email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
A Basic Theory of NeuropsychoanalysisA Cursing Brain?A Dream of Undying FameA Map of the MindAfter LacanAgainst AdaptationAgainst FreudAn Anatomy of AddictionAnalytic FreudAndré Green at the Squiggle FoundationAnger, Madness, and the DaimonicAnna FreudAnna Freud: A BiographyApproaching PsychoanalysisAttachment and PsychoanalysisBadiouBecoming a SubjectBefore ForgivingBerlin PsychoanalyticBetween Emotion and CognitionBeyond GenderBeyond SexualityBeyond the Pleasure PrincipleBiology of FreedomBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheCarl JungCassandra's DaughterCherishmentConfusion of TonguesContemporary Psychoanalysis and the Legacy of the Third ReichCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesCulture and Conflict in Child and Adolescent Mental HealthDarwin's WormsDesert Islands and Other Texts (1953-1974)Dispatches from the Freud WarsDoes the Woman Exist?Doing Psychoanalysis in TehranDreaming and Other Involuntary MentationDreaming by the BookEnergy Psychology InteractiveEqualsErrant SelvesEthics and the Discovery of the UnconsciousEthics Case Book of the American Psychoanalytic AssociationFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFed with Tears -- Poisoned with MilkFeminism and Its DiscontentsForms of Intersubjectivity in Infant Reasearch and Adult TreatmentFour Lessons of PsychoanalysisFratricide in the Holy LandFreudFreudFreudFreudFreudFreudFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFreud As PhilosopherFreud at 150Freud's AnswerFreud's WizardFreud, the Reluctant PhilosopherFrom Classical to Contemporary PsychoanalysisFundamentals of Psychoanalytic TechniqueGenes on the CouchGoing SaneHans BellmerHappiness, Death, and the Remainder of LifeHate and Love in Psychoanalytical InstitutionsHatred and ForgivenessHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHeinz KohutHeinz KohutHidden MindsHistory of ShitHope and Dread in PsychoanalysisImagination and Its PathologiesImagine There's No WomanIn Freud's TracksIn SessionIn the Floyd ArchivesIntimaciesIntimate RevoltIrrationalityIs Oedipus Online?Jacques LacanJacques Lacan and the Freudian Practice of PsychoanalysisJung and the Making of Modern PsychologyJung Stripped BareKilling FreudLacanLacanLacanLacan and Contemporary FilmLacan at the SceneLacan For BeginnersLacan in AmericaLacan TodayLacan's Seminar on AnxietyLawLearning from Our MistakesLove's ExecutionerMad Men and MedusasMale Female EmailMelanie KleinMemoirs of My Nervous IllnessMental SlaveryMind to MindMixing MindsMoral StealthMourning and ModernityMovies and the MindMurder in ByzantiumNew Studies of Old VillainsNocturnesNoir AnxietyOn Being Normal and Other DisordersOn BeliefOn IncestOn Not Being Able to SleepOn the Freud WatchOn the Way HomeOpen MindedOpera's Second DeathOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsPhenomology & Lacan on Schizophrenia, After the Decade of the BrainPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPractical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and PatientsPsychiatry, Psychoanalysis, And The New Biology Of MindPsychoanalysisPsychoanalysis and Narrative MedicinePsychoanalysis and NeurosciencePsychoanalysis and the Philosophy of SciencePsychoanalysis as Biological SciencePsychoanalysis at the MarginsPsychoanalysis at the MarginsPsychoanalysis in a New LightPsychoanalysis in FocusPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychotherapy As PraxisPutnam CampQuestions for FreudRe-Inventing the SymptomReading Seminar XXReinventing the SoulRelational Theory and the Practice of PsychotherapyRelationalityRepressed SpacesRevolt, She SaidSecrets of the SoulSerious ShoppingSex on the CouchSexuationSigmund FreudSoul Murder RevisitedSpectral EvidenceSpirit, Mind, and BrainStrangers to OurselvesSubjective Experience and the Logic of the OtherSubjectivity and OthernessSubstance Abuse As SymptomSurrealist Painters and PoetsTaboo SubjectsTalk is Not EnoughThe Arabic FreudThe Art of the SubjectThe Brain and the Inner WorldThe Brain, the Mind and the SelfThe Cambridge Companion to LacanThe Challenge for Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyThe Clinical LacanThe Colonization Of Psychic SpaceThe Condition of MadnessThe Couch and the TreeThe Cruelty of DepressionThe Dissociative Mind in PsychoanalysisThe Dreams of InterpretationThe Examined LifeThe Fall Of An IconThe Freud EncyclopediaThe Freud FilesThe Freud WarsThe Fright of Real TearsThe Future of PsychoanalysisThe Gift of TherapyThe Heart & Soul of ChangeThe Knotted SubjectThe Last Good FreudianThe Letters of Sigmund Freud and Otto RankThe Mind According to ShakespeareThe Mystery of PersonalityThe Mythological UnconsciousThe Neuropsychology of the UnconsciousThe New PsychoanalysisThe Power of FeelingsThe Psychoanalytic MovementThe Psychoanalytic MysticThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Puppet and the DwarfThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Revolt of the PrimitiveThe Seminar of Moustafa SafouanThe Sense and Non-Sense of RevoltThe Shortest ShadowThe Social History of the UnconsciousThe Surface EffectThe Symmetry of GodThe Tragedy of the SelfThe Trainings of the PsychoanalystThe UnsayableThe World of PerversionTherapeutic ActionTherapy's DelusionsThis Incredible Need to BelieveThoughts Without A ThinkerTo Redeem One Person Is to Redeem the WorldTrauma and Human ExistenceTraumatizing TheoryUmbr(a)Unconscious knowing and other essays in psycho-philosophical analysisUnderstanding Dissidence and Controversy in the History of PsychoanalysisUnderstanding PsychoanalysisUnfree AssociationsWalking HeadsWay Beyond FreudWhat Does a Woman Want?What Freud Really MeantWhen the Body SpeaksWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Whose Freud?Why Psychoanalysis?Wilhelm ReichWinnicottWinnicott On the ChildWisdom Won from IllnessWittgenstein on Freud and FrazerWittgenstein Reads FreudWorld, Affectivity, TraumaZizek
The introduction to Joël Dor's The Clinical Lacan promises that this book (as part of the book series The Lacanian Clinical Field) helps to prove that Lacan's work is relevant to the actual clinical practice. Lacan is often accused as being "..too far removed from clinical reality" (pg. xi). Thus, practicing psychoanalysts and psychotherapists often refuse to take him seriously. The incorporation of Lacanian theory into highly theoretical academic fields such as philosophy only further seems to underline the irrelevance of his theory to therapeutic clinical practice. Books that adequately bring Lacanian theory to praxis are in great demand, especially in the English speaking world. Dor makes heavy use of Lacanian parlance, but the book is approachable with only a cursory understanding of Lacan (a knowledge of Freudian theory is a requirement).
Unfortunately, the book fails to live up to this promise. It is a mediocre secondary source on perversion, hysteria, and obsessional neurosis. Dor does not use clinical examples, he does not discuss the clinical session, he does not even explain why he thinks that perversion, hysteria and obsessional neurosis are the three possible subjective positions from the standpoint of psychoanalytic symptomatology. He does not even make any reference to Lacan's own references to the clinical session.
The most valuable part of the book is Dor's defense of the existence of both male and female hysteria. His explanation of common female and male hysterical articulations could be useful when diagnosing a analysand. He also avoids the common criticism that the entire notion of hysteria is a result of antiquated and chauvinist Victorian sentiments. The sections on perversion and obsessional neurosis are less helpful.
The notion of the phallus is especially important according to Dor. Through analyzing the reactions to the phallus (it represents the object of desire of the mother, and the lack within the subject), one can diagnosis the pervert, the hysteric and the obsessional neurotic. Dor's contribution to psychoanalytic theory is his emphasis on the importance of the difference between being the phallus and having the phallus. A pervert is occupied with being or not being the phallus, while the hysteric and the neurotic are occupied with having or not having the phallus. The phallus is what the mother desires and thus is the key to her lack. However, since being the phallus implies that the mother has a lack (something horrible for the subject to come to terms with), the pervert fantasizes a mother without a lack: a phallic mother. The hysteric, on the other hand, believes the loved object has the phallus, and tries to be the ultimate object of desire in order to get it. The obsessional neurotic is even more problematic to understand. Dor writes that, "..the defiance [of the obsessional neurotic] concerning the possession of the phallic object involves the alternatives of having or not having it" (pg. 51). But, we also note that "..the obsessional is said to be nostalgic for the state of being the phallus" (pg. 110). It appears that being the phallus is a developmental state which all subjects desire to return to. In some manner, the pervert more or less achieves this, but the hysteric and the obsessional neurotic admit (and thus recognize the mother as lacking) that the phallus is something one has (because of sexual difference). The hysteric and the neurotic have a notion that the phallus can be exchanged, whereas the pervert cannot admit this. Yet, the move toward understanding the phallus as something to be possessed is not a resolution, for the hysteric and the neurotic are as caught up in their pathological economies as the pervert. All three are caught up in irresolvable circles around the phallus.
One wonders at precisely this point, "Just what is the purpose of the analyst? What is the clinical practice supposed to achieve?" It seems that the hysteric, neurotic and pervert map out the entire constellation of relationships to the phallus. When one stage (being/not-being the phallus) is resolved, it would appear that one is forced into the other (having/not-having the phallus) which is in principle no healthier than the original. Since, the entire notion of the phallus operates in Dor's text like Lacan's objet petit a (an object which is in principle unobtainable, but which nonetheless is constantly desired), there can be no happy resolution.
Thus, one ends the book wondering if the point of clinical Lacanian practice is to admit the impossibility of analysis as therapy. There is little indication exactly what one is supposed to be achieving as a therapist. Is the point to explain to the subject that he/she can never be satisfied? Is it merely to provide the subject increased self-understanding? If so, how does one lead the hysteric, the neurotic or the pervert to such a conclusion? I find that Dor fails to answer any of these questions. Thus, this book is not useful to the therapist interesting in incorporating Lacanian therapy into practice. I also find that his vague use of the notion of phallus (is it objet petit a?), which is the key to the entire theory in The Clinical Lacan, makes the work an uninspired secondary source in Lacanian theory.
Talia Welsh is a Ph.D. student in Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She is writing a dissertation on Merleau Ponty's psychology.
Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology.
We feature over 8000 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and
We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.
Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'
Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send
review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank
you for your support!
Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these
announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click
Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers
for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.
Metapsychology Online Reviews
Promote your Page too
Metapsychology Online Reviews