Criminal Passage to the Act – Psychosis and the Real Unconscious, by René Raggenbass


“Indeed, psychoanalysis teaches us that a fault never occurs by chance.”1

Lacan explains that the fault expresses the life of language not on the side of meaning but on that of life in the drives. In my practice with authors of passages to the act, this phrase calls my attention in that the link between the fault and the life of language is not predetermined for lack of words to speak about the crime. Here there is no repression, no Freudian unconscious, so there is no ‘knowing’ that needs deciphering – there is only a body set to act outside language. Here, the fault is connected to the real, there is no slip.

In these situations of life, how can we make the body, put into action, resonate with signifiers that the subject could use to make discourse and a social bond? How can the criminal be separated from something that might function with a view to an exchange, that he might make use of it with the other? In these cases there is no room for interpretations nor for deciphering, but rather for what I call a slow work of encryption, signifying the very coordinates of the passage to the act about which the subject cannot say anything. Faced with the real unconscious, Lacan provides a way, a possible use of something housed in language. In Radiophonie, Lacan says: “Psychoanalyst, it is by the sign that I am alerted.”2 Forewarned and taught, the psychoanalyst can then make use of signs and not of signifiers to clothe, to encrypt the jouissance that is left outside language but enacted in crime. Can the sign make something resonate in the body? What seems more certain is that the sign is a starting point for a possible knotting between a real that remains outside language at the moment of the passage to the act, and the body; and it is by means of an instrument of language that does not pass through meaning but by the sign. This sign can represent something for him in rapport – not in relation – with his own body and the Other of language.

Translated by Janet Haney

(1) Lacan, Jacques, Seminar XXIII, The Sinthome, Polity, Cambridge, 2016, p.127.

(2) Lacan, Jacques, Autres écrits, Seuil, Paris, 2001, p. 413.