More Of The Same Or Less Of The Unfamiliar:
In the care of suggestion

By Nadia Bou Ali

Does healing figure as a function of hypnosis or is it the hypnotist himself who is hystericized by the very process he puts into action? Hypnosis again today. After psychoanalysis worked so hard to fix the subject of the unconscious as a “subjectivized lack,” a subject endowed with “the gift of speech”; captured by the desire of the other; doomed to eternal production; and also absolved by repetition. To whom does hypnosis then address itself today? Perhaps to the subject of the unconscious, to that which speaks in tongues, but whom does the hypnotist encounter in his conjuring, who is silenced and what speaks? What hears the sounds of the body that emerge with the silencing of words? Psychoanalysis has long abandoned the illusion of a therapeutic cure, a cleansing ritual, and has positioned itself against the assertion of experience over ontology. Freud and then Lacan in turn and in tandem have created a cut with these models of shamanism, these magical precursors, the subject is already barred, split, haunted by its own spectral image. But is the cut clean? Is the primordial layer that underlies the formations of the ego as an imaginary alienating identification the same one conjured by the hypnotists? Or is there no sage, no shaman behind the subject as it is itself already an Other. Or to put it otherwise why is the Shaman crippled by the witnessing of that which lends itself to the illusion of completeness? The repetition of hypnosis appears to blur the limit between psychoanalysis and humanistic therapeutics that tend to be certain of the possibility of speaking to this “primitive magical matter.” The analyst does not speak but It speaks and It speaks incessantly. For this reason, analysis is an interminable process, a non-therapeutic, and non-caritas practice. Now and in light of these hypnotic sessions, the hypnotist is a surprising figure. As a subject supposed to know we find him constantly revealing too much in revealing that he knows too little … the question of knowledge is constantly puncturing the sensorial labyrinth drawn out in the sessions.

The scene when the lingering fellow screams out ecstasy is particularly interesting, the hypnotist master is so distraught by the enjoyment, it appears that the hypnotist cannot really fullfill his role. He does not seem to be able to control his subjects, his power is bare and barely there. Hence you get a very intriguing mix of knowledge and enjoyment with a strange sense of the futility of liberation from the unconscious. I don’t know if hypnosis is more of the same in this sense or less of the unfamiliar. It is then not surprising that the publication, HR, reads like a linguisteric attempt to gather the hypnosis sessions, in concepts or slippages or both at once? Funny that we have to come back to language after all, from the animal recoiling from the weight of the release from flesh, back to language, the circuit is complete all over again. The slip is now “from letter to litter,” and it smells, it really smells.