On Kettle Logic and the Retraction of the Law: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Psychopathy

Psychopathy as a concept has always been subjected to reductionist thinking, causing it to be heavily contested within psychiatry and psychoanalysis. On the basis of research involving prisoners and the insights of the Belgian psychiatrist-psychoanalyst Léon Cassiers, the author describes recurring patterns in the relation of the psychopath towards the Other and towards language. Fundamental to psychopathy is the defence mechanism of the Retraction of the Law in which an initial Bejahung is followed by a retraction. The aim of this retraction is to escape the lack and the division by the signifier. A case study of an impostor is used to illustrate the theory.

Repetition in Psychosis: A Theoretical Question

This article investigates the theoretical issue of whether the concept of repetition is applicable to psychosis. In the neurotic subject, repetition is a reaction to the lack in the Other. The subject is confronted with a lack, a chance event, a question to which he has no answer. As a consequence, the neurotic is passively subjected to the Other. A case study makes it clear that the psychotic reacts differently to the lack in the Other. On the one hand, the psychotic can find an answer in the jouissance of the father and this jouissance will repeat itself during the course of his or her life. This “repetition” can be traced back to the sinthome which is not the case in neurosis. On the other hand, some psychotics may be unable to find an answer to the lack in the Other and they will experience a return in the Real. In these patients, a repetition is traceable, but this time to the concept of le retour dans le réel. Therefore, it is concluded that the application of the concept of repetition is inadequate in terms of the psychotic structure.