The Italian Connection Part 1

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Moreover, as a science, psychoanalysis cannot escape procedures of control, but, instead, should seek to establish and promote them, underlining the intrinsic complexity that constitutes its strength. This epistemological uncertainty becomes clear when one takes into consideration the training of future analysts. This is normally defined with adjectives such as ‘particular’, ‘specific’, ‘individual’, and, therefore, as not definable in itself. At this point, the antinomic bent taken in every discussion regarding the regulation of psychoanalysis becomes even obvious. On the one hand, analytical training develops through procedures and springs out from presuppositions that are very different from those of Academia or those pre-arranged by someone else – including the State. On the other, the analytic act is a public one, so it is logical that anyone – including the State – may ask organisations to explain the standards that their candidates and members should adhere to.
Ettore Perrella and Antonello Sciacchitano, the Italian psychoanalysts who are the authors of the ensuing debate, are aware of this. When Simona Revelli asked me to write an introduction to her English translation, I was very pleased and accepted immediately. That was because, to this day, these two authors’ brief correspondence still holds interesting elements for me. This is especially so because their debate is a paradigm of the huge theoretical implications generated by the confrontation not so much with abstract Law – something that psychoanalysts discuss plenty and very willingly, as do the not at all lay shepherds of souls – but with concrete Law. Thus, I anticipate that the reader will appreciate the authors’ quick, but punctual, incursions into Philosophy of Law, Logic and even Theology as necessities in this case. Their starting points are opposite, which explains the initially polemical tone of the debate. For Perrella the axis psychotherapy-psychoanalysis is continuous, and it is precisely in this continuity that he foresees a possible solution to the problem of regulation, provided that the tradition of legal positivism can be overcome. In line with the French school, for Sciacchitano psychoanalysis constitutes, instead, a solution to continuity, and, therefore, a break of the axis that he defines as ‘Hippocratic’. Thus, for Perrella, the problematic encountered by every project that aims at regulating psychoanalysis – conceived as one of the possible modalities of subjective training – depends on the modern superimposition of law with the plain of rights. For Scacchitano, the mere idea of regulating psychoanalysis entails the high risk of its being absorbed into state medicine, which can only pursue the ideal of adapting individuals to the expectations of the society to which they belong.
At this point, in order to avoid anticipating the authors’ conclusions – a mistake that, probably, I have already made, given my interest in the topic – I shall perform the only duty that justifies my introduction. That is, I shall move to give the English reader some useful information, so as to make it possible for him to understand more fully this ‘passionate quarrel’.
The authors’ email exchange was generated as a result of their involvement with ‘Spaziozero – Movement for Lay Psychoanalysis’ (a movement, not a real organisation), which aimed at reflecting on the practice of psychoanalysis in Italy following the approval of Law 56 in 1989. When Perrella and Sciacchitano began to write to each other, Spaziozero had 181 members, among which there were about ten editors and sub-editors of specialised journals (such as ‘Psicoterapia e Scienze Umane’, one of the oldest, founded in 1967). Among these 181 ‘Gideon’ members, there were several Lacanians, but also some Freudians, Jungians, and so on.