The Real of Transference, by Philippe La Sagna


The reality of transference is what gives us access to sexual reality. In his Seminar VIII Lacan notes: “What is involved in desire is an object, not a subject”. And he adds “an object before which we disappear as subject”.1 This is what he calls “the terrifying commandment of the God of Love”.

Transference is not an illusion, but on the contrary it has a real face. Besides, transference love is for Freud, a true love [un echt Lieb]. Thus the transference is also an access to what is real in love. At the beginning of Seminar VIII, Lacan emphasises that classically transference is something that resembles love and also what “puts love into question”.2
What cannot be interpreted, what cannot be heard, is nothing other than what is incarnated in the object a. So the problem, if the analyst becomes attentive to this dimension of the object in the patient, is if the analyst becomes “the one who sees little a”3, he is “the seer”. The analyst then risks becoming the barred subject, hypnotised by the little a, by the object he meets in the patient. This is a point Lacan takes again up in Seminar XI.
But what is it that allows for the object to be on the side of the analyst and not of the side of the patient? How can the analyst avoid being hypnotised?

In Seminar VIII, it is supposed, that the analyst will leave free a place for this object on his side, it is what Lacan describes as real presence, “And therefore through an antimony, through a paradox which is that of our function, it is at the very place where we are supposed to know that which we are called to be, and to be nothing more than the real presence as long as it is unconscious”.4

The analyst is not supposed to know, he is supposed to represent the real presence. That is something that stands between signifiers.5

Lacan will say that the transference is linked to the Subject Supposed to Know, that is to say that you love the one to whom knowledge is supposed. But, you have to be careful with that. For at the core of love is also what we do not know. So, this supposes that the analyst is not only a Subject Supposed to Know but also one who knows how to preserve its lack of knowledge [inscience]. That is, an analyst must preserve the dimension of “I do not know”. If he treads too far with “not supposed” knowledge, this space of the “I do not know”, he breaks the transference. And this “I do not know” touches the sexual real. This way in which the quality of this lack of knowkedge manifests itself will be the living source of the question from the analysand to analyst: but what does he want: “Che vuoi?”

1 Lacan, J., Seminar VIII: Transference, Polity, Cambridge, 2015, p. 167.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.

Translated by Joanne Conway