Autumn Term 2023
7, 14, 21 October 2023
Jean Laplanche and the Sexual
In this block of three seminars, we will take the opportunity to read some key texts by Jean Laplanche that will hopefully serve as an introduction and encouragement to further exploration of his invigorating body of work.
The consistent task of Laplanche’s interventions into psychoanalytic debates was to recover, and restore to prominence, those vital aspects of Freudian thinking that Laplanche considered Freud himself and many of those after him went ‘astray’ from. These are those facets of unprecedented discovery, innovation in method or novelty of insight that mark psychoanalysis out as a genuine break or rupture with preceding and, indeed, succeeding, accounts of human intersubjectivity.
Laplanche contended that, in considerable part, much of the history of psychoanalysis is the history of the repression of what is most ground-breaking in Freud. It is the history of Freud’s radicalism being increasingly buried under the sedimentation of tepid perspectives that lapse back into normatively conformist and comfortably familiar pre-psychoanalytic notions. A history that defangs Freud of his most acutely unsettling and incisive moments or elides the Freudian project in favour of ‘new’ theories that, although psychoanalytic in name, are in fact adjacent or even antithetical to it. Working against the grain of these ‘goings astray’, beginning with Freud himself but tracible through Attachment Theory and Object Relations Theory, Kleinianism and post-Kleinianism, Ego Psychology and up to and including the currently much hyped ‘Relational Turn’ of our contemporary moment, Laplanche instead endeavoured to retrieve from Freud a set of ‘new foundations’ for psychoanalysis that were simultaneously philosophically exacting, textually faithful and felicitous to the clinical experience.
We cannot survey all of Laplanche’s ‘faithful infidelity’ to Freud in three seminars. Instead, we will consider a handful of his presently less well-known late texts, that speak to aspects of currently emotive and divisive disputes surrounding gender and sexuality, as a means of introducing some of the most indispensable concepts organising his thinking. In particular, we will pay attention to the contrast between ‘Ptolemian’ and ‘Copernican’ approaches to theory building in psychoanalysis; the category of the enigmatic message and psychoanalysis as a process of ‘translation’, ‘de-translation’ and ‘re-translation’; the distinction between ‘drive’ and ‘instinct’ and
the notion of ‘propping’ or ‘leaning-on’; the Fundamental Anthropological Situation; infantile sexuality and the expanded field of the ‘sexual’; the General Theory of Seduction and the question of differential diagnosis in psychoanalysis; ‘implantation’ and ‘intromission’; Nachträglichkeit, ‘après-coup’ or ‘afterwardsness’ and the psychoanalytic philosophy of time – especially how a properly psychoanalytic theory of temporality subverts normative and naively empirical accounts of human maturation and ‘development’.
Saturday 7 October 2023
– Laplanche, J. (2011 ). ‘Sexuality and Attachment in Metapsychology’, in Freud and the Sexual, trans. House, J., The Unconscious in Translation.
– Laplanche, J. (2011 ). ‘Starting from the Fundamental Anthropological Situation’, in Freud and the Sexual, trans. House, J., The Unconscious in Translation.
Saturday 14 October 2023
– Laplanche, J. (2011 ). ‘Three Meanings of the Term “Unconscious” in the Framework of the General Theory of Seduction’, in Freud and the Sexual, trans. House, J., The Unconscious in Translation.
– Laplanche, J. (1999 ) ‘Implantation, Intromission’, in Essays on Otherness, trans. Fletcher, J., Routledge.
Saturday 21 October 2023
– Laplanche, J. (2011 ). ‘Gender, Sex and the Sexual’, in Freud and the Sexual, trans. House, J., The Unconscious in Translation.
– Laplanche, J. (2011 ). ‘Incest and Infantile Sexuality’, in Freud and the Sexual, trans. House, J., The Unconscious in Translation.
Additional Reading and Supporting Texts
The clearest and most thorough general introduction to Laplanche’s thought, remains John Fletcher’s 1999 introductory chapter to Essays on Otherness, ‘Psychoanalysis and the Question of the Other’. Essays on Otherness also contains many key papers from Laplanche’s middle period. A widely anticipated recent study Exigent Psychoanalysis: The Interventions of Jean Laplanche, by Gila Ashtor, was published in 2022 by Routledge and helpfully situates Laplanche in relation to enduring preoccupations in recent and contemporary American psychoanalysis. Dominique Scarfone’s 2015 Laplanche: An Introduction, beautifully translated by Dorothée Bonigal-Katz and published by The Unconscious in Translation, presents Laplanche within the context of Francophone psychoanalysis
28 October & 4 November
Lacan & Race
We will explore two perspectives on Lacan and Race/Racism.
Sheldon George’s Trauma and Race will provide us with an introduction to how Lacanian Psychoanalysis can understand the phenomena of Racism today, focusing on Alterity and Jouissance and Kareen Malone and Tiara Jackson’s Afropessimism, anti-blackness and Lacanian psychoanalysis which asserts that the work of the clinic itself must be reenvisioned to account for race. They stage a conversation between Lacanian psychoanalysis and Afropessimism to think through anti-blackness and its relationship to the Lacanian registers of the Symbolic, the real and the Imaginary.
Week 1 – 28th October 2023
George, Sheldon. “Trauma and Race: A Lacanian Study of African American Racial Identity” introduction: Race Today, Alterity and Jouissance, Baylor University press, 2016 ISBN: 978-1-4813-0565-5 (searchable PDF will be available via dropbox link)
Week 2 – 4th November 2023
George, Sheldon and Hook, Derek. “Lacan and Race: Racism Identity and Psychoanalytic Theory” Chapter 11, Dereliction: Afropessimism, anti-blackness and Lacanian psychoanalysis. Routledge 2022. ISBN: 978-0-429-32679-0 (ebk) or ISBN: 978-0-367-34597-6 (pbk) (searchable PDF will be available via dropbox link)
11 & 25 November, 2 & 9 December
Procreation and Perversion
In these seminars we will explore psychoanalytical, philosophical texts and poetry in a quest to uncover the vicissitudes of love.
Book 1 Freud’s Papers on Technique 1953-1954
The Seminar of Jacques Lacan
XVII. The object relation and the intersubjective relation
Being and Time
Division 1, 111. The Worldhood of The World
23 The Spatiality of Being-in-the-world (text to be supplied)
Love and it’s Vicissitudes
André Green and Gregorio Kohon
Observations on Transference-Love
L H K links in
Elements of Psychoanalysis
A Lover’s Discourse
The Phoenix and the Turtle
Poetry of your choice
You could also look at The Bonds of Love by Jessica Benjamin, Chapter Two, Master and Slave
and The Psychic Life of Power by Judith Butler
18 & 19 November
Against Self-Criticism: a Buddhist reading of Adam Phillip’s seminal paper
“…how has it come about that we are so bewitched by our self-hatred, so impressed and credulous in the face of our self-criticism, as unimaginative as it usually is? And why is it so akin to a judgement without a jury.” AGAINST SELF-CRITISCISM”, Adam Phillips, 2015
Failing to have what the Buddhist’s call Maitri, that is the inability to hold one’s own aliveness with kindness, respect and joyfulness, is a common source of great suffering. Most of us, even so called seasoned therapists and analysts, are only intermittently able to hold this view of themselves. We punish ourselves in anxiety and depression, self-harm and generally self-criticise, often finding refuge in the face of this onslaught only in over-indulging, playing the victim, and/or blaming. We can be caught up in this misery for a whole lifetime. This taught course is a chance to challenge habitually negative self-views by reconnecting with our own inherent sanity, an embodied sense of trust and self-worth.
The weekend is a chance to engage with Phillip’s paper, to practice meditation, to move, to enjoy meals together and to connect in experiential dyads.
Venue: The London Shambhala Meditation Centre in Clapham.
James O’Neill, is a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, Buddhist teacher and author of Undressing.
Jonathan Lewis, is a health coach specializing in movement and breathing practices for health, wellbeing and resilience. Jonathan is from Roots Movement and a Director at Balance Performance Physiotherapy in Clapham.
Julien Diaz, is a dancer, teacher and graduate of Ballet Rambert. He has spent over 20 years, helping people to develop a more sustainable, intelligent and nourishing relationship with their own bodies. Using movement and dance, to navigate emotional and physical blocks, and gain a healthy and more joyful relationship with the body.
Spring Term 2024
13, 20, 27 Jan
Sexuality Beyond Consent
New York University Press, 2023
In Essays on Otherness
Trauma, Subjectivity and Subjectality
American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 2021, available online on Springer Link
The Concept of Cumulative Trauma
In The Privacy of the Self
Rebecca May Johnson
Pushkin Press, 2022
Psychoses and Child Care 1952
In Through Paediatrics to Psychoanalysis
3, 10, 17, 24 February
Details to follow
2, 9, 16 March
Marion Milner’s case study, ‘The Hands of the Living God’
Details to follow
Summer Term 2024
20 & 21 April
Details to follow
27 April, 4, 11, 18 May, 1 June
Death and Temporality in Lacan, Kristeva and Laplanche
The aim of these seminars is to critically engage with Lacan’s, Kristeva’s and Laplanche’s attempts to reformulate the relations between the death drive, the timelessness of the unconscious, and the movement of temporalisation involve a psychoanalytic reworking of the Hegelian criticism of Heidegger’s account of death and temporality. However, in turning to Hegel’s dialectic of recognition as a counter to the individualism of the analytic of Dasein, they do not intend to replace the latter with the former. Rather, they hope that each problematic will work on the other, contributing to a broader rethinking of both their terms. Thus, by arresting the master-slave dialectic at the moment of misrecognition, they are able to conclude that if (according to Heidegger) temporality is tied existentially to the anticipation of death, and (according to Hegel) death comes from the other, so too must time: it is (mis)recognition which temporalises time out of the fear of death.
Heidegger – Death and Time
In this seminar we will critically evaluate Heidegger’s philosophical attempt to uncover the ‘meaning of being’ through the horizon of time, and how the horizon of time in turn is that of Dasein’s Zeitlichkeit, the structure of which is ‘care’, and which is most clearly illuminated in ‘anticipatory resoluteness’, or ‘freedom for death’.6 Death is my authentic possibility, and so reveals what possibility essentially is, thus illuminating the nature of time as that which makes possible any particular possibility.7 Authentic death, then, as disclosed in anticipatory resoluteness as my essential and singular possibility, both has a meaning and is a source of meaning: the meaning of time and being.
Heidegger, M. (1927). Sein und Zeit. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer. Translated as Being and Time. Trans. J. McQuarrie and E. Robinson. New York: Harper and Row, 1962.
Gaitanidis, A. (1999). “A Critical Examination of Heidegger’s ExistentialOntological Account of Death.” In Rob Weatherill (ed.) The Death Drive: New Life for a Dead Subject? London: Rebus Press, 1999, pp. 193206.
Hegel – The Dialectic of Recognition: Trial by Death
In this seminar we will examine how Hegel’s dialectic of recognition can be used to illustrate that as a self-interpreting, self-conscious being, Dasein’s individuality cannot be derived from its anticipation of death independently of its relations to others. Rather, Dasein must first, or simultaneously, be constituted as a self-conscious being through its relations with others, in a dialectic of recognition, in order that it may become the kind of being which is capable of anticipating its death as the end towards which it is thrown, and hence of constituting itself existentially as a Being-towards-death.
Hegel, G. W. F. (1807). The Phenomenology of Spirit. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.
Kojève, A. (1933-1939). Introduction á la Lecture de Hegel. Gallimard, Paris. Translated as Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit. Trans. J. H. Nichols. New York: Basic Books, 1969.
Lacan – Afterwardness and the Death Drive
In this seminar, we will consider how Lacan’s work on the mirror phase and the death drive seems to offer a psychoanalytic mediation of Heidegger’s and Hegel’s accounts of death and temporality. Thus, Lacan uses the idea of the death drive to provide the ontological ground for a death which is always symbolic, exploiting the structure of afterwardsness (Nachtraglichkeit) to explain the ‘lag’ between its role in the specular dialectic of the mirror phase as the source of the child’s fear of bodily damage, and the emergence of existential temporality for the child within the realm of the symbolic. The temporalisation of time for the child by the death drive, he argues, happens ‘afterwards’.
Lacan, J. (1948). ‘Aggressivity in Psychoanalysis’. In Écrits: A Selection. Trans. A. Sheridan. London: Tavistock, 1977, pp. 829.
Lacan, J. (1949). ‘The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the ‘I’ as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience.’ In Écrits: A Selection. Trans. A. Sheridan. London: Tavistock, 1977, pp. 17.
Lacan, J. (1953). ‘Function and Field of Speech in Psychoanalysis’. In Écrits: A Selection. Trans. A. Sheridan. London: Tavistock, 1977, pp. 30113.
Lacan, J. (195354). Seminar I: Freud’s Papers on Technique. Trans. J. Forrester. New York: Norton, 1988.
Lacan, J. (1964). The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. [Seminar XI]. Trans. A. Sheridan. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-analysis, 1977, & Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979.
Kristeva – Death, the Mother and the Imaginary Father
In this seminar, we will examine how Kristeva attempts to trace back the signification of death by an Imaginary Other (father) to the independence of the (m)other. It is the freedom of the (m)other, she argues, in the form of the possibility of the refusal of recognition, which brings death (and hence time) into the world of the child.
Kristeva, J. (1977). Desire in Language. A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art. Trans. T. S. Gora, A. Jardin, & L. S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982.
Kristeva, J. (1982). Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. Trans. L. S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press.
Kristeva, J. (1983). Tales of Love. Trans. L. S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987.
Laplanche – Timelessness, Death and the Unconscious
In this final seminar, we will discuss Laplanche’s assertions that the death drive and temporality are inextricably linked with the constant process of translating, de-translating, and re-translating of the (often unconscious) messages inherent in all human relations. On this model, primary repression is nothing other than an active expulsion of something from this constant process of unification, theorisation and temporalisation which is at work first in relation to messages from the outside, and subsequently in relation to what derives from the internal ‘other’. It is precisely such an expulsion which accounts for the timelessness of the unconscious. In this sense, the death drive is in effect that ‘pure culture’ of otherness that we detect in the deepest layers of the unconscious.
Laplanche, J. & Pontalis, J. B. (1967). The Language of Psychoanalysis. Trans. D. NicholsonSmith. London: Karnac Books, 1988.
Laplanche, J. (1976). Life and Death in Psychoanalysis. Trans. J. Mehlman. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Laplanche, J. (1989). New Foundations for Psychoanalysis. Trans. D. Macey. Oxford: Blackwell.
Laplanche, J. (1997). ‘The So-Called ‘Death Drive’: A Sexual Drive’. In R. Weatherill (ed.). The Death Drive: New Life for a Dead Subject? London: Rebus Press, 2000.
Laplanche, J. (1999). Essays on Otherness. Edited by J. Fletcher. London: Routledge.
8, 15, 22, 29 June
Details to follow