What is concealed by the so-called “Cht” and why?

What is concealed by the so-called “Cht” and why?
Reginald Blanchet

What these three letters conceal is someone’s identity. “What a Cht told me.”[1] “Cht” is thus his name here. Inadmissible to the register of proper names in French, it is thus an improper name.  Consequently, the person who it refers to goes unnamed. Such was the steadfast decision held by Lacan regarding the person concerned ever since the split from the Société Psychanalytique de Paris, which set them in violent opposition.[2] Beyond that time, one cannot find a single mention of this proscribed name in the whole of the Lacanian corpus. Lacan will only make an exception to this on one single occasion, this being the hapax of the jaculation of disobliging consonants, “Cht,” used in the “Preface.”

Lacan gives very precise indications regarding the identity of the author who becomes the object of his constant criticism in the fifties, but he always does so indirectly. Footnote 6 on page 541 of Écrits (as well as pages 491 and 492),[3] indicates that this person is the one responsible for the article entitled “La thérapeutique analytique”, which appeared in the first volume of La Psychanalyse d’aujourd’hui (1956). He is also the “doctrinaire of the psychoanalyst’s being” and of the “innate gift,” which would be required in cash. He is also the person who did not fail to flatter Lacan, while still a colleague, close friend and even valued ally, for being a born analyst [d’être analyste-né]. And he is ultimately the person that Lacan vilifies by relegating him definitively to anonymity when he announced in his 1976 address that “An idiot submitted to analysis always becomes a scoundrel.” [4]

The mystery of the “Cht”, can be easily cleared up as one knows without a shadow of a doubt who Lacan is referring to in this series of allusions. It is Sacha Nacht. The “Cht” is thus a cipher drawn from the proper name now under censor[5]. Its function is to be the barb of a proper name that becomes improper to name from the moment its bearer is assigned to the register of the unnamable.

Translated by Philip Dravers

1 Citation commented: “What a Cht told me is that I was one, a born one.” Lacan, J., “Preface to the English Edition of Seminar XI,” tr. R. Grigg, The Lacanian Review 6, “¡Urgent!,” NLS, Paris, 2018, p. 25, translation modified here by RG.

2 See the letter of 21 July 1953 to Heinz Hartmann in, La scission de 1953. Documents édités par Jacques-Alain Miller. Note Liminaire de Jacques Lacan, Lacan, J., Navarin, Paris, 1990, p. 136.

3 Cf, “The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of Its Power,” Écrits, Lacan, J., tr. B. Fink, W.W. Norton, New York/London, 2006.

4 [Lacan, J., “Note liminaire à la présentation de La scission de 1953,” op. cit., and also in Ornicar ? 1976, p. 3.] To find who he is talking about one only has to follow the indications given by Lacan in his Note liminaire, his introductory note to the volume cited above: a single individual, the same, appears throughout the entire volume of this correspondence as the main instigator of the split, an insatiable maneuverer of power, utterly unscrupulous and mediocre theoretician to boot, thus an idiot.

5 [TN: the French “cht” is the equivalent of the English “shh,” the interjection used to urge silence.]