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These claims were not long in coming: it could not be a coincidence that it is precisely at the time when Lacan’s studies started to be considered as a claim for a major contribution, that there appeared philosophers’ numerous claims accusing psychoanalysis of passive cooperation with the systems of state suppression. It is important to position the sequence of these events correctly: it was not the intellectual who, observing the increasingly isolating psychoanalytic clinic from the outside, eventually put forward political claims to the consequences of this isolation. On the contrary, it was Lacan’s act of returning psychoanalysis to the scene of social struggle that brought to life the emergence of increasingly insistent claims addressed to psychoanalysis. 

It is precisely at this moment that there appears a typical social-critical stamp that has survived to this day practically unchanged. Every now and then there appears a critic-intellectual claiming that the prescription that has to be written to the psychoanalytic practice is obvious: psychoanalysts should stop clinging to both their chair and what it symbolizes, and should enter the mode in which the psychoanalytic discipline could be compatible with a broader intellectual and activist agenda expressing its willingness to the alleged protest. 

The first step that, according to this point of view, the psychoanalysts could take is to renounce their right to consider everything brought by the analysand through the prism of “clinical material” which is, thereby, potentially subject to analyzing (however not necessarily analyzed) in view of the “symptom,” whose meaning is also independently and autonomously determined by the specialist. In this way, the psychoanalyst should, first and foremost, renounce her right to the autonomous definition of the “symptom” and to all the professional privileges associated with this right. The changes should also affect the persistent inattention to the proclamations of the patients whose position reveals an adherence to certain socio-political views traditionally practiced by the analysts. At this point, the leftist intellectual would have an opportunity to take revenge on psychoanalysis, including the revenge for the position she occupies according to the psychoanalyst. 

In response, the leftist intellectual or activist demands that the analysands with the so-called “public opinion,” and those who suffered by defending them, and suffered from the violation of the “basic human” rights  (whose list can never be complete) have the right to liberate the contents related to these issues from the implementation of the analytic instruments in the form of “insulting” clinical procedures of confrontation and interpretation.  

This list of demands whose shape had been actuated in the protesting ‘60s from a more or less powerless expression of indignation at the psychoanalysts (who remained silent as a sign of refusal to deal with it), gradually conquered its positions and achieved a noticeable success today. At the moment, a psychoanalyst as well as any other psy-specialist is not so much confronted with a possible surrender of the previously neutral positions – they are being surrendered ubiquitously – but is rather forced to consider quite a number of sensitive issues that require some special treatment as is constantly urged by the leftist and human rights defender.

Like it or not, today’s specialist starts recognizing the existence of ethical boundaries external to their discipline which they are no longer allowed to trespass: this can be the analysis of the “reasons” for the sexual orientation choice or gender identity, the analysis of the victim’s “secondary gains” from the experienced violence or special “symptomatic” unconscious intentions urging the subject to defend protesting political views or to oppose power and oppression. Currently, like it or not but psychoanalysis along with other psychotherapeutic practices has to obey the ethical requirements and suspend the investigation of these questions.

This does not result from the clinician’s immediate necessity to pay respects to the liberal and human rights agenda’s demands: on the contrary, just as the intellectual rarely owes reverence to the psychoanalytic practice, the psychoanalyst, on her part, is equally unimpressed by the intellectual. Nevertheless, the capitalist framework that requires forging ties with the alleged “consumer” – for example, the attendee of the psychoanalytically oriented therapy whose patients, on the contrary, are very sensitive to public discussions concerning the questions of human rights and liberation – forces the specialist to reckon with the new type of the “customer.” Right now, everything suggests that the clinician will be forced to renounce the possibility of heuristically doubting the reasons for the subject’s choice in the above-mentioned “sensitive” matters. Whereas, the scope of the professional submission to this prohibition is most likely to expand. 

Does this mean that the alleged “reform of psychoanalysis,” the need for which is being discussed today, consists precisely in the restrictive transformation of the psychoanalytic discipline, in the renunciation of its unlimited right to the regular “clinical suspicion”? Instilling in psychoanalysis the analysand’s right to something unanalyzable is how the future fate of psychoanalysis is seen by the so-called non-clinician intellectual. This figure is notable for having the most versatile awareness about psychoanalysis, yet they are forced to admit their limitations when confronted with the reminder that they themselves do not practice which is an invariable reproach voiced by the clinicians’ camp. This reproach is certainly justified, albeit its demonstration is always a bit more arrogant and adamant than needed, therefore, in this very redundancy of demonstration the psychoanalysts, for their part, undoubtedly reveal their own anxiety.

At this point, It is worth reminding that Lacan’s position on this matter was completely different – not a single word of any dissatisfaction with the “non-practicing” comrades has ever come from his mouth. Whereas in the light of the currently adopted course for the overstated intransigence in this matter, his benevolent tolerance does not look as some unscrupulousness amidst the deficit of the colleagues sympathizing with his complex elaborations, but as a principal unwillingness to throw stones in the psychoanalysis’s glass house whose grandeur is directly correlated with the fragility of its pillars.

In exactly the same manner, when speaking about the “reform of the university,” Lacan takes a somewhat “populist” role making the following warning for those who are able to hear him: “And good heavens, by correctly referring to the terms of certain fundamental discourses one might have certain scruples, let’s say, about acting, one might look twice before jumping in to profit from the lines that have opened up. It is quite some responsibility to transport carrion down these corridors.”3

The justice of these statements was served at least from the perspective where every academic transformation that occurred since then unfailingly disheartened and bewildered most importantly those who were otherwise snugged in the university discourse as a bug in a rug. By contrast, over the last 60-70 years, the situation with psychoanalysis demonstrates the opposite trend: namely, it showed a real rage of changes each of which was seen as the beginning of a new glorious path. Over the past decades, psychoanalysis has been repeatedly reformed often in accordance with the most momentary ideas on its transformation in the light of the “professional insights” dawned on the analysts concerning the analysands’ alleged need for empathy, the cultivation of their infantile ego struck by the narcissistic emptiness, or the importance of “body language.”

All these reforms, initially inspiring the most responsive and the most initiative subjects, almost always ended in the forced return to the nominal path of “traditional” clinical practice. None of the well-intended inventions invested in the latter, even considering their temporal transformative and embellishing effects, ever led to a change in the psychoanalyst’s position. Whereas, this very immutability itself should raise questions. It is easy to suggest, as it was recently done by one typical intellectual-non-psychoanalyst Paul B. Preciado, that the very psychoanalytic enterprise itself contains something inherently inert and, thereby, dashing the hope for a change as if psychoanalysis was “unsaveable” and unresponsive to any modernizing interventions. 

In fact, it is necessary to analyze this inertness not from the pseudo-political point of view – which is a barely disguised managerial attitude asking: “what else can be extracted from psychoanalysis today? Is there still a chance to make it flexible and to adapt it to the attitudes of the so-called new ethics, for example?” – but from a proper psychoanalytic point of view. The latter suggests that if a practice contains something that does not yield and does not cease to persist at any cost, it is precisely this matter that has to be regarded as a potential turning point of the practice in question. In this respect, the practice of psychoanalysis is not an exception. In other words, the possibilities for changing the psychoanalytic practice should not be sought beyond and outside of its visible intransigence core in the hope of dissolving or discarding it. Instead, it should be relied on since being the cause of the incessant renewal of the psychoanalytic enterprise, this core contains something unrealized so far. At the same time, the realization of this unrealized is precisely what the non-clinician intellectual cannot accept, since for her it would mean capitulation in the question of reforming psychoanalysis and admitting her own inability to have an impact on the process.  

For the psychoanalyst, this entails the necessity to choose the third path: without necessarily adopting the reforms and the abolitions offered by the left intellectuals literally, there is still a need to actively inquire the psychoanalytic communities about the other reason for their professional intransigence. 

From this point of view, the first thing to be said in defense of the intellectual is that the clinic’s representatives, on their part, being irritated by her interference determine what exactly constitutes the area of her ignorance erroneously. The latter can hardly be measured by the intellectual’s ineptitude in the psychoanalytic technique. On the contrary, to define this ignorance one should not rely on the internal professional argument but on a more general Marxist argument: what matters is not so much the intellectual’s clinical ignorance as her neglect of the socio-historical conditions of the psychoanalytic practice’s organization. In other words, the humanitarian critic of psychoanalysis is not so much deprived of the knowledge about the peculiarities of the clinical treatment but about the situation inside the very psychoanalytic communities – it is the most pernicious part of her ignorance that deprives her of an opportunity to make any changes in the psychoanalysis’s territory. 

This ignorance is compounded by the fact that the psychoanalysts themselves are not only highly reluctant to notify the public of the details of this situation but very often they do not seem to be aware of how it is actually organized. It is true, that the psychoanalyst has the right to reject what in regard to her profession she herself detects as an external request dictated by the immoderate curiosity of the layman or the impertinent diligence of the moralist. However, there still remains something about which even the psychoanalyst does not dare to interrogate herself. Whereas in most cases, it concerns the sphere marked by the question of what exactly the analysand can know about the condition of the psychoanalytic environment that is represented by the psychoanalyst chosen by her.

Clearly, this question is censored so heavily that practically right from the start it is replaced by a similar but not coinciding question of what exactly the patient can know about psychoanalysis as such. In other words, to what extent she acts as someone well-informed about the method’s peculiarity. This topic, on the contrary, is very famous among the psychoanalysts who willingly organize various debates concerning the need for this sort of initiation and its preferred intensity as if there was a real possibility of adjusting the choice of patients in accordance with their awareness in these matters. 

At the same time, the very historical dynamics of this sort of debate sustain the connection with the initially eliminated question about the communities’ organization hinting at the specific solutions in certain periods of psychoanalysis’s functioning. In this way, the era of the clinic’s development in Freud’s lifetime (not without his own influence) tended to sanction quite a generous involvement of patients and even their relatives in the peculiarities of the analytic treatment, up to the right for clinical interventions beyond the psychoanalytic process. In other words, Freud’s attitude was the furthest away from the need for warning about the danger of “repeating this at home.” Consider little Hans’s case, when the role of the interim “analyst” was intrepidly performed by the boy’s father under Freud’s palliative guidance, which demonstrates the described above quite plainly. 

Such a solution may seem an archaic and merely experimental misuse of the technique but when restored in the context of the repressed question it regains its significance. This does not mean that anyone can analyze, but rather indicates Freud’s willingness to recruit a motivated audience into the situation inside the psychoanalytic field. It is not a simple coincidence that by relying on Freud’s texts and biographies anyone could and still can learn how exactly and why Freud himself was disturbed by numerous unpleasant tensions among his students and how he was offended by what he himself considered a betrayal, including the diversion from his trajectory (as it happened with Ferenczi, who invented his own version of “friendly and tender” psychoanalysis only to find that it has never been safe for his patients).

On the contrary, as soon as the psychoanalytic practice gained a proper degree of verification after Freud’s death, its couloirs got closed to the public: the leaflets that formally inform the training candidates about the breakdowns and the emergencies of schools and associations do not convey a specific character of internal struggles between the specialists. Neither do they convey an idea of something that a more or less unbiased view could detect as a constant threat of a deep “professional regression” in the form of the outstanding examples of the psychoanalysts’ inability to sustain the level worthy of their own practice in the course of these struggles.

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