Summary: The first section of this paper traces, in brief, a conceptual evolution of psychoanalysis from its Freudian foundation in 19th century empirical science to Lacan’s reformulation of psychoanalytic method, based in part on mid-20th century structural linguistics, as one that is not, strictly speaking, scientific. Throughout this movement, the therapeutic aim and the medium of speech remain at the center of psychoanalytic praxis. The author, therefore, explores the questions: what is speech and what is at stake for human subjects in speaking? In part two, parallels are drawn between four (ana)logical pairings of conceptual moments in Freudo-Lacanian and Hegelian theory in order to elucidate dynamic and topological intricacies in each. The Oedipus complex is described as a dialectical unfolding, wherein Hegelian and Freudian theorizing and Lacanian mythmaking are, similarly, creative retorts to contradiction and ambivalence. These subjective responses effect the Aufhebung or Verdrängung (in neurosis) of the conflictual impasse, and institute a vehicle for the transgenerational transmission of Kultur—what Hegel called Geist and Freud rendered Unbewusst.
The way in which obsessional neurosis is dominated by the attempt of the subject to liberate itself from the grasp of the mother is illustrated with a fragment from the analysis of an obsessional man. Both the castration of the mother and the problematic character of the Name-of-the-Father take a central place. It is observed how the subject is hired by the mother in her search for an object capable of filling her lack. This is the seduction of the mother: by pretending that the child would be able to be or to have what she is missing, she strokes its narcissism, and in the process, she rejects the desire of the future obsessional. For its part, the subject starts to desire what the mother demands and is captivated by the metonymic glide of objects, none of which are able to fill the maternal lack. Because of the mortal immobilisation and the constant frustration following from the identification with the phallus, the subject will try to buy itself out of being the phallus by having it. That is what happens at the stage of privation. Refusing to accept the castration of the mother, whether through identification, possession or exploitation of the phallic object, each time the desire of the mother surfaces, it presents an anxious threat for the obsessional, who fears being reduced to that same phallic object. Trying to fine-tune anxiety and desire leads him to construct a paradoxical universe, the frame of which is formed by an Other, designed as both total and without object simultaneously. This Other is no longer grounded in a cut, but is based on a distance: everything which belongs to the field of the real is being pushed into the realm of the hypothetical. Delay and doubt play an important role in this and help to create an “impossible” object, enabling the virtual existence of the Thing to contine.
This contribution focuses on Freud’s elaboration of the genesis of sadism and masochism in “Instincts and their Vicissitudes” (1915c). We first briefly recap the standard reading of this text by Jean Laplanche which relies on Freud’s concept of “anaclisis”. In our opinion, Laplanche’s reading implicitly presupposes that Freud’s discussion of sadism and masochism questions the sexualisation of an originally non-sexual aggressivity. In contrast, we argue that Freud’s argumentation starts from the question how the aggressivity that is inherent in sexuality relates to sadism and masochism qua perversion. The matrix of obsessional neurosis and the development of the ego discussed in the same context are of crucial importance for the systematic development of Freud’s answer to this last question.
This paper presents the text of the public defence of a Doctorate that explores and evaluates the possibilities for quantification of the hysterical and obsessional dimension in neurotic psychopathology. It concludes that these psychoanalytic constructs are quantifiable to a certain extent, but that the validity of these measurements, being comparable to those of psychological constructs in general, is consequently too limited to support the testing of these theoretical statements using a positivistic approach.
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