How did Lacan differ from Freud in his handling of the analyst-analysand relation?

The understanding of the relationship between the analysand and analyst shifted over time for both Freud and Lacan. How did Lacan differ from Freud in his handling of the analyst-analysand relation?

One difference lies in the approach to authorisation. Within the Freudian tradition, the focus is on a training analysis, a form of apprenticeship whereby the analyst can learn the business, and perhaps eventually earn the right to pass it on to others, in the sense in which a mediaeval guild worked.  This leads to the analyst acquiring ‘anointed knowledge’ through which tacit ways of working are learnt, on the basis of which it comes to matter who was your analyst, this time in the sense of it mattering to know who your father was.  The break between the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) and Lacan came when the IPA demanded that if the Société Psychanalytique de Paris (SFP) wanted to be granted IPA membership, then Lacan had to be stripped of his status as one of its training analysts. Of particular concern for the IPA was Lacan’s use of variable-length sessions.

An historical note is helpful at this point. Lacan’s striking-off by the SFP came on November 19th, 1963 and Lacan gave the introduction to his ‘Names-of-the-Father’ seminar the next day. That was all Lacan said directly on this theme. The following year he began again with ‘The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis’. It was then in 1967, three years after founding the École Freudienne de Paris, that he proposed the ‘Pass’ as a process of self-authorisation, stating “the authorisation of an analyst can only come from himself”. The point here was that there was not only one Name-of-the-Father.

Although anyone can read Freud, the IPA stands for teaching right ways of reading, in the same way that Universities came to teach right ways of reading during the course of the Enlightenment. Lacan, anticipating the post-modern and structuralist thinkers of the 1960’s, stood for the emancipation of authorship, not as an end in itself but as a necessary step on the way towards becoming true to desire. Hence the work in a Lacanian analysis was done by the analysand between sessions. The use of variable-length sessions was in order to punctuate the analysand’s way of authoring sense in order to make room for other possible ways.  The work of the analyst in disrupting the analysand’s authoring was thus based on a different reading of Freud, namely that the work of analysis was to enable a metonymy between any existing way of making sense and the unconscious pleasures and displeasures to which it was linked. 

The shift to a third phase in Lacan’s approach to analysis emerged during the difficulties that arose in the 1970’s with the Pass. These difficulties were over how the end of analysis and the basis of self-authorisation were to be understood. Being an analyst became not a characteristic of a person but a particular way of taking up a relation to the other’s desire, the only difference between analyst and analysand becoming the ability to sustain this relation over time.  Related to this was what was meant by the ‘end’ of analysis, ‘end’ here in the sense of Final Cause. This ‘end’ became an individual’s taking up of a way of being-in-relation-to-lack, in which his or her transference moved from being in relation to another person to being in relation to making a ‘work’ of his or her work.  The resultant trajectory of ‘works’, which could only be read in retrospect, evidenced that individual’s working at being true to-desire.

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