The term “disruption,” which orients our rubric, means, according to Littré, “rupture,” “fracture.” Having become a master signifier of our time, it has fallen to Jacques-Alain Miller to have introduced it into our field on at least two occasions.
In his commentary on Seminar 10, Anxiety, using the adjective, he speaks in respect of anxiety as “disruptive irruption of the little object a,” with an “intrusion posed as anxiety-inducing.” Thus the paradigm of jouissance is introduced here – in the guise of the object a, grasped as intrusive and disruptive.
In his 2011 course The One all alone, the term “disruption” is used to refer to “the mode of entry into the unforgettable experience of jouissance that will be commemorated by repetition.” Paradigm of jouissance once again, like that which is experienced in the body as well, but this time taken at its root (it is no longer circumscribed to the object a). Concerning this experience, J.-A. Miller specifies that it is an “effraction” against a background of “rupture” in “relation to a prior order,” and we should add, that an approach to jouissance beyond Oedipus and castration (whatever the approach to the latter) emerges here. Enriched by these two references that place an emphasis on jouissance, we can now question and problematise our theme: “Wanting a Child.”
The child as object a
Taking the object a as a compass – concerning the status of the child, it is then to orient oneself beginning from anxiety, as we have seen, but also from fantasy. And if we had to choose a single text by Lacan concerning his approach to the child as an object, it would evidently be the Note on the Child.
This very short 1969 text is both a continuation and a discontinuity of the 1958 reference to the paternal metaphor. As we know, the latter is based on the father as name (the Father’s Name) replacing the mother as desire (the Desire of the mother) – both are signifiers, metaphorically speaking, the result being the emergence of phallic meaning (the meaning of castration). The child will then pass from identification with the mother’s phallus (when the mother’s desire responds well to the Freudian equation penis (phallus for Lacan) = child) to its de-identification.
In the “Note on the Child,” the child is no longer approached in terms of the phallus (also called “imaginary object” in Seminar IV, The Object Relation) but from the perspective of the object itself. From then on, if it is still a question of the mother’s desire, the latter is then apprehended from her fantasy. The important point is to know if phallic signification is at play (we can again take up the 1958 reference), as well as if the child object does not totally cork the mother’s desire; in short, does she still lack? The reference to the father (to his function) is also present, always operating as ‘mediation’ (even if the term Nom-du-Père is absent). We won’t go into detail, but just point out that Lacan evokes the case where the child is equivalent to a real object for the mother (in the absence of mediation); an object which does not include the void of castration (minus-phi) and cannot therefore serve as a “transitional object for the mother,” or as a “normal fetish.” She is in a way “all mother.” In his text, Lacan evokes the case where the child as an object ‘saturates’ the mother’s lack. A certain number of consequences can be deduced from this: anxiety – for the mother as well as for the child, since it arises when there is a lack of lack.
A few years later, in the Seminar Encore, Lacan takes up this equivalence of child – object a, thus putting in tension the doubling of woman/mother and openly evoking the register of jouissance – a term strangely absent from the Note: “She finds the cork for this jouissance [based on the fact] that she is not-all – in other words, that makes her absent from herself somewhere, absent as subject – in the a constituted by her child.” A relative cork of course! So let us take this last indication as a compass for our theme, where we find a double reference – to fantasy and jouissance, at the same time.
A final word on the theme of the Family, which is also dealt with in this text: we are familiar with the term “residue” that Lacan evokes about it and which was brought to prominence in our field by the pass. Lacan precisely points out the “failure of communitarian utopias” which propose models which are “beyond the family circle.” He then reminds us of the vitality of the “conjugal family” – in other words of a union between two, husband and wife, a nuclear family, as Lacan puts it, from which Lacan draws out the “function of residue […] in the evolution of societies.” And it is precisely because it is “in the state of object a that it will be maintained,” as J.-A. Miller specifies. Then Lacan evokes the “subjective constitution” of an “irreducible of transmission,” on the condition however, that the relationship to “a desire that is not anonymous” is maintained – an important clinical precision, followed by two other, very well-known ones: a “particularised interest” on the mother’s side, an “incarnation of the Law in desire” on the father’s side; conditions noted by D. Holvoet in his argument and which can be re-evaluated in relation to the mode of “parenting” in question. Let us not go any further on this point, but let us note that it is through these conditions that Lacan basically delivers the logic of the nuclear family, which, let us repeat, would always be at work since it would resist societal evolution. Finally, let us note finally that these two dimensions relating to mother and father essentially emphasise the need for their presence and incarnation.
The Child Event
Let’s orient ourselves here from the second J.-A. Miller reference concerning the term “disruption,” the reference becomes the body event and implicitly the sinthome. Two propositions therefore.
After having posed the equivalence child/phallus, then child/object a – otherwise called by Lacan “cork object” as we have seen, let us propose a third declension by evoking the sinthome child. Another modality of partner, in short, captured in the register of jouissance – without benefit of castration and the oedipal drama – and from the angle of the knotting that would then take place, taking up the three Lacanian registers (RSI). Modality of partner on occasion ravages, to use the term used twice by Lacan: to evoke a modality of mother-daughter relationship (with a maternal-ravage)or of man-woman relationship (with a man-ravage).
Our second proposal invites us to consider the “event” dimension which constitutes the child from in terms of moments in time: the moment of the decision to have a child, the moment when the pregnancy is announced, and finally the moment of the birth of the child. Each time we have a moment of rupture with a before and an after.
A last word on the theme of the Family as this perspective invites us to approach it, in connection with the last and the very last Lacan. Among Marie-Hélène Brousse’s indications concerning the new modalities of the expectation of a child as One-all-alone, as a speaking body, let us note the one where she points out that the term “parent” has replaced the distinction of the binary father/mother, that the social order has replaced the family order (with its semblants); where we finally have knotting rather than transmission, rights rather than law/authority.
Let’s put it this way:
Wanting a child at all costs!
Let’s continue to problematise our theme, always having as a compass the concept of jouissance, which certainly goes hand in hand with the concept of “wanting.” Whereas with fantasy (the mother’s desire) we are on a border between desire and jouissance, let us say that here it is only the dimension of the drive that we are bringing in.
We all remember Lacan’s statement about women and J.-A. Miller’s reminder that: “they all want to calve [elles veulent toutes vêler].” This “affliction” for Lacan takes account of the fact that “becoming a mother and being a woman in no way overlap,” leading him to “regret, to deplore the fact that they are so many mothers.” Hence these two questions asked by J.-A. Miller: “Is there no other way for a woman than the ‘desire for a child’, the will for motherhood?”  And “Is the child the most authentic path for femininity?” Of course, we know the answer: no. In any case, let us remember that we do not equate here the term “will” with that of “decided desire.” It is not a question of opposing them, but of noting that “desire comes to dress a particular want to enjoy [vouloir jouir]” as D. Holvoet points out in his Argument.
No doubt we can relate this verb “to want” to the term “caprice,” which also introduces the register of jouissance. It is a term from which J.-A. Miller has developed a theory, proposing to answer the famous Freudian question: “What does a woman want?” (They all want to calve, Lacan replied somewhat ironically, as we have just seen). In answer to this question, firstly, J.-A. Miller indicates that she “wants to want,” confirming that: “To want, the act of will, to consider it closely or from our bias, is an act of jouissance.” There is the want of the subject and that of the Other, but we can undoubtedly advance that in matters of the child, in the 21st century, it is the former that prevails. This is how he introduces the term “caprice:” “it is on the woman’s side that the will stands out with an absolute, infinite, unconditional character, and it manifests itself best in caprice.” It is the unconditional of the demand, precisely the demand of the drive.
This dimension of caprice is present in Lacan very early on, precisely in the paternal metaphor which we have briefly evoked in relation to the Desire of the mother – here again, one might add, a formalisation which opposes the Law (the Name of the Father) with caprice and we could add with the lawless (and therefore the real). From then on, among the consequences of the decline of authority, of the law, of the father, in short, of the symbolic order, is the “rise to the social zenith of the object” that of caprice. And of course, the new and numerous procreation techniques offered by science can satisfy this caprice.
From amongst the definitions to which J.-A. Miller refers, given by Littré for the term “caprice,” let’s just retain this one: “[t]he first meaning is caprice as ”sudden will that comes without any reason. [He specifies:] This is very well said, and it highlights the unforeseen character of caprice. It is will as a sudden, unforeseen and irrational event.” Here, to a certain extent, we find the logic of disruption. Then, J.-A. Miller goes on to specify the connection between caprice and the Kantian categorical imperative, where we find “the absoluteness of the ‘I want:’ a true caprice is not debatable, nor is the categorical imperative. Keep your good reasons.” Thus it manifests itself as “without reason,” as a statement “which is a detached object,” without the possibility of any logic being summoned, and J.-A. Miller concludes: “The formula that would best respond to this is less that of fantasy than that of the drive, that is to say of a properly acephalous will, where the subject disappears as it is acted upon (…) it is an ‘I want’, not ‘what can be the law for all’, but ‘I want what impels me.’” No doubt it is important then that the dimension of the subject, totally evacuated, can be reintroduced on the occasion of an encounter with a psychoanalyst, and, correlatively, that of desire; thus to return to the singular coordinates which saw the emergence of this “I want” which manifests itself as “without reason!”
Not wanting a child
At the opposite end of the spectrum is the dynamic of those who absolutely do not want a child and who want to make it known. This movement has a name: childfree (without children by choice) to be clearly differentiated from childless (without children by constraint). The initial choice is then transformed into a real way of life, of jouissance. There is a worldwide network of men and women who share this choice and identity, with the aim of defending their rights.
Let us distinguish this position from that which relates to not wanting a child, with an unclaimed choice as such. The reasons are, of course, multiple and must be examined one by one and relative to the dimension of the unconscious (an unconscious refusal to have a child) nevertheless let’s try to situate them (always on the woman’s side). The questions which then arise are multiple: the refusal of motherhood as a cause, or as a consequence of, a sought-after femininity? Do we then have an authentic femininity? And while the previous approach (a child at all costs!) could represent the paradigm of the mother’s withdrawal from the woman, would the childfree paradigm consist of the inverse withdrawal? And how can we think of the dialectical relationship between mother and woman when the latter wants children? In any case, let us consider that the refusal to have children, the refusal to be a mother, short-circuits the symbolic equation already mentioned by Freud (penis = child) – an equation which we take up again here in order to interrogate the desire of the woman and not that of the child in her confrontation with the DM (Desire of the mother). And concerning the question of the solution with respect to feminine desire, we could evoke, with J. -A. Miller, an attempt to “want to be the Other woman,” to be a “woman-woman,” in short the “woman-phallus who devotes herself to jouissance, [and] exchanges her lack for the great signifier capital Phi, Φ, of jouissance.” But then, doesn’t in truth open up the way to the beyond of the phallus…
Let’s end this presentation of the rubric which has jouissance as a common thread with a proposal of Lacan’s from Seminar XVI, From an Other to the other, that we might approach the family logically, let us say, from the point of view of its mathemes. Indeed, remarks that the “the tensional infantile relations that have been established from the subject to a certain number of terms, the father, the mother, the birth of a brother or a little sister” should not be considered ‘primitive’ because “they only take on meaning and weight because of the place they hold in the articulation of knowledge, of jouissance and a certain object.” Thus Lacan relativises our interest in the biography or history of the subject, which, although of infancy, is not original. What counts above all is the “mode of presence under which each of the three terms [S2, J, object a] was offered to him [the child];” wherein lies, he adds, “what we improperly call the choice of neurosis.”
The term “presence” refers to the desire of the father and mother, and thus to the way in which “they have effectively offered the subject knowledge, jouissance and the object a.” J.-A. Miller draws the following conclusion: “one must thus ask oneself, for family functions understood in the broadest sense, what has made the family for the child and the place it holds in relation to its fundamental relationships.” Let’s retain this syntagm: “making family,” to be problematised on a case-by-case basis using the three terms proposed here by Lacan. This is how, for a given subject, the basis on which his “particular family” is constituted can appear.
Translation: Raphael Montague
Review: Caroline Heanue
Photography: ©Silski Rachel – Facebook / Instagram
 ‘Disruption’ stems from the Latin disruptus, a past participle of the verb disrumpere or dirumpere meaning to break into pieces, to burst, to break, to destroy.
 Cf. article in Libération: “Que signifie vraiment «disruption» ou «disruptif» et pourquoi tout le monde en parle maintenant? [What does ‘disruption’ or ‘disruptive’ really mean and why is everyone talking about it now?]” (Available on the internet).
 Miller J.-A., Introduction au séminaire L’angoisse , La Cause freudienne, n°59, 2005, p. 85. Unpublished in English.
 Cf. Miller J.-A., “L’orientation lacanienne. L’Un-tout-soul,” teaching delivered under the framework of the department of psychoanalysis University of Paris viii, Course of the 23rd of March 2011, Unpublished.
 Lacan J., “Note on the Child,” in Analysis No. 2 1990, Transl. R. Grigg, Melbourne Centre for Psychoanalytic Research, Deakin Printery, Australia.
 The phallus then changes its status. In short: from mother to father, it goes from the status of being to that of having.
 Lacan J., Note on the Child, op. cit.
 Cf. Lacan J., Address on Child Psychoses, Transl. A. Price & B. Khiara-Foxton, in Hurly-Burly, Issue 8, October 2012, p. 269-277.
 Cf. Miller J-A., L’enfant et l’objet, La petite girafe, No. 18, p. 8. He states: “The child fetish is only normal if the child is not all for the mother’s desire.”
 Lacan J. Note on the Child, op. cit.
 Cf. Laurent E, L’enfant à l’envers des familles, in La Cause freudienne, No. 65, March 2017, p. 53. He introduces the syntagm “enfant de l’angoisse” (child of anxiety) and evokes a case where the child is caught up in “jouissance, his own and that of the parents.”
 Lacan J., The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book XX, Encore, London & N.Y., W.W. Norton & Co., 1998, P. 35.Seuil, 1975, p. 36. Lacan continued along this path in 1975, describing children of object a (for a woman). Cf. Lacan J., Le Séminaire, livre XXII, RSI, lesson of 21 January 1975, Unpublished.
 He tells us: “The function of residue that the conjugal family supports (and at the same time maintains) in the evolution of societies, highlights the irreducibility of a transmission…. “Cf. Lacan J., ‘Note on the child’, op. cit.
 The theme of the 35th ECF Journée was “L’envers des familles [The Other Side of Families],” (21-22 Oct. 2006). Cf. La Cause freudienne, n°65, May 2007 on this subject. Particularly to two articles: Cottet, S, “Le family romance of parents” & Laurent, E., “L’enfant à l’envers des familles [The Child as the Other Side of Families].”
 Miller J.-A., “Vers les prochaines journées de l’ECF,“ La Lettre mensuelle, n°247, April 2006, p. 6.
 Lacan J., “Note on the child,” op. cit.
 Miller J.-A., “Vers les prochaines journées de l’École,” op. cit.
 Lacan J., “Note on the child,” op. cit.
 Cf. Lacan J., “L’étourdit,” Autres écrits, op. cit. p. 465. Unpublished in English.
 Cf. Lacan J., The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book XXIII, The Sinthome, Transl. A.R. Price, UK & USA: Polity Press, 2016, p. 84.
 A term that Lacan himself uses of course, for example in 1977 when he reminds us that the analysand speaks only of this: ‘his more or less immediate relationship with his parents.’ Cf. Lacan J., Le Séminaire, Book XXIV, L’insu que sait de l’une-bévue s’aile à mourre, Lesson of the 19th of April 1977, Ornicar? Also Cf. Cottet, S., “Le roman familial des parents [The Parents Family Romance],” La Cause freudienne, no. 65, March 2007, pp. 39-44.
 A number of extracts are cited from the chapter “Emptying the mother:” Brousse, M.-H., Mode de jouir au féminin, Navarin éditeur, 2020, p. 19-55.
 It was in his 1991-92 Course that Jacques-Alain Miller recalled “the affliction that Lacan expressed in a slightly colourful language: they all want to calve.” Cf. Miller J.-A., L’orientation lacanienne. De la nature des semblants, Teaching delivered under the framework of the Department of Psychoanalysis University Paris VIII, Course of 20 November 1991, Unpublished. Taken up (slightly modified) in the text Médée à mi-dire, La Cause du désir, n° 89, March 2015, pp. 113-114. Unpublished in English.
 Miller J.-A., Médée à mi-dire, op. cit. p. 114.
 Cf. the version of the course, op. cit.
 Miller J.-A., Médée à mi-dire, op. cit.
 Cf. Argument on the Pipol Website.
 Miller J.-A., Théorie du caprice , Quarto, Revue de la cause freudienne, ACF en Belgique, n°71, p. 6.
 Cf. Lacan J., The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book V, The Formations of the Unconscious, Transl. R. Grigg, UK & USA: Polity Press, 2017, Chapter 10.
 Cf. Lacan J., Radiophonie, Autres écrits, op. cit. p. 414. Unpublished in English.
 Miller J.-A. Théorie du caprice, op. cit. p. 7.
 Ibid. p. 10.
 Ibid. p. 11.
 Initially the national organisation of Non-Parents in the USA (1972), then the organisation No Kidding! International, in Canada (1984) and finally the Union of chilfree francophones in 2014 (source Wikipedia).
 Cf. in this regard, the very clear text by J.-.A. Miller, Mèrefemme. He proposes at least three ways to approach this non-desire for a child. Cf. Miller J.-A., Mèrefemme, in La Cause du désir, n° 89, 2015.
 Recall that Freud tells us: “But now the girl’s libido slips into a new position along the line – there is
no other way of putting it – of the equation ‘penis-child’” (Cf. Freud, S. (1925). Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIX (1923-1925): The Ego and the Id and Other Works, pp. 241-258. Thus the penis envy, the desire for the penis becomes the desire for a child. There is substitution, hence this writing proposed by J.-A. Miller: E / – φ (“Child as a metaphor for minus- phi”) Cf. Miller J.-A., L’orientation lacanienne. Donc, Teaching delivered under the framework of the Department of Psychoanalysis University Paris VIII, Course of the 26th of January 1994, Unpublished.
 Miller J.-A., Mèrefemme, op. cit. p. 121.
 Lacan J., Le Séminaire, livre XVI, D’un Autre à l’autre, Paris, Seuil, coll. Champ Freudien, 2006, p. 331-32. Unpublished in English.
 Ibid, p. 32.
 Miller J.-A., Une lecture du Séminaire d’un Autre à l’autre, La Cause freudienne, n°66, May 2007, p. 88.
 Syntagms of Lacan. Cf. Lacan J., Conférences et entretiens dans les universités nord américaines, Scilicet, n° 6-7, Paris, Le Seuil, 1976.