Transference and the Body of the Psychoanalyst, by Anne Béraud


The psychoanalyst, said Lacan, lends his person “as a prop for the singular phenomena analysis discovered in the transference”.1

The analyst plays his part by lending his presence. Thus, the sexual reality of the unconscious only becomes visible if it is embodied by the presence of the analyst. The analyst’s presence actualises the pulsional sexual part of the unconscious, which is beyond words. This is why Lacan specifies that “the presence of the analyst (…) must be integrated into the concept of the unconscious”. The presence of the analyst is the testimony to the crossing the real of the unconscious.2 The analyst takes a place in the transference as a real presence. And this presence embodies what can never be said.      

“The presence of the analyst is itself a manifestation of the unconscious”3  because the drive is a manifestation of the unconscious on the side of the real, non-signifiable. A formation of the unconscious is always signifiable. Here it is a manifestation of the unconscious, and not a formation of the unconscious. And this manifestation is presentified, revealed by the presence and the act of the analyst.

“(…) the analyst, in his presence, embodies something of jouissance, that is to say the non-symbolisable part of jouissance.”4

And Jacques-Alain Miller adds,  “(…) the necessary presence of the analyst in flesh and in bone is the testimony.”5

The act of the analyst, in the position of semblance of the object, knots the three circles of the symbolic, imaginary and the real. By the presence of the body of the analyst, the body of the drive is engaged. Thus, there is something else at stake in the session: that which cannot be stated because it lacks words, and cannot be known because it is impossible to know, in the sense of a being a hole in knowledge. Interpretation, not necessarily made of words, relates then to this impossible to say, and aims at the drive in its fabric of enjoyment.

Translated by Joanne Conway

  1. Lacan, J., “The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power”, Écrits, Norton, New York/London, 2006, p. 585.
  2. Lacan, J., Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, Norton, New York/London, 1998, p. 125.
  3. Ibid., p125.
  4. Lacan J., « La troisième », Lettres de l’EFP, No. 16, November 1975, p. 187.
  5. Miller J.-A., « L’inconscient à venir », La Cause du désir, No. 97, Internet avec Lacan, November 2017, p. 108.