“Transference Reveals the Truth of Love”, Report on Sophie Marret-Maleval’s presentation at the London Society  (19th May 2018), by Peggy Papada


On 19th May, the day which coincided with the Royal wedding, Sophie Marret-Maleval came to London to speak to us about love. She gave us a very rich conceptual paper which, as she said, reflected her love for reading Lacan and chose a phrase from Lacan’s last teaching, “transference reveals the truth of love”1 to take us through his work and explore what becomes of the notion of transference and love.

Starting from “Presentation on Transference”2, a text which exposes the impasses that are reached by the overwhelming presence of the analytic couple, we moved to symbolic articulations of transference, whereby love is equated with a lack in the subject insofar as he is a speaking being. Thus in Seminar VIII, 3 the desiring subject tries to reach the object of desire in the Other, by making himself desirable: the substitution of the desired one for the desiring one is crucial insofar as what is desired is a desiring Other. This is echoed in Seminar V, 4 where Lacan makes it clear that desire is the desire for a desire, a desire to be desired, hence the supposition of a desire within the Other. This condition is what makes love always reciprocal yet in that respect transference differs from love insofar as the analyst does not answer the demand for love and therefore leads the analysand to the recognition of the impossibility of her completion, of her lack, of the true nature of the object at stake.

With the advent of Seminar XX and the paradigm of the non-rapport, speech is no longer understood as communication but as jouissance.5 Meaning becomes secondary in comparison to S1a, the mark of the signifier on the body, and thus Lacan will privilege the notion of the sign over the signifier and claim that the signifier is the cause of jouissance. In Seminar XX Lacan says that love is a sign that one is changing discourses. He thus connects love to the sign, conceives of love as a sign, not included in the structure of discourses. The sign is linked to the letter, a displacement of the notion of writing which has to be situated with regard to what does not cease not to be written, the non-rapport (…) After all, as our speaker reminded us, common experience testifies to the fact that love is a matter of signs, signs of love.
Lacan also points to the function of love as a letter whereby love links the One and the Other by means of object. It links S1 and a, which is also the function of the letter (…) Love consists of writing a letter and the work of transference consists of reading it. Thus, Lacan speaks about reading and interpretations based on reading, which aim at the extraction of object a, the roots of one’s jouissance beyond meaning.

Sophie Marret-Maleval’s presentation was followed by a lively discussion in which she was able to touch upon many themes. (…) What I found particularly striking was the nature of love as an almost transitional word, which points to a discursive shift, the sign that one is changing discourses: if Love is conceived of as between discourses, while a remains discursive and circulates within, we can understand why the purpose of psychoanalysis – at least at the level of the social field – is to support the circulation of discourses. Circulation thus “goes against the turning in circles of a single discourse”.6

Sophie Marret-Maleval’s text will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Psychoanalytical Notebooks. For the full report, following Sophie Marret-Maleval’s development of the theme, please visit the past events page of the London Society’s website or click the link below.

1. Jacques Lacan, Seminar XXI, “Les Non-dupes errant” unpublished, session of the 19th of March 1974.
2. Jacques Lacan, “Presentation on Transference” in Écrits, pp. 176-185.
3. Jacques Lacan, Seminar VIII, Transference, Polity, 2015.
4. Jacques Lacan, Seminar V, Formations of the Unconscious, Polity, 2017.
5. J Lacan, Seminar XX, Encore, Routledge, 1998.
6. Cf. Lilia Mahjoub, “Fear of the Other – Discourse and Segregation”, Psychoanalytical Notebooks 32 (2018), p 41.