Lacan used this term to describe the paradoxical qualities of sexual pleasure or enjoyment, that is, how pleasurable qualities turn into painful experience. This ‘too muchness’ of jouissance is an uncontrollable satisfaction, an excess and intolerable degree of excitement or pleasure, beyond the pleasure principle (i.e. the pleasure principle places limits on pleasure). It is simultaneously tempting and disruptive, impossible and alluring. Lacan writes: ‘It starts with a tickle and ends up bursting into flames’ (1991, p. 83). Bruce Fink (2011) describes jouissance ‘as the kind of enjoyment or satisfaction people derive from their symptoms … It is not a “simple pleasure,” so to speak, but involves a kind of pain-pleasure or “pleasure in pain” … or satisfaction in dissatisfaction. It qualifies the kind of “kick” someone may get out of punishment, self-punishment, doing something that is so pleasurable that it hurts (sexual climax, for example), or doing something that is so painful that it becomes pleasurable’ (p. 69).
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