This paper will present the results of a field study that was inspired by the theories of Maleval on the functions of writing for the psychotic subject. More particularly, we wanted to find out to what extent these theories remain valid in the specific context of Villa Voortman, a non-residential meeting place for people with double diagnosis (psychosis and drug abuse) in Ghent (Belgium), where a substantial part of the visitors is engaged in writing. While the study confirmed the three major functions of writing as identified by Maleval (depositing of excess jouissance through the physical act of writing, pouring enjoyment into signifiers, and dumping excess jouissance through publishing), a fourth and major function emerged: the identification with an artist. It is reasonable to suggest that this is a particular effect of Villa Voortman’s policy to facilitate and stimulate subjects to build up an identity beyond their psychiatric label.
In this contribution we take a psychoanalytic look at the novel The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. We follow the clinical adventures of Don Quixote and the diagnostic interpretations he comes across on his journey. We discuss a number of psychoanalytic case formulations that situate the knight in the realm of psychosis and that endeavour to construct the clinical logic of his adventures. Via a discussion of Lacan’s remarks on bovarysm and a consideration of the relationship between literature and psychoanalysis, we come to a second section, where we find our knight again, now no longer as a model of madness, but as a paragon of normalcy. Here Don Quixote has become a paradigmatic example of the way human identity and subjectivity are rooted in narrative and fantasy. Here each one of us becomes a Don Quixote, wandering through the world, guided by delusions and misapprehensions. We conclude with an examination of the way in which the fiction of psychoanalysis relates to the fiction of the subject. Here we encounter the psychoanalyst as a Don Quixote.
To speak of fleeing presupposes an active choice: the subject driven by a survival instinct to make strategic use of its defence mechanisms. But what of the case where flight is une carte forcée driven by real danger forcing the subject faced with death to choose life? An already fragile refugee, the author argues, then faces a poor reception by Western society upon arrival. The pressure uncertain legal status can shatter the identity of a refugee waiting to receive permanent recognition. The external threat which forced the subject to flee his/her own country can be magnified by the threats to which he is exposed on arrival. On a phenomenological level, the effect of the fragmentation of the immigrant’s identity is similar clinically in symptoms to a trauma patient. A clinical illustration of a psychotherapy with a Chechen patient supports this hypothesis. In this context psychotherapy concerns making connections between inside and outside, between the inner and outer world, between one’s own country and Western society. The objective is to safeguard the existence of the subject: in reality as well as in a fantasmatic construction.
Migration is currently under investigation. On the one hand questions are raised as to whether immigrants are assimilating the norms and values of their new country quickly enough. On the other hand, in a clinical context, it is observed that mental illness when encountered in immigrants is culture-specific. However, these observations cannot be interpreted without taking account of the double context in which the immigrant is embedded: that of their native country and now the host nation. The issue of “identity” and the social context in which it derives plays a crucial role in discourse about immigrants. The objectifying public debate about migration has clear clinical repercussions at an individual level and there is a need to reframe these cultural representations from a psychoanalytic perspective. This means that the function of religious speech also deserves our attention during a cure with an immigrant. A clinical illustration of a Muslim in psychotherapy clarifies how the coordinates of a Lacanian thinking can function as a universal language to understand the singular logic of the subject.
In this paper the author reflects on the creative process of her film Her Voice (2012) and describes how its sensory imagery generates an alternative image of woman, beyond the clichés encountered in classical narrative cinema. Finding one’s voice as a woman here refers to the process of identification at stake in the coming into being of woman. More specifically, it is argued that the experienced body image that is evoked in Her Voice is first, inspired by female stereotypes as displayed by icons such as Hildegard von Bingen, Lola Montez and Betty Boop and second, at the same time, through the body memories of both the author and the interpreter (L. Gruwez, the actress), these stereotypes are being dismantled.