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The objects We Desire and The Object-Cause of Our Desire

June 06, 2013

Psychoanalysis helps us to isolate two types of desirable things.

The first are objects. Simply put we find ourselves wanting certain things everyday, from when we get up to when we go to bed. Yet, if that thing is not available (or if we achieve it), we move onto something else. We might be angry or frustrated if we don’t get what we want, or we might be disappointed if we do. But the mechanism of desire remains unaffected. For instance, if a shop does not sell the type of sandwich we want we generally shrug our shoulders and decide on a different one.

In contrast there are object-causes of our desire. An object-cause is something that we not only desire, but which fuels our desire.

When we cannot have an object that we desire we move on without the mechanism of desire itself being affected. But when we lose our object-cause of desire we not only lose something that we want, but the very mechanism of desire is stalled.

Objects give us a certain level of pleasure, but an object-cause gives us jouissance. Jouissance being an excessive pleasure that is also experienced as pain.

Objects evoke our effort, but an object-cause scales the walls of our rationality and colonises our entire being.

Wars are won and lost over an object-cause, great literature is written adventures undertaken, lives judged worth living and kingdoms shaken.

The more we are taken in by a desire for jouissance the more a slave we are to an object-cause, whether that is a person, a project or an act.

5 Responses to The objects We Desire and The Object-Cause of Our Desire

  1. Jun Z says:

    What is the mechanism that fuels object-cause?

  2. Seaner says:

    This helps frame some of the intense emotional confusion I have been experiencing regarding someone I think I love, who does not reciprocate. I have been completely enslaved by the desire of this person’s desire. And it’s brokenness has left me completely numb; my desire mechanism for other people is broken.

  3. Jeremiah says:

    hey man, joussiance—was that Lacan or Derrida? I appreciate your ability to explain this in a way that is more accessible to the common folk. haha peace

  4. Melissa says:

    o.k., so I’ve been puzzling about this since June 4:
    Peter Rollins: “an object-cause scales the walls of our rationality and colonises our entire being” This doesn’t sound good; who wants to be a slave?
    Paul, in Philippians 2:13: “for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Is this possible? I desire it.
    Am wondering if these are two ways of talking about the same thing? Maybe I’m completely off track.

  5. Frank says:

    To the question of an earlier commentator, Lacan came up with jouissance. I undergo psychoanalysis myself – find it more helpful than other forms of therapy I have tried, because it does get into the motivations behind desires, etc.

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