Presentation by Doctors H. Claude, P. Migault and J. Lacan to the 21st May 1931 session of the Medical-Psychological Society.

Published in the Annales Médico- psychologiques, vol. 1 (1931), pp. 483-90.

It has been recently republished in Jacques Lacan, Premiers écrits, Seuil, January 2023, pp. 23-36. See /4 Jacques Lacan (20230123) for details & links.

The French text can be found at Pas-tout Lacan, /PAS TOUT LACAN 1930-1939 (1931-05-21 : Avec H, Claude et P. Migault : Folies Simultanées)

Translated into English by William Heidbreder and edited by Richard G. Klein, bilingual, see /Lacan (4. Folies simultanées, 1931)

Further development of ‘Folie à Deux’

This list of quotes from Jacques Lacan is not exhaustive – please let me know of others.

– Seminar XI 24th May 1964,

p188 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : In the subject who, alternately, reveals himself and conceals himself by means of the pulsation of the unconscious, we apprehend only partial drives. The ganze Sexualstrebung, the representation of the totality of the sexual drive, is not to be found there, Freud tells us. Following Freud, I will lead you along the path of this conclusion, and I would state quite clearly that everything I have learnt from my experience accords with it. I cannot expect everybody here to agree with it fully, since some of you do not have this experience, but your presence here is evidence of a certain trust in what we shall call—in the role in which I am in relation to you, that of the Other—good faith. This good faith is no doubt always a precarious assumption—for where, in the end, does this relation of the subject to the Other end?

What I, Lacan, following the traces of the Freudian excavation, am telling you is that the subject as such is uncertain because he is divided by the effects of language. Through the effects of speech, the subject always realizes himself more in the Other, but he is already pursuing there more than half of himself. He will simply find his desire ever more divided, pulverized, in the circumscribable metonymy of speech. The effects of language are always mixed with the fact, which is the basis of the analytic experience, that the subject is subject only from being subjected to the field of the Other, the subject proceeds from his synchronic subjection in the field of the Other. That is why he must get out, get himself out, and in the getting-himself-out, in the end, he will know that the real Other has, just as much as himself to get himself Out, to pull himself free. It is here that the need for good faith becomes imperative, a good faith based on the certainty that the same implication of difficulty in relation to the ways of desire is also in the Other. (Seminar XI The Four Fundamental Concepts (1963-1964) : from 15th January 1964 : Jacques Lacan. See this site /4 Jacques Lacan (19640115) or /Lacan)

– Of Structure as an Inmixing of an Otherness prerequisite to Any Subject Whatever : 21st October 1966 (Baltimore, USA) : Jacques Lacan.

P17-19 as published at : I have never understood this, for if I am a psychoanalyst I am also a man, and as a man my experience has shown me that the principal characteristic of my own human life and, I am sure, that of the people who are here — and if anybody is not of this opinion I hope that he will raise his hand — is that life is something which goes, as we say in French, à la dérive. Life goes down the river, from time to time touching a bank; staying for a while here and there. without understanding anything — and it is the principle of analysis that nobody understands anything of what happens. The idea of the unifying unity of the human condition has always had on me the effect of a scandalous lie.

We may try to introduce another principle to understand these things. If we rarely try to understand things from the point of view of the unconscious, it is because the unconscious tells us something articulated in words and perhaps we could try to search for their principle.

I suggest you consider the unity in another light. Not a unifying unity but the countable unity one, two, three. After fifteen years I have taught my pupils to count at most up to five which is difficult (four is easier) and they have understood that much. But for tonight permit me to stay at two. Of course, what we are dealing with here is the question of the integer, and the question of integers is not a simple one as I think many people here know. To count, of course, is not difficult. It is only necessary to have, for instance, a certain number of sets and a one to‐one correspondence. It is true for example that there are exactly as many people sitting in this room as there are seats. But it is necessary to have a collection composed of integers to constitute an integer, or what is called a natural number. It is, of course, in part natural but only in the sense that we do not understand why it exists. Counting is not an empirical fact and it is impossible to deduce the act of counting from empirical data alone. Hume tried but Frege demonstrated perfectly the ineptitude of the attempt. The real difficulty lies in the fact that every integer is in itself a unit. If I take two as a unit, things are very enjoyable, men and women for instance — love plus unity! But after a while it is finished, after these two there is nobody, perhaps a child, but that is another level and to generate three is another affair. When you try to read the theories of mathematicians regarding numbers you find the formula “n plus 1 (n + 1)” as the basis of all the theories. It is this question of the “one more” that is the key to the genesis of numbers and instead of this unifying unity that constitutes two in the first case I propose that you consider the real numerical genesis of two.

It is necessary that this two constitute the first integer which is not yet born as a number before the two appears. You have made this possible because the two is here to grant existence to the first one: put two in the place of one and consequently in the place of the two you see three appear. What we have here is something which I can call the mark. You already have something which is marked or something which is not marked. It is with the first mark that we have the status of the thing. It is exactly in this fashion that Frege explains the genesis of the number; the class which is characterized by no elements is the first class; you have one at the place of zero and afterward it is easy to understand how the place of one becomes the second place which makes place for two, three, and so on. The question of the two is for us the question of the subject, and here we reach a fact of psychoanalytical experience in as much as the two does not complete the one to make two, but must repeat the one to permit the one to exist. This first repetition is the only one necessary to explain the genesis of the number, and only one repetition is necessary to constitute the status of the subject. The unconscious subject is something that tends to repeat itself, but only one such repetition is necessary to constitute it. However, let us look more precisely at what is necessary for the second to repeat the first in order that we may have a repetition. This question cannot be answered too quickly. If you answer too quickly, you will answer that it is necessary that they are the same. In this case the principle of the two should be that of twins — and why not triplets or quintuplets? In my day we used to teach children that they must not add, for instance, microphones with dictionaries; but this is absolutely absurd, because we would not have addition if we were not able to add microphones with dictionaries or as Lewis Carroll says, cabbages with kings. The sameness is not in things but in the mark which makes it possible to add things with no consideration as to their differences. The mark has the effect of rubbing out the difference, and this is the key to what happens to the subject, the unconscious subject in the repetition; because you know that this subject repeats something peculiarly significant, the subject is here, for instance, in this obscure thing that we call in some cases trauma, or exquisite pleasure.

What happens? If the “thing” exists in this symbolic structure, if this unitary trait is decisive, the trait of the sameness is here. In order that the “thing” which is sought be here in you, it is necessary that the first trait be rubbed out because the trait itself is a modification. It is the taking away of all difference, and in this case, without the trait, the first “thing:” is simply lost. The key to this insistence in repetition is that in its essence repetition as repetition of the symbolical sameness is impossible. In any case, the subject is the effect of this repetition in as much as it necessitates the “fading,” the obliteration, of the first foundation of the subject, which is why the subject, by status, is always presented as a divided essence. The trait, I insist, is identical, but it assures the difference only of identity — not by effect of sameness or difference but by the difference of identity. This is easy to understand: as we say in French, je vous numérotte, I give you each a number; and this assures the fact that you are numerically different but nothing more than that.

See this site /4 Jacques Lacan (19661021)

– Seminar XX 20th February 1973,

pVII 4 – VII 6 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation, see Seminar XX Encore (1972-1973) : from 21st November 1972 : Jacques Lacan : With this, what I have to tell you today, is indeed what I announced to you the last time, namely, to push further along what is involved with respect to what I ended on. Namely, the consequences of what I believed, not certainly without having journeyed for a long time for all that, of what I believed I should state as regards what there is between the sexes – between the sexes in the case of the speaking being – which does not constitute a relationship [rapport]. And how, in short, it is only starting from there that there can be stated what it is that supplies for this relationship [rapport].

On this for a long time I have punctuated with a certain there is something of the One (y a de l’Un) what constitutes the first step in this approach.

This there is something of the One, make no mistake, is not simple. Of course, in psychoanalysis, or more exactly, since it should be clearly said, in Freud’s discourse, this is announced about Eros.

About Eros defined as a fusion, of that which from two makes one. And starting from there, good God, step by step, it is supposed to tend to make but one from an immense multitude. In return for which – since it is clear, that as many as you all are here, a multitude assuredly, not only do you not make one, but have no chance, even when communing, as they say, in my word, of getting there, as is only too well proved every day – Freud must indeed bring out this other factor which acts as an obstacle to this universal Eros in the form of Thanatos, the return to dust.

This is obviously something Freud is metaphorically allowed, thanks to this blessed discovery of two units of the germ, this ovum and this spermatozoon of which, roughly speaking, one could say that it is from their fusion that there is engendered what? A new being. And (5) moreover by limiting oneself to two elements that are joined in marriage, except for the fact that it is quite clear that in looking at things more closely, it does not happen without a meiosis, without a quite manifest subtraction, at least for one of the two. I mean just before the very moment the conjunction occurs, the subtraction of certain elements which, of course, do not count for nothing in the final operation.

But the biological metaphor is assuredly here much less than elsewhere, enough to comfort us. If the unconscious is indeed what I say by being structured like a language, it is at the level of the tongue that we must examine this One. This One to which of course subsequent centuries gave an echo, an infinite resonance.

Do I need to recall here the Neo-Platonists and all the rest? Perhaps I will later have to mention again very rapidly this adventure, since what I have to do today, is very properly to designate from where the matter not alone can but ought to be taken up from our discourse. From this new discourse, from this renewal that there contributes in the domain of Eros what our experience contributes.

We must begin from the fact that this there is something of the One is to be taken with the stress that there is something of the One, but precisely, since there is no relationship [rapport], that there is something of the One, and of the One all alone. That it is from here that there is grasped the core of what is involved as regards what, after all, we have to call by the name with which it echoes right throughout the centuries, namely, that of love.

In analysis, we deal with nothing but that. And it is not, it is not along any other path that it operates. A singular path: in that it alone has allowed there to be separated out that with which I who am speaking to you believed I could support it. I mean this transference, and specifically in so far as it is not distinguished from love, with the formula: the subject supposed to know.

And there, I think that right through what today I am going to have to state, in everything that follows, I cannot fail to mark the new resonance that this term knowledge may take on for you. Perhaps even, (6) in what you saw me wavering, retreating about tipping over in one direction or another, that of love or of what again is called hate, think that in short, since, as you have noted, what I explicitly invited you to take part in, namely, a reading, whose point is explicitly designed in order, let us say, to discredit me, which is certainly not something before which someone who only speaks in short about desideration and who aims at nothing else, can retreat. That in short, what this point is aimed at, or more exactly appears to the authors to sustain, is precisely a de-supposition of my knowledge. And why not? Why not if it proves that this has to be the condition of what I called reading? What do I know, after all, what can I presume about what Aristotle knew? Perhaps I would read him better in the measure that I presumed he had less knowledge. Such is the condition of a strict putting to the test of reading. And this is the one that, in short, I am not dodging.

It is certainly difficult, it is not in conformity with what in fact is offered to us to read by what exists in terms of language, namely what is woven as an effect of its being cut up. You know that this is how I define the written. It would, it seems to me, be disdainful, not at least to go through or give an echo of what throughout the ages and in a thinking which was called, I must say wrongly, philosophical, of what, in the course of the ages was elaborated about love.

Here, I am not going to carry out a general review. But I think that, given the type of faces that I see dotted around here, you ought all the same to have heard tell that from the side of philosophy, the love of God, in this business, has held a certain place. And that there is here a massive fact which, at least laterally, analytic discourse cannot but take into account.

Like that, some well intentioned people – these are much worse than (7) those who are badly so – well intentioned people when, as is said somewhere in this booklet, I was, according to what is written there, excluded from Sainte-Anne. I was not excluded, I withdrew, it is very different, but anyway what matter, we are no longer at that point, all the more since the terms excluded, to exclude have all their importance in our topology. Well intentioned people found themselves in short surprised at hearing an echo – it was only an echo – but since these persons were, good God, it must be said, from the pure philosophical tradition, and amongst those who appealed to it – this indeed is why I call it pure – there is nothing more philosophical than materialism. And materialism believes it is obliged, God knows why, make no mistake, to be on its guard against this God of whom I said that he has dominated, in philosophy, the whole debate about love.

See this site /4 Jacques Lacan (19721121 or Index) or /Lacan