Surface Topology

What is the Pass?

Psychoanalysis Los Angeles California Extension

Pair of Pants Construction by R.T.Groome

What is the Pass?  


The Ethical Position of the Analytic Act

The Pass was invented by the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan with the goal of laying bare the psychoanalytic act and founding it in a way that does not trivialize into the professional ‘being’ of the analyst (see the Proposition of Oct. 9, 1967).  In the last instance, the analytic act can – and must – be distinguished from the professional being in the same way ethics can be separated from morality.

What Founds the Analytic Act?

It is necessary to distinguish mere movement from an act: briefly, any act requires something like a reading-writing.

Within most traditions, an act does not stand alone, but opens up a question of its readability and writablity. One way to stabilize a reading-writing is to homogenize it through the use of canons, implicit or explicit, of interpretation. These canons  are not abstractions but are put into place by rituals of exclusion and sacrifice: not just anyone, for example, is supposed to be able to understand a medical journal, it takes years of hard work and sacrifice.  But at what point does this sacrifice turn from a question of true research to being nothing more than the hazing for a guild or professional club?

We may speak of the institutionalization of a reading-writing once various measures have been set up to codify and ritualize its interpretation.  In each case in which reading-writing is pushed through and merely viewed as a means of communication – and not an ends itself – the act is bypassed. That is to say, the effectiveness of an act is assimilated to being nothing more than the effect of institutionalization and power; most particularly, the will, intentions, and ideas of the group.

As common as this mode of communication is, it bypasses not only what is crucial to reading and writing, but psychoanalysis since it confuses its act with a ritualization and canonization of writing and reading.  It is for this reason another framework has been devised to distill the analytic act in a more just manner; a manner closer to the theory and practice of psychoanalysis in the work of Freud and Lacan.

To begin to refocus the analytic act in this way requires we take a second look at the problem of writing and reading in order to situate it in a more just manner.  Lacan made the difference between the architect and the building code inspector: the former is concerned with the structure of the theory and practice of a construction; the latter comes to bear only on a professional obligation.

1) We call the Pass a framework for determining the ethics and structure of a psychoanalytic act through the support of a writing and reading.

2) We call a Phd defense a means for determining a competency and professional obligation through the support of a thesis or dissertation.

Unlike a Phd Defense, (2), where both writing and reading are bypassed and viewed as a means – a way to communicate an idea and a contract relations with a group – in the Pass, (1), writing and reading are focused as an end itself. With this refocus of attention onto a use of writing and reading we arrive at a distillation of the analytic act.

A descriptive account of the Procedure of the Pass follows in Part II.

We will describe here two different versions of the Pass, one Strict, and the other Large.

1) Large

1.1 Actants

The Large Pass consists of:

1) A secretary – the person in charge of transcribing the name, organizing the dates, times, and places of the Pass. S/he also assists in the announcement of the results of the ballot by the Representative of the Jury.

2) A passee – the person who poses their candidature to the secretary or the general assembly in order to engage the Pass.

3) A passer – the person who is chosen to present the text of the passee on the date of the Pass. A Passer may always decline such a choice.

4) Members of the Jury – The Jury consists of four people +1 Representative serves to collect the ballots. The passer can know the passee but does not specifically know the people on the jury.

5) An Audience may be present for the Pass at the discretion of the Passee.

1.2. Structure and Function

a) The Passer achieves a text.

b) The Passer announces the engagement of the Pass to the Secretary.

c) The Passer gives the text to a Person they choose from the General Assembly. In the Improvised Pass, this person may be chosen directly by the passee from a list of people working at PLACE (or another aligned association) as long as there has been no previous communications on the subject between them.

d) These choices (abc) of the Passer are objected to or confirmed by those present in the General Assembly.

e) The Passer is left to read and study the text of the Passee, while the precise date is established up to four months in advance.

f) On the date of the Pass, the Passer, Passee, Jury, and Secretary are present.

g) The Passer will be given up to two hours for the presentation of the text of the Passee.

h) The Passer will transmit a presentation of the Passee-text in the manner that is his or hers.

i) The Jury will follow the presentation and interpret-construct it each in their own manner. There will also be a time allotted of approximately 30 minutes in which the Jury will asks questions to the Passer. At no time will there be any communication to either the Jury or the Passer by the Passee.

j) At the end of the presentation, the votes of Pass or not Pass will be collected by written ballot and deposited in a box by the Representative.  There is no discussion between the jurists or the Representative.

k) In presence of the Passee, Passer, other Jurists, and/or Audience, the Representative of the Jury may either announce the results him or herself  or give it to the secretary for the announcement.

j) The majority of five votes will be either Pass or not Pass.

l) The announcement of Pass carries with it a nomination for three years of having achieved the Pass at PLACE.

m) The Announcement of Non-pass carries with it no nomination and is not recorded anywhere.

The nomination of achievement of the Pass does not give anyone a diploma, or designate anyone as “being” a psychoanalyst, but just allows for a recording of an act of analysis. The date, time, and act is inscribed in a legend of PLACE and notes a time when someone had the courage to forget the being of the analyst, while attempting to account for the psychoanalytic act.

Whether the legend of the Pass at PLACE should be noted publically on its website or simply kept on the records for those working at PLACE is currently under discussions.

The Procedures for the Strict Pass will be described after the next General Assembly of PLACE.


R. T. Groome

Jan. 22, 2013

Santa Monica, CA