Renata Salecl/Slavoj Zizek
In the psychoanalytic community, we often encounter a nostalgic long-
ing for the good old heroic days when patients were naive and ignorant
of psychoanalytic theory-this ignorance allegedly enabled them to pro-
duce "purer" symptoms, that is, symptoms in which their unconscious
was not too much distorted by their rational knowledge. In those days,
there were still patients who told their analyst, "Last night, I had a
dream about killing a dragon and then advancing through a thick forest
to a castle ... ," whereupon the analyst triumphantly answered, "Ele-
mentary, my dear patient! The dragon is your father, and the dream ex-
presses your desire to kill him in order to return to the safe haven of the
maternal castle .... " Jacques Lacan wagers exactly the opposite: the
subject of psychoanalysis (the person analyzed) is the modern subject
of science, which means-among other things-that his symptoms are
not now and have never been by definition "innocent," they are always
addressed to the analyst
subject who is supposed to know (their
meaning) and thus as it were imply, point toward, their interpretation.
For that reason, one is quite justified in saying that we have symptoms
that are Jungian, Kleinian, Lacanian, and so on, that is, whose reality
involves implicit reference to some psychoanalytic theory. Today, the
"free associations" of a typical educated patient (analysand) consist for
the most part of attempts to provide a psychoanalytic explanation of his
or her disturbances ....
What is effectively at stake in this ongoing battle between the two ver-
sions of psychoanalysis is not only the destiny of psychoanalysis but the
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