A Very Natural Woman
Marina Lusa

Author’s Bio

Translated from the French by Asunción Alvarez, Lusas’ case study is based on her day-to-day practice.

Sonia, 36 years old, is a pretty woman of Slavic beauty, who carries her head in an elegant way and is carefully groomed. She came to the CPCE by way of someone she knew socially within the framework of social inclusiveness aid.

Sonia is of foreign extraction. She is alone and has no man, no children, no family, no job. While waiting for an HLM lodging which takes long, she is living in an apartment lent to her by a friend. She dislikes the suburbs very much, as she is a Parisian. Because of this, she feels isolated, she says. She does not go out very often and stays most of the time at home.

Sonia has great difficulty integrating; that is, finding a real job. For her, that would amount to having a long-term job, and thus to being exploited. Which is out of the question. She has never wanted to work like her parents, who, she claims, broke their backs and sold their bodies to survive. According to her, working is a form of prostitution.

Her parents, who were both Central European, are deceased. Her mother was a seamstress and her father, when alcohol or depression gave him respite, was a welder and a painter.

She has been able to find small jobs, unemployment insurance, state benefits, short-term contracts, etc. This has been her way of life since the age of 19. It suits her. She does not complain about it.

In our first meeting Sonia lets me know that she had a very bad experience with a psychoanalyst. This happened three years ago. Her ex-fiancé had encouraged her to work on myself: he thought that talking to someone would do me good. Not really convinced that this course of action would be the best solution for her, Sonia nonetheless decided to give the experience a try. It went very badly. In fact, if she finds herself in her current situation, it is because of this woman. She is very angry with her. She claims that this psychoanalyst advised her to leave the apartment where she was living to move in with her fiancé.

This bad advice has had deplorable consequences. Indeed, soon after moving in with her fiancé, the couple split up. She found herself with nothing: no man and no lodging. After leaving my apartment, I felt I had lost a part of myself. Having my own place was crucial. Since losing her apartment, she has an odd feeling, the feeling of having no bearings, of belonging nowhere. Then she cries, in a rebellious tone: A psychoanalyst should never give advice, much less such advice!

The tone has been set. Sonia bears a grudge against psychoanalysis. I am inheriting the negative transference from the relationship with the first analyst. Moreover, what seems to take the place of the subject supposed to know is something that appears as the Other’s malignity. She also opposes her former analyst’s incompetence to know-how.

This is the dominant tone. Prudence, thus, is advisable. I learnt afterwards that, after this deplorable experience, she had entertained the project of producing a document against psychoanalysis. It should be pointed out that her Black Book of Psychoanalysis never saw the light of day.

It was during this period of loss and terrible grief that she came across her social referent. This person, she told me, had become, since that time, a support, a friend, a confidant, a reference, in short, someone who she fully trusted. It was he who gave her our address, she reminds me. That is why, despite her mistrust and disbelief regarding psychoanalysis, she came to the CPCT.

She remembers that, following the two meetings she had with the analyst who first received her at the CPCT, she had to talk with me about the link that might exist between her difficulty to work and love.According to Sonia, work is one thing and her love life is a different thing. She talks little about her love life and her relationship with men, and when she does, it is always in a roundabout way. Nonetheless, hers is a devastating love life. All her partners are marked by the father’s traits. She has always found disastrous partners, violent, jealous, and alcoholic men. Her father was a depressive, jealous, and alcoholic man who beat his wife and would constantly pounce on her. Her mother was submissive and felt no desire for this man.

One day, in a very natural way, she lets me know that as a young girl she committed incest with her father and a first cousin. This was no trauma for her. She experienced neither shame nor disgust nor guilt. No effect which might bear witness to her subjective split.

You see, I’m a very natural person. You too seem to me to be someone who is very natural, you wear no make-up, like me, I like that.

Sonia becomes familiar very easily. She lives in a universe where everything is natural, direct, and familiar. For this young woman, we are all one great family, where people love each other, sleep with each other, are close to each other. It was in order to be closer to him that Sonia slept with her first cousin from the age of fifteen to the age of nineteen.

In fact, what Sonia calls incest with her father is an episode in which she was touched, and which she describes as follows:

She was twelve. She would wait for her mother to leave for work, and then would get into bed with her father. Her father would lovingly caress her thighs.

She found her father’s caresses very natural.

The explanation she gives:

Her father was not properly loved by her mother, who was a mother to him and to her, and thus Sonia was the object of his desire. Sonia believes that this episode had absolutely no effect on her, as this only happened two or three times, no more. She also justifies and explains her father’s violence, depression, and alcoholism by the terrible hatredthat her grandmother bore towards her son, and the rejection which he had experienced.

This naturalness indicates that something regarding the transmission of the paternal function has not worked for Sonia. The father-daughter relationship is not marked by the incest ban: she finds it very natural that her father should enjoy her body. The law of the incest ban has never existed, that is to say, it has never reached the symbolic. But what has not reached the symbolic is neither symbolized nor symbolizable. This non-inscription of the paternal function corresponds to what Lacan called the foreclosure of the Name-of-the-Father.


When Sonia remembers her mother, it is in a completely different tone. She is described as a distant, cold and closed-up woman. Sonia describes her arrival into the world as an accident. My mother put up with me, she wanted an abortion. It was my father who wanted me. She didn’t want a child of this man, men and sexuality didn’t interest her. As for the relationship between her parents, she only says that they killed each other.

Sonia has no idea that her social life might be continuous with her family life. She is incapable of establishing any signifying connection between her discourse and her history. She has never made any association, or the least link, between what repeats itself today in her life and what happened yesterday. No interrogation concerning what that might mean. Nor does she see any link between the men she chooses and the father figure.

For example, she tells me that she got married at the age of twenty-four to a man she vaguely knew and who was an illegal alien. Essentially, she wanted to marry him in order to leave the hell that was her family home. Three years later, she left this man because he was insanely jealous, violent, and we were killing each other. I point out to her: “Well, you left what was identical to find the same thing”. Let us just say that this remark slid off her like water off a duck’s back. It had absolutely no effect on her. No surprise effect, no truth effect, no subjective crisis. There is no belief in any sort of unconscious determination. She only saw a series of random events due to chance.  Thus she was just exposed to contingent meetings, for better or worse.

We could say that from the point of view of the unconscious, Sonia is unavailable. Everything is open, nothing is enigmatic, nothing poses a question. There is nothing to decipher. And yet the unconscious can be defined as the place where all signifying determinations that govern the existence of a subject are inscribed. This symbolic place, which allows a subject to ordain his or her relation to sex, to his or her identity, and to the world, is called by Lacan the place of the Other.

It is on the level of this unavailability of the place of the Other that, it seems to me, this subject’s true isolation should be located: it is a “psychic” isolation. This isolation must be here understood as the impossibility of the subject to place itself within a series of signifiers which would represent it. Thus events cannot but be isolated, with no links to each other, incapable of being articulated in a signifying chain that would historicize her. That is the reason why Sonia cannot establish links between the signifiers of her history and her current life.

On the other hand, what takes the place of the symbolic place of the Other for Sonia is a Real place which is incarnated in her apartment. That is why, dislodged from her place by the first analyst, she finds herself with no bearings, with the feeling of belonging nowhere. The apartment has a very particular consistency, inasmuch as it is a container where she places her being. It clothes her. It anchors her and provides her with continuity. Hence the importance that the fact of finding an apartment has for her: having her own place, as she says, is crucial.

The social Other demands stability, work, a family. But Sonia can only exist precariously. Her refusal to work has its own causality. Whereas the social Other thinks that having a long-term job would be a solution that would enable her to leave her precarious state, for our subject, this solution becomes very problematic.

As a natural woman, Sonia ignores the law of incest. Her father has enjoyed her body: she finds this natural. Only, what has been neither admitted nor subjectivized returns in the Real as her cry of rebellion. She will not sell her body. She will never allow herself to be exploited at work. Put otherwise, the Other will not enjoy her body.

Of course, Sonia can use speech, but only on the imaginary axis. That is to say, in a position that is symmetrical to an other who is made in her own image. Briefly put, she can talk to a fellow being who is as natural as she is. But talking to an Other who is absolutely an Other is impossible for her. This leads to anxiety and to a feeling of being persecuted, wherein talking amounts to touching and thus endangering the symptomatic solution which she has been able to find in order to survive. She must protect herself from the deadly desire of the mother who wanted to abort her, of the father who enjoyed her body.

She is natural. This organizes her existence and allows her to make her way through life. When someone takes refuge in this identification, he or she is not hiding behind the artifices of knowledge; he or she does not break his or her head trying to know what things mean. Things flow from their source: a cat is a cat.

The question is to know how to put an end to the interviews, which is not the same thing as dropping her. An occasion arose during the sixth session.

She tells me, smilingly, that finally, she has found an apartment and she is moving to Paris. I reply that this is excellent news. Then, she establishes a link to tell me that the affair with her boyfriend, whom she found some time before, is making her suffer. I indicate that she can tell me about this, if she wants to.

It’s then that she cries, in a dry tone:

Stop this massacre!

I reply that this had not been my intention at all.

– For me – she goes on – telling a stranger about my private life is an aberration!

Then I quietly reply:

– Maybe for someone who is natural like you psychoanalysis goes against nature.

At this point, her expression and her tone change. Anxiety and persecution cease. With a big, relieved smile, she asks me:

Then, can we stop here?

– Yes, I tell her.

I lead her to the door. On the doorstep, Sonia turns towards me, shakes my hand, and in a peaceful voice says: Thank you!

Stop the massacre! This means: Stop! Forbidden area! Don’t push me towards the symbolic: I’m not used to it. Don’t push me to talk about my relationship with men, for there is nothing to know or understand. I am natural.

Sonia tells the truth. She is a natural woman: that is her symptom. This symptom allows her to make her way through life. It responds to everything and provides the quilting point for all significations. And that is what my cut validated.

What Sonia teaches us is that we should not force every subject to symbolize, that is to say, we should not push people towards speech at any price under the pretext that talking is good. When a subject has found a solution that allows him or her to face existence, we should not touch it without taking precautions.




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