It is only by pushing the impossible into its last defenses that impotence takes the power to make the patient turn into the agent. [1] Jacques Lacan



When sanitary measures forced us to set up “home offices” I had no doubts about the fidelity this type of practice had with regards to our ethics; and as Lacan says: “No, I will not say what the name of the father is, precisely because I am not part of the University discourse.”[2]. In fact, it is not a problem of the analytic discourse to say what it is and what it is not, but to reveal the consequences of its act.

My concern was, rather, to carry on with the research of the means available to the analyst in order to push the impossible to its last defenses without being numbed by the murmuring voice on the telephone or the flashing image on the screen. In that regard, the work with each patient and on every occasion started taking different approaches: sometimes requesting that the camera be turned off or on, or the microphone be muted, or the volume turned up. I would pull my image off the screen or use it in theatrical performing ways. I would plan the background frame for the video call (would it be a window, a wall, a bookcase…?) It is our art to know how to lend ourselves without any ideas of grandeur[3], says Miller. However, the question does not end there.

I say “carry on with the research” because the dilemma that traverses clinical practice in every circumstance has to do with this question: where is it appropriate for the analyst to push the impossible so as not to become an obstacle that would prevent the quarter-turn shift that would result in the passage from analysand to analyst to occur?; and since online or phone practice has been so favorable in the re-doubling of meaning, I find it an interesting opportunity to focus on that matter.

It is precisely in the search for a way out of the spiral of meaning that Lacan suggested to push the analytical experience to the edges of the irreducible opacity in the relationship of the subject with “lalangue”. In this way, from the 1970s onwards, Lacan warns us that nothing works then but the signifying misunderstanding[4]. Obviously, always inscribing this operation within a certain logic so as not to fall into stupidity.

Thus, equivocation, jaculation, poetry, all will be tools for a clinical practice that, guided by the real, demands from the analyst the effort of shaking off the lullaby of meaning and focusing on the “moteriality[5]” of their patient’s discourse, be it in the office, over the phone, or even by e-mail, as it is well demonstrated by some testimonies of the Pass[6].

It is an effort because it goes against that passion for giving meaning: a condition of human nature, a nature of which a psychoanalyst is also constituted.

I find Lacan’s words resounding here when he states that the clinical practice is “the Real as that which is impossible to bear[7]“. Well, that “impossible” to bear that the analyst finds in clinical practice, and which has to do with their own neurotic condition (the analyst’s), is also pushed to its last defenses.

It happens that the analytical practice involves a subjective readiness that is almost unintelligible to anyone who has not found their cause in this experience.

Those who, from an “impure” desire, are prepared to let themselves be taken by the transference, will have to “famillionairize” themselves with an “impossible” of two types: the one that involves the patient and the one that involves themselves as analysts, and they should also know that it is by carrying these two types of impossible that the possibility of an invention, of a new nomination, of the utmost difference or the most original way out comes to light and grants access to a unique savoir-y-faire. Only in this way it is possible to understand what Lacan says when he states that Psychoanalysis is the artificial lung thanks to which one tries to find jouissance in speech so that history will continue[8].




[1] Lacan, J., Seminar XVII, The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, [Spanish edition], p. 468.

[2] Ibid., p. 15.

[3] Miller, Jacques-Alain,  Efectos terapéuticos rápidos [Rapid Therapeutic Effects], Paidos, Bs. As., 2005, p. 105.

[4] Lacan, J., “L’Etourdit”, Otros Escritos, Paidós, Bs. As.,  2012, p. 483.

[5] Play of words between mot (‘word’ in French) and materiality.

[6] For example, in her first testimony presented in Ghent in September 29, 2019, Florencia F.C. Shanahan recounts that after her second last session she sent an e‑mail to her analyst to tell him that she had forgotten her lighter on the couch. The answer also arrived in writing: two words that rushed her back with urgency: “on fire”. The next session was the last one and the one that precipitated her Pass. Cf., The Lacanian Review, Issue 9, May 2020.

[7] Lacan, J., “Ouverture de la Section clinique”, Ornicar? n° 9, ECF, Paris, April 1977, p. 14.

[8] Lacan, J., Statement in France-Culture for the XXVIII International Congress of Psychoanalysis (1973). Le coq-héron, N˚46/47, Paris, 1974, p. 7.