Papers

Preamble

The ten or so papers the reader will find on this website were never meant for publication but for seminars between 1988 and 1996. These seminars took place at the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research and in the London Circle of the European School of Psychoanalysis. In fact, Inever wrote a paper for publication. The writing was done merely to guide me through a seminar. They were rewritten but at a time when many more of Lacan’s Seminars had been published by Editions du Seuil. I couldn’t resist making modifications in the original papers. I still recognise the original paper in the rewriting. I am aware the reader won’t be able to do that.

Paper 1 – The Ego, Perception and Reality

Lacan uses the term Gestalt to indicate the body-image. According to the psychology from which he takes it, it is a global figure quite different from its parts considered separately. It’s an auto-erotic, fragmented body held together by the mirror. He says of it that it is more constituting than constituted. [1] These terms were deciphered a long time ago by Jacques-Alain Miller. The constituting axis tends to be on the side of the symbolic and the constituted axis more on the side of the imaginary. Lacan’s topology of the real, the symbolic and the imaginary is not yet in place, and he is using other terms. The specular image in the constituting axis has a different function than in the constituted axis. In its constituting axis it is articulated to the ego ideal by a vertical (hierarchical) identification. This axis is symbolic where the image is linked to language. The constituted axis is imaginary linked by horizontal (imaginary) identifications. [2] Lacan in his early teaching refers to Freud’s diagram on p. 116 of Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921).

Paper 2 – The Ego in Neurosis and Psychosis

The most intuitive of Lacan’s three categories, the real, the symbolic and the imaginary, RSI, is the imaginary. One grasps it immediately without reasoning. It is the pure consciousness of an image, of seeing myself see myself. It’s not just any image but a body image of good form that captivates the subject, and it creeps into meaning at the level of the signified. Lacan’s mirror stage covers the field that Freud calls narcissism. The mirror stage is a reworking of Freud’s 1914 paper on narcissism. Narcissism is a relation between two images, the specular image and the ego which is the image extracted from the specular one by an identification. For Freud this would be the relation between ego libido and object libido.[1] It bases the imaginary on a principle of symmetry. In that libido is also drive libido, Jacques-Alain Miller calls this imaginary the imaginarisation of enjoyment which is his first paradigm of enjoyment.

Paper 3 – Built in Deception?

Lacan uses the term Gestalt to indicate the body-image. [1] According to the psychology from which he takes it, it is a global figure quite different from its parts considered separately. When Lacan considers these parts separately, it’s called corps morcelé, an auto-erotic, fragmented body held together by the mirror, that is, by specular identifications. He says on every page that the identifications associated with the mirror alienate the subject. What do they alienate it from? They alienate it from jouissance, enjoyment. Alienation is defence by identification against a traumatic encounter with, in this instance, one’s own body, the auto-erotic body which is a real body and not a body-image.

Paper 4 – Deceiver and Non Deceiver

Freud produced the myth of the murder of the Father in order to found the Oedipus on it. He constructed the myth from the research of anthropologists who more or less dropped the story into his lap. In the primitive horde the primal father kept all the women to himself, giving his sons no sexual access to them. The punishment for any one of them who did gain such access was castration. The sort of castration suffered here was real. The sons had no way out of this situation other than to murder the father. After it was accomplished, overwhelmed by guilt, they developed what became known as the totemic system. Freud also called it the totemic religion, the totem animal being a surrogate father. The two principle ordinances of the totemic religion are not to kill the totem animal and not to have sexual relations with a woman of the same totem. There are exceptions to the killing of the totem animal. It may be killed and eaten on festive days when the whole clan participates in the killing and the eating. This act of the entire clan reinforces identification with the father. Freud notes that these two prohibitions, the ban on sexual relations with women of the same clan and on the killing and eating of the totem animal by an individual as opposed to the whole clan, coincide with the two crimes of Oedipus who killed his father and married his mother. The totemic religion coincides with the Oedipus. [1] By suspending the prohibition on killing the totem animal on festive days when the entire clan participates in eating it, the ethnographic Oedipus makes it clear that these prohibitions form the basis of a social bond.

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