The Psychoanalyst and His Unconscious, by Yves Vanderveken


The psychoanalyst does not have an unconscious. If he has an unconscious, it is as an analysand.

In the Lacanian orientation, analyst and analysand are not incompatible terms.

It is through his own analysis, taken far enough, that the psychoanalyst and his desire emerge. The analyst is therefore a production of his “being” as an analysand – that is to say, of his unconscious.

But during the time that the analyst consents to operating as the semblance of an object, he has no unconscious. This is what he aims for: his own unconscious to be closed, or sufficiently cleaned, so that it is rendered inactive. This is in order to make room, in the treatment that he directs1, for the analysand’s unconscious only, and not to interfere, to prevent or to confine its productions. This is the logical consequence of the Lacanian aphorism: that there is no other resistance than that of the analyst.2

Is the analyst then purified of his unconscious? Certainly not. Lacan ties the analyst to his own treatment, and to this only, in so far as it has its logical conclusion. This is the Lacanian wager – and the analysand’s task is to show its end to others. But the treatment also has an infinite dimension. Analysis terminable and interminable. How do we grasp this?

The analyst’s desire is not a pure desire3. Lacan says that he has an “experienced” (averti) desire4. A product of his own treatment, he operates from symptomatic remains. It is included in the table of treatments5, and even if only half of the symptom is taken on, it cannot be removed without difficulty. But are these remains still part of the unconscious? Here we need to turn to the two types of the unconscious in the teachings of Lacan that Jacques-Alain Miller has pointed out to us. If these remains, with which the analyst operates, belong to the real unconscious, the one that “no longer has any meaning (or interpretation)”6, is this unalterable?

No, because when the remains are brought back to their scope of meaning, the analyst must re-examine, every time that it’s needed and for the time it takes, the transferential unconscious. This is the Freudian recommendation of the necessary and regular return to analysis by the analyst.

It may happen that the traumatic kernel is struck again with full force and that it reactivates. The resistance that emerges in the treatments that he directs can also be a sign of an “un-analysed” of the analyst. Here, supervision shows its range of function and can lead to a new bend through analysis.

In its function, the analyst’s unconscious has nothing to do there, nor does it interpret itself, much less be transmitted.

1 Lacan, J., Écrits, The First Complete Edition in English, tr. B. Fink, W.W. Norton & Co., London/New York, 2002, p. 490.
2 Ibid., p. 314.
3 Lacan, J., The Seminar, Book XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, tr. A. Sheridan, W.W. Norton, London/Paris, 1998, p. 276.
4 Lacan, J., The Seminar, Book VII, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, tr. D. Porter, Routledge, London/Paris, 2008, p. 369.
5 Developped by Jacques-Alain Miller during Pipol V.
6 Lacan, J., Autres écrits, Paris, Seuil, 2001, p. 571.
Translated by Jane Hodgson-McCrohan