“The psychoanalytic subject in the maze: constructions in analysis”
Miami beach, January 18-20, 2019

Argument, Clinical Study Days 12: “The Psychoanalytic Subject in the Maze: Constructions in Analysis”

Lacanian Compass

January 18-20, 2019

For Clinical Study Days 12, we will take up the theme of “The Psychoanalytic Subject in the Maze: Constructions in Analysis.”  The word construction is of course a common word, familiar to us all, and one that Freud appropriated for one of his final texts, “Constructions in Analysis.”  In this text, Freud starts by drawing a distinction between interpretation — of some unconscious formation — and construction — of the repressed history of the patient.  Freud also vacillates through the text on the status of the knowledge at stake in our work as psychoanalysts, ultimately ending at the point at which he states that the impactful use of a construction in a case, if held to with conviction by the analysand herself (and he offers one of his most elegant arguments in “Constructions” on how to assess the value of the intervention of the analyst), has the same value as the factual truth of the history of the analysand.

So, with Freud’s text in mind, as well as the two readings of “Constructions in Analysis” offered by Jacques-Alain Miller — “E=UWK” and “Marginalia to ‘Constructions in Analysis'” — talks that will have their quarter century anniversary at the time of our Study Days in 2019, we propose for our participants the following questions that we would like cases to address:

What do we construct in our conduct of the psychoanalytic case?  For Freud, it seems like something of a narrative, a narrative to tell the story of that which is repressed (especially primal repression) and not accessible to the analysand.  Miller, in the classical psychoanalytical clinic of neurosis at least, points us in the direction of the object a (fundamental fantasy) or the signifier of the lack in the Other, S(A/), something to be constructed, we might say.  In this case, are these mathemes constructed by the analysand or by the psychoanalyst?  And, further, as Miller notes, Lacan really does not use this concept of construction much at all in his work, but proposes we view the Lacanian structure itself as a form of construction.

And what about psychosis, or at least classical or extraordinary psychosis?  If knowledge, at least in the classical clinic, is supposed in a subject to whom the analysand addresses his suffering, in psychosis, the knowledge is held by the analysand himself.  Can we not, thus, view the delusion itself, as articulated by the analysand, as the construction of the case, a part of the process of the cure, as Freud put it?  And, indeed, several paragraphs of Freud’s “Constructions” are addressed to the relationship between delusion and construction.  Do we find this in our cases?

But, in this moment of the aggiornamento of the Lacanian orientation, we find that our old diagnostic categories are not so useful, or even the concept of a diagnostic category itself.  The blueprints, as it were, that we would take from case to case are no longer worth anything beyond the one construction for which they were first sketched.  In this era of a singular practice, without universal rules, what now is the status of a construction?  Is it the unique knotting of the sinthome that defines the construction of our time?  Or — is it the way in which, following Miller’s work in Being and the One, we must cut through the Being of each speaking being to find that One that exists for each?  Or, will our constructions be more like installations in the art world–not a permanent work in an established form, but unique and un-replicable, each one different in form from another (say, for example, a construction that includes a dream fragment, a piece of memory, an interpretation, some unconscious formation, and a matheme — all put together in a singular way)?  In any case, whatever the form, who is doing the constructing now–the analysand or the psychoanalyst?  Certainly, one other approach might be to abandon construction itself in an era without rules, but is that even possible?

We also want to query the ways in which a construction develops in a case.  How are these put together?  How are they put into play in the sessions themselves?  How do they drive the act of the analyst?  We might further elaborate on the proposition that one of the main roles of supervision is the supervision of the construction of the case.  How, in your cases, has supervision played a role in the construction of the case?

What about case presentations in our work together in a School?  How do we articulate the work of a case presentation and the relationship of that to the construction of a case?

And, finally, with regard to pure psychoanalysis–what might we say about Miller’s recent work on the escabeau with regard to construction?  Are our Testimonies not themselves construction documents, and the escabeau on which they are delivered not construction sites, in which the case is actively assembled before us?  Well, if the Pass is the passage from analysand to analyst, can we look at the Pass Testimonies as the moment when analysand become analyst through the construction of their own case, taking on the task of construction of their own cases?

These are the questions that will guide our work over the next year in preparation for the Study Days.  We also want these questions to orient the case presentations and discussion in our next Clinical Study Days.