Romulo Lander [Caracas]

The 7th International conference of ‘Lacan in IPA’ will take place in the city of Sao Paulo, Brasil. The title selected is: ‘Anxiety: the affect which does not deceive’ assertion raised by Jacques Lacan in his famous seminar-10 of the academic year 1962-63 devoted to the study of anxiety. The panel that I will be working with has a specific theme, entitled: Is the rock of castration the limit to analysis? This is an assertion raise by Sigmund Freud in his paper ‘Analysis Terminable and interminable’ written in 1937.

In this text of 1937, Freud speaks of a ‘rock bed’ as a limitation to the progress of a clinical analysis. This assertion is later presented as ‘the rock of castration’. This ‘rock bed’ sentence of Freud always has called upon us to think about the limits of clinical psychoanalysis. There are two additional problems that are closely related to this issue of the ‘limits’ of analysis. I am referring to the ‘purpose’ and the ‘end’ of analysis.

The metaphor of the ‘rock bed of castration’ used by Freud, refers to the limit that occurs, when the working on the unconscious goes deeper and deeper. When the analysis reaches a point, beyond which, it cannot continues. It is a metaphor that comes from the underground geological explorations. It occurs when the drill that pierces in the depths of the earth, faces the rock bed and cannot make more progress. Freud proposed that in a similar way, the analysis may encounter a barrier [the rock bed] that prevents and constitutes a limit in the search, progressively deeper, that the analysis does on the unconscious. Freud thought that this barrier was castration. The analysand has to accept its inevitable castration [insufficiencies] which will constitute the end of the analysis.

Here is a difficulty that compels us to ask: What did Freud means with the barrier of castration? I am referring to something that may be beyond castration. I will apply concepts that steam from structural Lacanian propositions and say: the barrier of castration or ‘rock bed’ refers to the various deficiencies that are present during the early formation of the psyche. Remember, structural psychoanalysis describes three basic noxas: Trauma, Conflict and defect. The defect refers to deficiencies[1] which is something is structural. In some texts it is called structural defect. This lack or defect is what the subject does not received at the time of his mental constitution. It is a failure, a pattern of lack, a something irreparable. The unavoidable presence of these deficiencies in early childhood, gives rise to what is called:[2] the psychological theory of the hollow, which refers to areas of the mind that are empty, giving rise to what are now called: the clinic of the vacuum.

Some deficiencies in the constitution of the psyche can only be relieved by unconscious construction of a replacement called ‘suplencia’. These replacements sometimes look like a symptom, and other times as a sinthome. Jacques Lacan theoretical development after 1960 refers to the theory of symbolic and imaginary substitutions.

The theoretical concept of substitution [suplencia] will go across Lacan work, especially after 1960. The substitution is a term that mistakenly relates to his last teaching. But in reality we find it, as an operational concept, from the beginning of the sixties when Lacan is devoted to the study of the psychotic structure. At that time Lacan introduces the concept of a mental mechanism called <forclusion of the name of the father>. It means that the introjection of the father imago is missing at an early age. Lacan will propose that forclusion of the name of the father is the basic mechanism for the building of a mental psychotic structure

So the forclusion of the name of the father means that it is not inscribed, in consequence it leaves a lack, and it will be substituted for something [a suplencia] so to achieve mental stability. This stability comes with the knotting of the three orders, where the substitution makes a kind a fourth knot. Sometimes the difficulty of the psychotic structure is so serious that the substitution goes haywire. For example, a hallucination auditory or visual [as a substitution] can create an effect of enjoyment [Jouissance] so intense, that goes it goes haywire. The subject does not recognize the hallucination as something of their own, but as something alien. The hallucination is part of a vacuum forclusivo [which refers to the something not registered] but unfortunately this hallucinatory substitution is perceived as foreign. The amount of enjoyment created is unmanageable. Puts the psychotic, as Lacan said: in a sea of enjoyment. In other cases the substitution in the psychotic structure is recognized as something of their own, such as occurs in the extreme obesity, in the compulsive consumption of drugs or compulsive gambling. These are initially identifies clinically as a symptom, which are not. It is subsequently that Lacan is going to create the new concept of the sinthome. This mechanism is something that is not a symptom nor is it phantom. The sinthome is a fourth knot that creates the psychic stability in the psychotic structure.

In neurosis the lack will give rise to another type of substitution. The best example is the dialectic of the subject with the object-(a) [petit-a]. The object-(a) speaks to us of the lost object in early infancy, an object always sought and never found. This object-(a) may be [in fiction] be found in the body of the other, this is a way to block the lack. To block the lack, the object-(a) is to be converted in a particular modality of stead. becomes the object of hatred or love passionate in the neurotic appears as well the love and hatred of passion as substitution.

In short: the work of the analysis will eventually be faced with a limit. Freud called the rock bed of the castration, beyond which it is not possible to continue the analytical work. This rock bed is formed by the shortcomings of the constituent subject. The only thing that the analysis can offer is that the subject in analysis: the may clearly know . It is worth repeating here on the idea that the subject needs its substitutions to maintain its psychic stability. The substitution is not a symptom and the conflict and trauma do not belong to the rock bed.

Scroll to the end in the analysis is a challenge for analysts. Freud saw it as an impossibility. The acceptance of the castration finds its limit in this famous rock bed. Lacan is allows you to think about another order of analysis and overcome the disappointing idea that the analysis does not end, but that simply are interrupted at some crucial point. There was a time of the militant freudian-lacanism mixtures that were in the insisted that she had to be up to the final. There was talk of crossing the ghost, of des-idealise the analyst, until it came to the proposal of ‘not to relent in the desire’.

I would like to take a few minutes to mention other aspects of this issue of the purpose and the purpose of analysis, both topics related to the limits of the analysis.

  • Talk about the purpose is to talk about the objectives of the cure. There are analysts on all doctors who insist on the therapeutic intention of psychoanalysis. Where the aim is to achieve cure the patient of any disease or pathology . There are other analysts who believe that the purpose of the analysis is not cure anything, since there is no sick, but to offer to the person involved a special dialog called psychoanalysis that helps the patient to get to know himself. Jacques Lacan said that the purpose of the analysis is to help the analyzing to ‘not to relent in their desire’ and ‘being what it is.» I have to say that this assertion Lacan agrees fully with Wilfred Bion.
  • Talk about the end of analysisdoes not require to make a clarification. One thing is the completion of analysis has been achieved in a mutual agreement with the analyst, without having reached a true order and another thing is the end of analysis. The end of the analysis is usually an end theoretical and refers to get to ‘become what it is’. This is something that requires both sacrifice to analysing what the majority of them cannot access to that. Both analyst and analysing conform with a termination.
  • Both the termination, such as the end of analysis, allow you to review several aspects of the life of the analyzing, as are the following: (a) aspects of enjoyment at the time of terminationOf the cure (b) significance and benefits of the crossing of the ghost in the cure, and the completion of the analysis . (C) The consequences of the identification with the wishes of the analyst In the cure. (D) The importance of the ability of the analyst become a waste. (E) Problems with the identification with the ideals of the analyst. (F) Problems with the instant cure transferential (g) The fate of the effects post-analytical.

Each of these seven sections requires elaboration, which exceeds the limits of this work, but it is something that I already have written in Spanish and English and i can send by e-mail, to whom I ask. [3]


LANDER, R. [ 2010]: Lacan, for the non-lacanian

LANDER, R. [ 2004]: Subjective experience and logic of the other

FREUD S [ 1937]: Analysis Terminable and interminable

LACAN, J. [ 1960]: The ethics of psychoanalysis

LACAN, J. [ 1963]: SEMINAR 10 on ‘Anxiety’

[1] The concept of noxa in biology refers to the cause, also called in medicine: the etiology, the weaknesses can be considered cancerous.


[2] This deficiency or modality of the lack, no regard to the concept of the «missing-in-be’ described by Hegel and then drawn up by Lacan.