None of this should lead us to lose sight however, of the fact that transference as a universal has singularity built into it, according it the status of psychoanalysis’s version of what is known in physics as a ‘universal variable’: it is an empty designator; a hollow sheaf; the hole at the centre of psychoanalytic theory indicating the non-place of psychoanalysis’s failure to coincide with itself and the blank around which analytic theory-praxis is organised, mirroring the non-(self)-coincidence of the ego. The manifestation of transference is a singularity that participates only in its own singularity; in transference, what is universal is precisely the guarantee that every time it will be singular, that each instance of transference will be different. This, then, is one of the primary tasks of an analysis: to elucidate and dissolve these manifestations, unique to each treatment. But how is this to be done? Beginning to sketch an answer to this question will constitute the final part of this paper. 

In the consulting room—all being well with the treatment, of course—transference enables the analyst to grasp the singular non-(self)-coincidence of the patient as universal and, qua universal, as a singular nothingness. The patient, however, experiences the inverse: they grasp themselves as complete inasmuch as, in their stoking of the transferential fires, they a(void) their void by discharging it onto the analyst or the analytic situation, leaving them with a comfort in their (illusory) sense of self-consistency. Now up to this point, we have been discussing the universal-singular as the non-(self)-coincidence of the ego. We have argued that the ego fails to correspond to itself provoking anxiety leading to transference, or the a(void)ance of incompleteness by the (re)location of egological gaps onto the figure of the analyst. In order for us to fully indicate the importance of non-(self)-coincidence however, we must now gesture towards the manner in which our discussion relates to the unconscious; since, as we have seen, the work of Freud aims at delineating a savoir-faire within the non-place of the egological gap as such, reconstructing the excluded ‘other scene’ by engaging the challenge of landscaping a non-egological terrain of knowledge-praxis. Psychoanalysis aims, in other words, at being a discourse and treatment that operates in the domain of the unconscious. 

It might be suggested that the positive phenomenological expression, in the clinic, of the existence of the unconscious, is found whenever the work knocks up against egological gaps – either the patient’s or the analyst’s – most recognisably in the well-known paraplexical forms but, also, in a slightly different register, in other obstacles in the work itself, frequently underpinned by fantasies regarding the analytic situation held by either the patient or the analyst. Now, the unconscious, from this point of view, just is the ego’s non-coincidence with itself: this clarifies why transference takes place unbeknownst to the patient. The elucidation of the unconscious as subsisting in the spaces of the non-(self)-coincidence of the ego, the sites of failed egological attempts to sustain a seamless fabric of perception and understanding about itself and the world, points us to perhaps the most famous statement from Freud’s key metapsychological paper on the unconscious, in which this is characterised by something entirely alien to the linear-logic of the ego: ‘exemption from mutual contradiction, primary process (mobility of cathexes), timelessness, and replacement of external by psychical reality’ (S.E. 14: 187). There is a negative theology in operation here; the unconscious is posited as functioning in accordance to a set of governing principles that are the obversion of egologic. This would suggest, then, a dialectical interaction between ego and unconscious. Where ego and unconscious are the inverse of one another, the conditions of each other’s possibility, they also constitute each other’s blind spots. 

Thus, where the ego fails to correspond to itself, we speak of the unconscious; however, where the unconscious fails to meet itself, we speak of the ego. So, we can now see that if the ego misses itself by being universally-singular, the unconscious misses itself as singularly-universal, and these two terms stand in a non-reciprocal dialectical relation. In relation to neurotic suffering, this formulation permits a reading of the famous Freudian maxim, ‘Wo Es war, soll Ich werden’. The aim of the treatment is not, as the trite reception of this statement would have it, for the ego to usurp the unconscious, superseding and supplanting it. On the contrary: the task of analysis is to enable the ego to perceive how the very conditions of its possibility consist in the non-place of its failure to coincidence with itself, i.e. in its nothingness, or lack. Or, to put it more succinctly: part of the analytic endeavour is for the ego to gradually grasp that, without the unconscious, there would be no ego at all and to learn to tolerate the anxiety this produces.