The Lacan Ward

Pharmacology and Subjectivity in Buenos Aires

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  • 1 University of California, San Diego lakoff@usc.edu
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This essay describes the use of medication by Lacanian psychoana- lysts in an acute psychiatric ward in Buenos Aires. In this chaotic and difficult setting, psychotropic drugs provided a way to sustain the object of psychoanalytic knowledge—patient subjectivity. Such drugs enabled the patient to speak—as long as such speech did not include discussions of medication. This ‘ironic’ use of medication was premised on a strict division of labor between the task of the physician and the task of the analyst—and, more fundamentally, on a distinction between the body and the subjectivity of the patient, known as ‘structuralist dualism’. In effect, physician-analysts in the ward gave medication not to treat the illness directly, but in order to remain Lacanian.

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

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