ON THE ‘ABSENT CAUSE’ IN FREUD’S POLITICAL THEORY: MASS PSYCHOLOGY AT 100 YEARS

Abstract: This commentary of Freud’s seminal essay from 1921, Mass-psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, celebrating the 100th anniversary of its publication, is an experiment in reading the text and assessing its problems at the intersection of several perspectives: it relies on the inclusion of the text within successive textual ‘constellations’ which involve the recognition that a political element is intrinsic to the construction of psychoanalytical concepts, and the possibility of using psychoanalysis as a framework for the analysis of contemporary enduring forms of institutional racism, which reacts on our understanding of psychoanalysis itself. What emerges is a remarkable figure of representation and elusion of the State as an agency of identification and repression organizing the psychic apparatus from without.

“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.

Frege and Lacan: A Transcendental Line of Thought

This paper analyses the idea that Frege and Lacan can be connected through a transcendental line of thought. From this viewpoint Frege’s development of modern formal logic is considered as a moment in modernity that shows that the challenge of formalization or mathematization is in fact a challenge of identification of both subject and object. Lacan’s thinking is in accord with this endeavour, but it articulates more explicitly and symbolically the connection between formalization and identification. A crucial point in our argument is that a transcendental viewpoint is not necessarily incompatible with a lacanian viewpoint, to the extent, namely, that attention is paid to the idea that subject and object are first and foremost of the order of writing or the symbolic.