Transference in Seminar XI, by Bernard Seynhaeve


How do we determine what constitutes transference at the conclusion of the seminar on The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis?

Lacan articulates his concept of transference, on the one hand, with that of the subject such that transference establishes the subject supposed-to-know, and on the other hand with the object a, in so far as he articulates transference to love, transference-love that corresponds with the closing of the unconscious, such that “I do not want to know anything… about my unconscious”. It is therefore necessary to situate the paradox of transference between these two opposites: the subject supposed to know of the transference and the “I don’t want to know anything about it” of transference love.

J.-A. Miller entitled these last chapters of Seminar XI, “The Field of the Other and Back to the Transference”. At the end of the seminar, Lacan returns to transference in light of the causation of the subject, namely the operations of Alienation and of Separation.

What is at stake in the operation of alienation is consistent with the production of a subject in a movement which addresses the symbolic Other. However, here Lacan takes another step; he attempts to articulate two heterogeneous orders: that of the signifier and that of jouissance. For the binary, metaphor – metonymy, which does not take jouissance into account, Lacan substitutes alienation and separation. And thanks to this substitution, he can introduce the object a into the operation of the causation of the subject.

The first moment of entry into analysis is the moment of alienation, it is also the moment of transference, that of a supposition of knowledge. Alienation consists in the supposition that our symptomatic complaint conceals a meaning, a knowledge which escapes us. We make the hypothesis of the unconscious.

It takes this first moment of alienation to establish the transference, the pivot of which is the supposition of knowledge.

Alienation produces the movement towards signification which inaugurates the field of the Other as a link to meaning. If there is no appeal to signification, there is no entry into analysis.

  1. Miller, J.-A., “L’orientation lacanienne.1,2,3,4”, lesson of 28th November, 1984, delivered at the Department of Psychoanalysis, University of Paris VIII (unpublished).

Translated by Raphael Montague