The best representation of Hell that I have seen is from Lucifer, a Netflix TV show. The plot is as follows: Lucifer got bored on Hell and decided to go to Los Angeles in human form.

His brothers, some angels still obedient to his Father, come to the rescue trying to bring him back to his place; Lucifer refuses since he never choose to be there, and now he has decided to make his own choices, despite “what Father might want.” The core of his argument is that no one actually knows “what Father wants… you guys just interpret whatever you think He wants.” In addition, Lucifer doesn’t hesitate to show his discomfort with his misrepresentation. He thinks he has been vilified, since he only “punishes” the bad people, as opposed to his Dad who does whatever He wants regardless. Lucifer’s power: he makes people to tell him their most dark and hidden desires, especially those that they don’t know they have. The only person that doesn’t fall for this is the girl that he likes. His “mojo” doesn’t work on her. Things got complicated when he started to have “feelings” for a mortal female because Lucifer doesn’t understand that thing that humans call love. He decided to start therapy (with a very particular therapist). But yes, the Devil goes to therapy only to find out that answers are also a matter of choices.

But what is Hell? Hell is made of separate rooms in which each one of the condemned is repeating nonstop the scene from their lives that made them feel most guilty. They know that they are repeating and try to stop it, but the loop goes on for eternity, regardless of their consciousness of it, regardless of any effort to change either the scene or the final result. This is Hell… Sounds familiar?

We do know that Hell doesn’t exist as proposed within the religious discourse, but we could use the metaphor to talk about the toll that the superego and repetition takes in neurosis. The nonstop loop is the “tragedy” of neurosis. Dassen (1998) in the Third section, “From Tragedy to Comedy,” of the “Preface to The Bone of an Analysis,” a Seminar of Jacques-Alain Miller, suggests: “The neurotic is the one who is a victim of himself in his own mortification, inasmuch as he can only make the Other know about his jouissance by sacrificing himself to the Other, and this excess is always mortifying. If there is a small tragedy of the neurotic, it is that he cannot yet make his excess a way of jouissance, or make the Other a means of his jouissance, he only makes the Other an entity that enjoys him, that is the fundamental phantasy itself.”[1]

If we follow this proposal, one could say that psychoanalysis could end or at least mitigate this loop. The mechanism of repetition feeds itself with the aggressivity of the superego and with the ferocity of jouissance. Since Freud, it is well known that “there is some progress in repetition” paradoxically, this “progress” is precisely what makes it go on and on . . . it is what Dassen (1998) proposes when she says: “The fundamental phantasy is in solidarity with mortification, it does not inscribe the way in which the body as a jouissance substance is the singular way in which the parlêtre was affected by language.”[2] The fundamental fantasy feeds the mechanism of repetition, Hell’s loop of neurosis. This Hell, this mortification results because “The fundamental phantasy only has jouissance of the body, renegade of the signifier’s mark on it; if you want, it is a jouissance without love. It only speaks of a remainder of jouissance, the object a, that comes to plug the fault, the minus phi.”[3]

We could say that psychoanalysis ends up making you ask the question that Lucifer Morningstar always asks: what is your most obscure and hidden desire? But with a little twist: what is the jouissance that makes you who or what you are, even when you don’t have a clue about it?

The jouissance that makes you what you are is at stake in the pass. A testimony of the pass is a testimony precisely if something of this “it” is transmitted and is able to demonstrate how the repetition has ceased, and how the tragedy become closer to comedy.  As Dassen (1998) suggests, “To become a mode of jouissance in the end of analysis is on the side of comedy, not tragedy. To stop carrying the stone is to make that stone that each one of us is, to transpose it as a cause of jouissance, to make it the extimate. If the crossing of all the other stones of a psychoanalysis, pointed out by Miller, consists of a disinvestment, the last stone of this path is an investiture.” What identifies you is the jouissance that found you at the end of a psychoanalytic experience when it is taken until its final consequence: the Sinthome.

But it is not enough. It is up to us not to let psychoanalysis fall into a loop itself; maybe that is why Jacques-Alain Miller insists on the logic and the experience of the pass: “That insistence itself speaks of an obstacle, a hard stone that is the stone of dogma, the most anti-analytic one, the one that does not let us reinvent the pass, which is a way of not being able to reinvent psychoanalysis, a continuous task to which, Lacan said, the analysts are forced.”[4]


[1] Translation not reviewed by the author. Original Seminar El Hueso de un Análisis by Jacques-Alain Miller, p 6-7.

[2] Idem.

[3] Idem.

[4] Idem.