Although it is believed that love makes one, because its essence is fundamentally narcissistic, Freud did not remain completely satisfied, and Lacan even less. Neither of them conformed to the idea that love is only something symbolic and imaginary, and each in their own way understood that love is directed towards the other’s being.  This “being of the other” is a truly strange affair, because it seems that in practice it is not very easy to love. The other’s being doubtlessly attracts us, pricks our curiosity, even excites us, but it is not certain that we can bear it for a long time. This is why love seeks to tear apart, possess or at times annihilate the being that it supposes in the other, which leads us to frequently end up in the register of hate. For psychoanalysis, there is no love without hate, even if hate can be very well hidden behind love – a little larva.

It is an error to believe that all men who kill women are men who do not love them. On the contrary: some love them too much, and for this reason endure so badly not knowing what they keep inside. The fatal misunderstanding is that the women give a different meaning to this “too much” and confuse it with “a lot”. Love is something that cannot be reduced to enchantment, narcissistic fascination, to the good. Instead, it retains an intimate link with jouissance, with what is most properly libidinal in the subject. In psychoanalysis, we have to familiarise ourselves with the idea, complex and paradoxical, that love can be both a brake on jouissance and a way of exacerbating it. We have here the example of Medea.

A different case was that of Alcestis, which certainly did attain to a truly sublime level, and reminds us of the extremes that a woman can go to in her devotion to the man she loves: nothing less than offering herself to die in his place. We are dealing with a quality of feminine love that traverses the line of time and the ages, remaining unaltered in the actuality of our century. Because if we do not want the psychoanalytic discourse to become entangled in psychology and sociology, we must keep present the fact that sexuation is something very distinct from the constitution of sexual roles as social or cultural constructions, which of course have undergone and will undergo all kinds of changes. On the level of sexuation, woman shows signs of being referred to a jouissance that points to the infinite (which does not mean that it is infinite, even if some psychoanalysts get very enthusiastic about this idea, which only demonstrates that being a psychoanalyst does not stop one believing in all kinds of things), and of this there is not even the slightest hint of change. Beyond the transformations of women on the social level, it is probable that many of them continue to love like their Greek predecessors.

When we speak of women’s love, we tend to think generally of love in the couple, whether hetero or homosexual, and we forget another aspect that every day acquires a greater importance: love for the child. In a world and an age in which amorous relations suffer from all kinds of vicissitudes linked to the desacralization of the institution of marriage, only the child continues to be a fixed partner, the partner who subsists beyond all sentimental ruptures, and whom as a general rule (with all its legitimate exceptions) women resist renouncing. As the sociologist Elisabeth Beck says, the relation with the child becomes the last primary, irrevocable and non-exchangeable relation that remains. At least for the moment, we should add. Despite the decrease of the number of births in the Western world, the importance conferred on the child is ever increasing. “His majesty the child” has overthrown “His majesty the man”, and this is why women spare no effort to procure one, by whatever method. If God doesn’t send it, then let it be assisted. But let it arrive!


Translated by Roger Litten