Free «Course Encyclopedia of Bruce Fink» Essay Sample

Course Encyclopedia of Bruce Fink

Mr. Fink is introduced by his contemporaries as a Lacanian psychoanalyst. He is also described sometimes as an analytic supervisor. It is important to trace the evolution of Fink’s ideas in the context of psychoanalytical frameworks, thus, it must be clarified that he trained as a psychoanalyst in Lacan’s homeland. Fink trained in France for at least seven years. After some time, Fink became an official member of the institute, which Lacan established before his demise. It must be noted that Fink earned a Ph.D. at the University of Paris in Saint-Denis, under the Department of Psychoanalysis.[1] After gaining his academic credentials, he showed his love and passion for the Lacanian method of analysis by working as a Professor of Psychology at Duquesne University, a learning institution located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Fink is without a doubt an authority in the Lacanian subject matter. He is the author of six books on Lacan, and his works became an important part of psychoanalytic literature. Some of his books were translated to Japanese, German, Chinese, Turkish, and Portuguese. The following items provide a partial list of some of the Fink’s celebrated works:

  • Lacan to the Letter: Reading Ecrits Closely;
  • The Lacanian Subject: Between Language and Jouissance;
  • Against Understanding: Commentary Cases, and Critique in a Lacanian Key; and
  • Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic Technique: A Lacanian Approach for Practitioners.[2]

In addition to the books, which he wrote, Fink is known as a man, who brought Lacan’s ideas to the mainstream consciousness, because he translated the world-renowned Frenchman’s books, which are seen in the following list:

  • Ecrits: The First Complete Edition in English (Due to this contribution Fink was awarded the 2007 nonfiction translation prize courtesy of the French-American Foundation as well as the Florence Gould Foundation);
  • On the Names-of-the-Father;
  • The Triumph of Religion; and
  • The Seminar, Book XX.[3]

In addition to writing books about Lacan, Fink displayed his mastery of the subject each time, when he presented his theoretical and clinical achievements through participation in conferences and seminars and reporting in front of different audiences, ranging from psychoanalytic institutes to university lecture halls.

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The Lacanian Desire: It Has No Object

Fink contributed not only to making Lacan accessible to the present day psychoanalysts, but he also played a key role in clarifying or simplifying some of Lacan’s complicated assertions. One of the most important achievements was the simplification of the Lacanian concept of desire. According to Fink, in Lacan’s world, desire has no object. It is both intriguing and demystifying, because desire in conventional thinking is always considered to have an object, and there is even an expression “the object of one’s desire.” Therefore, the absence of an object, which acts as a target or incentive, on which a person focuses her desire, eliminates this idea at all, because what is the purpose of the pursuit of something if there is no reward or tangible prize in the end? However, Lacan said that desire has no object.

Fink’s importance in the world of psychoanalysis was acknowledged, when he managed to explain one of Lacan’s most difficult ideas. He was able to do it by constructing illustrations, drawn from everyday experiences, so that students and researchers would be able to relate to them. For example, in case of the premise that desire has no object, Fink illustrated this concept by painting a scene of a man in persistent pursuit of love. Fink said that in the beginning a man has no serious interest for a particular woman. However, if a casual invitation was rejected, the man’s desire that was in a state of stasis or inactivity suddenly arouses. All of a sudden, the woman becomes a valuable prize, the object of his love and affection. Unexpectedly and without any logical explanation a woman suddenly becomes an object of intense desire, so that she has to be pursued or conquered. In order to prove Lacan’s theory concerning the concept of desire, Fink made his students and his readers focus on the familiar story of a man, who lost interest over something, in what had invested energy and resources, when he was still in pursuit of the elusive goal. Nevertheless, when the wished object of his desire was within his reach, he suddenly lost interest in it. This process was shown using the example of interaction between a man and woman. Once the female revealed her interest towards the man, the man’s desire for her suddenly dissipates. Fink’s brilliance in explaining a complicated idea is demonstrated in this illustration, because an average person understands this kind of experience. This type of interaction is common, it may not be the same as a situation, when a man pursues a woman, but it is manifested in other types of pursuit as well, especially in those that are familiar to an average person. For example, an expensive gadget or a fashion accessory that was the object of desire for many months becomes not so important at the moment it has been acquired. Nonetheless, there was a great deal of energy expended to pursue or purchase a particular item, but when it is already in the possession of the pursuer, the person suddenly loses interest over it.

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Lacanian Diagnosis

Another impressive display of Fink’s capabilities and immense contribution to the field of psychoanalysis is his written works, which explain the connection between Lacan and Freud. Fink clarified the fact that when it comes to Lacanian diagnosis, a great part of materials bases on Freud’s investigations. He also claimed that Lacanian diagnosis came into fruition after its proponent borrowed the ideas from the works of other psychiatrists, notably from Emil Kraepelin and George Gatian de Clerambault.

Due to the work of Fink, the present-day students and researchers in the field of psychoanalysis re able to understand how Lacan simplified his diagnostic framework. For example, Fink said that it involved only thee major categories, namely, neurosis, psychosis, and perversion. Fink also remarked that Lacan made a clear separation of the diagnostic protocol that must be followed in dealing with a neurotic and psychotic. He said that the mistake of using the same treatment intervention for a psychotic proves to be dangerous. Therefore, a separate method of preparation and identification of problems must be applied in case of psychotics.

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As it was mentioned earlier, Fink was made a contribution to the understanding of three categories of mental problems, as well as the mechanism that made these issues arise. However, he also added that Lacan simplified the diagnostic framework even more by clarifying the mechanisms, involved in each of the categories, which were described earlier. For example, when it comes to neurosis, the mechanism associated with it, is repression. In case of perversion, the mechanism which determines it is disavowal. On the other hand, psychosis is triggered by foreclosure.

The mechanisms of repression and disavowal seem to represent the desire of a patient to suppress psychological issues. However, it is more difficult to understand the underlying principles of foreclosure, as it is considered to be a triggering mechanism for psychosis. Due to to Fink, in large part, present day students and researchers are able to understand this complicated term. Fink said that “foreclosure” means a patient’s radical or significant rejection of a particular element from its associated symbolic order. Fink clarified it even further by stating that the symbolic order is a language, used by the patient to communicate with other people. In other words, the foreclosure of the symbolic order affected the way the patient understands the usage or the meaning of the language. Fink stated that a review of literature on schizophrenia disclosed this problem, because he said that in this particular case language is seen to operate in a different manner. Fink, therefore, concludes that language operates differently in psychosis, compared to the way it is utilized in neurosis.

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Fink however revealed to his audience the fact that the foreclosure of the element is not just a radical deviation in the interpretation and use of the language, but it is a negative reaction to a specific element of the symbolic order, and Lacan specifically highlighted it as an element that is related to the Name-of-the-Father. Fink said that this idea originated from Freud, but Lacan was the one, who developed the concept even more. Fink said that the translation into the English language weakens the French term that was used to describe the concept of Name-of-the-Father because in French, the term is more instructive. Nevertheless, Fink did his best to adapt certain elements of the English language to clarify Lacan’s intended message to the English-speaking audiences. Thus, Fink coined the terms “father function” or “paternal function.”

Fink said that the issues of neurotics and psychotics are separated by the “paternal function” concept. It is the father, who acts as a repressive mechanism in the family, and it is he, who says “no” to the child’s desire. Therefore, a child grows up under this powerful influencing mechanism of the “paternal function” that is rooted in the perceived and accepted absolute authority of the father, who takes away or limits the actions of a child. A child, being in an intimate connection with the limiting capability of the “paternal function”, starts to have a desire to build a closer connection with the mother. Due to his own reasoning and judgment, the father believes that he has to curtail certain desires and aspirations. Thus, at an early age, a child learns to control his desires and even his or her feelings. Those, who had a negative experience with this repression factor, will grow up struggling form a certain neurosis. However, those who had a negative experience not only with the repression but with the “parental function” itself, will develop far more serious mental health issues, because they will become psychotics.

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According to Fink, psychotics differ from other people, because they do not have the capability to control the things, which they want to say or do, due to the problems that can be caused by a failure to repress their speech and actions. As a result, psychotics have no qualms in expressing or divulging personal and intimate information about themselves or their family members. They can say things that will lead to the humiliation of an average person, but for psychotics these things are not significant. It is indeed very different from the struggles of neurotics, who are in a close relation to repression, because they have a capacity to determine the things that they need to hide from others and from themselves.

In the discussion on repression and neurosis, Fink said that Lacan clarified the mechanism, which underlies neurosis, by saying that it comes to the patient in the form of thoughts and there is no language that can be developed to express those thoughts. Fink said that this is the reason for the difficulty in expressing the feelings of the patients, when they seek help or a counsel from a psychiatrist or analyst. It is important to mention the fact that there are no words to describe thoughts associated with repression, because in order to express these thoughts, the patient has to find other means to communicate them to other people. Therefore, in case of neurotics, the expression comes in the form of a tic or twitching of a certain area of the face. In other cases, the expression of the repression is manifested through medical ailments that surprisingly do not have a sound medical explanation. As a result, patients, struggling from neurosis often describe symptoms that contradict medical rules, especially when it comes to causes of pain and discomfort. Thus, they will continue to complain about problems such as a feeling of acute pain in certain areas of the body, but a thorough physical and scientific examination will never reveal any probable cause. However, after using psychoanalytic techniques, an expert in this field will be able to determine that the painful area is associated with the action of a despised father or parent. Fink said that in one case, pain in a small area of a thigh was linked to a painful memory of a hated father, who chose to rest his aching feet on the child’s thigh, therefore, the person deals with this issue, when he becomes an adult, who cannot understand the root cause of the problem, but attempts to communicate it to others through that painful medical condition.

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Fink also helped the contemporary world to appreciate another critical aspect of Lacan’s teachings, and it is true when it comes to the concept of perversion. According to Fink Lacan’s discussion of perversion, it begins with the acknowledgement that it was taken from Freud’s core ideas, especially with regards to human sexuality. For example, according to Freud, all sexual acts that have nothing to do with procreation are considered perverse.

According to Fink, Lacan views perversion as a problem, created by a child’s inability to deal with the “paternal function”, whereas in the case of neurosis there is no positive reinforcement of rules, as seen in the father’s commands and prohibitions, so the pervert, on the other hand, causes harm by trying to provide satisfaction to the mother’s desire. The pervert, according to Lacan, makes an effort to become the object of the mother’s desire. He is no longer working towards the satisfaction of the self and does not perform certain actions in order to be recognized by the “other”. Instead of it he or she becomes the object, and practically substitutes the missing piece. However, in the process, the pervert sacrifices himself in order to satisfy the desire of the mother. This is a critical development in the analysis of the pervert’s psychological needs, because after the development of this theoretical framework, it is easier for the analyst to understand the reason of the psychoanalytical struggle in dealing with a pervert. It happens due to the fact that a pervert will even try to satisfy the needs of the analyst.

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There is a significant example, when it comes to the discussion of the psychotic phenomenon. The psychotic phenomenon is explained through the Freudian concept that is based on the idea, which was taken from myths, in which mother had this intense connection with a child. In the usual discourse, the father is deeply concerned with what he believes is not the best environment and human-to-human interaction between the mother and the child. Thus, according to Freud, the father enters into the relationship as the person who “kills” or limits the capability of the child.

Freud provided the initial framework to help to develop the idea of how a child begins to perceive the world he lives in, but it was Lacan, who developed his own ideas to simplify the concept, and through the tireless contribution of Fink, the English-speaking world has a better understanding of the Lacanian process. According to Fink, Lacan understood the dilemma of the child in the following way. He or she perceives the danger or challenges that are brought upon the relationship with the figure of mother. As a result, the child has to adapt to these challenges or to these issues, surrounding the intimate relationships with the mother. As explained earlier, the presence of the father plays a tremendous part in the way the child deals with these issues. In case of the psychotics, the absence of the “paternal function” leads to psychotic behavior. On the other hand, the neurotic learns to repress or to deeply hide the desires that he or she believes must be satisfied, basing on the current dynamics between the parent and the child. However, in the case of the pervert, the reaction to the parent-child dynamics takes a different direction, because instead of learning to repress the desires, based on the commands of the “paternal function”, the child reacts to the desire of the mother.

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Fink makes his audience realize the other side of the parent-child dynamic, because the focus of the attention was placed on the maladaptive behavior of children as they try to express the impact of the interaction between a child and his mother and father, whereas now the focus is on the needs of the mother. Lacan made it clear that mother behaves in a certain way to express her unsatisfied desires, and the child, who is close to her, understands the message. In the context of the pervert, the child decides to become the object that satisfies the mother’s desire.

Furthermore, Fink echoed Lacan’s idea that the child grows into an adult, focused on satisfying the needs of others by becoming the object of their desires. This reaction is reverse to the one of the neurotics, who struggle to get the attention of the “other” in order to have a semblance of control of their lives. As a result, Fink underscored the fact that it was Lacan’s discoveries, regarding the nature of the pervert’s desire that leads to the idea that a person’s desire is the critical point in psychoanalysis.











In addition, Fink made the English-speaking world understand the real focus of the psychoanalysis, and he claimed that the primary goal is to unveil the subject’s desire.

Fink said that in the Lacanian framework, the patient must determine his or her desire, and this determination must evolve into a desire that is no longer subject to any forms of inhibition. In other words, the patient is no longer influenced by the opinions of other people, and he or she makes a decision to pursue this particular desire.

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