The motif of stupidity is around in the therapy world in at least two ways at the moment. One way, to caricature a bit, is in the motif of mindfulness, in which stupidity is often treated as a bad thing. The other is in the phrase ‘abandon memory and desire’, in which it seems to be good to be ‘not knowing’, even to be a bit stupid.

Im_with_stupid_xlargeLacan shows us two ways that we can be stupid, one is when we try to be the masters of everything but our knowledge covers up our stupidity, and the other is in the ‘discourse of the university’ where we subject ourselves to what is often stupid knowledge. But Lacan also shows us how stupidity figures in psychoanalysis in a useful way: one is where we encourage our patients to question knowledge (to ‘hystericise’ them, and that is a positive thing), and the other is in the way the psychoanalyst has to be a bit stupid and not ‘understand’ immediately what they are being told. So, the key thing we should focus on is the difference between being stupid as a rejection of knowledge (in which we lose what knowledge offers us, and can risk romanticising stupidity) and being stupid in relation to knowledge (where we make use of knowledge but can be stupid at the same time, knowingly stupid and stupidly knowing).

Ian Parker introduced the Café Psychologique on the topic of Stupidity on 8 September 2015

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