- Derrida’s Psychoanalysis
This essay was originally presented as part of a colloquium held in Napoli from 7 to 10 October 2009, in the presence of Marguerite Derrida, and which was organized by Valerio Adami and Maurizio Ferraris. A transcript was published in Annali 2009/V, Fondazione Europea del Disegno (Foundation Adami) under the title “Spettri di Derrida” (Il nuevo melangomo, 2010).
When Maurizio Ferraris, whom I thank for bringing us together today on the fifth anniversary of Jacques Derrida’s death, so generously asked me to participate, it was, he wrote to me, in the name of the long-lasting friendship that I had the pleasure of maintaining with Jacques, but also owing to my profession. I asked myself how I was to hear his request, especially as he suggested to me the title “Psychanalyse de Derrida.” I asked him to add the “la”—as one says in French, “donner le la,” in the sense of sounding an “A,” the sixth note of the musical scale. Nevertheless, as with the “la” of psychoanalysis, the ambiguity of the title does not exhaust itself. Do they expect me to psychoanalyze Derrida, or to speak of what psychoanalysis is according to Derrida? Just as one says “Freud’s unconscious,” if I were to use this arrangement one would not know a priori if I were speaking about the unconscious operating in Freud’s work or the notion of the unconscious such as it has been developed since Freud.
As it would take me much more time than I’ve been given to speak about what I cannot speak of—what I would not know how to speak of, even if I could—namely, “the analysis of Jacques [End Page 1] Derrida,” I will content myself with saying something, if too little, about “Derrida’s psychoanalysis.” It will be necessary to hear this in a very particular sense, one that I will frame here in terms of what psychoanalysis induces in Derrida, and what Derrida induces in psychoanalysis. What the title could otherwise allow us to think would be something like “Derridean psychoanalysis,” in the way we ordinarily—problematically, if not abusively—refer to “Freudian psychoanalysis” or “Lacanian psychoanalysis.” At the 1990 colloquium, Lacan avec les philosophes, we spent a long time explicating, for real or apparent addressees, the question of the relationship between a science and a thinking elaborated under a proper name. I will not return to that debate. But whatever I say about this question in a liminal fashion here, the matter is not so simple with regard to any proposed distinction. Everyone knows that each writer delivers, in writing, things that escape his conscious awareness and that can just as well appear in the awareness of the dream, whether he wants them to or not, whether he knows it or not. In a way that allows it to belong just as much to the history of psychoanalysis and literature as to the history of philosophy, Derrida’s writing is pregnant with free associations. These are certainly controlled, but they allow for the unforeseen, for what arrives unexpectedly to emerge, as well as for reflection on the relationship between what does not belong to pure presence and thought, taking into account desire, drive, and the après coup that traverse this writing. The distinction between analyst and analysand remains fragile: “The fact that I have never been in analysis, in the institutional sense of the analytic situation,” said Derrida in reference to Lacan, who believed he was in analysis at the time of his having written the preface to Abraham and Torok’s The Wolf Man’s Magic Word, “does not mean that I am not, here or there, in a way that cannot easily be toted up, analysand or analyst in my own time and in my own way. Like everyone else” (Derrida 1998, 68). This is especially relevant to the extent that Lacan claimed to have taught from the position of the analysand rather than from that of the analyst, which is to say, from [End Page 2] the place that allows one to speak, if not “the truth,” then at...