Jouissance & the sexual reality of the (two) unconscious
The topic of jouissance and the sexual reality of the unconscious has been a key concern of mine from my initial years of practicing psychoanalysis in both its clinical and critical frameworks. For my PhD research, this work is significantly developed within the Freudian Field of Psychoanalysis and the Lacanian Orientation and explores, as a starting point, a broad body of literature, historical and contemporary, concerning sexual identity, jouissance and the sexual reality of the unconscious. The literature review highlights that despite considerations given to overcoming dichotomies in sexual difference there are issues unveiled in late Lacanian teaching that remain only partially addressed.
Within the mainstream of Lacanian psychoanalysis, the concepts of jouissance and the sexual reality of the unconscious are generally explained in terms of the possible rapport between the subject and the concepts of the phallus, the name-of-the-father and the symptom. In contradistinction, the quilting point around everything else is organized as the phenomenon of jouissance. Regarding jouissance, sexual difference is addressed, following Lacan’s formula of sexuation, by a theory based on the difference between the all-phallic jouissance, on the side of the Man, and the not-all-phallic jouissance, on the side of the Woman.
This PhD research particularly engages the different types of jouissance discussed by Lacan, specifically jouissance other than phallic jouissance, and their effects in the subject, as perceived in our clinical practice, mediated by language and by lalangue. Further to that, this research closely engages the late Lacanian thesis of the two unconscious. One reference is to the imaginary or transference-unconscious, the one that is deciphered in analysis and that implies fantasy and desire as supports of the subject’s being, the unconscious related to language and the drives. Then there is the real unconscious, linked to Lacan’s neologisms as speaking-being and lalangue. Since the unconscious has been defined as being a reality which is sexual, the two unconscious allow for a different approach to the question of the difference of the sexes. The description of the sexes in terms of symbolic constructs, as in gender studies, is clearly and paradoxically anchored in the transference-unconscious, which is in the imaginary power of language to distinguish between the anatomical sexes.
Moving from Lacan’s formula “There is no sexual relationship” this work discusses Lacan’s formula, “Jouissance is not a sign of love,” emphasizing from clinical work that jouissance and love get knotted. This leads to a reflection on the thesis of Partner-Symptom and Partner-Sinthome. Given that there is no sexual relationship, the symptom or the sinthome could achieve a possible union between the discrete elements of the unconscious and jouissance. Therefore symptoms/sinthomes are placed as a substitute and become no longer the problem but the solution.
The research concludes with the concept of love. Lacan underlined that an aim of psychoanalytic discourse was to produce the passage from semblance to the real, from love to jouissance. Psychoanalysis erases, then, the difference between transference and normal love, the “There is no sexual relation” assumes the status of the Real. For speaking-beings love serves as a crutch of the sexual relation. Consequently, Lacan’s central determination of the relation between love and sexuality states that love supplements the sexual relation. Regarding the relation between the real unconscious and the transference-unconscious, this research refers to the equivocal title of Lacan’s Seminar XXIV, L’insu que sait de l’unebévue s’aile à mourre, which could be read as L’insuccès de l’Unbewusste, c’est l’amour—the non-success of the unconscious is love—engaging with the question: which unconscious and which love? And, indeed, this PhD research sheds some light on how jouissance establishes the sexual reality of the (two) unconscious.