In “In therapy” and its season 2 against the backdrop of Covid, silence is worth more than words

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SERIES – The time has come to find Philippe Dayan’s couch. This Thursday, April 7, In therapy returns to Arte, which broadcasts a first burst of season 2 episodes from 9 p.m. Uploaded a week earlier on the Franco-German channel’s streaming platform, they have already racked up seven million views, matching the numbers from the first season.

For the news, change of scenery. The psychoanalyst, played by Frédéric Pierrot, has moved. It is at Les Lilas, in the Parisian suburbs, that he now receives his “patients”. Cast change, too. Mélanie Thierry and Reda Kateb, among others, gave way to four newcomers: Eye Haïdara (Inès), Suzanne Lindon (Lydia), Aliocha Delmotte (Robin) and Jacques Weber (Alain). Charlotte Gainsbourg replaced Carole Bouquet in the role of supervisor.

That’s not all. A distinguished guest has arrived. In addition to the Covid-19 epidemic (backstory of this season), it is silence. Yes, the absence of dialogue, the big blanks. And this, while Philippe Dayan, more talkative than many specialists in his branch in real life, has rather accustomed us to conversation in his “cabinet”.

Towards “full speech”

“We often had to slim down the text a bit. We sometimes removed some until nothing was left, explained Olivier Nakache, one of the co-creators of the show, during a press conference in February. […] Listening to the silence, we learn more.” They also happened to inscribe black on white the expression “signifying silence” in the script to insist on the absence of exchanges.

This practice has, it seems, been difficult for Emmanuelle Bercot, who signs several episodes this season like other renowned French directors, like Arnaud Desplechin and Agnès Jaoui. The one whose films leave little room for silence confided that she was unaware of “everything about psychoanalysis” and had “never seen a psychiatrist”.

Because this practice of silence is not insignificant, it is closely linked to a current of psychoanalysis. “In the analysis sessions, there is silence, recalls Frédéric Pierrot. There are three main ones: anxiety, anguish, pause. All these qualities of silence are to be felt a bit like in music. It allows you to feel what is called ‘full speech’.”

A revealing silence

We owe this theory to Jacques Lacan, as the psychoanalyst Patricia Dahan explains in the journal Lacanian field. According to the doctoral student from the University of Paris Diderot, observing the place of silence, which Lacan considers to be empty speech, is essential. “This allows us to show that silence is part of speech, that it is not dissociated from it”, she specifies.

Silence is indeed indistinguishable from verbalization, it is the product of the articulation of speech. In The seminar, Lacan takes the example of a silence, that of the sexual drive. Here, it is indeed correlative to speech since it allows to express a saying without words. “The introduction of language makes silence exist in the same way as the creation of the vase makes emptiness exist,” adds the researcher.

Silence would be revealing of the object of speech, but also of a speech that one cannot say or that one does not want to say, an unsaid. Its functions are diverse. Like a void between two words, we finally imagine it as a hollow inside ourselves. In therapy take out the pickaxe.

See also on The HuffPost: Discover “Nona and her daughters”, the series by Valérie Donzelli for Arte

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