Solitude, poetry, and herd psychoanalysis

Apparently, in about 3-4 months, the psychoanalytic group of which I am a member will feature a debate or discussion on the topic of Jacques-Alain Miller and his followers’ contributions to Lacanian discourse: the ‘One-all-alone’, the real unconscious, the ‘autism’ of jouissance, generalised foreclosure, the limits of meaning, the non-existence of the Other, the non-existence of symbolic paternity in particular, etc. Without dismissing JAM’s contributions in toto, I’m not likely to be on the pro-JAM side of the aisle. The practical effects of JAM’s positions are not entirely benign. They include racism, homophobia and transphobia, a blindness to colonialism, paranoia as an institutional imperative, and the abolition of the Freudian unconscious, as well as sublimation. I’ll turn to some of these another time.

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Ordinary Psychosis

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There are no shortage of psychoanalytic theories of psychosis. The Lacanian account of psychosis that derives from the 1950s – and which we may think of as ‘classical’, in Lacanian psychoanalysis – can be found best expressed in Seminar 3, and the paper entitled ‘On a question prior to any possible treatment of psychosis’ in the Écrits. To put it very simply, psychosis is conceived of as a structure, not a checklist of symptoms, or a particular phenomenological condition. Where neurosis is characterised by the fundamental operation of repression, and perversion by disavowal, in psychosis, foreclosure is paramount. To illustrate: in repression, signifiers and thoughts become unconscious. It is as if they were swept under a carpet; out of sight, but leaving a lump, nonetheless. In foreclosure, not only is the same material not swept under the carpet, but it is never admitted entry in the first place. This has ramifications for a subject’s entire place and function within the symbolic order (i.e. the order of discourse and law). It is as if a set of organising principles are lacking, at least, relative to those found in neurosis under repression. Continue reading