Letter From Dr. Paola Mieli to Her Colleagues in the USA (1)

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Regarding the notions of “awareness” and “understanding” stressed by the Consortium, let us remember that the process of analysis is specifically characterized by the unfolding of events within the transference generating subjective transformations independently from the subject’s awareness; so much so that an analysand is most often incapable of understanding the nature of such transformations. If “understanding” occurs at all, it may only be in the aftermath of the experience. Contrary to intellectual awareness, which is grounded on faith in a rational ego and the belief in a full translatability of unconscious processes into consciousness, psychoanalysis defines itself as the experience of the subjective division. The subjective division cannot be reconciled or undone; it implies awareness and unawareness, revelations and misrecognitions — the confrontation, as Freud puts it, with the irreducible nature of a subject’s castration. This process is underlined much more by emotions, affects and surprises than by intellectual realizations. And the transformation of the subjective position brought about by the end of an analysis leads more to a savoir faire, a “know how” to handle life, desire and limitations, to a new creativity, than to any intellectual understanding.

In opposition to any idea of conformity, psychoanalysis is fundamentally an experience with and towards otherness, a practice of de-identification that enhances the relation to difference. It is the subject’s practice of “exile,” a leaving behind of mystifying individual and group identifications and of the guarantees provided by the already known. It is a journey towards what is unknown and foreign within the subject, as manifested, for example, in the formations of the unconscious. This practice of exile leads towards the progressive “deconstruction of a person’s idolatry (ego narcissism and super-egoic requirements),” towards the “encounter, in the rigour of one’s speech, with one’s singularity, style and difference” (Fuks, 2002, p.20).

For this to occur, it is necessary that transference, the main tool of and obstacle to the cure, as Freud defines it, must unfold to its end. And this means accepting that the analyst has relinquished the position of the “subject supposed to know”. The Consortium’s proposed requirements seem, instead, to encourage a candidate’s identification with his/her analyst and teachers. This emulation, by fostering devotion to the same ideals, reinforces group identifications and symptoms, while excluding difference, autonomy of style and the possibility of new creations – including research and advances in the field of psychoanalysis. No wonder, then, if the results of such emulation are repetitive and poor psychoanalytic productions, as the landscape of institutional psychoanalytic literature largely shows.

There is no way to shortcut the process of analysis. The making of an analyst –a formation, more than mere education and training– involves a process much more rigorous, unique and complex than the one outlined by the Consortium’s proposal. The required minimum of 3 analytic sessions per week is in no way a guarantee of “depth and intensity,” as the Consortium naively puts it (6). More than anything else, such a requirement once again points to a serious misconception about the very nature of psychic time and psychic causality. No required frequency can accelerate a subjective pace or provoke “depth;” much less can it substitute for the appropriate analyst’s listening. Only this listening and the unfolding of the cure can establish the appropriate analytic frequency for each individual case, establishing the specific direction of a cure for the formation of an analyst.