This old friend is facing me in a noisy cafe. He just broke up again, to reproduce the same scenario of failure. The story had started well, but he could not help but adopt the behaviors that made the break inevitable. This is his misfortune and, he knows it well - otherwise, there would be no "repetition" - something like his enjoyment. We are both faced with this simple and painful evidence, exposed by Freud in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (in Essays of Psychoanalysis , Payot, "Small Library", 2001). ): the unconscious sometimes draws its satisfaction from the repetition of what makes us suffer. Enjoyment (unconscious) is compatible with suffering (conscious). He tries to remember his first love stories.
What if at age 14 things went the same way? Would the rest have been different? The adventures would they "chained" otherwise? One sees the temptation well, I am like him often, I want to believe that it would have been enough that this time ... and the rest would have followed, and we would not be there. We can export this temptation to the history of the world. "And if, in the beginning ..." Then everything would have been different. There is even a literary genre, uchronie, based on this approach: what if the young painter named Hitler had met with success? It is a form of hope attached to the idea of contingency: things could have been other? So they can be other! That there is no destiny, no inevitable inscription in a family structure, social or historical that would be "stronger than us", would force us to certain behaviors.
It is this hope that breaks the Freudian and then Lacanian psychoanalysis. For a Freudian, there is no chance. So it is not a coincidence that my friend's first love story unfolded as it unfolded: what happened makes sense, reveals its inscription in a story, a genealogy. Everything has a meaning, no contingency in the unconscious! But by breaking a hope - that of being able to change a situation because it has no superior reason to be what it is - Freudianism proposes another: by accepting to be the one we are in our story, by accepting to hear what in our behavior does not spring from contingency but from our inscription in something more like destiny, we can free ourselves from what makes us suffer.
But we must stop rewriting history, stop believing that if, at age 14 ... We must stop believing at random. And this is what a Freudian psychoanalysis asks us to do.We have another drink. He does not want to look in his childhood, even less in that of his parents, the key to his failures. He wants to believe that everything comes from this girl, her 14 years, that everything could have been different, so that everything can still be. Tonight, he wants to believe at random.