Vicente Palomera on turning misery into ordinary unhappiness

From the essay What May I Expect From Psychoanalysis? by Vicente Palomera, which I posted about earlier this week.

Freud has been variously paraphrased as saying that psychoanalysis could treat neurotic misery, but that it could not treat ordinary human unhappiness. [...] This is a phrase of terrible realism and pessimism, ‘in the end, psychoanalysis only changes neurotic suffering into ordinary misery.’ [...] I should add that in no way is this the position of Lacan, who had more ambitions with respect to the practice of psychoanalysis. Lacan didn’t think that psychoanalysis managed to help one escape common unhappiness, but instead that one could obtain something original and new from neurotic unhappiness, which would be impossible to reach outside of the analytic practice.

Here, Palomera shows a key difference between Freud and Lacan, the difference regarding what someone might expect from an experience of psychoanalysis.

For Freud, psychoanalysis is something that can take the edge off of neurotic suffering. This is a transformation of neurotic suffering from something that really wounds a person, that does damage, to something that frustrates but does not actively injure a person.

Lacan agrees with Freud to a point. Both thinkers make it clear that psychoanalysis can't make a person immune from all suffering and that a neurotic symptom is never 100% cured. However, unlike Freud, Lacan suggests that through an experience of psychoanalysis, a person can find something new within the symptom, something that has always been there but has never been noticed. After this something has been noticed and sufficiently articulated, the way someone experiences their symptom can be fundamentally different.

Later, in this same essay, Palomera states:

I think that nobody can ask for happiness, not even implicitly, but one can ask for relief from uneasiness, discomfort

Contrary to some beliefs that psychoanalysis is an endless experience of being exposed to frustrations, it can be something that can be helpful and offer relief from suffering.

How does psychoanalysis offer this sort of relief? I'd say it is by revealing the symptom and the fundamental fantasy the analysand is using in a neurotic way. Rendering the here-to-fore real jouissance in the neurosis into a semblance that can be discussed. Doing this is one way that the combination of the imaginary and the symbolic (a semblance) can have an effect on the real.

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