The mythification of memory: Freud, Lacan and Sebald’s Austerlitz

This paper explores the theme of memory and the process of remembering, linked to the inception of psychoanalysis and Freud’s work with his first hysterical patients which taught him that remembering, or rather, reminiscing, forms a crucial part of every analysis. Remembering is imprecise and is therefore of immense significance. What doesn’t fit into the narrative of life is “trauma.” It is what could not be assimilated by the subject and thus it is separated from “memory” (Braunstein, 2010, p. 6). In developing this, I will assess Freud’s early work with female hysterics and his work on technique, as well as Lacan’s elaborations of Freud’s technique in his work in the fifties which instrumentalise the importance of “dialectic” in supporting the analysand’s speech and remembering. What is essential is the “reconstruction” of the past and not simply reproducing it. W.G. Sebald’s compelling novel Austerlitz (2001) serves as a complimentary text in assessing the subjective significance of memory and remembering.

The shine (éclat) of absences: lacan on the feminine in the fifties

Lacan’s text, “Guiding Remarks for a Congress on Female Sexuality” (1958), is an important text in exploring Lacan’s conceptualisation of female sexuality in the fifties. The text however goes much further than this and discusses castration and the phallic function as well as Freud’s three lines of feminine development: normative femininity, frigidity and female homosexuality. The richness and complexity of the text presents the sexuality of women as a vast field that has been misapprehended by the psychoanalytic establishment. Lacan indicates that women are not reducible to the phallic equivalency to men and in fact this misunderstanding has significantly undermined and devalued the analysis of women. With the aid of a clinical vignette, this paper explores two of the three lines of female development, normative femininity and frigidity, in light of Lacan’s substantial elaborations in the text.

“Shining” a Light on Psychosis and Triggers to its Violent Expression

Stephen’s King’s brilliant and terrifying novel, The Shining, is an exploration of inter-generational psychosis in a family. The novel gives a multi-layered account of paranoid psychosis and provides a narrative framing of the development of a psychosis to a violent end, making it possible to explore the triggers to its violent expression. The goal of this paper is not to seek a precise cause-and-effect of psychotic and violent phenomena but to highlight and elaborate certain clinical features that allow different modalities of psychosis in the case of a father and his son to be distinguished, to trace their mutual points of overlap and convergence and to identify triggering moments of florid outbreak. While the psychosis is the one-by-one invention of a solution of every psychotic subject and is not the same in the father and son, there are moments of shared paranoid conviction and shared delusion (délire à deux). But there are also crucial differences in the father’s and son’s psychosis, in the relative strength of the defences, identifications and imaginary supports available to each of them. Points of divergence that arise between them are highly affecting and potentially devastating. These ideas are explored via their narrative and characterological development in the book.