Australasian Journal Of Psychotherapy
NO.2 - 2016
I am delighted to introduce the second volume of the Australasian Journal of Psychotherapy for 2016. As promised in my previous Editorial, this edition brings together a number of papers of a Lacanian bent, two of which were presented at the last PPAA conference, and one offered by a Melbourne member. Each of the papers focusses on aspects of sexuality and gender from both theoretical and clinical perspectives. These are challenging papers for those less familiar with Lacan, but taken together readers will be rewarded with a much deeper understanding of this very rich theoretical tradition. We are also pleased to have another paper by regular contributor Judi Blumenfeld Hoadley, also given at the June meeting, this too a profound exploration of the conference theme, Sexualities: Psychoanalytic (Re)Thinking: Sex, Gender and Sexuality.
The first paper, by Melbourne analyst Leonardo Rodríguez, delivered at the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research, in London, on 14 November 2015, offers a critical analysis of the evolution of theories concerning the Oedipus Complex, from Freud to Lacan. Leonard condenses many years of research and reflection in this elegantly written and subtly argued paper. He provides a wonderful bridge into the two Lacanian offerings.
Gustavo Restivo also brings a story to the table, this time one by Jorge Luis Borges, Argentine poet and short-story writer whose works have become classics of the 20th-century. The Sect of the Phoenix is used as a vehicle to explore the process Lacan called sexuation. According to Lacan, sexuation, as distinct from biological sexuality, designates the way in which the subject is inscribed in the difference between the sexes, specifically in terms of the unconscious and castration, that is, as “inhabiting language”(Lacan). The concept of jouissance plays a particularly important role here. For those of you perhaps unfamiliar, as I was, with this concept, here is Lacan himself describing it in a sharp analogy, in Seminar XVII: jouissance “begins with a tickle and ends with blaze of petrol”.
Chantal Degril, in her paper, “The Choice of Sex”, continues the Lacanian focus of sexual and gender formation through the lens of three extended case fragments. In these, aspects of the fear of castration, the interplay of language and gender, and sexuation, are explored. Chantal’s patients face, paradoxically, a choice of gender that is, Lacan argues, neither conscious nor free.
Finally, Judi Blumenfeld Hoadley, following a splendid introduction which brings together both Freudian and Kleinian perspectives of sexual development, gives an extended case study of her work with a woman whose inner existential torment might be described as a psychosexual “black hole”. Although Judi begins her paper with a quote from Dimen —“The affects around sex make it difficult to think about”— in this paper Judi demonstrates her fine capacity to keep thinking and maintain hope in the face of unconscious and conscious attacks on the therapy by a patient excoriated by self-hatred, shame, and disgust.
Elisabeth Hanscombe brings to the journal two reviews. The first is by Tessa Phillips, who is energized and excited by Russell Meares’ work, The Poet’s Voice in the Making of Mind, which continues that author’s lifelong inquiry into the formation and evolution of the self, and in particular, in this book, the role of self reflection as a uniquely human aspect of the intersubjective dynamic. Both art and psychoanalysis offer rich opportunities for such reflection. Says Meares, “Self is a system in which growth occurs by a representation, a ‘picturing’, of self to itself”.
The second review is by Thea van Hees, of the reissued edited volume, The Seed of Madness: Constitution, Environment, and Fantasy in the Organization of the Psychotic Core. Thea recommends this book highly, finding in it much of relevance to clinician of today in spite of the fact that the work is now 20 years old. As these papers show, current understandings of psychosis offer scope for contemporary psychoanalytic treatment of patients previously considered unanalyzable, for whom medication was the only treatment thought suitable.
I need to advise readers that from June next year I will be stepping down as Editor of the AJP. I have enjoyed my five years in this role, but it is time for new directions. My colleagues in the production of the journal have, throughout my time as Editor, provided me with invaluable assistance, as well as good cheer, and I will miss our collaborative engagement. If any PPAA wordsmiths are interested in taking on the Editorship of the AJP inquiries would be welcome.