A psychoanalysis begins with an initial meeting between the analyst and the analysand which will determine the continuation of the process. It requires more than a tacit agreement between the two protagonists because it does not pertain to a legal contract, but to a form of consent to desire. For the analysand, to make the choice to enter into a speech which he will discover is Other to himself. This is what is at stake in the initial sessions.

On the side of the analyst, there is a desire at play too, that of responding to an uncertain demand and of precipitating it towards a desire for analysis. It is a question of projecting the analysand to his process of knowledge, of making it consistent, of rendering it necessary. Some analysands enter it with a palpable enthusiasm, a feeling of elation that should be received with caution.

Let us remember Freud who saw in transference-love a resistance to analysis. Others are suspicious or even doubtful, indicating that they are divided, because true speech produces symptoms. For the latter, the resistance to analysis indicates an Other of bad faith, or who deceives.

From too much sense to the enigma

Thus, the analytic rule established by Freud, according to which the patient has to surrender to free association, induces this consent to analysis. Today we forget this, since psychoanalysis is known as a treatment through speech, a talking cure.

The quarter turn that the analyst must make, is to render this free speech enigmatic. He must introduce mystery into speech. To give it consistency, to hook the passion for the truth in one case, to contain it in another; to dig into the intention of saying, to pierce the unsaid as mode of enjoyment. The analyst does not listen with the aim to understand the symptom, but to translate the lalangue of the subject. The etymological meaning of translating is to ”make something pass.” The analyst makes this lalangue pass onto the register of equivocation; whether it welcomes sense or not, this is not an objection, because it is a question of producing a rupture which opens the unconscious in the associative chain for the analysand: sometimes it goes past it, sometimes it goes through easily, like a letter in the post, according to the common expression. The value of the discovery comes not so much from the enjoy-meant (jouis-sens) it achieves, but from the effect of surprise that it allows.

Today’s analyst is indeed confronted with the fact that the main defense of the analysands is to announce that that they have already “analysed” their symptom, that they have already elaborated a knowledge of it around familiar psychoanalytic concepts. The failure of knowledge is commensurate with the excess of meaning, of sense, which clogs up the unknown. This plated knowledge, this meaning very quickly struck by its infantile logic, is what fixed the subject to his symptom, even to his destiny. The sense he put in there loops the symptom and outpasses it, symptom of a symptom.

Let us think of Lacan’s phrase ”the apex of meaning, […] is the enigma” [1] in order to make of interpretation an intrusion which restores to knowledge its value of foreignness. The stake is not to participate in the delusion of meaning but to cut it. Today’s analyst, if I may say so, must take into account this datum about meaning from the start of the analysis, not in order to deny it, but in order to hear it as a fixation of jouissance. He must recognise it as a production of knowledge by the analysand, constructed outside of the transference. What is at stake is a mortifying jouissance, into which it will be necessary to break.


Translated by Peggy Papada


Originally published in L’Hebdo-Blog, Nouvelle Série, 198, 5 Avril 2020. Available online.

[1] Lacan, J., “Introduction to the German edition of the first volume of the Écrits”, Autres écrits, Paris, Seul, 2001, p. 553.