Courtesy of Thomas Svolos:

Report of the 12th International Seminar of the Freudian Field
New York

“What has changed in the Analytic Treatment of Psychosis”
Guest Speaker: Alexandre Stevens

February 23 and 24, 2007

Sponsored by The Freudian Field, Fordham University and The New York Freud-Lacan Analytic Group (NYFLAG) .

On a cold and sunny winter weekend, we gathered at the prestigious site of Fordham University for the 12th International Seminar of the Freudian Field in New York with Alexandre Stevens who joined us for the third time; he has given two International Seminars and one Lecture in New York .

On Friday, February 23 was the Lecture “Psychosis and the paternal function: Can one choose one’s Father?” Alexandre Stevens retraced the connection between the paternal function and psychosis since Freud. It was first linked to Narcissism, later to a fusion between mother and child, which lead to the question of guilt. Lacan proposed that psychosis is not due to a maternal default but to the lack of inscription of a signifier: the Name-of-the- Father. When the imaginary couple is ruptured by the irruption of a third element the psychotic subject has to seek the signification of his being elsewhere than in the foreclosed Name-of-the- Father giving way to the psychotic phenomena. Alexandre Stevens reviewed the three moments of the Oedipus complex: the first is the dependence of the child and mother, the second moment is the father as interdictor and the third moment, the lacanian moment is the father who says yes. Stevens referred to Lacan’s Seminar IV to illustrate with the clinical example of Little Hans. He also insisted in the fact pointed by Lacan that the Paternal Function is multiple. At the end he considered the different ways in which we choose a master, an analyst, a Rabbi, and how we always choose a Father.

The Saturday Seminar “What has Changed in the Analytic Treatment of Psychosis” attracted a group of clinicians confronted in their everyday practice with questions related to psychosis. It was divided into four sessions and two clinical case presentations.

Beginning with the observation that the proliferation of new social relationships and the faltering position of the father has forced the clinic to evolve and that we no longer encounter the same clinical cases as we once did, Alexandre Stevens demonstrated with clinical examples the triggering of psychosis, and its different moments: the moment of the enigma, the imaginary identification and the phenomenon of triggering. He used Lacan’s schema L, to situate the imaginary and the symbolic axis in Psychosis. The first effects are always in the imaginary field, in the body or in the world. Stevens referred to President Schreber’s case to illustrate these points and compare it to a clinical vignette of a young boy.

During the second and third session Alexandre Stevens examined ways of solution for Psychosis through body events and also Joyce’s solution. Stevens pointed out how Joyce’s work is a certain style of deconstruction of the English language. He also pointed out that Lacan had encountered Joyce in 1921, when he attended a reading of Ulysses in Paris. Giving Joyce the name “Joyce the Symptom” Lacan tried to show how Joyce obtained this identification to the symptom, which is the result one can expect from analysis. What Lacan aimed at when talking about identification to the symptom is to make a proper name for oneself. Alexandre Stevens also referred to Lacan’s exchanges with Francois Cheng and especially his book Emptiness and fullness. Stevens used Joyce’s Portrait of the artist as a young man to illustrate the difficulty he had with his body, when he felt as “a fruit divested from its soft ripe peel”. With his writing Joyce makes another body, a body made of writing, this gave him a name. Joyce’s solution is not a delusional solution. Stevens compared Joyce’s solution and Rousseau’s solution. Joyce’s solution is different than all the other delusional solutions because it is without meaning. In Rousseau we see an attempt to answer to Psychosis, it is an attempt to transform in a good way what happens to him. The third example was James Ellroy. And he continued with a clinical vignette during the fourth and last session: a woman to whom Alexandre Stevens had given the diagnosis: “You are Joycean”. This woman is an artist who uses drawingS, she sees herself as a “bricoleuse”, to make herself. She always tries to find the right word, the good expression. She is also Lacanian in the sense of the distinction between the Ego and the body, the object and the drive. She says to her analyst: “your ear is the organ of my voice”. The place of the analyst is to be the support of what she has to say, to be the staves where she can write her notes. Her drawings are like writing in the body, is an attempt of translation, she attempts to draw the gaze in the eye. It is the search for the right signifier to translate Jouissance. To finish he referred to Eric Laurent’s article “Psychoanalytic Treatment of Psychosis” in Les Feuillets du Courtil # 21.

The Clinical Case Conference by Cristina Laurita, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was a case of a young woman suffering from severe delusions and substance and drug abuse. In the discussion Alexandre Stevens showed how her attempts to “make herself” (expression used by the subject herself) were not sufficiently solid to help her in this task. Her first attempt had been writing (to be recognised) then the use of drugs and sex (attempt to identify with the others, her peers?), and later to believe that she was the reincarnation of Jesus-Christ, which translated as being the phallus of humanity. Because her writing was no good –a creative writing professor had said so- she had to give another meaning to herself, a mission: to save the children of the streets. The patient interrupted treatment when she felt questioned by the institution about her parental skills; she had a four-year-old daughter.

Dinorah Otero, from New York, presented the case of The Queen of Petra, a young girl diagnosed with psychosis, mental retardation and agitation. During the treatment this young girl, through a mythical story worked at inventing herself. The therapeutic effects were evident, the period of agitation ceased replaced by words, the social link was reconstituted and she was able to have a secret for herself, different than the father’s secret. In the construction of the story of the Queen of Petra through drawings, she places first the objects that give power, the crown and the key, then the queen is completed, and we have different variations and at a fourth moment, the bad mother appears. She gives the two faces of the Other, the idealized one but possibly too idealized, the queen, and the evil one, the bad mother, the mummy. The last drawing in which she represents herself painting the ocean, could be read as an attempt to paint the real. This girl showed in the course of treatment the many manners how to deal with the problem of the real.

The audience mainly composed by practitioners and students from New York showed great interest and asked many questions related to clinical issues relevant to their own practice. We had a real dialogue between the audience and Alexandre Stevens, and were in admiration and grateful at his simplicity to transmit and to “translate” difficult clinical questions and concepts. It is important to note also that some of the participants came because they had heard him before at a previous Seminar or lecture. The audience was encouraged to attend the NLS Congress in Athens in May 2007.

We thank immensely Alexandre Stevens for his generosity and effort in transmitting psychoanalysis of Lacanian Orientation in New York. We want to thank the very special support we receive for the International Seminars from Judith Miller, President of the Foundation of the Freudian Field. And we also want to express our gratitude to Fordham University, through Professor Steinkoler, for allowing us the use of such magnificent setting.

Maria Cristina Aguirre
New York, February 27, 2007