Clinical Seminar with Alan Rowan. 25.03.2017



Interpretation…and what it aims at
Saturday 25 March 2017. 10:30 – 13:00
Room HG10, School of Nursing and Human Sciences, DCU, Glasnevin, Dublin 9.
APPI Members: €20, Non Members: €25, Students: €10

Lacan in an early and seminal work states: “… analysis consists in playing in all the many staves of the score that speech consists in the registers of language and on which depends the over-determination of the symptom, which has no meaning except in that order” (Ecrits: A Selection. 1977/1953). It is a statement that affirms that interpretation is at the very core of analysis, meaning at the core of its praxis.

As an act, interpretation is to be distinguished from all forms of suggestion and advice giving, so dominant today in the “psy field” where subjects are directed towards “coping better” via one or other forms of the therapeutic “mind gyms” that clutter the marketplace, claiming to deal with human suffering.

It is no doubt a paradox that, at a point when collective meanings no longer offer the subject easy accesses to a stable form of life, such “solutions”, with minor variation, look the same for everybody.

Psychoanalytic interpretation takes off from a different point, though one that is deeply rooted – since Aristotle – in reflection on the nature of human subjectivity, in this case, on the incontestable fact that self-deception, both concerning oneself and the nature of reality, is possible. Philosophers have long pondered this question of how one might intentionally deceive oneself, and in so doing, act against one’s own better judgement and self-interest.

Freud’s discovery of the unconscious, of the “divided subject”, provided an answer grounded in clinical realities. Moreover, he discovered that one could decipher such “motivated blindness” – and in so doing – undo the knot of a subject’s suffering.

Here interpretation is always and necessarily singular to a given subject even as Freud greatly expanded it’s range – for we can deceive ourselves not only in terms of our beliefs, but also in relation to our desires, our emotions, our values and our assumed identity of who or what we fundamentally are.

In this talk I will take a trajectory from Freud to Lacan, and thus from interpretation as deciphering, to forms of interpretation that go beyond this. While the former remained important to Lacan, especially in the early stages of analysis, it ultimately fails to take account of the fact that the “speaking-being” is saturated in jouissance – forms of “enjoying” – that, for example, ex-ist inside reason itself. Indeed one can go so far as to say, that in the end, analysis aims at this question of how a subject handles in their life this – most intimate – jouissance.


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