A propos du Nom du Père de Jacques Lacan: Christianity v. psychology

god-the-father-1779-by-pompeo-girolamo-batoniMany have often claimed that the difference between Freud’s neurotic symptom and Lacan’s sinthome, in those who have traversed fantasy, is nothing more than lucidity and assent. However, is such a claim really true?

Freud considered the neurotic symptom an unwelcome act or acts that were, at the least, useless in the life of an individual and, at the most, harmful. The symptom was a substitute for instinctual satisfaction that had been repressed and claimed considerable psychic energy from the individual in its formation, manifestation, and maintenance. Lacan initially considered the sinthome to be the symptom, spelled out in its original form. However, he later redefined the sinthome as the fourth ring of the Borromean knot, and which held together the three orders of the Real, the Imaginary, and the Symbolic that formed the structure both of the world and of the individual. The sinthome came to be largely regarded as the paternal metaphor – the nom du père [name of the father] or noms du père [names of the father] that replaced the father of Freud’s Oedipus complex, with the sinthome par excellence being the Nom du Père – the Name of the (Eternal) Father. But was God the Father no more than a symptom or a metaphor for Lacan – as so many desire Him to be, to this day? 

Neglected to be considered, by these writers, is what Lacan had really said about the Nom du Père. Specifically, on the very eve of his official ‘excommunication’ from the IPA as a training analyst by his purported colleagues (and which he had just learned about), Lacan roundly declared

I will never say what might have been said about The Names of the Father, because they don’t deserve it [ils ne le méritent pas!] and they will never know it!

Lacan also declared that

I am inconsolable at having had to drop my project of relating the function of the Name of the Father to the study of the Bible . . . We put on hold the seminar we had announced on the Name of the Father, after having given the opening lecture.

Lacan additionally told his son-in-law and others

It is not by chance that I could not do my seminar on the Name of the Father . . . Moses’s tomb is as empty for Freud as Christ’s was for Hegel . . . Abraham revealed his mystery to neither of them.

So what really occurred?

Lacan had experienced either an epiphany or a revelation about the very Person of (God) the Father, not just His function or His divine attributes. Lacan had come to know the Father as the real Father He Is: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – El Shaddai; I Am Who Am. And Lacan, in his upbringing, was Catholic.

In fact, Lacan specifically told his attendees that fateful evening

I don’t want to leave you today without having at least pronounced the name, the first name by which I wanted to introduce the specific impact of the Judeo-Christian tradition . . . This tradition, in fact, is not that of the jouissance but of the desire of a God: the God of Moses. It is before Him that, in the final analysis, Freud laid down his pen.

Stunning admissions, to say the least, particularly coming from a didacticien in the fields of psychoanalytic psychology and psychoanalysis – fields long hostile to both the internal and the external realities of the Divinity. Lacan’s son-in-law later elaborated that Lacan repeatedly refused to speak anymore about what had occurred, even when questioned in subsequent years by some of his most intimate friends, because it was as though

The Name of the Father should remain under a veil, as if those who dare to interfere with the Name of the Father were doomed to some act of vengeance, as if some kind of curse was attached to the Name of the Father, the curse of the Pharaoh.

The truth is it was not yet time, at that point in time, for the truth to be further opened up to mankind, about the Name of God the Father and the inherent function of His Name in the very structures of both the world and the individual, in relation to the orders of the Real, the Imaginary, and the Symbolic. And Lacan, having come to know Who the Father really was on a personal level – the first Person of the Most Holy Trinity; not a symptom, not a metaphor – respected the Eternal Father’s desires, the Divine Will, by remaining silent.