It is always thought that the analyst is someone who will offer the patient the standard, more or less sexual, interpretation.
During a seminar, Bruno Bettelheim was disturbed by a female student who was knitting while listening to him. Bettelheim told her that what she was doing was a metaphorical surrogate for masturbation. And she replied: “no sir, when I knit, I knit and when I masturbate, I masturbate” (see Leader 2016 ). It is interpretations such as Bettelheim’s that have ended up turning the analyst into a farcical “stock character.” For Lacan, interpretation – being a form of linguistic elaboration, of symbolization, of “making things thinkable,” and so on – is not decisive: it refers back to something that will always remain outside anything that is symbolizable. For Lacan, analytical constructions work if they re-construct our relationship to the Real, i.e. a relationship to something that remains external to the analytic relation, that structures it, and goes beyond it. In short, the point is not offering a “good interpretation” – of the dream, of the symptom, and so on – but, as Lacan says, “rectifying the subject’s relationship to the Real.” “Rectifying” implies a mistake, a deviation that needs to be corrected. What counts for Lacan is the relationship to the Real, not to other humans, symbols or representations. For Lacan, the end of analysis is not introverted but extroverted.
CONVERSATIONS WITH LACAN