This article is the first part of a twofold contribution in which the case of Sergei Pankejev or Freud’s “Wolf Man” is reread from a topological point of view. In this first part, it is proposed that diagnosis of this case as either a neurotic or a psychotic structure from a Freudian or a classical Lacanian point of view inevitably leads to a dead-end. Instead the author makes use of the notion of “ordinary psychosis” from a topological point of view (knot theory). It is hypothesized that we see a disconnection of the Other in the initial stages of the mental illness followed by a manifest psychosis in the later period. Via this disconnection, the Wolf Man made use of a series of “neurotic”-like symptoms that helped him to avoid the triggering of the psychosis. The question of which symptoms he made use of will be treated in the second part of this case study.
In the first part of this contribution on Sergei Pankejev (Freud’s Wolf Man), the author proposed the hypothesis that the Wolfman avoided a psychotic breakthrough via a series of (seemingly “neurotic”) symptoms. This article investigates the nature and topological logic of these symptoms. Three distinct groups of symptoms are identified. Each group is situated on another cutting point in the knot that links the Real, the Symbolic and the Imaginary. A recurring element is the extraction of the anal object a as an answer to the feminine jouissance, the exact status of which is examined in detail. This leads to the formulation of new hypotheses related to the triggering moments of psychosis in the case of Pankejev.
In 1965 Lacan paid tribute to Marguerite Duras and her novel The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein. In his homage Lacan claims that Duras’ art seemed to possess a certain knowledge. The authors argue that this knowledge relates to the difficulties for a speaking being of identification with the body. The novel is about the triggering of a psychosis at the specific moment when a woman is invited by a man to participate in a sexual act, while her strategy involved avoiding being positioned as object of male sexual desire. This case is compared with a case of paranoia described by Freud, in which the destabilizing factor also lies in the sexual sphere. For both women the triggering factor lies in the confrontation with the enjoyment of the Other and the impossibility to become the subject of the sexual demand of the Other.