do not give into intimidating criticisms - 'That is irrelevant here, or is quite unimportant, or nonsensical' - to the contrary. And if it were necessary to summarize the path to take, then: 'Lose the thread; loosen your tongue'. More than a rule, the rule is a ruse: to breach the barrier of repression, to take by surprise the catenaccio [in Italian, a door bolt, a form of soccer defence to prevent goals] and overturn the most intractable resistance. It is not a matter of saying what we would prefer to keep to ourselves, what feels shameful - which is only how the obsessional translates the message - but of saying what we do not know. The hope of such a statement is double: on the analysand's part, to allow the idea to become incidental; for the analyst, to permit his attention to float freely.

Laura's analysis starts with a different gesture. The phrase that comes at the end of the preliminary interviews instead of the rule is put this way: "I suggest that you come four times a week (indicating that I would have preferred five) in face-to-face sessions, keeping the possibility of the couch for later on". The wording is well received (the couch apart) as she is seduced by the time that I want to devote to her. This utterance is therefore as inaugural and foundational as the rule, but not addressed to the same psychic place. While the rule ('say whatever goes through your mind') hopes to be heard by the repressed, my own indications are addressed to the ego and its borders that mark out time and space, properties of psychic life a posteriori but nevertheless primitive. And my words address the ego only because they sense much uncertainty and fragility at the borders of its territory.

Like the ego the frame, the setting, is a 'creature of borders', and it is the projection (in the geometrical sense) of the ego at the surface of analysis. If the ego (and, subsequently, the frame) is outside time, this is not in the same sense as the unconscious. The timelessness of the unconscious designates a psychic place which is subject to the hallucinatory order where wanting is doing, with no distinction and no delay, a place where fantasy is realized, unaware of the reticence of the external world. If the ego is outside time, it is not in terms of timelessness but as eternity. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.