Guiding principles for any psychoanalytic act


Eric Laurent





At the WAP Congress in Comandatuba in 2004 the Delegate General presented a


“Declaration of Principles” to the General Assembly. This “Declaration” has


subsequently been carefully studied in the different Schools. The Councils have


communicated the outcomes of their studies, observations and remarks. Subsequent to


this work we now present, to the Assembly, this “ Guiding principles for any


psychoanalytic act” which we ask you to adopt.



First principle



Psychoanalysis is a practice of speech. It involves two partners, the analyst and the


analysand, brought together in a single psychoanalytic session. The analysand speaks


about what brings him there, his suffering, his symptom. This symptom is hooked into


the materiality of the unconscious, made out of things that have been said to the subject,


that have hurt him, and things that are impossible to say and cause him suffering. An


analyst will punctuate the words of the analysand and enable him to weave the thread of


his unconscious. The powers of language and the truth effects that it enables, what is


called interpretation, is the actual power of the unconscious. Interpretation is apparent on


both sides, analysand and analyst. They do not both have the same relation to the


unconscious, however, since one has already carried this experience through to the end


whereas the other has not.



Second principle



A psychoanalytic session is the place in which the most stable identifications by which a


subject is attached can come undone. A psychoanalyst will authorize this distance from


one’s customs, norms, and rules to which analysands constrains themselves outside of


sessions. He will authorize a radical questioning of the foundations of each one’s identity.


He is able to temper the radical nature of this questioning by taking into account the


clinical specificity of each subject who addresses himself to him. He takes nothing else


into account. This is what defines the specificity of a psychoanalyst’s place when he


upholds this questioning, opening and enigma in any subject who has sought him out. He


therefore does not identify with any of the roles that his interlocutor wants to make him


take on, nor with any place of mastery or ideal that already exists in civilization. In a


sense, an analyst is one who cannot be assigned to any other place than the place where


desire is in question.


Third principle


An analysand will address an analyst. He will attribute sentiments, beliefs, and


expectations as a reaction to what he says, and he wishes to act upon the beliefs and


expectations that he anticipates. The deciphering of meaning in the exchanges between


analysand and analyst is not the only thing at stake. There is also the speaker’s intention.


It is a matter of recuperating something lost from the interlocutor. This recuperation of an


object is the key to the Freudian myth of the drive. It founds the transference that binds


the two partners together. Lacan’s formula that the subject receives his own message


from the Other in inverted form includes both the deciphering and the wish to act upon


whom it is that one is addressing. Ultimately, when an analysand speaks he wishes,


beyond the meaning of what he says, to reach the partner of his expectations, beliefs and


desires in the Other. He aims at the partner of his fantasy. A psychoanalyst, enlightened


by analytic experience about the nature of his own fantasy, takes this into account. He


restrains from acting in the name of this fantasy.



Fourth principle



The transference bond presupposes a locus, the “locus of the Other”, as Lacan puts it,


which is not ruled by any other in particular. It is the locus in which the unconscious is


able to appear with the greatest degree of freedom to speak and, therefore, to experience


its lures and difficulties. It is also the locus in which the figures of a fantasy-partner can


be set out in the most complicated of their mirror games. This is why a psychoanalytic


session does not permit of any third person, with his gaze external to the actual process


that is underway. A third person will be reduced to this locus of the Other.


This principle therefore excludes the intervention of any authoritarian third parties


seeking to assign both a place to everyone and a pre-established aim for psychoanalytic


treatment. The authority of the evaluating third party, who fits into the series of third


parties, is affirmed from outside of what is at stake between an analysand, an analyst and


the unconscious.



Fifth principle



There is no standard treatment, no general procedure by which psychoanalytic treatment


is governed. Freud used the metaphor of chess to indicate that there were only rules and


typical moves at the beginning and the end of a game. To be sure, since Freud the


algorithms that have made it possible to formalize chess have grown in power. When


connected to the calculating power of a computer they make it possible for a machine to


beat a human player. This does not change the fact that, contrary to chess, psychoanalysis


cannot be presented in the form of an algorithm. We can see this in Freud himself who


transmitted psychoanalysis with the help of particular cases: the Rat Man, Dora, Little


Hans, etc. With the Wolf Man the case history entered a crisis. Freud was no longer able


to contain the complexity of the processes unfolding within the unity of a case. Far from


being able to be reduced to a technical procedure, the experience of a psychoanalysis has


only one regularity: that of the originality of a scenario through which all subjective


singularity emerges. Psychoanalysis is therefore not a technique but a discourse which


encourages each person to produce his singularity, his exception.



Sixth principle



The duration of a treatment and the unfolding of sessions cannot be standardized. The


duration of Freud’s treatments varied. There were treatments that lasted a single session,


as in the psychoanalysis of Gustav Mahler. There were also analyses that lasted four


months, as in the case of Little Hans, a year as in the Rat Man, several years as in the


Wolf Man. Since then the variation and the diversification have not stopped growing.


Moreover, the application of psychoanalysis outside the consulting room in mental health


settings has contributed to the variation in the duration of psychoanalytic treatment. The


variety of clinical cases and the variations in the age at which psychoanalysis has been


applied make it possible to consider that the duration of an analysis is now, at best,


defined as “tailor made”. An analysis continues to the point where the analysand is


sufficiently satisfied with what he has experienced to end his analysis. The aim is not the


application of a norm but an agreement on the part of the subject with himself.


Seventh principle



Psychoanalysis cannot decide what is aims are in terms of an adaptation of a subject’s


singularity to any norms, rules, determinations, or standards of reality. Psychoanalysis


has above all discovered any subject’s impotence to achieve full sexual satisfaction. This


impotence is designated by the term “castration”. Further, psychoanalysis, with Lacan,


has formulated that it is impossible for there to be any norm in the relation between the


sexes. If there is no satisfaction and if there is no norm, it is up to each person to invent a


particular solution, one that builds on his symptom. Each person’s solution can be more


or less typical, more or less established upon tradition and common rules. It may on the


contrary wish to draw upon rupture or a particular clandestinity. It remains no less true


that, at bottom, the relation between the sexes has no one solution “for all”. In this sense,


this relation remains marked with the seal of the incurable, and there will always be


something that fails. In speaking beings, sex stems from the “not all”.



Eighth principle



Analytic training cannot be reduced to the norms of university training or of the


evaluation of what has been acquired in practice. Analytic training, ever since it was


established as a discourse, rests on three legs: seminars of theoretical training (paraacademic);


the psychoanalyst in training’s undertaking a psychoanalysis to its endpoint


(from which flow the training effects); the pragmatic transmission of practice in


supervision (conversations between peers about practice). Freud at one stage believed


that it was possible to determine an a psychoanalytic identity. The very success of


psychoanalysis, its internationalization, the multiple generations that have followed one


another for over a century have shown how illusory this definition of a psychoanalytic


identity is. The definition of a psychoanalyst includes the variation in this identity. It is


this variation itself. The definition of a psychoanalysis is not an ideal, it includes the


history of psychoanalysis itself, and of what has been called psychoanalysis in the context


of distinct discourses.



The title of psychoanalyst includes contradictory components. It requires an academic,


university or equivalent, training, deriving from the general conferring of degrees. It


requires a clinical experience that is transmitted in its particularity under the supervision


of peers. It requires the radically singular experience of a psychoanalysis. The levels of


the general, the particular and the singular are heterogeneous. The history of the


psychoanalytic movement is a history of disagreements over and interpretations of this


heterogeneity. It forms a part of this Great Conversation of psychoanalysis which makes


it possible to state who is a psychoanalyst. This stating is brought about through


procedures in communities that are psychoanalytic institutions. A psychoanalyst is never


alone, he depends, as does a joke, on an Other who recognizes him. This Other cannot be


reduced to a normative, authoritative, regulatory, standardised Other. A psychoanalyst is


one who affirms that he has obtained from the psychoanalytic experience what he could


have hoped for from it and therefore that he has crossed over a “pass”, as Lacan called it.


Here he testifies to having crossed over his impasses. The interlocution by which he


wishes to obtain an agreement over this crossing over occurs in institutional settings.


More profoundly, it is inscribed within the Great Conversation between psychoanalysis


and civilization. A psychoanalyst is not autistic. He does not fail to address himself to the


benevolent interlocutor, enlightened opinion, which he wishes to move and to reach out


to, in favour of the cause of psychoanalysis.