Although the term 'jouissance' is common currency in psychoanalysis today, how much does it really tell us? While often taken to designate a fusion of sexuality, suffering and satisfaction, the term has fallen into a purely descriptive use that closes down more questions than it opens up. Although assumed to explain the coalescence of pleasure and pain, it tends to cover a range of quite different issues that should be distinguished rather than conflated.
By returning to some of its sources in Freud and elaborations in Lacan, this essay hopes to stimulate a debate around the relations of pleasure to pain, autoerotism, the links of satisfaction to arousal, the effects of repression, and the place of the body in psychoanalytic theory.
Unlike other studies in Lacanian psychoanalysis, it aims to contextualise Lacan's work and encourage dialogue with other analytic traditions.