After Freud pointed out that nothing can be killed in absentia or in effigy, Lacan insisted throughout his teaching that the cure requires a real presence, beyond the imaginary and symbolic body of the analyst. These two essential indications are of special relevance today.

They situate the analyst in a place where, in order to incarnate the Thing, he withdraws from symbolic communication. Thus, after having been the unconscious’ straw-man, he sets a limit to it. Whether it is in the form of the Borromean analysis, where each register limits the other two registers in their ever-possible expansion, or whether it is through his insistence on the non-existence of the sexual relation, Lacan always oriented analysis towards a radical impossibility, a fundamental objection to what can be said and to what can be imagined. The instrument of this operation is the analyst who, when he is real, is not connected to anything.[1] Being faithful to this orientation does not necessarily imply that the analyst must forsake any use of current means of communication. It only means that when he uses these tools, he must know what he is doing. For a chat is not a session.[2]

We could say that a session requires presence as such, whereas a chat requires connection. How can the analyst deal with this dimension of connection if, in order to incarnate a dimension of the real for his analysand, he must embody an absolute negativity in interlocution?[3] Do the means of tele-communication, which necessity might currently impose on us, lend themselves spontaneously to this embodiment of the non-relation, to this real of analytical abstinence? What we see is rather that they reserve no place to the ‘silence of the drives’, and that they support the delusion of the All-symbolic, the logic of the screen, and the psychology of ‘contact’.

The temporary use of these instruments may be necessary in some situations, but a conversation by these means can in no way replace the session based on the analytic discourse. It is in an interview that Jacques-Alain Miller gave for Libération in 1999 that we see the why of this formulated in the clearest way. “Seeing each other and talking to each other is not an analytical session. In the session, two are there together, synchronized, but they are not there to see each other, as shown by the use of the couch. Co-presence in flesh and blood is necessary, if only to bring about the sexual non-relation. If we sabotage the real, the paradox vanishes. All modes of virtual presence, however sophisticated, will stumble against this.”[4]



[1] “The Real doesn’t tie on to anything”, Jacques Lacan, Seminar 23, The Sinthome, Ed. J.-A. Miller, Transl. A. Price, Polity, 2016, p. 104.

[2] Caroz, Gil, Rappeler la psychanalyse, l’Hebdo-Blog 198, 6th April 2020,

[3] Miller, Jacques-Alain, L’orientation lacanienne, L’Expérience du réel, 13/01/1999 [Unpublished]. “C’est dans ce refus de répondre qui serait constitutif de la position de l’analyste qu’il faut comprendre qu’il (Lacan) voit une figure du réel. (…) Il viendrait incarner un non absolu dans la dimension de l’interlocution”. [“It is in this refusal to respond, which would be constitutive of the analyst’s position, that we must understand that he (Lacan) sees a figure of the real. (…) He would come to embody an absolute no in the dimension of interlocution ”].

[4] Miller, Jacques-Alain, The Couch, 21st Century, 3rd July 1999, . Anne Lysy recently reminded us of this text during a cartel whose working theme was ‘the presence of the body’.