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.