chapter  5
18 Pages

Parting ways

Psychoanalysis is an elaborate exercise expected to adhere to the satisfying narrative structure of beginning, middle, and, preferably, happy end. But to the extent the purview of psychoanalysis is experience—the place where the singularity of a person's idiosyncratic desire meets the contingencies of life—it is virtually impossible to create a consensual vocabulary for knowing when enough is enough. Of all aspects of the psychoanalytic process, it is perhaps the ending that most vividly brings into relief the tension between professional accountability and the unpredictability of desire. The language of accountability insists on words such as "analyzability", "boundaries", and, yes, "termination". But the language of unconscious desire—and the freedom to live with its accidental consequences—is captured by Emerson. The experience of psychoanalysis, as Emerson suggests, is quite unlike what one promise them. More often than not, it creates an unlooked-for result.