Transference | Truth or Fiction?

1. The Question

Is transference a truth or a fiction

2. What Lacan said

When I was thinking about this question, I went to the Preface to the English edition of Seminar XI, one of Lacan's last texts. There, Lacan says,

All I can do is tell the truth. No, that isn’t so – I have missed it. There is no truth that, in passing through awareness, does not lie. But one runs after it all the same. […] Like satisfaction, it is acquired only with use, with the use of an individual – who, in psychoanalysis (psych = fiction of), is called an analysand.

3. My reading

Of course, there are many ways to read and interpret this quote (and the larger text it comes from). I'll offer my interpretation.

4. Transference

I think that when there is a transference, there is an analysand. Because of transference, an analysand will try to tell the truth to the analyst. The transference manifests in this wanting to tell the truth.

4. Hy-Story

This can take many forms, but to keep things simple, I'll say the analysand will try to tell the analyst their story. Lacan, who loved puns and homonyms, calls this story hystorization.

5. Free Association

If they don't try to tell their hy-story, the analysand might try to follow the cardinal rule of psychoanalysis called free association, to speak as freely as they can without censoring themselves. This is another manifestation of a wanting to tell the truth by speaking as freely as one is able.

And while there may be some degree of accuracy to the story/free associations the analysand produces, the truth is not spoken. Because what can be offered in the form of autobiography or free association is a semblance, an approximation, a fiction.

6. Semblance & Being, not existence

Semblance, one's hy-story, one's free associations, one's analysis, has Being (i.e., it is a combination of the imaginary and symbolic). If all goes well, these semblants can have real effects. Be that as it may, these semblants do not exist; they are not, in and of themselves, real.

7. The pass

Let's move back to the Preface to Seminar XI. Near the bottom, Lacan speaks of the pass.

I have therefore designated as a ‘pass’ that putting of the hystorization of the analysis to the test, while refraining from imposing this pass on all, because it is not a question, as it happens, of all, but of scattered, ill-assorted individuals. I have left it at the disposal of those who are prepared to run the risk of attesting at best to the lying truth.

The pass is a name for something that can happen (but is not required to happen) at the end of an analysis.

To attempt the pass, the analysand must understand that they are telling a story, a new story, which is different than the story they told when their analysis started and when it was going on, but a story (fiction) nonetheless.

When the past works, an analysand can present their lie as a truth, even though the truth can't be said.

To make use of this is, perhaps, what is at stake in psychoanalysis.

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