My Translation of Lacan’s Seminar 1. Freud’s Papers on Technique: The Moment of Resistance 1


I wish you the best in the New Year by saying, “The fun is over!” Last term you heard from me. This term I hope to hear from you.

It’s kind of a law or a tradition of the ‘seminar’ that participants bring more than a purely personal effort, do more than contribute by communicating effectively. This more comes from those who are invested in the work, who use the seminars to explore the full meaning of these texts, from those practicing in a variety of capacities. You’ll still get the answers from me you’re looking for.

I’d appreciate it if you gave your all to this new phase of the seminar. And that means when I call on you please don’t respond with a long face, saying it’s been a rough week. I’m talking here to those in the psychoanalytic group we represent. And if this group does get established, our task will be to bring nothing less than the future, the meaning of all we do and will do for the rest of our lives. If you’re not here to put everything you do into question, I don’t know why you’re here. That’s our task, putting everything we do in question, so if you don’t sense the meaning of that task, maybe join up with some bureaucracy.


These reflections are particularly relevent just when we’re tackling what’s commonly called Freud’s Papers on Technique.

One tradition has seized on this phrase, Papers on Technique. During Freud’s lifetime, a small volume of eight folded pages was published with the title The Psychoanalytic Technique and Metapsychology. This volume was filled with a number of Freud’s writings from 1904-1919, and the title, presentation, and contents indicated that they dealt with the psychoanalytic method.

The volume was put together to caution inexperienced or beginning analysts as they began working. The caution was also a clarification of some of the methods used by pscyhoanalysts, and also a clarification of the essence of psychoanalysis.

Some of these passages let us see how psychoanalytic practice has developed over the years. You can see there some of the fundamental notions that operate in analytic therapy – the notion of resistance and the function of transference, how to intervene in the transference, and even the essential role that transference neurosis plays. So I don’t need to persuade you of these texts importance.

Of course, these papers could have been brought together differently, probably better. The content in those papers doesn’t exactly fit under the heading Papers on Technique. And yet the texts are unified. They represent one particular stage among others in the development of Freud’s thinking. So we’ll study them from this perspective.

So let’s get the history straight. There was an intermediary step between 1904 and 1909, and one author says this intermediary step comes after Freud’s *seminal experience*, but before Freud elaborated the structural theory. So we’re looking between 1904 and 1909.

Freud published his article on method in 1904. This is the first time Freud officially uses the word ‘psychoanalysis,’ at least formally, and he places it in the article’s title: The Psycho-analytic Procedure. 1909 is the date when Freud traveled to America with his son, Jung, and lectured at Clark University.

If we look at 1920, we again find Freud’s structural theory, or the metapsychological theory as Freud called it- another theoretical development his experience and discoveries gave us.

So you see, the so-called Papers on Technique are spread between these two advances. It’s a mistake to think these papers are about pscyhoanalytic technique. Their meaning is elsewhere.

In a way, Freud never stopped discussing technique. Consider his Studies on Hysteria, which is if anything one long account of discovering analytic technique. There we witness it in the making, and for that the Studies are priceless. So if we were really set on a systematic account of Freud’s technique, we’d start there. But there are reasons we’re not starting with the Studies. Or The Interpretation of Dreams, which is also always and endlessly about technique. If we allow ourselves not to focus on the fact that Freud wrote on mythological, anthropological, and cultural topics, we notice that almost everything Freud wrote concerned technique. Even Analysis Terminable and Interminable, which he published as late as 1934, is one of his most important works on technique.

Now I’d like to stress the frame of mind I think is best suited for commenting on these papers. This is a matter that should be settled today.


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