Time for the Unconscious: On the Organization of the Psychic Apparatus
Freud’s characterization of the psychic apparatus is profoundly ambiguous. On the one hand, it tends towards a reductionist framework that explains psychic phenomena largely in terms of mechanical processes in the energetic economy of the psyche. On the other, it points towards a framework that affirms the autonomy and holistic nature of the psychic and the radical contingency of psychic phenomena with respect to mechanical processes. In this text, an attempt is made to develop the latter conceptualization as the most fruitful aspect of psychoanalysis for current reflections on the psyche. This is done by via an alternative interpretation of the negative determinations of the unconscious in Freud’s works, in particular that of the timelessness of the unconscious. These determinations can be clarified by relating them to Freud’s theory of association from the study on aphasia. In this view, the timelessness does not refer to the theory of regression, grafted onto the naïve interpretation of trauma, but to non-linear processes of (self-) organization that produce the radical, creative singularity of that which is psychic.