In his Seminar “The Ethics of Psychoanalysis” (1959–1960) Lacan
develops his concept of the opposition of jouissance and pleasure.
The pleasure principle, according to Lacan, functions as a limit to
enjoyment: it is the law that commands the subject to ‘enjoy as
little as possible’. At the same time the subject constantly
attempts to transgress the prohibitions imposed on his enjoyment,
to go beyond the pleasure principle. Yet the result of
transgressing the pleasure principle, according to Lacan, is not
more pleasure but pain, since there is only a certain amount of
pleasure that the subject can bear. Beyond this limit, pleasure
becomes pain, and this ‘painful principle’ is what Lacan calls
jouissance. Thus jouissance is suffering.
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