Identity on the Run: Psychoanalysis as “a possible Profession” in an unbearable Situation

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.

“Melancholy as a Narcissistic Neurosis in Kristeva’s Soleil Noir”

Julia Kristeva approaches melancholia starting from Freud’s basic intuitions but she places it within a conceptual framework that pays lip service to semiotics and Lacan. In that sense she argues that one of the most distinctive characteristics of the melancholic is that he or she cannot find the words for loss. Meanwhile, the lost object belongs as such entirely to the ego. This is caused by the unnameable Thing, according to Kristeva, which comes as a result of the trauma of the pre-symbolic confrontation with the mother-figure. Kristeva illustrates her proposition with an analysis of Holbein’s work The Dead Christ. The aspect of a dead past continues to haunt throughout several degrees of depression and melancholy. In this way her position closely lines up with Freud’s concept of narcissistic neurosis as Freud extended this concept to psychosis. As a consequence, Kristeva’s position leads to a paradox: on the one hand she claims that melancholia is a particular aspect of psychopathology, whilst on the other, she attempts to grasp melancholia in a transnosographic way.