This being said on the nature of the unconscious, what does it entail as to the theory and practice of psychoanalysis ? Let us be clear, it offers no easier way to tackle its issues. But it allows us to set the limits of a grounding topology, the difference between what you can prove and lean on, and speculation – and dynamics between the two sides.
First, very importantly, it redefines the place of the sexual values to the description of the psyche. Sexual values constitute a range of conduct going on inside of the symbolic territory. But as it is often considered the source of biological transformation and transmission, we have to reconsider its function to the mind’s structure. It is still capital but can be delimited and by the way must not be merged completely with sensuality – that means the capacity of enacting the body’s sensual perceptions. There is a political and social conditioning of sexuality that turns it into a logical chain, that urges individuals to complete the (hetero)sexual task to procreation, making it a necessity without often a conscious and real deliberate choice. Yet, it is taken as granted, as it would be inevitable to the fulfillment of our function in society : allegedly to produce social value by populating the mass of political subjects.
This logic of procreation, largely criticised by some feminist movements of thinking as something reducing the scope of human relations to its sake, has been so centred to the core of our lives’ meaning that its compulsory function has become part of a symbolic compulsive trait to be excited. Psychoanalyst Darian Leader worked in his book Hands (2017) on the compulsiveness of discrete hand movements such as fiddling objects or tapping fingers. We can now connect this very pertinent work with what we said about the connection between the unconscious and body energy and its entropic nature. Some tension has to be let out, however without causing too much disorder in the social space, to pass unnoticed ; so that is where those discrete outbursts come in as a helpful relay in order to decrease tension.
The rich variety of those body outskirt expressions noted and analysed by Leader is a fine and delicate way to enter the entanglement between our conception of the mind and the abandonment we largely put our body through for the sake of showing our docile compliance to a system of conduct. Anyway, how else could it be, for we learn that we must stand where sexual logic of copulation orders us to attend (that is why the figure of the single woman – the witch – is still so disturbing) ?
On sexual logic
From there, why all the ado and fascination about Jacques Lacan’s famous ‘Il n’y a pas de rapport sexuel’ ? We could analyse it very neately with the second paradox : to say ‘me’ is to include necessarily the other’s gaze in order to mean it. That implies that the inner reality of the me is necessarily tempered with this inclusion of somebody else’s point of view. That means that the me can never be fully expressed through language, but only experienced by the individual, finding common ground and equivalences to share experiences. But that means also that the other as a body can never be integrated nor fused in any occasion, even at the pick of sexual intercourse. Because creating meaning and stimulating mental images or sounds makes the body busy with itself generating them : sexuality, with its measure of phantasy, is keeping the body suspended and tensed to imagination, when the progressiveness of sensuality would find balance more easily with letting the body itself take control of the perception.
All our symbolic learning, cristallised in moral and social rules, is attracting and polarising meaning toward the idea of copulation and how it should be regulated in order to keep social hierarchy on. We should say that the domestication of the unconscious is highly linked to patriarchy’s as it is dominating all social structures. Morals prevent any misleading way to do sex, setting the norm to the utility of it but focusing on the idea, it makes it only central to all social organisation. Meaning that the sexual is made vital in the same way that the moral system makes it some kind of taboo, with very specific guidelines to its realisation and integration in the collective space, espacially by insisting on the value of penetration as something inevitable and required. And the body, in a way, resists the tension to the inevitable in outskirt outbursts. Of course, when it comes to the education to women, as we largely tell young girls that they should be docile and quiet, fit to avoid any unsavory situation and yet ready to be taken, those outbursts are more likely to be internalised and increase tension in the body – while being summoned to make it invisible.
That doesn’t mean that those residual signs of tension are sexual by nature, but only that the whole social context taught and integrated in our societies is meant to regulate sexual domination. Sexuality is mainly conceived to resolve tension and cristallise it into a positive image. In comparision, sensuality can be more distressful as it is not meant to resolve and its loss leaves the subject naked. Sexuality is a doctrine, because it seeks on justifying the eventual loss with a logical conversion – orgasm, domination, procreation… But many people would lack more sensual approach, somehow its tenderness and accompagnying, the kind reassurance that their body won’t be annihilated by touch and left aside in order to create meaning afterwards – but meanwhile. Meaning is simultaneous to sensuality, but delayed from sexuality. Then, it is all a matter of balance between the two.
The commitment of psychoanalysis
The marginal visible outbursts can rapidly resolve the tension of a sensorimotor paradox, for instance. But social inspection of individuals through the others’ gaze summons and interrogates them on their social value, that includes whether or not they are sexually active or reserved to a close partnership. Do moral standards have to prevent anything from them, as we tell them that the seek for a mating partner is one crucial level of the evaluation of someone’s worth ?
There is such pressure to acheive the conventional pattern of family making through procreation, authorising you to accomplish a social design and paying back the debt of being provided with society’s support, that of course, it invades the perception of the symbolic spectrum. Even elaborated in more abstract motions in psychoanalysis, it always takes for granted the fact that the mating instinct is somehow autonomous and inevitable, driving the living to the core – therefore, necessarily, the unconscious. So our definition of the unconscious, we suppose, permits to centre our analysis elsewhere – and that’s a start.
Scratching the surface of that only manifests that psychoanalysis cannot change things alone. As long as we are pushed to obey one single pattern of existence blind-folded, psychoanalysis cannot do much more than putting a bandage to hold a wound that is being constantly torn.
To say, by fear of sensuality, tenderness, and by fear of losing the attach to social meaning through the mating process, we mostly developed a vision of sexuality that is problematic because it is connected to a painful way to endure inequalities in our societies on the deepest and most intimate level. So yes, many issues people would encounter in their intimate life would be made to be connected to sexual forclosed values, but only as there exists this pressure to indulge a certain logical pattern associated with the social values of certain stages of the human life.
We cannot address the unconscious in psychoanalysis as anything else but the reflection of how we are pressured to mould to the social and symbolic canvas, that is itself co-dependent on the maintaining of political hierarchies. It is time that psychoanalysis embraces its responsabilities to the way our societies consume our imaginaries in order to create a social and political organisation meant to increase monopolies.
We are responsible to our imaginaries and the way they treat our thoughts and traumas. As we developed in the three paradoxes theory, trauma isn’t anything but the way we interpret and tell the wound, first to ourselves. So one work of psychoanalysis should be to switch from a sexual paradigm to a sensual paradigm, to help first to tell our stories differently, and then address the loss.