IFS-003 | Chapter 1, Excommunication: The Main Points

In this episode, I cover the first chapter in Lacan's Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. Those concepts are: (1) the unconscious, (2) repetition, (3) transference, & (4) the drive.
There is a lot in this session/chapter of the seminar. What stands out as essential to me during this reading is three related threads. In this podcast, what I hope to do is explain these main points to you in a way that helps you engage in your own reading of the seminar. 
I'm not going to go into a lot of depth here. Rather, I'm going to try to point out what stands out to me as noteworthy and comment on these things. 

In this reading, four things really stood out to me: 
  • The Fundamentals | The base of psychoanalytic practice.
  • Psychoanalysis is a praxis | Theory is a compass, but a compass is a tool for moving/acting. The compass is not the action itself. 
  • Training/Formation of a psychoanalyst | Which is about desire. 
  • Psychoanalysis as a clinical practice | For Lacan, at this moment, all the above points come back to clinical practice. 
(1) The Fundamentals: 
Ladies and gentlemen, In this lecture , I shall be talking to you about the funmentals of psycho-analysis (p. 1). [...] All this concerns the base, [...] of my teaching (p. 2). I ask the question --What are the fundamentals, in the broad sense of the term, of psychoanalysis? Which amounts to saying --What grounds it as a practice? (p. 6). 
In these quotes, there are a few terms I want to call your attention to: 
  • The Fundamentals – of psychoanalysis 
  • The Base – of Lacan's teaching
  • What grounds – psychoanalysis as a practice
(2) Psychoanalytic Praxis: 
I am, in the present circumstances, still asking [...] what is psychoanalysis? (p. 3). 
I love that Lacan is asking himself this! I think this is a question everyone interested in psychoanalysis should always be asking, in particular those who are practicing analysts. 
Soon after this, Lacan says that psychoanalysis is a praxis. 
What is a praxis? [...] It is in the broadest term to designate a concerted human action, whatever it may be, which places man [a psychoanalyst] in a position to treat the real by [through] the symbolic. The fact that in doing so he encounters the imaginary to a greater or lesser degree is only of secondary importance here (p.6) 
(3) The Formation/Training of Psychoanalysts:
To start off, I want to tell you about a distinction that exists in my head when I read this. The difference between training and formation.
  • Training is based on standards & rules, it has an end. 
  • Formation is based on principles, it is ongoing. 
On page 9 of the text, Lacan says that he wants to focus on what a training analysis seeks...
What is the analyst's desire?  
This question is italicized in the text, so I suspect Lacan emphasized it when he spoke. He follows asking this question by saying,
What must there be in the analyst's desire for it to operate in a corect way? (p. 9) [T]he training analysis has no other purose than to bring the analyst to the point I designate in my algebra as the analyst's desire. 
This is a huge point. 

(4) All of this has to do with the clinical practice of psychoanalysis 
Throughout this chapter, I think there is an important claim being made, sometimes implicitly, but here I think Lacan makes it more explicit --while psychoanalysis can be studied as a theory, it was created to be a clinical practice. 
Analysis is not a matter of discovering in a particular case the differential feature of the theory and in doing so believe that one is explaining why [someone's] daugher is silent [...] the point at issue is to get her to speak. [...] Analysis consists precisely in getting her to speak (p. 11).
After this, Lacan talks about how an understanding of theory is useful in this endeavor, but I think he is saying that psychoanalysis is the application of the theory to some sort of difficulty a person (a speaking subject) is having. 
So it is not like theory is unimportant! It is important! But it is important because of how it can be used. 
(5) The Four Fundamental Concepts (to be used)
[W]hat conceptual status must we gie to the four of the terms introduced by Freud as fundamental concepts, namely the unconscious, repetition, the transference and the drive? (p. 12). 
And these are the concepts Lacan will be working through in this seminar. 
IFS-003 | Chapter 1, Excommunication: The Main Points
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