December 01, 2004

Analysis and the Postmodern

If anything it was Freud who opened a door to understanding the social symbolic construction of subjectivity in regard to patients while Jung expanded this to include deep cultural mythical archetypes remaining in the collective psyche. This psyche is between the biological real and the social symbolic and cannot be reduced to either one. It is an unfortunate tendency of all humans including many analysts to formulate a discourse of objective scientific knowledge propped up by a covert master-slave relationship by which to judge their patients and fellow humans. And it's just as easy for "postmodernism" to fall into the same trap without a practice. (I would dare say that that is exactly what more and more people suffer from - the phantasm of infinite possibilities opening up the nihilistic desert of the real - with defensive cynicism as the result.)

Lacan reminded us of this by restoring the radical gesture of Freud to develop a process-oriented practice of listening, relating, and experiencing the event of subjectivity which places analysis beyond hard and soft science into the realm of quantum or transpersonal science. Where the observer and observed mutually affect one another an ethical-aesthetic paradigm prevails. The one-to-one encounter without the mediation of an abstract grand narrative of scientific truth, morality, or cultural/familial tradition emerging out of the analytic, political, and artistic discourses of the twentieth century is the continuation of Jung's recognition of "individuation" as the prime archetypal movement of modern man (beginning 2000 years ago with Christ). Individuation takes place in relation to the other as subject beyond object relations - still a rare occurrence in ontogenetic or phylogenetic development, but - as Jung showed - one in which the gnostics, alchemists and troubadors were involved before analysis. The postmodern promise of multiple selves often implies a rational ego. The so-called sane and insane selves may be equally alienating constructions of the Other in the patient - good and bad selves negotiated as identity with the therapeutic adjustor. To love and trust the essence, soul, or drive of the patient may allow it to emerge and construct itself of the pieces of the biological real and social symbolic as so many masks of jouissance in play with others. Lacan conceived of the end of analysis this way: one can do without the name of the father (of hierachical truth, law, or morality) provided that one can make use of it as symbolic construction linking one subject of the drive to another. Otherwise health and sanity are just the complement of illness and madness - and desire is entrapped by its need to transgress the law of constraint.

"Let us take the hatred toward one's father in Oedipal family tension: as we see again and again, this hatred disappears, and a new understanding for the father emerges, the moment the son, in effect, gets rid of the shadow of paternal authority - in short, it disappears the moment the son perceives his father no longer as the embodiment of his socio-symbolic function, but as a vulnerable subject 'unplugged' from it. It is in this sense that, in true love, I 'hate the beloved out of love': I 'hate' the dimension of his inscription into the socio-symbolic structure on behalf of my very love for him as a unique person." (Slavoj Zizek)

Posted by scott at December 1, 2004 02:02 PM | TrackBack