On the pitfalls and perils of publishing/poubellication: some lessons from the field

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.

The clinical interpretation of Don Quixote

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.

“I don’t stop; I start again.” The position of the analyst in ‘long term care’

From a lacanian orientation, the relation between ‘treatment’, ‘coaching’ and ‘care’ is questioned in case of what one calls ‘long term care’. This question is approached from the perspective of a case study. A young man accuses himself constantly of not adapting enough to society and even of attacking society. His attempts to find a solution though, are situated both in his failure and his singular answers to this failing, as well as in his self-incrimination about his failure. Indeed, the real problem is neither the lack of adaptation nor the self-incrimination, but the feminine enjoyment that he is confronted with, over and over again. Theoretically, Lacan’s conceptualization of the symptom as a knotting element forms the framework.

The Immigrant and Singularity: An “odd” Couple?

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.

Abstracting the Real in Take Shelter

This paper explores psychosis in Jeff Nichols’ 2011 film Take Shelter, bringing into proximity Lacan’s concept of foreclosure with Korzybski’s concept of abstraction. Lacan conceptualises psychosis as the individual encountering life experiences that cannot be reconciled with their existing semantic frameworks, creating gaps that need to be plugged by being named and identified. The genesis of the psychotic structure is the foreclosure of the Name of the Father. For Lacan, psychotic delusions function to stabilise these internally destructive and perplexing encounters, by providing shape to life’s experiences. Korzybski’s model of cognition focuses on how the individual “abstracts” from their experience, how each person creates their own semantic environment based on how they attend to incoming information, and on the subsequent inferences they make. Both thinkers acknowledge the destabilising nature of chance or perplexing encounters on the human psyche, in the form of the Real for Lacan, and the territory for Korzybski. Furthermore, both emphasise the importance of the subjective position, how each individual makes sense of their world through language.