‘A Question of Training’ by Chris Oakley

There is little to suggest that there has been much improvement in the intervening years. It might be said that what we can witness today are the insistence of various errors, the principal one being the emphasis on the obligatory, which were there at the onset which now cast such a dark shadow on contemporary trainings. Not so much errors of any particular individual but rather those by which a movement installs and constitutes itself as a group. Moustafa Safouan allows the very real possibility that the first generation of analysts, with Abraham to the fore, engaged in an acting out of an in-mixing of fury and fear, unconsciously punishing the next generation for the Freud’s mortal frailty. If we understand the phenomenon of panic to be the inability to directly express anger in the face of disappointment, we may very well come to see that the origins of the forms of psychoanalytic trainings in play today are all saturated in precisely this: a panic reaction. But that is not all. And it is Lacan who draws our attention to this second area of concern in his 1967 “Proposition on the Psychoanalyst of the School”(Scilicet 1 1968 p29) An unfortunate aspect of much of this is that it appears that we are heading in the direction of ‘blame it on the Germans’.

Be that as it may, a further nuancing stems from the Berlin Institute’s experience, unquestionably traumatic, although it’s ramifications spread far wider than that. Again our attention might be drawn to the curious tension between expansion and restriction (perhaps something similar has been in play at the back end of the twentieth century). The IPA was pretty much powerless to prevent the take over of the German Institute in the context of the Holocaust, but not one analyst died in the camps. In other words it looked as if psychoanalysis might operate as a safe haven. So in the context of the post second world war paranoia, assumed to be an effect of the ‘guilt of the survivor’, there appears to have been a “lowering of the quality of candidates… (a hundred mediocre analysts according to Lacan) … a stampede to avoid the threat of the Red Peril”, whilst at the same time, understood as a function of an ‘identification with the oppressor’, the IPA having been “persecuted”, now operates it’s own forms of persecution by a campaign of normalisation. The homosexual, the non-conformist, the marginal are all to be extruded. Roudinesco in her biography of Lacan underscores that a crucial element that drives his teaching is the belief that “the modern post-Aushwitz world has repressed, overlaid and broken the essence of the Freudian revolution”. This is all in the direction of the thesis that unwittingly, partly an effect of ignorance of it’s own history, psychoanalysis can only restage this interminable transmission of the constituting errors and influences from generation to generation…in other words appears unable to avoid engaging in the dead hand of the compulsion to repeat. But as La Rochefoucauld pointed out death, like the sun, can never be looked in the eye. Or as Sinclair says of the M25 effect “the sky looks like something seen from the inside of a dirty milk bottle.”