© Micheline Weinstein / Décembre 2006
What Is Psychoanalysis ?
Translated by Yona Dureau
Of course, cela va sans dire, it goes without saying, and according to what I think, which, as common language has it, to what I say.
Psychoanalysis did not exist in the time of Napoleon. About one century after his birth, psychoanalysis might have helped him to stay away from the most ridiculous, yet most tragic megalomania.
Psychanalyse... Psychoanalyse..., in German, is a porte-manteau word coined by Freud in 1896, which means analysis of the human psyche. An “analysis”, therefore, is not a “study of ”, nor a “discourse on” as implied in the suffix “logos” used for the term “psychology”. Nor is it either a chemical medicine of the soul, as provided by psychiatry, or in the numerous prefixes and suffixes in store.
The concept of Psychoanalysis did not exist before Freud. The very word of psychoanalysis did not exist, since Freud created it during his treasure-hunt.
Analysis, in common language, first referred to chemistry, and meant, the process of identification of the constituting elements and of the properties of a substance.
That definition has permitted to widen the original use of the concept “analysis”, from the very beginning application and to make it relevant in other long-live fields of knowledge.
Thus, the analysis of the psyche, Psychanalyse in French, has lost at least one letter “o” in French and in Portuguese, thanks to a Swiss psychiatrist who was a fervent disciple of national-socialism and as early as 1933. Psychoanalysis is interested in psychological substance, essence, psychic, with the help of conceptual tools, and results, successes and glory of psychoanalysis are transmitted and exchanged in a spoken and written language.
Freud invented the theory of psychoanalysis on the basis of his clinical practise, which, according to him, was bound to neutralize the mal de vivre of the human being, yet stumbled over difficulties, and over a riddle, all doctors of the soul and of all kind, qu’ils soient médecins ou autre chose, had failed to solve or to think about.
The Royal way leading to the unconscious and to the progress of the sciences dealing with the human mind was opened to the young Freud in 1881 by Joseph Breuer, who belonged to the preceeding generation and who was not an anonymous individual in Vienna. Breuer understood that the degree of trust and attention Bertha Pappenheim needed to be heard on the truth of life of her infantile sexual life - which would start later loving, social, friendly life -, was stopped by an obstacle which was closely associated with language.
German, her mother tongue, had deserted Bertha Peppenheim. Hence, Bertha Pappenheim would explain to Breuer that the symptoms were not only physical, through an hysterical form, but in equal proportion and before she would even be conscious of it, through amnesia, weird dreams, rather extravangant ideas, ready-made phrases and gross/vulgar words, blunt expressions that were not always in use in any other language, and that would come to her from somewhere else… She would keep looking for the key to these words not find the key to all this while asking for help since her suffering was unbearable.
Every evening, Breuer was talking with Freud about this impediment, this enigma.
It is precisely throught the German language that Freud could convey the key to it.
Freud, eventhough he did not use those languages very often, was fluent in English, Greek, Latin, Italian, and French, and in a more private sphere, in Yiddish…
The task of the analyst consists in aquiring his job and experience in order, on the basis of his practise, to contribute to a theory always undergoing an evolution ; to become knowledgeable in the languages whether of friends or enemies, that belong to the individual and collective patrimony, not to exchange words on everyday life’s petty tittle-tattle but in order to listen to a language, with its syntax, its music and its sense of the other who different from us, and who therefore thinks differently. The language of the “little other”.
The “Voice of the Big Other”, of Lacanians, is but a voice operated by a delirious language that functions indeed like a machine meant to have people swallow slogans and formulaes struck on one’s mind like revealed truth that needs to be brain-washed. In Freud’s text, and from the very beginning of his work in German, one finds the concepts of the “ Real ”, “ Symbolic ”, “ Imaginary ” of failed “usufruct ” to be distinguished from “La Jouissance”, as they are used for psychoanalysis, together with all the various psychological accidents they might be associated with, and those concepts were never invented by Lacan, but belonged to Freud’s thought, where they are used to designate fundamental elements that constitute the unconscious. As simple as that.
French language did not pay any sign of interest for psychoanalysis until very late, about one quarter of a century after its birth.
As long as it relied for the translation or at least for the absence of change of meaning of concepts on Freud’s close friends appear with “ our dearest princess ” Marie Bonaparte in particular, a group of people who were no doctors, no psychiatrists, no philosophers, and in particular no media-addicts of all types, psychoanalysis, could start its existence and a good job, training good analysts in France.
Yet very early, in the aftermath of the war, when the French Jewish analysts both in the resistance and not resistants had to take the road of exile or of deportation, the huge powers of psychiatry and of philosophy started translating the Freudian concepts through the filter of their ideology, and thus started diverting meanings.
To quote from a single example, the philosopher Heidegger declared, and let a magazine reproduce his words in 1976, stating that “when a French thinker thinks, he thinks in German”, and thus expressing clear himself in Nazi language, in agreement with the totalitarist principle of the “Gleichshaltung”, according to with, French thought has only a value if it marches in the step of his own thought, i.e., Heidegger’s. Indeed, in 1929, Heidegger wrote in “Was ist das Metaphysik ?” :
S’il en était ainsi de l’Oubli de l’Être, ne serait-ce pas une raison suffisante pour qu’une Pensée qui pense l’Être soit prise d’Effroi, car rien d’autre ne lui est possible que soutenir dans l’Angoisse ce Destin de l’Être afin de porter d’abord la Pensée en présence de l’Oubli de l’être ? Mais une Pensée en serait-elle capable tant l’Angoisse ainsi destinée n’est pour elle qu’un État d’Âme pénible ? Qu’à donc à faire le Destin Ontologique de cette Angoisse avec la Psychologie et la Psychanalyse ?
And in German, intended for the German-speakers who will know how to set the tune to these lines and times :
Wäre wenn es mit der Seinsvergessenheit so stünde, nicht Veranlassung genug, dass ein Denken, das an das Sein denkt, in den Schrecken gerät, demgemäss, es nichts anderes vermag, als dieses Geschick des Seins in der Angst aus zuhalten, um erst das Denken an die Seins vergessen heit zum Austrag zu bringen ? Ob jedoch ein Denken dies vermöchte, solange ihm die so zugeschickte Angst nur eine gedrückte Stimmung wäre ? Was hat das Seins geschick dieser Angst mit Psychologie und Psychoanalyse zu tun ?
One could die with laughter at the style used, but not at the ideology conveyed. M. W.
After the war, French philosophy hurried to please and plead intellectual allegiance to Heidegger, and taking his words for granted as if believing in a prophet and inspired by his speech, translated the language of psychoanalysis as obscure and dark-aged as possible, while psychiatry, on the other hand, strove to make use of it with medical terms also dark-aged and obscure, as if those noble disciplines had resented the fact that Freud had opened the way to a language endowing the human being with the essential tool to find the courage to face, and then neutralize the vilest demons he would bear in himself, gnawing on his life, and testifying for human bastardy.
Freud, in his own language, and on the basis of the vocabulary existing in his time, first found words he estimated right to point out at the effects of human pulsions, as revealed by the language of the unconscious and of its formations constituting and showing the structure of neurosis. Human pulsions are different from those of the animals in that they let perceive, because of language, all the human baseness that is absent from the animal. Pulsion do not undergo any evolution.
If a language translates individually or collectively the thought, the character, the personality of an author, of a human group, pulsions, as for them, that among other things organize the Œdipian structure while making it disfunction, are the same for everybody, wherever (s)he finds him/her-self.
This is precisely what the language of the unconscious teaches us, and anyone who asks about it, whether a man, a woman, or a group, should be granted access to it, whatever age, origin, mother-tongue. Children, from their very early age, have no problem with that, they express themselves directly and understand without beating around the bush, provided they feel that they can trust you, that they are not lied to, but told the truth.
Neither the language of the unconscious, nor its translated version, nor any language in the world can remain unchanged, totalitary, as they get richer and richer all the time, endowed with life even during the evolution of the human spirit. The language of the unconscious has the same structure for any human individual, whether speaking or/and silent. It translates the symptoms of neurosis, which piles up impediments for the human desire to express a possible liberty of thought and liberty of speech on these thoughts, on the basis of data and failures of one’s personal history.
This is what the candidate for an analysis should know before comitting oneself to start one.
Yet, in order to do so, it is fundamental that the candidate should know what the word of Psychoanalysis and its process actually mean, free from any other disciplin apart from its own, as the name implies.
For the last fifty years, one has forgotten to teach freshers this essential criterium, so that they come blindly, “for a treat of soup” would tell me a few years ago a colleague of mine who was rather mediatic and who would add that she would not spoil the broil and spit in it, which led me to answer that she was vulgar.
Moreover, with the media, advertising, and cinema, the very fundamental concept of the Symbolic in psychoanalysis has disappeared, under the pressure of a perpetual invasion and reference to the Real both as an argument thrown to our face and upon our body.
Yet the concept of Symbolic grants the access and understanding of the sublimation of pulsions. It even reached theatre, where fashionable authors use ideas gleaned from here and there in order to make money, and to direct their plays upon stages that evoke the road and its rumours, with Freud’s and his kins’supposed sexual and professional life harvested for people’s magazines and distributed upon the web, while the essential part of the archives of psychoanalysis is at arm’s reach upon the shelves of all libraries.
When shall we watch a musical with Salaciousness in the main role in the place and stead of a love-affair ? What is a love-affair about, if not but the desire to listen and to try to hear the other’s language, and then to do with it, and without it.
What the analysed, man or woman, is not told anymore, is that he approaches the analysis, not in order“to-get-loved-because-he/she-did-not-get-eenough-love-as-a-child”, it would sound like a rosy melodrama, and even rather gross, and there is enough with coded psychology, ideologies and media for that matter.
The subject rather comes to psychoanalysis in order to ask for help to find the courage to face truth, in order to do what he has to do with his life, and to know how to work it out, since, biologically, he has only got one.
Any work of a life-time is always left unfullfilled by its author, sometimes left much too early, when the outside world repeatedly opposes a peaceful realization of that work. The author leaves work for others to fullfill it, as in a relay.
This knowledge is the primary condition for the candidate to see clearly enough and to be able to say if he/she wishes indeed to go for an analysis or not. And if not, there are numerous other postures and positions, means and therapies to be able to keep an upright position until the end of one’s life.
Hence I wonder why some intellectuals even convey to future generations the very name of Psychanalysis, without knowing or caring to know what it means, if not to drag it in the mire together with its author, Freud.
A shameless use of a concept one does not understand anything about or does not want to understand anything about could be a good definition of the path to the concept of xenophobia, thanks to the magical power of ignorance, and implemented in relationship to the tongue and language that structure the human thought.
One understands better today why Freud could not possibly be given a Nobel Price. A Price of Ethics should have been created for a Jew !
ψ [Psi] • LE TEMPS DU NON
cela ne va pas sans dire
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