Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Psycho Analysis and Rape

Just in case you thought I was exaggerating when I connected psychoanalysis with rape. (See my post from September 27:The End of the affair. 

The following is from Sophie Robert's Twitter. I will translate it loosely, but accurately:

How dare you say that a married woman who has been raped can experience an unheard of pleasure. The phrase comes from psychoanalyst Pierre Marie. He offered it as an introduction to a course on psychoanalysis at the Ecole Normale Superieure-- one of France's most distinguished universities.

« Comment dire a tous qu’une femme mariee qui a subit un viol y a decouvert aussi, stupefaite, un plaisir inconnu ». Phrase d’intro d’un seminaire de psychanalyse 2020-2021 dispense a l’ENS par le psychanalyste Pierre Marie. L’ENS complice de l’apologie du viol conjugal?

A Few Words from Matt Taibbi

The last word on the latest New York Times hit piece on Donald Trump-- from Matt Taibbi, on Substack. (subscription only)

The New York Times published a massive expose about Donald Trump’s taxes on Sunday, starting the world on yet another trip up the Trump delirium coaster. The stages of the morality play are burned in our brains. Pundits scream bombshell, rush up a ladder of indignation, jump squealing into an abyss of apocalyptic predictions, dust off and do it again.

How many of these stories have there been? A hundred? Five hundred? A thousand? I tried physically counting and gave up. Our heads are packed with years of half-told stories that were discarded the instant they stopped having commercial or political utility. Some involved Trump, some not, who can remember them all? From sonic weapons in Cuba to spies gone dark to a secret bank server to hacker huddles in Prague to probable cause for an “agent of a foreign power” to Mike Flynn’s mistress to the Manafort-Assange confab to the exfiltrated agent with a home on to Putin’s niece and treason in Helsinki and North Korea and the Oval Office, we remember beginnings and not ends.

Is New York City Going Bankrupt?

Things around Manhattan seem to be improving… sorta. Madison Avenue shops are reopening. New businesses are starting up on the great shopping mecca. And traffic is returning to New York streets. Palpably. As you walk around town, there are no longer any empty streets.

And yet, few political leaders have been quite as inept as Mayor Bill de Blasio. And that does not even include the Lord High Executioner of the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

On the other side of the coin, office workers are not coming back to their offices. At least, not at a level that will make much of a difference in the city’s ailing economy.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Manhattan office employees are returning to work at a much slower pace than those in most other major U.S. cities, raising the risk that New York faces a more protracted and painful recovery from the coronavirus pandemic than much of the rest of the country….

Overall, about 10% of Manhattan office workers were back as of Sept. 18, according to CBRE Group Inc., a commercial real estate services firm.

That represents only a modest uptick from the 6% to 8% who were back in July, a month after the city allowed nonessential workers to return for the first time since offices closed in March because of the pandemic. The monthslong stretch of near-empty office buildings has had a debilitating knock-on effect in Midtown Manhattan and other business districts, leading many small shops and restaurants to shut down for good.

How does this compare to the rest of the country? Unfavorably, as you might guess:

Nationally, about 25% of office workers have returned as of this month, on average, according to real-estate services firms. Some large metropolitan areas are considerably higher, such as Dallas at 40% and the Los Angeles metro area at 32%, industry professionals say. The reoccupation rate in New York’s suburbs is 32%, according to CBRE, which manages 20 million square feet of office property in the region.

Now, the issue is, why is this happening. The Journal does not emphasize incompetent political leadership, but it does list some other factors:

But a number of civic and business leaders say New York’s reliance on mass transit—and concerns that the new coronavirus could spread through subways, buses or regional trains—has kept many people working from home. Cities that have more driving commuters have seen a higher percentage of workers return.

Some also say that delays in New York public schools’ reopening has made parents reluctant to return to the office if it means leaving children at home alone.

Children around the world are back in school. New York City’s incompetent administration has shut that down, the better to cripple the economy and to score political points against Donald Trump.

Of course, New York is suffering other ills:

New Yorkers’ slow return to the workplace is the latest blow to the nation’s biggest city, which has also suffered from homeowners fleeing Manhattan for larger spaces, rises in murders and homelessness, and the shutting or partial closings of Broadway theaters, museums and other popular attractions.

The dearth of employees at their desks could also have long-term consequences for the city’s economy and tax base. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which relies heavily on commuter revenue, faces a $12 billion shortfall by the end of 2021 and is considering crippling service cuts. Manhattan’s low office turnout also has contributed to a $9 billion drop in sales tax and other revenue the city government is projecting for its fiscal year that started July 1.

As we have often noted, Democratic administrations are sorely in need of federal government funds to bail them out of their own ineptitude.

For many businesses it will be too little, too late. Zero Hedge blog reports on the avalanche of bankruptcy filings, via Bloomberg:

While Wall Street panic buys stocks again, on hopes Washington can pass the next round of much-needed economic stimulus, the broader commercial real estate market continues to implode and nowhere more so than the epicenter in New York City, where nearly 6,000 business closures, has resulted in a 40% eruption in bankruptcy filings across business districts of all five boroughs this year, reported Bloomberg

And there are more coming:

Al Togut, a bankruptcy lawyer who has handled insolvencies for small firms to mega-corporations, said, "by late fall, there will be an avalanche of bankruptcies ... When the cold weather comes, that's when we'll start to see a surge in bankruptcies in New York City."

The coming wave of business closings, as explained in "Old Man Winter To Plunge Restaurants Into Further Chaos," is set to crush eateries and other small businesses in NYC ahead of the holiday season. 

The numbers are staggering. One understands that outdoor dining will not be able to continue for very much longer. And, what with the limitations on indoor dining, coupled with the empty office towers, the city is in big trouble.

Zero Hedge continues:

The Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit membership organization of NYC's top businesses, warned the virus pandemic could permanently close a third of the 230,000 businesses across all five boroughs. 

Bankruptcy filings in the region have skyrocketed since the middle of March, when the state of New York reported its first deaths from Covid-19 and Governor Andrew Cuomo closed all nonessential businesses. There were 610 filings in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York from March 16 to Sept. 27, according to court records. That's a 40 percent jump from the same period in 2019 and the most by far for any year since the financial crisis. The districts include some nearby counties.

Almost 6,000 New York City businesses closed from March 1 to Sept. 11, according to Yelp, the website of user reviews. Over 4,000 of those closed permanently.

The carnage has been demoralizing after decades in which the city fought back from the brink of bankruptcy, the scourges of crack cocaine and violent crime, terrorist attacks and recession. The pandemic hit as the city had achieved record high employment and low crime. - Bloomberg

That’s the latest from the Big Apple-- rotten at the core.

Annals of Political Incivility

In many ways this year’s election is about machismo. It’s about raw manliness. Rather than put up yet another whiny wimp to run against Donald Trump, Democrats chose their own macho man-- a man who has had work done on his face and who sexually assaults unsuspecting women and girls. What could be more macho, more Clintonian, than sneaking up behind a woman and sticking your nose in her hair.

After eight years of the weak-kneed appeasement mongers of the Obama years we are seeing a new improved Democratic party, one that disdains civility and that shows its toughness tough it is by burning down neighborhoods, by becoming an urban crime wave.

Activist Democrats are proud of their show of force and power. They are proud of having done so much damage across the country. And they are prouder still that their maniacal lust for public violence is working politically.

How many Americans, seeing that the American left is losing its mind, are going to vote for Joe Biden-- because they want to heal all of the injured psyches. Since American division and violence is being propelled by the left, the way to stop it is to pretend that the left is a child throwing a tantrum. Just give him the toy that he wants and he will stop screaming.

So, a number of influential leftists have seen that their new strategy works. So they want more of the same. In the matter of the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, the leftists have recognized that they have no civil means of stopping the nomination. So, they have gone to their othere strategy-- threats and intimidation. Do what we want or we will burn the house down. One suspects that certain weak-kneed Republicans will respond to the call.

These, from the Daily Caller, via Maggie’s Farm:

“We’re shutting this country down if Trump and McConnell try to ram through an appointment before the election,” Beau Willimon, an American playwright and screenwriter, said on Twitter Sept. 18. His tweet received more than 19,000 retweets.

And then this:

Former CNN employee Reza Aslan twice threatened to “burn the entire fucking thing down” after Ginsburg died, should the GOP try to replace her.


Canadian political science professor Emmett MacFarlane of the University of Waterloo tweeted “Burn Congress down before letting Trump try to appoint anyone to SCOTUS."

And, a journalist:

Laura Bassett said in a tweet that appears to have been deleted that “If McConnell jams someone through, which he will, there will be riots.”

When you have no arguments and no ideas, when you cannot defend your record or debate the issues-- there’s always violent riots. But, make sure you blame it on Donald Trump. He’s like their get-out-of-jail free card.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Their House, Their Rules

So, what do you make of this? The dilemma comes from an online discussion led by the Washington Post’s Carolyn Hax

Simply put, the issue is: their house, their rules. A couple lives together. The woman is 36, and her beau is approximately the same age.

When the happy couple visit the boyfriend's parents, said parents insist on separate bedrooms. The parents are Evangelical Christians and apparently do not want them committing sins in their house. We have no other information about who else is in the house-- minor grandchildren, perhaps.

The girlfriend finds this grossly offensive. Apparently, she leans to the political left. Rob's parents lean right. His parents have always treated her very well. To their credit.

But, the separate bedroom issue has been eating at her woke consciousness. So, she told her beau to confront his parents over this gross injustice. This means-- she is trying to force him to do something that might damage his relationship with his parents.

Otherwise she is not going to visit them on their vacation trip. Thus, she is taking a stand, thus alienating her prospective in-laws and creating a dicey situation for her boyfriend.

Here is the letter:

I am 36 and have been in a relationship for four years with my partner, "Rob." We live together, and while marriage is on the table, it's not really a priority for either of us so we aren't in a rush to tie the knot.

Rob's family is evangelical Christian. While we have very different religious and political beliefs, I enjoy their company, and they've been very welcoming to me.

The issue is that even though I am pushing 40, Rob and I aren't allowed to share a bedroom when we visit or vacation with them, because we aren't married. To make things worse, Rob refuses to engage with his parents on this issue because he claims they are "set in their ways" and it would be pointless to ask.

I'm sort of sympathetic to this issue when we stay with them — their house, their rules — but the big annual family vacation involves the entire family staying in the same house on a beach together, and we are asked to stay in separate rooms. I feel like since we're contributing to the cost of the house and we are almost 40, we should be allowed to stay in the same room!

I'm at the point where I am refusing to attend the vacation if Rob continues to refuse to talk to his parents about this. Can I also mention again, we already live together! I'd love a third-party opinion on this.

— Pushing 40

Beginning with Hax, the respondents address the situation literally. It is within their rights. As might be expected, Hax has the worst response:

As long as your eyes are open to your refusal as the first in a line of dominoes, then, refuse — kindly and in peace.

Refusing will damage her relationship with his parents and will damage his relationship with his parents. One does not understand what Hax thinks the woman is going to accomplish by leaning in-- except creating problems. And making herself look like someone who has no manners and no respect.

Given that this was an online discussion, other people offered their suggestions. Among them, why not rent a condo nearby? Not a bad idea-- one that will allow them to enjoy the weekend without following house rules.

And yet, you do not need to be especially astute to see other issues looming here. Surely, they could solve the issue by getting married. What do they have against marriage? Why would a woman who is approaching 40 think that she has all the time in the world to get married? If she thinks this way, then the grandchildren question pops quickly into view. If they are not rushing to get married, are they planning to have children? Do they know anything about the biological clock?

The other possibility here is that Rob’s parents do not like his inamorata. They do not approve of the relationship. They might be trying to provoke an outburst that will show Rob what kind of woman he is shacking up with. If that is the case, then the letter writer does well to follow Hax’s lame advice.

If not, she might reconsider her own view of marriage and childbearing. That they are in no hurry to marry does not tell us anything about their views about having children. You can be totally confident that Rob's parents have been thinking about nothing else.

Annals of Woke Parenting

Another sad tale from the annals of woke parenting. 

Parents of a three year old girl want her to grow up to decide her gender for herself. It is so profoundly stupid that it takes your breath away. The husband, in particular, a wuss if ever there was one, live his ideological fanaticism and takes it out on his child. He is forcing her to avoid all girly clothes.

Now, as it happens, said woke parents have been dressing their daughter as a boy. But, mirabile dictu, the girl, having attained age 3, likes the color pink. And she especially likes pink dresses. The mother is at her wits end over this. She is inclined to respect the girl’s wishes to be pretty in pink. The father-- though it is a stretch to use the term to define him-- takes serious offense at it all.

So, in the great and eternal war between nature and nurture, parents who are trying their darndest to negate nature, have discovered that nature has a way of fighting back. One understands that the current mania over transgenderism is yet another way of pretending that we can negate nature. 

This comes from people who are out in force worshipping the great goddess of Mother Nature and who want to throw you in jail for defiling Her by using a plastic straw. Have you noticed that this crowd can’t think straight?

Keep in mind, the woke crowd often insists that its dogmatic opinions are science.

Anyway, here is the letter, quoted by Slate advice columnist Jamilah Lemieux:

My husband and I have a frequent disagreement on our 3-year-old and her love for dresses and all things pink! For the first two years of her life, she was constantly mistaken for a boy because she wore gender-neutral clothes. We direct her towards books and other media that do not represent traditional gender roles (no sparkle princesses!). We ask friends and family to refrain from commenting on her appearance and clothing, if they can help it, and to instead focus on skills or interests. However, our daughter adores the color pink, insists on wearing dresses, and is currently obsessed with accessories. I am fine with this, though I hope it will be a phase.

After a few battles about wearing her sole pink dress when it was dirty, my daughter and I did some online shopping together and she chose a few more dresses to order (all of them were pink, obviously). My husband is unhappy that I encouraged her obsession by purchasing the dresses and letting her wear some of my old jewelry. He gets annoyed when dresses get tangled while climbing a rock or running and says that dresses and accessories aren’t suitable for doing most things. I appreciate his commitment to raising our daughter without gender stereotypes, but I also want to encourage her to make her own choices. I feel like if we push back too hard on her love for dresses and jewelry, it will backfire, and she will only become more obsessed! Help!

—Pretty Annoyed With Pink

Lemieux’s analysis is completely incoherent, and thus, not worthy of extensive quotation. In effect, she seems to sympathize with the little girl. I will note that while the mother refers to her daughter with feminine pronouns, Lemieux change them all to the neutered "they."

She does, however, understand the reasoning underlying the father’s actions:

It seems to be that the goal for shielding a child from gendered clothing and activities would be to allow them to define their identity without having it assigned to them by their parents and society at large. 

Yet, the truth is, that gender is not assigned arbitrarily. It corresponds to a biological reality, not merely the shape of the external genitalia, but the existence of trillions of gendered chromosomes. To declare all of that to be irrelevant is to abuse a child. Such nonsense sometimes leads to biochemical and surgical mutilation.

One sympathizes with the mother who is trying to protect her child from a woke father, a father, incidentally, who is engaging in appalling child abuse. The man should be in jail.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Amy Coney Barrett and the Question of Sex

Try this one on for size. Regarding the pending Supreme Court fight:

Democrats understand that ideas matter. They also know that having apparently run out of appealing ones, they must find other ways to exert power. For them, these court fights are increasingly a matter of political life and death.

Of course, that is a misquotation. The real statement, from New York Times editorialist Michelle Cottle, goes like this:

Republicans understand that ideas matter. They also know that having apparently run out of appealing ones, they must find other ways to exert power. For them, these court fights are increasingly a matter of political life and death.

Call it a cheap shot on my part if you like. But it does not take too much mental exertion to see that Democrats, true to form, are preparing to declare all-out war on yet another Republican Supreme Court nominee.

They did it with Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh. The brain dead Democrats, having run out of ideas, unwilling to engage intellectually, are doing what intellectually challenged people always do-- they slander and defame. They engage in an orgy of character assassination.

One notes that Republicans have never, ever engaged in such appallingly bad behavior. They have never treated a court nominee in the way that Democrats treated, say, Brett Kavanaugh. Did you notice that Democrats have never shown the least inkling of shame over their attempts to destroy Kavanaugh... and his family.

Obviously, the Democrats cannot brand Amy Coney Barrett a serial sexual harasser. But, one can assuredly predict, they will try to make her appear to be a witch. And they will try to burn her at the stake.

Isn’t this what Sen. Dianne Feinstein intimated with her appalling remark at the hearings when Barrett was considered for an appeals court position:

The dogma lives loudly within you and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.

It is appalling to attack someone on the basis of religion, but that will in no way prevent Democrats for doing so. 

And yet, a light shines into the darkness. Many have remarked on it, but in case you missed it, Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman, a witness for the prosecution at the Trump impeachment hearings, wrote a column for Bloomberg, in which he pronounced Barrett, whom he knows personally, to be eminently qualified.

To Feldman Barrett possesses one of the great judicial minds of our time. Isn’t that something that we should look for when choosing judges for the Supreme Court? For the record, the same was true of Brett Kavanaugh.

Here are Feldman’s words:

I disagree with much of her judicial philosophy and expect to disagree with many, maybe even most of her future votes and opinions. Yet despite this disagreement, I know her to be a brilliant and conscientious lawyer who will analyze and decide cases in good faith, applying the jurisprudential principles to which she is committed. Those are the basic criteria for being a good justice. Barrett meets and exceeds them.

And also:

Elections have consequences, and so do justices’ decisions about when or whether to retire. Trump is almost certainly going to get his pick confirmed.

Given that reality, it is better for the republic to have a principled, brilliant lawyer on the bench than a weaker candidate. That’s Barrett.

And also:

To add to her merits, Barrett is a sincere, lovely person. I never heard her utter a word that wasn’t thoughtful and kind — including in the heat of real disagreement about important subjects. She will be an ideal colleague. I don’t really believe in “judicial temperament,” because some of the greatest justices were irascible, difficult and mercurial. But if you do believe in an ideal judicial temperament of calm and decorum, rest assured that Barrett has it.


Barrett is also a profoundly conservative thinker and a deeply committed Catholic. What of it? Constitutional interpretation draws on the full resources of the human mind. These beliefs should not be treated as disqualifying.

Some might argue that you should want your probable intellectual opponent on the court to be the weakest possible, to help you win. But the Supreme Court is not and should not be a battlefield of winner-take-all political or ideological division.

For all I know, Feldman is trying to warn his fellow Democrats against going beserk and trying to destroy someone of the caliber of Amy Coney Barrett. 

As of now, the Democratic party line has it that Barrett will vote to overturn Obamacare-- which is on life support. This is consistent with the notion that Democrats will care for you, because they are the Mommy party.

Democrats are playing this meme for all its worth. They have discovered that suburban women like it, so they keep using it. They pair it with their notion that President Trump is responsible for the coronavirus death toll-- even though fully a quarter of the deaths have occurred in true blue states like New York and New Jersey.

But, behind it all lies abortion. You might imagine that a political party that was confident in its ideas, as Cottle suggested above, would happily be willing to propose legislation enshrining the right to an abortion. Why is that not the Democratic battle plan? Why are Democrats so hellbent on allowing the judiciary to decide the issue? All the while, they are whining uncontrollably about how much they love democracy, how democracy is threatened and so on.

One understands, and the point is worth underscoring, that the direct consequence of a possible overturn of Roe v. Wade would be that states would vote to define abortion rights, as they see fit.

And yet, perhaps we should ask ourselves why the modern definition of womanhood must necessarily include the right to end a pregnancy-- at will? How did it happen that pregnancy became the new “curse?”

As you know, the issue is intractable because hardliners on each side of the issue have staked out absolutist positions.

Some say never; some say always. Some say that no woman should ever have the right to an abortion. Some say that all women should have the right to an abortion at any stage of pregnancy.

If you were thinking that we ought to be able to arrive at a compromise-- the medium between always and never is sometimes. Apparently, such is not the case. Even the Krauthammer solution seems not to be appealing. It was, for the record, that no one ever holds a funeral after a miscarriage and that when a pregnant woman undergoes an ultrasound the physicians does not say: There is your fetus. In less technical terms, when a pregnant woman shows, no one says-- you’re carrying a fetus. Everyone says, you’re expecting a baby.

Feminists have cast the issue in terms of a woman’s absolute right to control her body. Obviously, this right is not absolute-- what if women decide to carve up their bodies with razor blades. And, dare we say, unless the woman produced said fetus with her physician, perhaps there ought to be some notion that she did not get pregnant all by herself.

And yet, one suspects that another issue is lurking over the abortion question. That is, as some feminists have stated, it is far easier for a man to walk away from the consequences of sexual congress than it is for a woman. I trust that I do not need to go into detail.

You might consider that to be a fact. You might think that you should try to accommodate it in your considerations about the reality of human procreation-- though it obviously also applies to all mammalian procreation. You might consider it one of the ways in which human men and human women are fundamentally different.

But, then again, you might consider it to be a gross injustice, a fault in God’s plan. Through this fact, God seems to have introduced a fundamental inequality between men and women. 

For those who consider it an injustice, the only way to right the wrong, to correct God’s mistake is, quite simply, to make it just as easy for a woman to walk away from the consequences of sexual congress.

It is less a question of free will, and more a question of imposing one’s will on reality. If such is your proclivity and propensity, abortion must be permissible on demand, whenever a woman wants one. It is the only way to show God who is really the boss, and also, to gaslight the world into thinking that men and women are not just equal, but the same.

Strangely enough, belief in God coincides perfectly with an acceptance of science. Who would have guessed?


Sunday, September 27, 2020

The End of the Affair: Why I Quit Psychoanalysis

Here are some special treats for Sunday morning. A text I just wrote about why I stopped doing psychoanalysis was just published in the French  blog-- Mediaparte. It was skillfully translated by Sophie Robert, famed documentary filmmaker.

For those who do not read French, I am adding the original in English, to this post. Even if you do not read French, that version is illustrated.

Is psychoanalysis a science? Does it work as well in all cultures? If not, then perhaps it’s more about acculturation than about treatment.

When I returned to New York from Paris I tested the hypothesis. When I studied in Paris I was full of faith in the Freudian truth. When I returned to America and started looking at it pragmatically, my faith was challenged and ultimately discredited.

My text recounts my own journey out of the Freudian wilderness. I lost faith in Lacan. I lost faith in Lacan’s theories. I lost faith in psychoanalytic practice. Some will find it sad, but it was certainly for the good.

After spending four and a half years training in psychoanalysis at the Ecole Freudienne de Paris, I arrived back in New York City. I should not have been surprised, but I quickly started hearing stories about Lacan. People, even serious intellectuals who had studied the theory, cared more to tell stories about the man himself.

It made some sense. Why slog through the swamp of Lacan’s thinking when you could skip to the end of the story, there to find the meaning of it all. The meaning was the man himself, the theory made flesh. 

In truth, for all the hubbub about Lacan’s seminars in Paris, precious few of his followers had any idea of what he was talking about. They tossed around his favorite terms as though they were passwords, showing that they belonged to the cult. It was like learning how to speak a private language.

So, in 1977 people were talking about the impression Lacan made during his 1975 lecture tour in Cambridge, New Haven and New York.

One suspects that Lacan believed that he was bringing the Word to the heathens. He even declared that, before coming to America, he had only ever lectured to psychoanalysts-- a manifest falsehood. He claimed that he would address Americans exactly as he addressed his students in Paris. This tells us that he did not know where he was and did not care to accommodate the sensibility of his audience.

Yet, Lacan had earned some Parisian respect for having published a massive tome of his Ecrits in 1966. French intellectuals came into vogue during the late 1960s and early 1970s in America. Lacan was part of the group. In 1975, at the time of his third and last American trip, only a few of his writings were available in English.

Lacan lectured in Cambridge, Massachusetts at the invitation of famed linguist Roman Jakobson. Many serious intellectuals, from Willard Quine to Noam Chomsky attended. 

Unfortunately, they were not impressed by Lacan.  They thought that he was clowning around. Chomsky declared that Lacan was a charming charlatan, a man who had beguiled his Parisian audience with mounds of nonsense. Leading American intellectuals were not fooled by Lacan’s performance. 

After Cambridge, Lacan spoke at a psychoanalytic seminar at Yale University. While in New Haven, he did not just show himself to be a confused thinker. He showed himself to be a profoundly unserious human being. 

When there, a trio of distinguished professors, Geoffrey Hartman, Harold Bloom and Paul de Man invited Lacan to lunch at a legendary New Haven club, called Mory’s. As the story was told, when Lacan was served his lunch he took serious offense to what he saw and threw the food on the floor. Perhaps he had gotten in touch with his inner child, but his petulance made him appear to be a buffoon.

From there Lacan moved on to New York City, where he lectured at Columbia University and stayed at a luxury hotel called the St. Regis. A couple of graduate students were charged with escorting Lacan around the city, assuring that his needs were met. By their account, the old man spent half his time writing whiny telegrams to his Parisian mistress. He ran the students ragged with his demands that they instantly send them off.

If this was what it meant to act on one’s desire, they were not about to join the Lacanian cult.

They came away thinking that Lacan was pathetic, seriously lacking in self-respect. Strangely, this picture of Lacan the man comports well with the portrait that Philippe Sollers later painted in his 1983 novel, Femmes, where a Lacan-like figure called Fals makes a fool of himself over a woman..

Whether or not Lacan fell in love with America, it seemed clear that the Americans who had direct commerce with him in the United States came away unmoved, by his mind and his charms. He was more the insolent child than the great thinker.

As everyone knows, Lacan and his heirs found it far easier to beguile listeners in South America. After all, the unconscious desire that animates people in Argentina is to be French. In America, no such desire exists.

Yet, other French writers have been received cordially and respectfully in America. Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida and Julia Kristeva taught for many years in American universities, but they did not manifest the same level of bad behavior that Lacan did.

For most people, in France and around the world, Lacan’s theories were largely impenetrable, a confidence trick, one might say. But Lacan’s appeal lay in his ability to perform in public, in lectures, to entertain, to amuse and to ensorcell.

Still, Lacan was a psychoanalyst. In principle psychoanalysis is a healing activity. With Lacan, such was not the case. Lacan never seemed to care about therapeutic results. He did not seem to care about whether treatment had been effective. Like a good Freudian, he was more concerned with storytelling than with problem solving. 

Apparently, he had a late epiphany and declared in 1977 that clinical practice was a scam. Dare I say that many of his cult followers refused to accept the Freudian truth.

Anyway, three years after I landed in New York, 1980 Lacan dissolved his Freudian School of Paris and founded something called the School of the Freudian Cause. He seemed more to care about advancing a cause than about training psychoanalysts. 

In a gesture that appalled most of his longstanding followers, he gave control of the institution to his son-in-law Jacques-Alain MIller. It was a gesture worthy of a hereditary aristocracy. Miller himself was a singularly unimpressive figure who had never written anything of consequence, and who had little, if any clinical experience. It would be an understatement to say that Miller was in way over his head. It would be equally true to suggest that he did not know it.

In the United States, at that time proselytizing the true Freudian faith was going very slowly indeed. I discovered that, aside from a few academics, few people cared to plumb the depths of the soul of an enigmatic Frenchman.

That continued until 1983 when I wrote a book called, Jacques Lacan: The Death of an Intellectual Hero. It was published by Harvard University Press and was reviewed very favorably in the New York Times. I think it fair to say that it was a defining moment; it established Lacan in America. 

Evidently, it seriously disturbed certain French analysts, beginning with the dyspeptic Jacques-Alain MIller. He commissioned some comments by Prof. Patrick Colm Hogan for his publication, Analytica 37, published in 1984. The comments were derisive and dismissive, as though to tell people that they had best not read the book. Later on, Hogan apologized to me for the article, explaining that Miller had forced him to make it negative and hostile.

The book was eventually translated into French (and several other languages. The French version entitled, Jacques Lacan, Maitre Zen,  was largely ignored by French readers. In the world of French Lacanian analysis, when Miller says not to read something, the lemmings bend over and obey.

One suspects that Miller, who considered himself to have been anointed the leader of the worldwide Lacanian movement felt slightly eclipsed-- or should I say, put in his place-- when someone else garnered an audience. Somehow or other, he seemed to want to be in charge of whatever was happening in America. Neither he nor his lieutenants knew anything about America. Their knowledge of the place seemed to derive entirely from what they had read in Time Magazine. It was embarrassing to hear them opine about it. 

One of his satraps told me that they had planned first to colonize South American minds-- easier to colonize-- and would then invade America through Florida. I told them that I thought they had completely lost their minds. 

Miller owed his standing to his marriage. As a writer and a thinker, he was a nullity, easily ignored, more easily forgotten.  In the American academic world, and not just in the American academic world, people respect those who publish consequential works. If he had established himself as a clinician, he could certainly have presented himself under that rubric. He had not. For that reason, he did not command respect in the world of American psychoanalysis

Thus, when Miller was invited to attend a large symposium at  the University of Massachusetts in 1984, he seemed to be all pretense, and no substance. He did succeed in making a perfect fool of himself. He was not the only one to speak at the conference. And yet, after each presentation he arose to explain what Lacan really thought. He seemed to be a jack-in-the-box, a man who did not know who he was, where he was, or what he was doing there. People felt embarrassed for him. Precious few ever invited him back.

When it was his turn to lecture, the anointed heir to the throne of Lacanism declared that he was St. Paul. He had come to proselytize to the heathens and to the gentiles. Most people thought he was a pretentious twit, a walking affectation.

Needless to say, thanks to Miller’s inability to accept my book’s success, we were not getting along. Nevertheless, we patched things up enough to co-sponsor four yearly meetings of something I called the Paris-New York Psychoanalytic Workshop. It was reasonably well attended and it gave Miller a New York audience. 

Unfortunately, most people came away thinking he was an oleaginous, self-important, arrogant fool. His lectures, punctuated by sighs, sounded like the adolescent adoration of a cult follower. St. Paul he was not. Since he had still not written anything of consequence, he could only show off his high self-esteem.

After embarrassing himself, he ended the last meeting by trying to embarrass me. Dare I say that you do not, if you have the minimal sense of decorum, embarrass your host. Miller’s appalling behavior ended our association.

To be more specific, I had, during the last  workshop, delivered a talk about Gilles de Rais, entitled “The Worst Perversion.” If you do not know the story, I recommend Georges Bataille’s book: Le Proces de Gilles de Rais. 

Miller was unhappy with my talk, but he was even more unhappy when he heard William Richardson suggest that Lacan had misunderstood Kant. Saying that Lacan was wrong was almost as bad a crime as writing a successful book about the idol.

Anyway, Miller closed out the meeting with a lame attempt to ridicule my talk. The worst perversion, he claimed, was not the serial killing sexual sadist, Gilles de Rais. The worst perverts were the judges who had tried him and had ordered his execution. 

To bring the argument into the twentieth century,  Lacan’s heir was arguing that the worst criminals at the Nuremberg Trials were not the Nazi war criminals, but the panel of judges convicted them. It takes a special kind of stupid to believe such things.

Anyway, Miller and I had a private conversation the next day. It did not go well. He announced that henceforth he would only allow me to write about Lacan’s texts. Apparently, he thought that he had to assert his authority and his control.

Seriously. One does not know who he thought he was and where he thought he was, but the statement told me that basically his role, as bequeathed by Lacan, was to be a bookseller, to generate royalties that would constitute an inheritance for members of his family.

Apparently, Lacan knew his son-in-law well; he wanted him to have a role that he might have been able to fulfill. For my part, I refused Miller’s demand and never again had significant dealings with him. And I never again wrote about Lacan’s texts.

As for my own disillusionment, a year or so after the end of the Workshop I found myself in a conversation with a famed philosopher in South America. I was joined by a friend, a leading local Lacanian, for a conversation with someone who, I was assured, was one of ours. That is, who was an ally.

It was less a conversation and more a thirty minute harangue,delivered by the professor, about Lacan’s theoretical failings. The man, an authority on logic, declared that he was seriously tired of hearing his students quote Lacan on Frege and Godel. Lacan understood nothing about either man and this professor was appalled to hear his students mouthing egregious errors.

Besides, he went on, Lacan’s theory of the four discourses was a piece of theoretical nonsense. As I had already known, the grid that was supposed to show the four ways that human beings could establish a social connection was merely an arithmetic group. (That is, a function for mapping a set of numbers onto a grid.)  

But, the man continued, there are many arithmetic groups. Why choose one and not the others? Lacan never explained it, so he was trafficking in a cheap analogy. Besides, he concluded, Lacan seemed to believe that because mathematicians called the function a group, that meant that it offered the structure of a social group. He noted that the choice of the word “group” was arbitrary. It was certainly not meaningful. 

Needless to say, I was shocked. I had spent considerable time working on Lacanian and Freudian theories. I was certainly not happy to hear that they were mostly constructed on sand. So, disillusionment over the behavior of Lacan and his acolytes led to disillusionment about the validity of the theory. Perhaps it was all a scam.

The worst was yet to come. It came one day in the early 1990s when a woman came to see me from a foreign country. She recounted that while she was doing her training analysis, her analyst had jumped her while she was on the couch, and raped her… in session. She did not name the analyst. When I asked myself why she was telling me this, I could only conclude that she wanted me to know the kind of people I had been frequenting. It was a very bad day.

It was not the only time I had heard of such crimes. I had heard of women being assaulted in analytic and supervision sessions. We all knew that Lacan himself had been having an affair with one of his patients, but we were far too sophisticated to worry about it. Rape, however, was another story. At that time, I ceased associating with the Lacanian world.

Evidently, certain analysts had taken Lacan’s ethical precept-- to act on one’s desire-- far too literally. 

As I discovered years later, psychoanalysis had arisen from a rape culture. When Freud was at the Salpetriere, the neurology resident physicians were routinely raping their patients. Did Freud know it, Andre Breton and Louis Aragon asked in the 1920s? 

Surely, Freud’s emphasis on sex and the treatment for hysteria that had been touted in Charcot’s service-- namely, penis normalis dosim repetatur-- was consistent with the notion that psychoanalysis, as I began to realize and as I argued in my book The Last Psychoanalyst, was structured like a sublimated rape.

If women do not know what they want, as Lacan intoned endlessly, why should any man take a lack of consent literally? Perhaps when she says No, she is just denying her true desire. If a woman does not know what she wants, and if her analyst does, why should he not give her what she wants, even if she does not know that she wants it. 

One might say that Freudian practice enacts a question: is a rape still a rape when you convince the victim that she really, really wanted it, but was so repressed that she could not admit it to herself. 

We see this most clearly in Freud’s last written up case of a hysteric, the case of Dora. Wasn’t Freud trying to convince Dora that the reason she slapped Herr K’s face at the scene by the lake was that she really, really wanted him, [but could not admit it to herself ? Wasn’t he saying that this was the reason she had manifested hysterical symptoms.]  We note that Herr K was the husband of Dora’s father’s mistress. The notion that hangs over the case was that Dora’s father offered her to Herr K as recompense for allowing him to continue his affair with Frau K. Obviously, no one needed the notion that Dora was unconsciously lusting after Herr K to understand her distress. We emphasize, because no one else seems to, that Dora was 13 at the time.

Remember when Freud pretended that psychoanalytic treatment took such a long time because patients refused to yield to his interpretative importunities. Why did he need to hear that they were completely and totally convinced that he was right? Why did he deprive them of the ability to agree or disagree, to consent or not to consent?

If Freudian theory, as Karl Popper explained, could not be science because it could not be falsified, why not ask whether, if the Freudian analyst can never be wrong, does this not also imply that he can never do wrong?

Anyway, my disillusionment with the Lacanian movement was a function of the simple fact that I was practicing in New York. Unlike Argentinians, New Yorkers are not dying to become French. They want to get better. They want to improve their ability to function in the world. They are more interested in being efficient, effective and productive. They are less interested in seducing people. They do not spend their time trying to rationalize their failures. They are more practical and more empirical. Evidently, Anglo-Saxon culture differs from traditional French culture. As we know from watching Sophie Robert’s documentary, The Wall, one thing that Lacanian analysts reject above all else is the chance that their pure culture will suffer the invasion of Anglo-Saxon empirical treatments. They would rather see autistic French children not be treated, than be treated successfully by a behavioral technique.

Americans judge treatment in terms of clinical effectiveness, a term that never crossed the minds of Parisian cult followers. Parisians embraced the theory because they thought it would innoculate them against the dreaded Anglo-Saxon empirical thinking. A Belgian Lacanian, by name of Alexandre Stevens, declared that  he feared an invasion by the armies of the Anglosphere. A strange thought when placed in historical context.

Obviously, this sense that psychoanalysis is a cause, a side in a culture war that explicitly rejects empirical and pragmatic thinking, does not play well in America.

Lacan himself seemed to undertand this. At one point in his seminar he declared that if anyone gets well while undergoing psychoanalysis, it is a fortunate accident. The treatment does not treat and does not cure. This means that if your clients want to get well, you as a clinician will not do psychoanalysis. Some clients told me explicitly--  you can keep that Freudian stuff to yourself. 

Many New York clients did not care about the workings of their unconscious minds. They wanted help with managing their lives; they wanted to know how to solve difficult social and moral problems. They wanted to improve the way they function in the world, not to discover how badly they wanted to copulate with their mothers.

To put it in the terms I used in my book, knowing why you got it wrong does not tell you how to get it right. And, you do not need to learn why you got it wrong in order to get it right. Searching through your mind bank in order to discover the reasons why you are neurotic will simply distract you from the task at hand. Learning to tell your life story, the better to pass the pass, as Lacan called it, does not tell you how to conduct your life. It only makes you a storyteller. And this explains why I called psychoanalysis-- overpriced storytelling. 

The moment when I saw this most clearly occurred in a session that occurred when I was practicing psychoanalysis. A young man was involved in a messy break up with a woman he wanted to marry. She had rejected his marriage proposal and he refused to accept her answer. Thus, he was calling her and trying to contact her far too often. He was becoming a stalker.

When he asked me what he should do to deal with the situation-- and to get back in her good graces-- I first offered up the normal psycho analytic response, namely that I was not in the business of giving advice and guidance about the conduct of everyday life. He was undeterred. 

 “If you don’t tell me what I should do,” he replied, “I have an astrologer in Moscow who will.” (And no, I did not invent that detail.)

Naturally, I considered his statement to be a challenge. So I replied, without thinking about it, that I would tell him what to do if he promised to do what I told him. He agreed to the terms of the agreement, and we had made a deal. I would underscore the fact that the type of relationship you construct when you are making a deal is not the same as the relationship you forge when you are hovering over someone pretending to be a dummy. 

You are more an ally helping him to deal with current affairs and less a blank slate awaiting the moment when you can tell him that he is mistaking you for your crazy Aunt Sadie. When I offered him a plan of action to deal with his situation, I did not declare that they were the last word. Where Freud insisted that his patients accept his interpretations unqualified, I was offering hypotheses that could be tested in the real world. 

I did not address what this man really, really wanted. I told him that he should apologize to the woman for his appalling behavior, that he should send her a gift of flowers, accompanied by a note renouncing all of his importunate advances. I told him that I wanted to see [the note] before he sent it, and that he should not contact her until I gave him permission to do so.

 So, I set down a plan. He did not have to accept it, but he did. And he stopped the stalking behavior immediately. For what it is worth, the story had a happy ending.

Rather than help him to discover why he was stalking and why he was so sorely offended, I got him back in the game. I gave him some understanding of what the game was and how he could play it. With guidance he got in control of his life. I find it more important than allowing him to decompensate or to seek advice from a Russian astrologer.

In time I tried this new approach more and more often. I started seeing that my clients who were being coached did better than the clients who wanted to explore their unconscious minds and interpret their dreams. Eventually, I ceased doing psychoanalysis altogether.

As of now, psychoanalysis is just about dead in America. It has been largely supplanted by cognitive-behavioral therapy and by coaching. In a nation known for its pragmatism, what matters is what works.

As William James put it: the truth is what works. Psychoanalysis considered the truth to be the truth of your desire, presumably dramatized in the story of Oedipus. Playing a game, understanding the moves you can or cannot make, is not the same as enacting a drama (or even your primal fantasy) in your relationship with your psychoanalyst. 

Learning what you really, really want does not tell you how to play the game, or even what the game is. It might allow you to diddle with your desire but it does not show you how to function in the world. 

Evidently, a nation that is a world power is more likely to see problems in terms of competition than is a nation that is not. A nation that had won wars was more likely to value competition than was a nation that needed, above all, to recover the pride lost during World War II.

Of course, the idea of coaching, or of cognitive and behavioral treatments, disturbs Lacanian analysts. Belgian psychologist Jacques van Rillaer has documented their hysterical jaculations in Mediaparte, in an essay entitled: “De Freud et Lacan au TCC.” Lacanians object that cognitive and behavioral treatments, as well as to coaching deaden the soul. 

Is this not another way of saying that winning wars is not worthwhile if it costs you your soul? For these analysts, it’s one Faustian bargain too many. 

As I argued in my book, The Last Psychoanalyst, psychoanalysis began as a pseudoscience and became a pseudoreligion. That is, a cult. In that case Lacan was the truest Freudian. Thus, he also showed that Freudian psychoanalysis deserved to be buried. One suspects that, by the end of his life, when he pronounced psychoanalytic practice to be a scam and when he said that if anyone ever gets well doing psychoanalysis, it is a happy accident, he understood that basic truth.