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Lacan’s “Ethical Guidelines” and Psychotherapy Today

Lacan’s “Ethical Guidelines” and Psychotherapy Today

Ethics are at the centre of our work as analysts and [ethics are that] which hold together all those who constitute the psychoanalytic community ‘Lacan, 1992 (59-60) 38. Seminar VII can be read as offering ethical guidelines for both those on and behind the couch. Lacan provides certain insights into racism, homophobia and religious intolerance and sexism with his notion that what we tolerate least well in other people is their own particular way of obtaining jouissance (Fink. 2002 34).
This paper will introduce some of the ideas from Lacan’s Seminar VII with reference to analyst and therapist and client, and to the position we take up as psycho­ practitioners vis-a-vis the communities in which we work. The paper investigates the recent history of attempts by the State to regulate the ‘talking therapies’ and the conflicts within the psychotherapy communities that arose in response.

The paper takes the view that the ethics of psychoanalysis cannot be subsumed to the interests of the state or to the higher good that is so frequently invoked by the state- in the current milieu in the UK­ characterized as protection of the public, or transparency or as an appeal to natural justice.

An articulation of the ethics of psychoanalysis through a framework of rules and codes of our organizations needs to acknowledge and insist upon at least two things. Firstly, the specific and entirely individual history of the analyst and, secondly, the particularities of the structural relationship between analyst and analysed. But if we need to forget about being and doing well, what do we need to do?