In his article “Neuro-, the new real”, Jacques-Alain Miller highlights the way in which the system of quantification has relentlessly infiltrated prevailing discourse. A precious indication of the path taken by science, justice, and many therapies– new masters in place – in order to address a man now rendered “computational”.
Take the term trauma. Its new use has taken centre stage with the emergence of the term victim. The epistemology of victimology was born in 1949. One of its aims was to
to cleanse the victim from the burden of guilt. This modification led to the recuperation of the field of victimology by the justice system. Victims have rights that will have to be calculated.
To this end, expert psychiatrists are invited to look into the matter. And what better than neuroscience to provide the measure? By having MRI scans performed on people who have been diagnosed with trauma, we’re banking on the possibility of identifying in an image a neuroelectric focal activity, which is not present in non-traumatised brains. And science has discovered molecules that would reduce this focal activity.
This alliance of science and justice facing the issue of trauma leads subjects to submit to a protocol, including a quantification of their somatic and psychological state, if, for example, they are to be recognised as “direct victims” and receive compensation. Trauma is therefore examined by neuroscientists, then measured by the courts, before it is assigned a market value.
This recourse to the quantification of trauma has resounding effects, science at the helm unleashes “an exclusivism of S2” in its wake. An approach supposed to be authoritarian in its exclusion of the master signifier. It is not uncommon to meet people who, after having experienced a traumatic event, seek to be quantified, measured, and diagnosed. This categorisation is based on a knowledge that refers to another knowledge, the process is purely descriptive; whereas the operation of psychoanalysis allows the subject to draw from his S1, from the signifier that constitutes his law, which orders his life, a knowledge of his jouissance. This attempt to locate discourse at the level of at the level of the S2 elevates the number as a “guarantee of being”. The number thus becomes the mark of difference, making each of us “comparable” men and women.
Let’s conclude with some images. The Stopover, a film by Delphine and Muriel Coulin shows us the deleterious effects of nameless authoritarianism.
Best friends Aurore and Marine are soldiers returning from Afghanistan on a therapy mission in a 5-star hotel with their platoon.
On the program: trauma cleansing. The “decompression chamber” offers debriefing sessions against a backdrop of virtual reality. Each one transmits his experience of horror, which they are asked to quantify on a scale of 1 to 10. This injunction to recount the trauma puts the brain at the centre of the experience, reducing these soldiers to mechanical men.
The trauma does not stop not being written for Marine, as it does for a soldier whose dog has died in the field, he sees it running around in circles: “Dogs always manage on their own in the end”, he is told. This delicate use of the subject’s signifier relieves the young man,
another way of making do with the symptom.
The proposition of psychoanalysis oriented by pure difference, from a singular deciphering, calls for an operation that leaves place for a use of the number that goes against the grain of the phenomenon of quantification: gleaning signifiers from the body of the text of the speaking-being.
References from the author :
 Miller J.-A., « Neuro-, le nouveau réel », La Cause du désir, n°98, March 2018, p. 116.
 Ibid, p. 115.
 Coulin D., Coulin M., Voir du pays (The Stopover), film, France, Greece, Archipel 35, Blonde, Arte France cinéma, 2016.
Translation: Robyn Adler
Proofreading: Manuela Rabesahala
Picture : © Martine Souren