What are some good critical books on Lacan’s understanding of transference, counter-transference and the analyst-analysand relationship?
This is always a very difficult question because of the way Lacan’s ‘works’ moved through different phases so that, while the words remained much the same, their meanings moved. My usual response to this question, therefore, has been to go into a bookshop, browse, and start anywhere you like, so long as the book engages your interest. This is because there cannot be a definitive reading of Lacan, only readings for which you discover you have a valency.
My own work is with organisations and the ways in which they become stuck and/or unable to make sense of what is going on in the world around them. This requires that we read Lacan from the perspective of ‘late Lacan’, i.e. from the perspective of what I referred to earlier as his third phase. This is because, in going beyond challenging the political to addressing the place of innovation within the political per se, it is necessary to go beyond structural ways of understanding how we take up our being in language, this being the purpose behind Lacan’s work with topology.
Returning to Fink’s translation of ‘The Instance of the Letter in the Unconscious’ in the Écrits (1957), Lacan writes (p438):
“It is precisely in this respect that anyone capable of glimpsing the changes we have lived through in our own lives can see that Freudianism, however misunderstood it has been and however nebulous its consequences have been, constitutes an intangible but radical revolution. There is no need to go seeking witnesses to the fact: everything that concerns not just the human sciences, but the destiny of man, politics, metaphysics, literature, the arts, advertising, propaganda – and thus, no doubt economics – had been affected by it.”
To critically engage with all this, including the ways in which the economy does and does not support our ways of being, we need to extend Freud’s radical revolution beyond the special case of the clinic.
So while the Transference Seminar appears in 1960, it is not until late Lacan that there is a full problematising of the relationship between analyst and analysand. This moves the relationship out of the clinic per se into the wider questions facing us in these times, times in which we are going through as great a transformation as that which occurred at the time of the Reformation.
To that end, I would propose three books. Firstly (Bailly 2009), because it is a useful beginner’s guide; secondly (Soler 2014), because it addresses the way in which Lacan ‘reinvented’ how we may understand the unconscious; and thirdly, (Voruz and Wolf 2007), because it leads the reader more deeply into a late-Lacan way of reading Lacan’s works.
Bailly, L. (2009). Lacan – A Beginner’s Guide. Oxford, Oneworld Publications.
Soler, C. (2014). Lacan – The Unconscious Reinvented. London, Karnac.
Voruz, V. and B. Wolf, Eds. (2007). The Later Lacan – An Introduction. Albany, NY, State University of New York Press.