Araceli Teixidó – When the unconscious is in the brain, the subject is the loss


Two signifiers tend to converge in the scientific-capitalist discourse: the brain and the unconscious. The PIPOL 9 Congress collects these signifiers by punctuating a disjunction between the two: “nothing in common’’.  This is where we will focus our efforts.

In its unstoppable movement and allied to capitalist discourse, neuroscience reunites everything that seems to dissent to it which would indicate its flaws, in order to engulf them in a new successful denial of the loss.  Currently, the unconscious would be localizable in the brain. Neurotransmitters and hormones are the explanation for everything, good or bad. He/she is sad: this is due to the failure of a neurotransmitter. He/she fell in love: it is because of the production of a specific hormone. He/she is depressed: of course, it is the dysfunction in the brain caused by a stroke.

It is a very seductive discourse that ensures that nothing gets lost; everything can be known, transformed and dominated. Yes, the subject may momentarily experience a loss or a failure, but only until the appropriate remedy arrives. It doesn’t matter that this is not available right now, as it is expected in the future. The terrain of malaise will be conquered, will be overcome by the advances of neuroscience that will provide objects that will respond perfectly to every lack (1).

This discourse ignores the fact that it leads to the worst because, being in language we always loose something and therefore, inevitably the rest which cannot be transformed, known or dominated will appear.  It will return in the real.

But, if neuroscience discourse denies the loss, when we argue that in reality there is always a loss, where is it currently located? Nowadays, the loss is the subject. This way it can be said that the failure of formulae and medicines is not due to deficiencies within themselves. We can see this in welfare mechanisms:  Soledad, who is depressed is accused for not going out for a walk, as recommended. Dolores is accused for not taking her prescribed medication. Angustia is accused of aggressively responding to the request to wait peacefully.

When science does not have an answer, when it must resign itself to not having an object to solve, then it launches the definitive answer, that which condemns the status of the rest that does not concern it: each off these men and women either get it wrong or do not want to get better, by either simple bad faith or laziness. Responsible for each, leaving each subject alone with its pain, with all ties disrupted.

The psychoanalytic discourse raises the wager of transference which is latent behind each demand, from which the loss is reintroduced and is pacified. It offers to elevate to the dignity of a symptom that which pushes the body and takes various forms that disturb its functioning. This “nothing in common’’, we make exist when we accept to accompany the loss, when we accept to embrace the attempted way to resolve it, and do not recoil in the face of its failure to do so.  

Soledad’s (loneliness in Spanish) husband suffered from hemiplegia and consequent loss of speech, and would no longer be her gallant beau who had once gone to look for her in her parents’ house some 50 years ago; Dolores (pains in Spanish) has been diagnosed with an incurable illness; Angustias (fears in Spanish) has just been informed of her husband’s death in the emergency room and did not know why he had not asked to see her when he knew that he was going to die. The psychoanalyst renounces knowing what all this means, the psychoanalyst listens and waits.

Under transference, one by one, our patients can encounter their impossible relation and thwart the cerebral response to which they have been reduced. Ours is an epistemic wager, but first of all clinical and ethical, when it comes to the ability to collect this malaise in another way.

Translation: Polina Agapaki

  1. Considering how to demonstrate what an axiom is. On this question, the text by Jacques-Alain Miller “Néuro-, le nouveau réel” in Revue La Cause du Désir is enlightening. No. 98. March, 2018. Pgs. 111-121


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