Physical aggression incidents directly confront care workers with the limits of their capacity “to be good” to the patient. The severity of these incidents is not determined by the measurable and objective facts but depends upon the subjective experience of the victim. Coping with aggression within the context of an institution means giving team members enough room to verbalize this subjective experience in order to make working with the patient possible again. With three clinical cases it is shown how team members that took the opportunity to verbalize their subjective experience discovered, to their surprise, that they had contributed to the incident.
Wild Children, Wild Language Theories: Lacan’s View of the Signifier through an Analysis of Kaspar Hauser and Victor of Aveyron
This article illustrates Lacan’s theory of language and the signifier using the story of two feral children. It is first argued that the failure to educate Victor of Aveyron to become a subject is related to the inaccuracy of his educator’s theory of language. The function of language is not to communicate one’s needs, nor is it the signifier’s function to refer to an object. The signifier only refers to other signifiers and it signifies absence. It is in that way that it raises an infant to be a cultural being. It was this process that guaran¬teed the socializing and subjectification of the second feral child, Kaspar Hauser.
“Fascism is sadism”. This is the central thesis in the long opening chapter of Frank Vande Veire, Take, Eat, This is My Body – Fascination and Intimidation in Contemporary Culture (2005). In his essay, Marc De Kesel comments on the main theoretical source of Vande Veire’s definition of fascism, Lacan’s theory of perversion, and on how it reveals the cruelty that is typical of fascist practices. However, defining fascism as perversion is a bridge too far, argues De Kesel. Fascism must first and foremost be defined as a discourse, and both the definition and the analysis of fascism must follow from this. That the fascist discourse enables a perverse subject position does not imply that fascism is to be reduced to that position. Such reductionism falls into the trap of a moralising – and, more precisely, diabolising – view on fascism. De Kesel warns against any such moralising use of the critical tools of psychoanalysis as it weakens substantially its critical potential.
In a letter addressed to Meursault, the stranger in Albert Camus’ novel of the same name, we try to grasp the significance an institution can have for the human being. For instance in the novel it is clear that Meursault is content in his position of the accused. Perhaps the institution functions as a protective shield, or acquires a translating or mediating role between actuality and history, between guilt and anxiety, between the familiar and the strange.
The author writes a long letter to a psychiatric patient with whom he has been corresponding for several years. The letter was written on the occasion of a Congress on chronicity as the central theme (“Psychoanalytic work with chronic patients, Gent, 16. April, 2008). It is primarily a personal letter covering some important themes in their conversations: time, the attitude towards psychiatry, life and death, the father and a woman. The author tries to describe their humane encounter and how this affects both author and patient.