Just like the analysand has to pay for his desire, the analyst needs to bring something to the table, as well. He, too, has to pay, to maintain his status as an analyst. “He pays in words, in his interpretations […].”[1] But he also pays by rejecting a certain order, by opening up the possibility of the exception.

Many institutions in Austria demand a stringent time management, between 45 and 50 minutes per session, as a common and standard practice. But what if the analyst questions this rule, if he decides to cut the session not because of the length of time, but because of the speaking of the analysand? Since Freud we know the unconscious belongs to a different realm than the dimension of time.[2]

Some might ask why would one attend a “short session” [la séance courte]? Jacques-Alain Miller gets to the point: “The term ‘short session’ would imply the existence of a longer or standardized session. But this is too short-sighted. We need to read la séance as something else, as something from the logic of “not all” [pas-tout]. La séance is without duration.”[3] The cut comes from a different place and so does its effect on the analysand.

Against all better judgement of institutional practicability, the analyst makes a cut. The analysand thus gets the chance of an analysis which opens up something, beyond the rigid conformity of 50 minutes, and beyond the continuous ticking of a clock. The analyst does this in order to ensure the ethical conditions of the analytical experience are guaranteed – at all costs. Lacan states that the analyst does not only pay with words but rather has “to risk his own skin”.[4] This risk also points to a certain responsibility. Clearly, there can be a comforting sense of convenience in every institutional system. Jacques-Alain Miller poses the question of whether today’s ethics of the psychoanalyst should be situated in opportunism?[5] After Lacan’s “excommunication” from the IPA (International Psychoanalytic Association), because he refused to discontinue sessions of variable duration, he rightfully exposed the politics of his and our time: “There is no satisfaction for the individual outside of the satisfaction of all.”[6]

The analyst surely has to pay, particularly if he speaks up against an established norm. By speaking up, the analyst gets into confrontation. He points out the importance of singularity, which marks the core of each and every psychoanalytic experience.

By openly refusing, by making room for the exception and ultimately for many exceptions, he risks his skin, risks everything, and, completely unironically, he even risks his place in the institution itself.

This is not an act of blind rebellion but rather an act of something else: it’s an act born out of the desire of the analyst.

[1] Lacan, J. “The Ethics of Psychoanalysis: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VII (1959-1960).” Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller. Translated by Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992, 291.

[2] Miller, J.-A. Die Erotik der Zeit und andere Texte über das Geniessen transl. By Mathias Althaler (2021): 199.

[3] Miller, J.-A. En Ligne avec Jacques-Alain Miller in L’École de la Cause freudienne. La Cause du Désir, 2013/3 N° 85: 8 –13.

[4] Lacan, J. “The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of Its Power.” Translated by Bruce Fink. In Écrits: The First Complete Edition in English, 489-542. New York: Norton, 2006.

[5] Miller, J.-A. Contradictions to Psychoanalytic Treatment. Translated by Bogdan Wolf in Psychoanalytic Notebooks, No. 4 (Spring 2000), 65-73.

[6] Lacan, J. “The Ethics of Psychoanalysis: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VII (1959-1960).” Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller. Translated by Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992, 292.