The real of psychoanalysis

The non-relation is the real of psychoanalysis. Let us not forget that the sexual non-relation is based on a non-relation of words, which is prior to it and supports it. There is no relation between the sexes because there is no name that writes jouissance in one of them.

It is a way of saying that castration is the hole, as vertiginous as it is irremediable, between S1 and S2. This is the constitutive failure of the psychic, a hole that aspires in pushing the search for a singular symptomatic treatment.

At a minimum, the first knotting produced by an infans is the knot of language. Entering the world of words is to include oneself, not without the body, in the task of making sense of the enjoyed sounds of lalangue. Speaking is both pleasure and work, the work of including oneself in the machine for the production of meaning that is the Other.

There is no progress here. This fault is given, although the ways of failing are diverse. The Other changes, but this real does not.

The swarm of gender

The paternal decline combined with the advance of science and the push of the market produced a kind of perfect storm, a generalized disorientation. The fall of the father shattered the binary order that is sustained by the exception. But that has long been behind us, the production of new forms of symptom takes time.

Without a Moses separating the waters – on one side the girls, on the other the boys – subjects find themselves a little bit more alone in situating themselves at the crossroads that push them, from their own body and from the Other, to choose. And the models as well as the pushes for this choice multiply.

LGTBI is a master signifier of the times, announcing the shattering of gender. It is not an S1 in the sense of a symptom, it does not call for interpretation, because it is not a question but an answer. LGTBI is an example of what Lacan calls a “swarm.” It is offered not as a unitary pole of identification but rather as a multiple offer in the market of identities.

But what the market offers it really demands, and faced with this demand, subjects must find a way of situating themselves. The problem is that there are subjects who need some protection while elaborating their response. This is something that we see increasingly in trans children. With Freud analysts think that a child is not the same as an adult, but the Moses who separated these waters has also succumbed to a large extent.

Since children are now consumers with full rights, they are exposed to having to respond to market requirements, such as their parents’ fantasies, directly, with hardly any mediation, and especially without the help of the pact that reserved a place of protection apart for children.

Beyond binarism, the parlêtre

In consultation we receive subjects who navigate, sometimes with surprising naturalness, in this swarm of genders, that we could describe as fluid. They are natives of an era when phenomena are not fixed by binary definitions. As Lacanians this is something that should not take us by surprise because it is one of the consequences of the regime of jouissance as feminine.

The regime of feminine jouissance does not refer to the jouissance that women experience, as sometimes understood, but to the jouissance that remains outside the binary functioning of the signifying chain and that is present in bodies. It is a jouissance that exists because it escapes, and in which you have to consent to believe, something that does not always happen. Unlike the logic that governs the subject, this jouissance experienced by the parlêtre is not limited by the phallus. The phallus does not limit or define it, but a reading of Encore shows that this jouissance of the phallus is necessary as a reference, as a starting point if you like.

The so-called “genders” are for some subjects a subjective and social locator. For psychoanalysis this term locates an attempt to make a link between a parlêtre and their body as sexed. From the Lacanian orientation, this LGTBI swarm reveals that we are no longer in the time of great solid identifications and their fringes, but that we are rather in the age of swarms, of multiple, unstable and inconsistent solutions.

The swarm is the modality of S1 in the epoch of the zenith of the object: in it you can live without the father, but not without the swarm. Flotation and debility are marks of liquid castration.

A livable castration

The neurotic defends himself against castration because he is a believer of the phallus. The AS, someone who is analyzed, shall we say, knows that the phallus is a semblant, like the father, knows that not all the letters of the alphabet could write the sexual relationship, but above all knows, with Lacan, that castration is not a fantasy. If castration does not serve to situate some borders, it is no different from the superego.

Let’s put it like this: there is no biological or cultural sexuation; what there is is a push of language to have to situate oneself in the vertigo of the hole between S1 and S2. The one who is analysed is the one who has consented to be sexuated with castration. Sexuation is situating oneself in relation to castration, one’s own and above all that of the Other. It is consenting to the choice of a modality of castration that is liveable. That is why sexuation is not to be confused with stitching up a body with some signifiers at hand.

The non-relation that we referred to at the beginning is not flotation or undifferentiation. The non-relation includes radical alterity, even that of one’s own body when it is revealed in its not-so-own face. But if the process of sexuation is confused with the (supposed) choice of gender, this dimension of alterity is eluded and crushed in being reduced to an identity with oneself.

New changes await us at the moment when humanity is on the point of being able to reproduce without passing via sexual difference. We psychoanalysts will also have to find our way around these developments, they are subjects of our competence and the ethics of psychoanalysis asks us not to ignore them.

With the instruments that are our own we must enter this conversation of civilization, even producing it appropriate, in order to civilize it if necessary. Against the deadly madness, the vital weakness.

And love? Love is our main instrument. Without love no conversation is possible or oriented.


Translated by Roger Litten