Symptom Formation

Please note that “” is my only official website.

In this article, we will approach the question of symptom formation. The full text of this article appeared as a chapter of my book: Lacan, Mortality, Life and Language, Routledge, September 2021.

Symptom Formation

The later conceptualisation of the subject and the symptom in Lacanian theory concerns both the mode of interpretation and the direction of the treatment in the clinic of neurosis and psychosis. The question to ask is how, in the course of an analysis, we can move towards the reduction of a personal myth/family drama in a suffering subject (who suffers from his symptom) and allow him weave a new mode of being in the domain of language, a mode of being that is sustainable with the help of a sinthome?

Instead of employing clinical interpretations, which aim to reconstruct the story behind each symptom, based on personal history, we suggest an alternative approach: deconstructing the primordial interpretation, formed by the subject of the unconscious in relation to the equivocation found in his mother tongue. In other words, we need to find a way of moving in the reverse direction, towards the earlier unconscious operation of equivocation and signification, and to decompose the primary signification by means of equivocal interpretation.

We use equivocal interpretation as an analytical act in different ways in the clinic of psychoanalysis in order to help the subject to avoid being fooled by his personal myth, which may be the cause of his malaise. In some cases, it is possible to arrive at one significant, equivocal, maternal narrative, upon which a myth around the subject’s being has been built. If the analyst’s interpretations in the course of the sessions aiming only at constructing yet another myth around his narratives, this would prevent the subject from moving towards the primordial, unconscious operation of interpretation (the signification), based on which a symptom has come into being. Such an approach makes the analyst a storyteller, who creates a new myth or narrative for the subject but never allows the subject to construct his own knot of being anew. The outcome is a hall of mirrors reflecting endless interpretations, with no meaningful effect on the subject’s life. He will not feel that he is telling his own story. Such an approach to interpretation might offer some therapeutic effects, but certainly not at the level of the symptom, which has to be formed by the subject’s own agency.