Acheronta  - Revista de Psicoanálisis y Cultura
On the question of judgement in neurosis and psychosis
Oscar Zentner

Imprimir página

In this way death brings us the question of what discourse denies, but also the question of knowing whether it is the former which introduces negation in the latter. Because the negativity of discourse, insofar as it makes being in what is not, refers us to the question of knowing what the not-being, manifested in the symbolic order, owes to the reality of death ...whence arises, with the not-being, the definition of reality.
Jacques Lacan l

Die Bejahung - als Ersatz der Vereinigung gehort dem Eros an, die Verneinung Nachfolge der Ausstossung - dem Destruk-tionstrieb.
Sigmund Freud 2

There is no such thing at all as an unconscious no.
Sigmund Freud 3

Prior to the birth of psychoanalysis the privates thoughts have always been confused with the so-called psyche. So that as a remnant, there is a popular view of the unconscious with what passes unuttered. This biological analogy of an interior containing unconscious feelings outside the web of language is simply inadequate. The conceptualising of the unconscious as being contained in the same way in which the skin contains and envelops a body, results amongst other factors from identifying the said unconscious with subjectivity. Henceforth what is called psyche becomes the beacon that the religion of common sense follows. This abortive union dismisses not only the original discovery, but its confirmation in the clinical work where the unconscious is enacted in discourse despite the ($) who speaks.

The attempt to deal beyond the limits of accepted knowledge can be surmised in Freud's own words: I am under no delusion about the difficulty of my task. Psychoanalysis has little prospect of becoming liked or popular. This is in fact, the way in which we are advancing our thesis on the question of judgement and for that we will start afresh from the pleasure - beyond the pleasure principle as exercised by some psychotics by way of negativism. For the traditional theory this is the clinical demonstration of the defusing of drives which has taken place due to the disinvesting of the libidinal components.

However we propose something other, to develop a differentiation between the mechanisms of negation (Verneinung) and negativism (Negativismus) which were mentioned by Freud but not developed further. Whereas the first indicates that negation is the partial lifting and recovery of the repressed and depends on a necessary repression (affirming precisely what is being denied), the second is the symptom (Anzeichen) of a necessary foreclosure (Verwerfung) .

Let us consider for a moment in the Freudian text the passage carried out from pleasure in negativism - as an effect of the psychotic restitution consequently established on the moment of foreclosure - with its opposite, the symbol of negation, with which the function of judgement becomes possible. The return of the repressed thoughts shaped via discourse allows the characteristics of secondary process as a symptom also of the repetition compulsion. The automatism of repetition is a logical consequence of mapping in the text of Beyond the Pleasure Principle. the insistence of the unconscious. That there is no such a thing as intrasubjectivity and that what is most intimate to the subject is also what is transubjective through the web of discourse is precisely what psychoanalysis has named as formations of the unconscious: dreams, jokes, symptoms and bungled actions. Thus it is language which constitutes thought, as a beyond the pleasure principle. Language by breaking the pleasure that repression regulates4 is at the service of the death-drive. This tongue-Jouissance checked by desire, is what Freud's Interpretation of Dreams explained so befittingly since insofar as we are alive - desire is indestructible.

As we will see Negation is a result of the insertion of the ($) in discourse, not only in language, what explains why the unconscious being structured like a language cannot be the seat of negation. Conversely Freud ascribe the so-called mechanism of defence to the I, therefore is not difficult then to see that the formations of the unconscious, and henceforth of the ($) are formations of discourse, therefore of the psychopathology of the social links of everyday life, while in counterdistinction displacement and condensation, that is metonymy and metaphor are formations of language. The ($) of discourse only avows the unconscious in a negative way, this allows us to advance our hypothesis on the structural difference between the No of negation - as a symbolic negative recognition of desire - and negativism which as a consequence of the loss of the imaginary, with its derealization and estrangement, abides the ($) to a permanent encounter with the real.

The no of negation provides the key to understand the mythical phenomenon of the entry of the symbolic in relation to the fundamental affirmation (Bejahung).5 The symbolic, awaits the subject. However, as is well understood, that does not guarantee how the subject will affirm himself in it. For that we must go somewhat further into an structural disjunction that opens up in the process which occurs between the fundamental affirmation and negation.

The affirmation of the inscription6 of perceptions occurs at the level of perceptual symbols (Wahrnehmungszeichen) which by themselves alone are incapable of being conscious and are organized through associations by simultaneity. When these signifiers (Niederschrift or Fixierung in the Traumdeutung)7 are structured by causality in a second register (Ucs), they become representations (Vorstellungsreprasentanzs) which will, from then on, sink all possibility of objectivity by the weight that the dead thing (das Ding)8 leaves in the trace of the incarnation of the signifier. The entry of the symbolic into the real also sustains the opposite; the irruption of a hallucination as a product of what opposed the symbolization allowed by repression and negation.

Foreclosure (Verwerfung) comes forth to meet the fundamental affirmation thus stopping short the process in which ... something from the real comes to offer itself to the revelation of the being ...9

The Freudian text indicates that negation is the pre-condition of judgement, in our thesis we considered foreclosure as the pre-condition of psychotic judgement, singularly the foreclosure of the name of the father. This severed symbolic fundamental signifier isolated from the others, remains real, with the after-effects of hallucinations as pure real encounter which cannot be repressed, suppressed or rejected.

We should recall here the rhetorical and above all hysteric question which Plato in the Theaetetus puts in the mouth of Socrates: I'm not only annoyed; I'm afraid about what I'll answer if someone puts this question to me. 'So you've discovered false judgement, Socrates? You've found that it's located, not in our perceptions in relation to one another, and not in our thought in relation to one another, but in the connection of a perception with a thought?' I suppose I'll say 'Yes', and I'll give myself airs, as if we've discovered something admirable.10

As a mater of fact, for psychoanalysis as much as the delusion does not lack its kernel of truth, the hallucination does not lack its object of perception which even when always the same, will not exonerate us from deciphering it in accordance with the singular history of the subject. However, the history in psychosis is different from the history in neurosis. In the first history is bad-encounter (dustuchia), whilst in the second history is return.

The appearance of the feeling of dŽjˆ-vu so-common in the meeting of the erratic hallucination is where we have the torn attempt of the imaginary to give semblance to the symbolic subtraction exercized by foreclosure. Plato remarks on a similar point in the Theaetetus to show that neither reality nor unreality hold up well, whether one is awake, insane, or dreaming.

To further psychoanalytic knowledge we have to start questioning, beyond conventional criterion, so-called reality and its status. Normality is in effect a sad thing when we go into the trouble of finding out the application of Gulag's in which under its name, the concentration camps function. As Freud with radical prudence pointed out in the Outline of Psychoanalysis, reality will always remain unknowable henceforth real, and it is from the failure of giving account of it that a change of discourse may take place.

It is on this quest that the field of psychosis remains our somewhat cumbersome area clinically as well as theoretically. Yet, the glimpse of a beginning of an answer is to be found in this indication: Eine VerdrŠngung is etwas anderes als eine Verwerfung.11 (A repression is something other than a foreclosure).

Let us then examine in which case, and under which conditions foreclosure makes psychosis possible. Would it be the foreclosure of any signifier? Could we assume that this is the answer? If so, it follows that it is the mechanism that brings about the structure of psychosis, or for that matter any other psychopathological structure. However we have good ground to postulate that what is at play is the rejection of a singular signifier.

This one signifier, is the name that we give to the necessary exception to the phallic function. This signifier ensues the division between the possible and the contingent by which speaking beings will be classed as men or women within the non-sexual relation on which the social bond of discourse is based.

What is a stake is the efficacy of this one signifier for its presence is the necessary condition for the structure of neurosis in which the repression proper of this name operates. The Freudian supposition of a primary repression (Urverdrangung). is the phallic exception on which the very name of the father is constituted. This supposition, which is not clinically observable, is nonetheless a theoretical axiom on which we based the logic of the unconscious as it is at play in the structure of neurosis.

To posit the condition under which judgement becomes possible we need to clarify first the question of negation as its pre-condition. The ($) avows the unconscious with a negative clause, indicating how negation, being opposed to the fundamental affirmation of the name of the father, is the sine qua non condition for both the efficacy of the name and the insertion of the subject in the structures of discourse.

In counter distinction, when foreclosure excludes the symbolization of the at least one excepted from the phallic function, another is the destiny of the Bejahung. Hence, as a consequence the so-called normal judgement or discourse is excluded too. We are posing here our hypothesis regarding judgement in paraphrenia, or paranoia whether the foreclosed falls on: judgement of either existence or attribution .

It is surely this which explains, apparently, the insistence of the schizophrenic in reiterating this step. In vain, since for him all the symbolic is real. This is quite different for the paranoiac where, as shown in our thesis, imaginary structures prevail, that is, the reverse action in a cyclic time which makes so difficult the anamnesis of his disturbances, of elemental phenomena which are only pre-significant and which do not succeed, except after a long and painful discursive organization, in establishing, constituting, that ever partial universe which is called delusion.12

The difference that exists between the I and the Ucs as designed in the Freudian approach is affirmed, in our view in two different principles which rule both topographies: a primary principle on the one hand and a secondary principle on the other. This can be better understood if these principles, further developed by Freud in his Formulations on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning, which certainly is the precursors for his paper On Negation, are translated for what they are phenomena of discourse.

As we already stated it is owing to the creation of the symbol of negation that the precondition for discourse are established. Consequently the function of judgement does not take place in the unconscious, this gives further weight to specify the unconscious as structured like a language, as noted above, and not as a discourse. In counter- distinction with conceptions of the unconscious as the seat of the irrational, the illogical or, worse still, as the source of the biological instincts. The lack of the no of negation in the unconscious is correlative to the aphorism with which Freud describes the unconscious as what It is: indestructible desire.13

Furthermore as Freud notes in Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious: I must state emphatically that this fact has not up to now met with any recognition. But it seems to point to an important characteristic of unconscious thinking, in which in all probability no process that resembles 'judging' occurs. In the place of rejection by a judgement, what we find in the unconscious is 'repression'. Repression may, without doubt, be correctly described as the intermediate stage between a defensive reflex and a condemning judgement.l4

When we compare the above with the fact that the definition given later regarding negation is precisely to establish it between repression and flight, we understand that negation is a partial lifting of the repression, and as such gives rise to judgement. The place of judgement in dreams is taken over by their apparent absurdity or non-sense. Freud added in a footnote in the same article (that): . . . the highly remarkable and still insufficiently appreciated behaviour of the relation between contraries in the Ucs is no doubt likely to help our understanding of negativism in neurotic and insane patients.

This endeavour is what we are rescuing for an account of the characteristics of judgement as they are based upon the metapsychology of the mythical opposition between Eros and the death drive. Nevertheless origin, including the origin of judgement, is already the myth of the origins.

However, before arriving at the articulation of the drives, we shall recall in our process the precedents which structured its final theory. It is in the Project for a Scientific Psychology that we find the topology of a structure between two exteriors, the exterior of the stimuli which arise from within and the exterior of the stimuli which arise from without. Hence, we have a structure whose primary function is that of discharge and nonetheless, already much more sophisticated than the outline of the simple reflex arc. Furthermore, a structure created for the purpose of maintaining energy outside of itself. A moment in which there reigns only one principle, the principle of constancy, a precedent no doubt, of what was to follow. It is worth noting, as we have done in several places, that the failure of this project coincides with the success at opening the enigma of dreams as the royal road towards the Ucs and indeed towards psychoanalysis.

The energy in this structure leaves minimal traces at the beginning, but this situation finally becomes unsustainable, since it is imperative that the structure keeps a minimum of energy to depend on a certain mobility to command the stimuli from wherever they come. This structure will turn out to be unsustainable in theory, too. The demands of life will create, as a secondary effect, a detour of energy, from its arrival (perceptual pole) to its departure (motor pole). As a matter of course, this detour will create as lateral effect a complex called I, a product of collateral investments. This product, this project of a psychology for neurologists, is a first allegory of the mythical forces of Ananke, against which logos will be in opposition, giving rise to Moira.15

But it will not be until the moment in which the desire of the hysteric is unlock, or more precisely in the neuroses, that the precursor of the drive to which we plan to refer is established. It is in the realm of neuroses where the conflict between sexuality (or unconscious erotogenicity) and the drives of the I (or self-preservation) is established. Yet, our intention is more to connect points for a later development than to present a conceptual review of the history of the concepts proposed by Freud. Therefore these points will be by design incomplete. In any case, we can establish the crucial moment for the determination of the drives of the I in the Psycho-Analytic View of Psychogenic Disturbance of Vision, where the conflict takes place between sexuality or the unconscious and the drives of the I or of self-preservation. Freud maintains without apparent difficulty this pair of opposites until the conceptual connection between Schreber and On Narcissism: An Introduction, is attained, and as a logical consequence the libido enters into an unthinkable theoretical structure, the I. A moment in which the shift in the theory due to Freud's lucidity affords to avoid the lure of the Jungian solution.

The opposition between investments of the I and object investments is a step further to shift away from the established ground towards the unknown. In this connection, it is only necessary to recall that the death drive (Todestrieb) is formulated later when Freud without ambiguity writes Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Here, the theory produces jouissance as a beyond of pleasure, beyond usefulness and measure. As a consequence, the conflict of the drives is then re-formulated. The former pair of opposites namely sexuality and I, come to fall under the general denomination of Eros or life to which death is the single partner.

This paradigmatic shift marks future important dissension among generations of analysts. Not all were able to accept the new paradigm, and some of those who accepted it proved unable to understand it. One would only have to carefully turn over the pages of the works of Melanie Klein - to name the most important analyst of those generations — to discover the difference between her conception and that of Freud's. What I am about to describe does not exempt anyone from giving an account of his own experience which one must obtain for the counter- experience16 still required by psychoanalysis. What in Melanie Klein is an instinct (no longer a Trieb) of death, is in Freud destruction drive (which is death but invested with libido or in the process of disinvestment as a side effect of sublimation).

Amongst those who very early on were conducted to consider similar problems we have in a somewhat forgotten story which only merited a footnote in Jones' biography of Freud, Sabina Spielrein, who anticipated, on her own merits, and long before Freud the concept of a death drive.

Notwithstanding the fact that she assimilated it with a destruction drive. Yet to partly understand the forgetting of her work, let us go first to the question which Freud used as the basis of this opposition of drives: It is not my wish, however, to put before you the origin of this novelty in the theory of the drives; it too is based essentially on biological considerations ... Our hypothesis is that there are two essentially different classes of drives: the sexual drive, understood in the widest sense - Eros, if you prefer that name - and the aggressive drive, whose aim is destruction ... But it is a remarkable thing that this hypothesis is nevertheless felt by many people as an innovation and, indeed, as a most undesirable one which should be got rid of as quickly as possible. I presume that a strong affective factor is coming into effect in this rejection. Why have we ourselves needed such a long time before we decided to recognize an aggressive Trieb? 17

If we upheld the idea that whoever formulates a question possesses the answer, what better way than to challenge Freud with Freud? This question formulated by himself in 1932 was answered many years earlier and forgotten by Freud himself; when he wrote to Jung the following: One should honour an old woman, but not marry her; really, love is for the young. Fraulein Spielrein read a chapter from her paper yesterday (in the Society of Vienna), (I almost wrote the ihrer with a capital 'i')18 and was followed by an illuminating discussion. I have hit on a few objections to your (Ihrer) (this time I mean it)19 method of dealing with mythology, and I brought them up in the discussion with the little girl. I must say she is rather nice and that I am beginning to understand.20 What troubles me most is that Fraulein Spielrein wants to subordinate the psychological material to biological considerations; this dependency is no more acceptable than a dependency on philosophy, physiology, or brain anatomy. Psychoanalysis fara da se.2l

Freud shows in the contradictory content of these two statements the crisis in which psychoanalysis was enveloped around the theory of the drives until the clarification given in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, which remains current within Freudian thought. It was, however, on 19 November, 1911, at the meeting of the Viennese Society of Psychoanalysis where, for the first time, the opposition of the drives of life and death (or destruction, in this case)22 was introduced by Sabina Spielrein,23 who presented her work On Transformation, a part of her article Destruction As Primal Cause of Coming Into Being (Destruktion als Ursache des Werdens). 24

The letter from Freud to Jung indicates clearly what his position was regarding this work. But neither the letter nor the minutes of the meeting of the Psychoanalytic Society of Vienna are sufficient to explain why what was unacceptable in 1911 became accepted in 1919 and why in 1932 it was accepted in almost the same terms which in 1911 produced the condemnation of this work by Freud nearly to oblivion. In effect, it is in reading the work of Spielrein and the position she takes in regard to Dementia Praecox in favour of Jung and against Freud, where this forgetfulness of Freud and of the psychoanalytic community is perhaps made intelligible.

In a book of debatable purpose, Sabina Spielrein entre Freud et Jung, we find on page 223 the following: The only consequence of the restricted activity of the I which characterizes this illness (Dementia Praecox), is that the mind only works in its archaic, analogical modes. Freud holds that Dementia Praecox covers a phenomenon of withdrawal of libido, then of its return and finally, of a conflict between investment and withdrawal of libido. I believe on the contrary that we are dealing with a conflict between the two opposite currents of the psyche of the I and of the psyche of the species.

One can see at once the similarity with Jung's personal and collective unconscious, but with a startling difference as we will see from her original contribution to a problem for which Freud will only think fit to confront several years after.

Spielrein marks with her work not only the difference between herself and Freud, but with extreme clarity the insurmountable difference between both Freudian and Jungian theories regarding psychosis This issue is echoed by Freud in his letter to Jung on 30 November, 1911 - a letter written the day following the meeting in which Spielrein presented her paper - differentiating libido as erotogenicity and libido as a psychic force (in the Jungian sense) he establishes that: I should be very much interested in knowing what you mean by an extension of the concept of the libido to make it applicable to dementia praecox25 ... I hold very simply that there are two basic drives and that, only the power behind the sexual drive can be termed libido.26

Freud, contrary to Jung, postulates the hypothesis that the drives of the I (not sexual) are part of the drives of self-preservation which are irreducible in themselves.

Thus he maintains the libido outside the I and confines it to the unconscious. That is, there is a certain equation between libido, sexuality and unconscious on the one hand and I, self preservation and repression on the other. The lapse of time from 1911 to 1919 allows Freud from both the clinical and theoretical points of view to arrive at his final classification of the drives. In this final move duality of the drives is conserved and at the same time the I is libidinised.

The mythical forces at work - our witch metapsychology - are life in opposition to death. But Freud, differently from Spielrein, considers this death drive as mute and henceforth one cannot trace it as one can trace the libido in stages, of its so-called phases of development. It is only by the investment of libido that death is neutralized into destruction, and as such it appears, in the Freudian text as sadism or masochism.

Indeed the passage from the general principle of life to the libido is carried out by substitution or metaphor, (Ersatz), whilst the passage from the side of death to destruction is carried out by metonymic succession, (Nachfolge). Substitution is metaphor and implies a degree of transformation, similar to the work imposed on the psychic by the somatic. Succession, instead, does not carry with it the notion of work or of transformation.

The reason for the flat rejection of the position of Spielrein indicates that, however hesitantly, Freud had to choose between the biologism of the hermeneutic Weltanschauung of the a priori knowledge of Jung, and psychoanalysis. The position of Spielrein, strongly influenced by Jung, breaks down the meaning which sexuality and the Ucs have in Freud. In her, from destruction or the death drive, the being will come forth. As is known, this ghost of Avis Fenix is at the bottom of the confusion of Jung between myth and fantasm.27 Let us emphasise that neither for Spielrein nor for Melanie Klein there is differentiation between death and destruction.

In Freud, still with a certain ambiguity as shown in the text of 1932 mentioned above, the death drive is beyond the principle of reality, not to impose the principle of pleasure but rather to impose jouissance which in counter distinction with the pleasure principle rather than equilibrium provokes rupture and insofar as it is limited by desire impels life towards that final assault in which the debacle of desire is the trophy of death. Spielrein instead situates death in its imaginary level, therefore equating it to destruction and taking as the clinical proof the manifestation of anxiety, hence Angst appears as the symptom of death. She will not be the first nor the last to attempt it distancing herself in this way from Freud's conceptualization of anxiety as the symptom of castration and not of death which as real escapes symbolization.

In addition we cannot fail to recognize in these steps the genius which directed the errors, since it was she, without doubt, who compelled Freud to reassess his theory of the drives eight years after he heard her paper. Moreover seven months after the reading of Destruction as Cause of Coming Into Being, Freud wrote The Theme of the Three Caskets. There, Freud classes the woman as death, and this does not seem to be independent of this other woman called Spielrein. We find support for this, among other things, in a small comment in Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, where Jones tells us that it would be interesting to know the motive which led Freud to write that work.

Quite possibly it is again not by chance that Lacan comments in his Seminar of 16 March, 1976, referring to a Japanese film where the woman as death is shown: ... since I told you that The Woman does not exist — and I have more and more reasons to believe it, especially after seeing the film The Realm of the Senses 28 ... and Sabina Spielrein was also a particular part of the dark continent which the woman represented for the Freudian theory.

However another silenced situation takes place in Freud’s fina l position regarding psychosis, as a result of those years of confrontation and search for his own theoretical bearings; a position that culminates with Freud’s apparent disinterest for the psychosis.

For all the above it seems to us almost ’predictable’ the destiny of Lacan’s envoy to Freud of his thesis On paranoia (Paranoia and its relation to personality It is hardly surprising that the only answer was a cut an dry: Thanks.

That ‘Thanks’, was quite likely a thanks, but not thanks. Since that thesis could have only awoken in Freud a memory of another Doctoral thesis on psychosis, that is the doctoral thesis of Sabina Spielrein On paraphrenia, with the backdrop, of course, of Jung to whom Spielrein remained attached till the end, regardless of the many and different failed attempts from Freud to separate her from his former heir and disciple .

The reader shall forgive us for this long and obligatory detour into the background to introduce the clarification of the function of judgement, as developed in Negation, since this detour is intrinsic to the aforementioned theoretical divergences. Freud's solution is shown by the interplay of the drives. The destruction drive - and not the death drive - will play its part here, since judgement implies the libidinal investment of the death drive giving place to its successor, destruction. Following the division between Eros and destruction, we find in judgement on the side of Eros the fundamental affirmation (Bejahung), which the subject expresses in modes that Freud distinguishes as having, different from being.29

Within this fundamental affirmation, Freud describes two kinds of judgement, one of existence, there is at least one - henceforth necessary and the other of attribute therefore possible or contingent. Negation opposes the affirmative judgement (or fundamental affirmation). As I indicated above, it is on the side of Eros that affirmation is established and it is in this way that the Bejahung becomes the substitute (Ersatz) metaphor for Eros, whereas negation is the successor of the destruction drive. This is the general form in which judgement is structured, but it only takes place when the symbol of negation has been created. This process, different from that described by Spitz,30 is logical, not chronological.

Affirmation is the condition on which the logos incarnates the name or the signifier of the exception, around which all others are ordered, what Freud designates as the interior (in principle equal to what is pleasurable or belonging to the subject). What is expelled (Ausstossung) will become external (in principle equal to unpleasure, alien). Negation then, since it is essential to the function of judgement, has to be placed at the root of the erasing of the thing by the signifier, becoming that by which something that has been expelled or repressed is recovered in the symbolic. As it is the case with the formation of the unconscious, in which there is already a partial lifting of the repression which permits the symptomatic re-entry of the repressed into the I . This is precisely why the I has a relation of negative recognition with the unconscious; the clinical and theoretical consequence of this relation is that, negation requires the symbolic order to be intact. More precisely implies to organize language into discourse, and moreover the existence of a ($).

Repression remains halfway between a reflex and a condemnation whilst negation would be halfway between repression and flight. It is for this reason that in the firs place, negation frees the thought partially from repression and in the second place, it permits the derivative representation of the repressed to enter into associative links even when they may be unpleasurable for the I. All this, which characterizes the so-called normal process, is constituted on the one hand by incorporation or introjection, and on the other by expulsion or rejection. This process finds pathological correlation when foreclosure curtails the primordia affirmation. Thus having the ($) in language but outside discourse.

Freud takes up the problem of defences again in a way which seems pertinent to us in the Outline of Psychoanalysis in 1938: Whatever the I does in its efforts of defence, whether it seeks to disavow (the word used is Verleugnung) a portion of the real external world (Wirklichen Aussenwelt) or whether it seeks to reject a demand of the drive (Triebanspruch der Innerwelt) ...

... thus we see without ambiguity that there are two paths, one, disavowal, which deals with the relations with the external world (Wirklichen Aussenwelt), while another, rejection (Abweisung), deals and relates with the demands of the drive (Triebanspruch der Innerwelt).

The means of defence over the demands of the drives, that is rejection might give us a key to the intention of Freud to render a theory of psychosis, because in psychosis the failure in relation to the outside world dwells on a lack with respect to a primordial signifier. This being the case, we find here the relation of foreclosure (Verwerfung) with rejection (Abweisung).

We do not ignore the difficulties opened by our proposition of foreclosure as being a specific component of rejection the general means of defence in psychosis, inasmuch as the repression characteristic of neurosis would also be involved with the so-called demands of the drives.

As a matter of fact although Freud did not specify the difference between disavowal and foreclosure it is clear from his texts that with disavowal, belief overrides, whilst with foreclosure, what is a stake is not a question of belief but of saying: ... what is at play when I speak of foreclosure? It is about the rejection of a primordial signifier in the outer darkness, a signifier that will lack in that level from time onwards. This is the fundamental mechanism that I suppose at the base of paranoia. It is about a primordial process of exclusion of a primitive inside, which is not the inside of the body but that of a first body of the signifier. It is in the interior of that primordial body that Freud supposes the constitution of the world of reality ...31

There exists, however, a distance between the position of Freud and that of Lacan, for whom, the foreclosure of the name of the father, is to isolate from the chain of signifiers this name as the pre-condition of psychosis with its symptomatic encounter from the real of this primordial signifier. This is what Freud calls psychotic restitution, accompanied by loss of reality. This loss of reality, is shown when words are treated like things, that is when speech cannot be organized as discourse. Consequently in psychosis neither repression nor negation structured judgement. It is rather a question of rejection by which either the word-presentation is unlinked from the thing-presentation, or the process has been curtailed before the link took place. Here is where the foreclosure produces the rejection of a primordial signifier which, as the anamnesis of the Wolf Man showed, resulted in hallucination and mutism.32 What becomes hallucination and/or delusion is not the return of something on the style of repression, but the imposition from the real of what has been foreclosed. Let us remember once more that encounter is real and radically different from symbolic return.

Verwerfung thus has stepped in the way of all manifestations of the symbolic order, that is, the Bejahung which Freud posits as the primary process in which attributive judgement takes its roots and which is none other than the primordial condition for something to come from the real to be offered to the revelation of the being ... Such is the inaugural affirmation, which can be renewed only by the way of the veiled forms of the unconscious word.33

Whilst negation recovers what was repressed, foreclosure is the imposition of a rejection upon a primordial signifier that was to remain in the real from where it will come to the encounter of the ($) with its restitutive symbolic and imaginary effects of a delusion

It was due to the enigmas that the clinical work with psychotics patients presented to me that I re-opened these questions and I was caused to return several times to the text of Freud, where I found a brief indication which in my view has not received the attention it deserves. He comments in particular on the displayed pleasure in negativism present in some psychotics.34 The thesis I am proposing to you is that just as the fundamental affirmation and negation are always present in so-called normal judgement, and moreover it is negation what puts into dialectical effect the necessary fundamental affirmation of that one who by being the exception to the phallic function indicates sufficiently that what we conceptualised as the name of the father is the logos, likewise what is in question in psychotic judgement is the foreclosure of that name and negativism is not only the singular clinical effect of that foreclosure, but its counterpart in the dialectic between foreclosure and negativism . This is what constitutes the essence of psychotic judgement. My proposition possesses the advantage of approaching psychosis rather than from the angle of reality, from the perspective of the logic of discourse. Indeed taking the steps beyond the limits of phenomenology into the realm of psychoanalysis.

If we venture into this path, what remains to be explained is the relation of negativism with negation. Negation is the recovery of a signifier which has been repressed by means of another signifier. In contrast, negativism marks the attachment to a signifier isolated in the real. It is the necessary signifier of the exception against the background of the impossible real which isolated by Verwerfung cuts across Bejahung .

Whilst foreclosure is the most radical form which prevents the judgement of existence, taking place, isolating the one of the exception, the judgement of attribute for the possible all and for not all depends upon negativism, in likewise manner as negation is the clinical manifestation of the repression of both judgements of attribute and of existence. Therefore just as negation implies a partial lifting of repression, negativism shows the restitution of the subject in relation to the scattered body of his signifiers. Both bearing the label Made in Germany.35

When judgement is governed by the dialectic of foreclosure and negativism, we must understand that a signifier has remained isolated in that there is no other signifier which can put it into circulation. The necessary signifier of logos or the Name-of-the-Father is as such lacking and as a consequence the object cannot be elevated to the status of the thing (das Ding).36

Furthermore, in our theis, this pleasure in negativism is also an effort to limit jouissance, a restitutive limit which cannot but show the permanent eclipse of the only signifier which illuminates all by its shadow.

If foreclosure of the Name-of-the-Father produces as an effect (in the terms of Freud) a withdrawal of the word-representation from the thing representation, then its manifestation is in the clinical field a massive transference not to the supposed subject of knowledge but to the opposite: the certainty of the subject of cognition. What the psychotic has lost or never possessed in his speech is the dimension of the social bond that discourse dispenses.

As a consequence the psychotic ($) cannot do something which the neurotic does all the time and that is to imagine that the signifier is at his service.

I still hold valid the commentary of Octave Mannoni regarding the psychotic who dealt with words as a linguist, with method.37 In psychosis the ($) is prevented from detaching himself from the Other's Jouissance - for the name which is necessary to have been established, lacks. The law as repressed desire for which the Name-of-the-Father is its precondition, is hindered by foreclosure. The delusions and hallucinations of the psychotic are, in this regard, an attempt to give a status to a desire without compass.

Yet the signifier as being that which represents a subject for another signifier is still valid in psychosis, since it indicates that a subject - psychotic or not - cannot but help being represented, and in the case of psychosis, exactly by that foreclosed signifier38 of which his negativism would be a symptom.


1. Lacan, J Introduction au commentaire de Jean Hyppolite, in ƒcrits, p.379, Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1966.

2. Freud,S. Affirmation - as a substitute for uniting - belongs to Eros, negation - the successor to expulsion - belongs to the destruction drive. Negation, St. Ed. Vol. XIX, p.239. The italics are mine.

3. Freud, S. Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, St. Ed. Vol. VII, p.57.

4. Lacan, J.The Seminar, Caracas, 12 July, 1980,

5. Lacan, J. RŽponse au commentaire de Jean Hyppolite, in ƒcrits, p.382, Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1966.

6. Freud, S. Letter 52 written to Fliess, in Extracts from the Fliess Papers, St. Ed Vol. I, p.234.

7. Freud, S.The Interpretation of Dreams, St. Ed. Vol. V. p.539.

8. Freud, S. Project for a Scientific Psychology, St. Ed. Vol. I, p.383.

9. Lacan, J. Réponse au commentaire de Jean Hyppolite, in ƒcrits, p.388, Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1966.

10. Plato. Theaetetus, p.84, translated by John McDowell, Oxford University Press, 1978.

11. Freud, S. Aus der Geschichte einer infantilen Neurose, p. l11, Gesammelte Werke, Xll. In Strachey's translation of An Infantile Neurosis, St. Ed. Vol. XVII, p.80, this sentence is diluted into: A repression is something very different from a condemning judgement.

12. Lacan, J. Réponse au commentaire de Jean Hyppolite, in ƒcrits, p.392, Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1966.

13. The literal translation of Das Es from German to English is The It.

14. Freud, S. Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, St. Ed. Vol. VIII, p.175.

15. Freud, S.The Economic Problem of Masochism, St. Ed. Vol. XIX, p.l68.

16. Lacan, J. Letter of the dis-solution of L'Ecole Freudienne de Paris, 5 January, 1980.

17. Freud, S. New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, St. Ed. Vol. XXII, p.l03.

18. The Freud/Jung Letters, Letter of Freud to Jung of 30 November 1911, p.469. Princeton University Press, 1979. Freud's lapsus shows that he listened to the work of Spielrein as if it were Jung's - that is - not with good predisposition.

19. Although Freud realizes his lapsus and explains that he now means to say Ihrer, this only confirms our previous point, that wrongly or not, Freud listened to Jung when Spielrein spoke. Spielrein was an ex- analysand of Jung.

20.We have to remember here the guilty request of supervision that Jung demanded from Freud regarding this patient. The correspondence clearly shows Sabina Spielrein's seduction who wanted to have a child from Jung. It is against the background of Jung's demand that Freud will write many of his papers on technique. The phrase I am beginning to understand ... cannot but be a reference to Jung's seduction by his analysand.

21. Psychoanalysis will get along by itself, attributed to Carlo Alberto (1798-1849), King of Sardinia, was a motto of the Italian struggle for independence, p.501/452. In The Freud/Jung Letters, p.469, Princeton University Press, 1979.

22. We have already mentioned the difference between destruction and death. This difference was ignored by Kleinians and some Freudians.

23. See the multiple meanings given to the surname Spielrein in the book, Sabina Spielrein entre Freud et Jung, Aubier, Paris, 1981.

24. There are two echoes which we cannot ignore in the title of her paper; Heidegger's Dasein, and Freud's Wo Es war soll Ich werden.

25. The diagnosis of Spielrein made by Jung at the start of the treatment was that of psychosis. For the very little we know about her it is likely that she suffered from a severe hysteria.

26. The Freud/Jung Letters, p.469, Princeton University Press, 1979.

27. I (Freud) hold that the surface versions of myths cannot be used uncritically for comparison with our psycho-analytical findings. In Freud/Jung Letters, p.473, Princeton University Press, 1979.

28. Lacan et sa moitié de poulet. In Littoral, revue de psychanalyse, No. 10, p. l 22, La Sensure, October I 983, Paris.

29. The outcome of the Oedipus complex can be articulated in the separation between being and having: I want to be in order to have ...

30. Spitz, R. No and Yes. On the Genesis of Human Communication. International Universities Press, New York, 1957.

31. Lacan, J. Les Psychoses, Le SŽminaire, 1955/1956 Livre III, p.17 1, Le champ freudien, Seuil, Paris, 1981.

32. Negation and foreclosure are mutually exclusive. Whilst the former makes discourse possible, the latter annihilates this specific quality.

33. Lacan, J. Réponse au commentaire de Jean Hyppolite in ƒcrits, p.387, Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1966.

34. Freud, S. Negation, St. Ed. Vol. XIX, p.239.

35. Freud, S. Negation, St. Ed. Vol. XIX, p.236.

36. Freud, S. Project for a Scientific Psychology, St. Ed. Vol. I, p.383 .

37. SHAKESPEARE, W. Polonius: Though this be madness, yet there is method in it, in Hamlet, Act 11, Scene 11.

38. Lacan, J. Freud brings about an essential revision to the distinction he made between neurosis and psychosis by saying that in psychosis reality is reformulated, that a part of reality is suppressed and the reality is never truly scotomised. In the end, you will see it from the context, it is a deficiency, a hole of the symbolic that he refers to even if in the German text, he uses the term reality . In Les psychoses, Le Séminaire, 1955/1956, Livre III, p. l71, Le Champ Freudien Seuil, Paris, 1981.

Volver al sumario del Número 18
Revista de Psicoanálisis y Cultura
Número 18 - Diciembre 2003