Protocol of October, 28. Main reading: Freud: The Ego and The Id.
The Schreber case. Freud and Lacan.
. . . The seminar began by referring to last week’s reading of the Schreber case. In the discussion of Schreber’s case history we had touched upon the point that the scene of seduction can be either a real or a phantasied scene, but that Freud’s early theory of seduction (from 1895-97) has caused a great deal of controversy in the Freud research. One side sees the scene of seduction as a structural component where patients‘ memories or stories of seduction need not be judged true or false. What would be describable as patients‘ fantasies were not seen as untruth by Freud, but on the other hand they where not to be understood literally.
| Then the discussion was extended to include also Lacan’s analysis of the Schreber case and psychosis in connection to that. It was Freud’s asymmetrical point of view that psychoanalysis could offer nothing to a psychotic (since psychoanalysis can explain and not affect) but that a psychotic could reveal essential knowledge to psychoanalysis (since an articulation of the unconscious takes place in psychosis). Lacan finds that (even though he (through his analysis of the Schreber case) constructs the psychosis as something that lies beyond psychoanalytic discourse (like Freud)) he can include psychosis in psychoanalysis and thereby extend the theory.
Earl made the point here that, when Lacan is saying that a psychotic is the only person who cannot understand his own language, then he is in a radical way, actually saying, that he can’t do anything for him. Thus Lacan excludes psychosis from psychoanalysis in an even more fundamental way than Freud.
Psychotics have, according to Lacan the defining characteristic, that they invent new words. This statement becomes interesting when watching Lacan’s own vocabulary that includes neologisms to an extend that makes Lacan operate in a discourse, which is exactly like his patients‘.
At this point of the debate, Rusty introduced the thought of intention as a problem in the work of Lacan. We must assume that Lacan was aware of what he was doing. But ‚intention‘ is not a term to be found in The Language of Psychoanalysis. Instead we can think of the German word ‚Vorstellung‘, which Freud changes the meaning of by speaking of the paradox unconscious Vorstellungen. In the same way we can imagine the notion of unconscious intentions and by that create an idea of what intention would be in a psychoanalytic terminology.
Neurosis and Psychosis.
In reading Freud and Lacan we need to begin by trying to understand them within the scope of the discourses that they are. Therefore Earl started to define neurosis and psychosis.
Neurosis is a disorder where „the symptoms are the symbolic expression of a psychical conflict whose origins lie in the subject’s childhood history; these symptoms constitute compromises between wish and defense.“(from Laplanche,J., and Pontalis,J.B.,:The Language of Psychoanalysis )
Furthermore hysteria has a special connection to neurosis. Hysteria was one of Freud’s first objects of study. Historically hysteria has been looked upon as a feminine way of expression. The studies of hysteria immediately preceding Freud’s were in theater theory where it was thought of in terms of catharsis. Freud’s concept hysteria is also in a way theatrical, since hysteria is the representation of an illness.
In psychosis a defense different from the repression of neurosis is found.
Lacan introduces the term repudiation (foreclosure) to distinguish between different kinds of repressive mechanisms. Repudiation is deemed to be distinct from repression in two senses br>
a. Foreclosed signifiers are not integrated into the subject’s unconscious.
b. They do not return ‚from the inside‘ -they re-emerge, rather, in ‚the Real‘ particularly through the phenomenon of hallucination.
|The Language of Psychoanalysis 166.|
Psychosis has traditionally been seen as a masculine disorder because of its ethereal symptoms found in the grammar of the psychotic.
With definitions we may be able to read Freud and Lacan but we don’t necessarily have a reason to read them. We may not even believe what they say.
Here, Jeremy made the comment that he is being asked exactly this question almost every week in his job as a TA. Maybe it is only possible to answer the question on an individual level: What reason do I have to read this.
Sexuality, desire, and love.
Earl asked: What is the difference between sexuality, desire, and love. This was not an easy question.
What we know is that Freud’s theory is to begin with one of sexuality and later it develops into one of desire. Lacan’s theory is about desire.
If we see the three of them as drives then we know with the help of Freud that they are anti-thetical to self-preservation.
In Schreber’s case we found that he wanted the love of his father and the only cultural vocabulary he had to express this softness with, was the wish to experience intercourse as a woman or as being God’s woman. A complicated inter-relationship draws itself here between sexuality, desire, and love.
The Ego and The Id.
Before going into the discussion of The Ego and The Id from 1923, we returned to some of Freud’s earlier concepts. Namely the primary and the secondary processes developed in Chapter VII of The Interpretation of Dreams (1900). The primary and the secondary processes correspond to the pleasure and the reality principle where the first two are characteristic of the unconscious system and the second two typify of the pre-conscious/conscious. With a dynamic description, the former are free floating psychical energy and the latter are psychical energy, first being bound and then floating in a controlled manner. The relation between primary and secondary processes indicates a temporality that points at a narrative structure of psychical processes.
When talking about The Interpretation of Dreams we touched upon Freud’s statement that this was a Jewish tradition. Another intercultural- hermeneutic problem is that of Viennese Bildungsgechichte around the turn-of-the-century. We are dealing with a theory that has to be understood in the context of Jewry and a historical Vienna.
Returning to The Ego and The Id we found ourselves with a theory that had been radically changed. In the beginning of the twenties Freud no longer found that the idea of pleasure was sufficient to explain sexuality.
He goes from a psychical model with: unconscious-preconscious-conscious to the model with: id-ego-superego.
The idea ‚unconscious‘ for Freud is not identical with ‚that, which is not conscious‘ as it was for some of his contemporary existentialist philosophers. For example is the Ego partly conscious, partly unconscious.
Furthermore Freud never explains the self as a Cartesian transcendental self.
The last discussion of the day concerned ‚identification‘. It was discussed as a childhood process where the boy child identifies himself with the father, and then again cannot identify completely (and have the mother). The superego is entirely engaged in this process (this distinguishes the above models). Rusty mentioned that the model of identification does not give an explanation of female identification processes. Traditionally the female role has been seen as one of maintenance of values, where women would overtake cultural material from men, instead of through the superego.
Identification was also discussed as a phenomenon that happens all the time. We constantly construct ourselves, and in fact identification can happen in seconds. Examples were given on how we can „cross-identify“ in gender, class, race, etc.
Finally, Jason made some comments on the Id-Ego-Superego model. He had found that with the close connection between the Id and the Superego it was no longer possible to observe a narrative structure in the psychical process. Furthermore the term ‚Id‘ was mentioned as a possible cause of misunderstanding, since language makes it tempting to speak of ‚the wants of the Id‘, etc. The German ‚Es‘ doesn’t suffer from that problem since the word indicates that we are trying to speak about an amorphous force.
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