In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Seminar on the Dual Unity and the Phantom
  • Nicolas Abraham (bio)
    Translated by Tom Goodwin

[End Page 14]

What use is the dual unity? My response: anasemia, which is to ask, how is this analytical concept structured and what specific analytical problem is being addressed? The answer here is that it transforms the symbol into metaphor. This additional step is metapsychological in that it concerns a system of concepts that has no status in language other than as the foundation—the condition of possibility and ultimate recourse—of everything we consider to be human. No logical or ontological status can be granted to this construction, and yet it is not arbitrary.1 It is necessitated by clinical requirement, to transform what appears as symbol into analogy, into metaphor.

Analytical listening begins the moment when we hear symbols, in place of what the patient says. But what then is the symbol? It is the result of an operation that remains hidden. What appears for example in dream symbolism is in reality a series of enigmas that allude to something different from their manifest meaning. However, every symbol is originally a metaphor. It is only by a forced forgetting, through the repression of its metaphoric origin, that it becomes a symbol, which, of course, implies a mechanism of repression. When the two "parts" come together, the symbol ceases to be a symbol. But where does the metaphor come from? It comes from the incorporation of the original detachment that is overcome. Having lost one of its parts, the metaphor becomes a symbol; the metaphor realizes this cut (coupure) metaphorically. The symbol, therefore, is in its very being the analogue of this cut (because of what it lacks) which may, however, be grasped in the resemblance of its complement to what is lacking in the subject. So when the missing part is returned, the original metaphor is restored. The symbol is therefore a double metaphor, symbolizing that which is cut and the cut itself. When we listen to our patients and take their words as symbolic, we have made up our mind to restore what is cut with the moment of cutting (introjection of the repressed) and to create, at the level of the word, a new totality. The transformation of the symbol into a metaphor, however, seldom succeeds by means of the metapsychological "witch," particularly in cases where the unconscious contains a phantom (the presence of a foreign body in the unconscious) or when there is a crypt in the ego.2

Ultimately the great discovery of psychoanalysis was this possibility of transformation. Psychoanalytic theory is fundamentally a theory of this initial experience, which is subsequently enriched by others and requires the continual reworking and readjustment of the psychical apparatus. This establishes psychoanalysis as a science capable of evolution; an exact science like theoretical physics. It was with regard to the Wolf Man, for example, that Freud began to reformulate the "witch" in 1914 over concerns with melancholic identification. Even if this reformulation began too late as he sketched out his second topography, the fact remains that his notion of the superego took an important step toward the idea that filial relationships produce psychical topography in the individual. Admittedly though, this filial relationship is restricted to the superego and does not yet extend to unconscious desire.

It is necessary to introduce the dual unity into metapsychology as the exemplary genealogical concept to successfully transform the symbol into metaphor in cases where metapsychology has been hidden or distorted by the presence in the subject of what we [End Page 15] call the phantom in the unconscious. It is the same for certain cases of cryptophoria or in other cases where the subject has been entirely decentered by the phantom of an object or a phantom object. The dual unity is thus the witch's broom that allows metapsychology to take flight and land in a more suitable place.

>> The Concept of the One as a Separate-Unseparated, The Parable of the "Society of My Right Hand"

The notion of a unity can only be defined in terms of its separation from a context...