Reading Plato's Symposium

No Thumbnail Available
O'Donnell, Barry
Issue Date
The School of Psychotherapy at SVUH
Items in Esource are protected by copyright. Previously published items are made available in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/copyright holder.
Lacan decided that an analysis of the Symposium of Plato in his Seminar of 1960 - 1961 would be an illuminating detour by which to investigate the transference relation in psychoanalysis. This investigation centred on the question of the desire of the analyst and the ethical implication of where the analyst ought to situate himself in order to respond to the transference. Central to the discussion is the concept of identification and the role of the ego ideal. There is a danger in analysis that the analyst is offered the place of the ego ideal for the analysand and that he assumes this position by abandoning his role as subject-who-is-supposed-to-know (sujet-suppose-savoir) and erroneously taking the position of the one who knows (master of knowledge). In this case the desire of the analyst is the desire to 'understand' the analysand and falling for this lure is a sign of the incompetence of the analyst. The challenge facing the analyst is much more difficult than reaching an understanding and communicating that understanding to the analysand. It requires the ability to know how and when not to know, to be able to be desiring in the full sense that Lacan gives to this term, and to do this in a way that makes possible the realisation of the desire of the analysand by the analysand.