The Forced Card of the Clinic

In the beginning there was the title, The forced card of the clinic, expression I clearly remembered having read in Lacan’s text. But it could almost have been called, The purloined letter of the clinic, A story that is worth telling here.

The idea for the title was born when I read an article in a magazine, which I greatly respect (1). It is a Spanish magazine and the article was For Tanatos’s love, and the author was Berenstein(2). As I read this paper I feel a deep transferential reaction. The author speaks of the real characters in the patients life, giving them a role in the cause of the illness as well as in determinating it’s outcome. What seems clear to me is that the analyst who presented this case, speaks less from the patient than from himself.

Faced with this situation, I thought that the paper I was about to write could be expanded to include other cases, and maybe, to present us with a question that is valid to all the texts that present a clinical material. I had the memory that the forced card of the clinic was an expression used by Lacan. Based on this assumption I began to write, but when I tried to find this particular reference my unconscious played a trick on me and I was unable to find it. Faced with this dilemma I asked other people, all extremely familiar with Lacan’s work, in order to test this particular memory. Though all of them remembered the expression, none of them could find it.

I was unwilling to give up on this title and eventually, found this reference in The subversion of the subject and the dialectic of desire in the Freudian unconscious , In it Lacan says, in the english version: “Don’t go into a sulk, I am merely referring obliquely to what I am reluctant to cover with the distorting map of clinical medicine”(3). In this instance we are faced with the need to review this translation. The French version says:”Ne boudez pas, jévoque de biais ce que je repugne à couvrir de la carte forcée de la clinic“(4). The Spanish translation reads: “No lo tomen a mal, evoco al sesgo lo que me resisto a cubrir con el mapa forzado de la clinica“. The expression which concerns us can be translated both as the forced card of the clinic or as the forced map of the clinic, both translations (map or card) are equally correct. The English version includes a reference to clinical medicine, which is nowhere to be found in the French original.

It is not my intention to criticize the translation, since I recognize this to be an impossible task. None the less, in the choice of map instead of card something significant is missing. As analysts, our main interest is what is lost. Because the expression la carte forcée de la clinique implies in French the very precise meaning of:”the card that the magician forces the spectator to play, when he thinks he chooses it” or “a solution imposed by others, or an action that must be taken in spite of one self” (5). This is the reason why we insisted on the title of this work.

All of this makes us think about the reaches of Lacan’s expression, when he speaks of the forced card of the clinic.

Here I would like to include a misplaced epigraph, which is, by itself, an attempt to understand Lacan’s dictum:

Oh, intelligence, loneliness in flames, that conceives all without creating it! (6)

We are faced with a question, one we have often heard from many voices, not always naive:

Why are there so few references to clinical cases within the context of Lacan’s writings?Though his presentation of patients in Santa Anne has been constant through many years, it has a different dimension. There the audience was called upon as a witness of an unprecedented event, rather than as a listener of something that has already taken place.

In his Écrits, Lacan makes references to other’s clinical practices, and so, in an account that does not attempt to be complete we can find: his comment upon “the man of the cold brains” by Ernst Kris (7), which deal with the problem of plagiarism itself, he also refers to the dream of the Fly-tox in one of Ruth Lebovici’s cases (8), he even mentions, among his cases the dream of one of his patient’s wife (9)on which he works because his patient brings it forward, and because of the interpretative consequences it presents. We also find an endless reference to Freud’s cases.

How are we to understand that psychoanalysis, based as it is in clinical practice, makes so little use of clinical material, within the context of such an important work as Lacan’s Ecrits? And how are we to understand that the most influential author since Freud refers to the presentation of clinical cases as the forced card of the clinic?

Though I don’t intend to explain what was meant by Lacan (that would be impossible) we may try to approach some explanations.

First: When we make a clinical presentation, it exemplifies from the beginning what we meant to demonstrate, and as a consequence it was taken for granted from the very beginning and functions only as the demonstrative fashion of an idea, a representation, a prejudice? by the author. This is clearly appreciated in what is called clinical illustration.

Second: Maybe Lacan’s dictum, brings into evidence the unavoidable distance between the production of a truth, which is present in an analytical situation, and is the consequence of the analytical act itself, and it’s elaboration as a knowledge that is implied in the presentation of any clinical material. It is in this fashion that the quote from Gorostiza, included as an untimely epigraph, shows the abyss between knowledge and truth.

Third explanation attempt: all clinical presentations create an effect of metalenguage: it attempts to recount the past, taken as the story of the analisant, even though what is created is a new discourse, one in which the speaker has taken the role of the analisant. He who speaks risks castration

If we seek what these three explanations bring about, we will realize that it is nothing less than the impasses presented by the transmission of the psychoanalytic experience.

Is there a connection between this play with the forced card of the clinic, and the so far failed proposition of la passe? Because la passe would appear to be an attempt to bridge this void, this forcing on the part of the analyst who presents a case, and give the word back to the analisant. Any clinical presentation, no matter how carefully done, is marked by the implicit question, Who is speaking?

The conclusion, after this introduction, would seem to be: the best thing we can do is shut up. In spite of all, this is not our answer. We are confronted with the paradoxical situation, where we must face the impossibility of telling the truth, and still keep on talking. Recognizing the limitations of any clinical presentation, does not exclude the need of its elaboration. We must proceed with it to the limits of its impossibility. Making use of Derrida’s différance, achieving this failed encounter with the thing, thus creating another thing. It is about investigating the fragment of truth which is produced in the presentation of clinical material, which is in a different place from where we thought we were going to find it.

Thus in my choice of a material that is not mine, in this instance, I choose a material by none other than Freud, I do not mean by this to avoid responsibility, since one must assume the responsibility for one’s own comment.

It may be that my text would appear to be irreverent. I’ll take that chance, assuming that irreverence can be a form of homage.

What I will present here does not pretend to be either new or unheard of, and I’ll begin by quoting my sources for it. This because of an idea that can be expressed as follows: I don’t want to be original, because to pretend to be original borders on insanity.

The sources for this text are: Freud’s text Psycho-analytical notes on an autobiographical account of a case of paranoia (Dementia Paranoides) (10), Daniel Paul Schreber’s Memories(11), believed to be Freud’s source, a book by Chawki Azouri, J’ai réussi là où le paranoïaque échoue (12), Sandor Ferenczi’s Clinical Diary (13) the volumes of Correspondence of Freud with Ferenczi (14), with Jung (15), with Abraham (16), some texts by Mannoni (17), François Roustang’s book (18), and some elements taken from Jung’s autobiography (19). We will be surprised countless time by what we will find as we cross references between this bibliography.

The first question is:Who is Freud speaking about when he says he speaks of Schreber?

We all know that Octave Mannoni wrote a paper of great historical significance, titled The original analysis, in which he proposes that far from having preformed an autoanalysis – a proposition Freud himself recognized to be an impossible one- Freud was analyzed, even if not in a formal fashion, by Fliess: “But there can be no doubt that the first therapeutic analysis, that was also the first didactic analysis, was similar to the first preventive cure of a paranoia. And this does not lack importance, since there is a certain relationship between a paranoid knowledge and a knowledge rooted in unconscious desire.” (20). Mannoni points out that the rupture between Freud an Fliess takes place when Fliess develops a delirium of knowledge, while Freud develops a knowledge of delirium, something entirely different.

The distance between both men is documented enough for us. It includes claims to the paternity of the concept of bisexuality, accusations over “forgetfulness” and resentment. After the publication of Sex and character , in which Otto Weininger makes use of the concept of bisexuality, Fliess complained to Freud that this concept came to Weininger through Swoboda, who was considered by Fiess as one of Freud’s students. Freud’s answer was that Swoboda was his patient, not his student, but he didn’t give Fliess any credit in the development of the concept.

All of this marked psychoanalysis since the beginning, and we see it though out its development, specially in Schreber’s case, until the arrival at the notion of paranoid knowledge, it never stops appealing to us in our relationship to our practice as a paranoid profession. M. Teste -the character created by Paul Valery- already said something about it and Lacan quoted it in his thesis :

“Paris gathers, combines, creates and destroys most of those bright unfortunate men whose destinies call them to follow the delirious professions…I give this name to all those trades whose subject matter is the opinion of them held by others. The people who practice them, forced into a perpetual candidacy, are always concerned by a certain megalomania, which a certain persecutory delirium twists and turns constantly. This people of unique beings, is ruled by the law of doing what was never done before and what no-one will ever do.” (20)

At different times in his autobiographical confessions Freud tells us that his life always needed two essential characters: a friend with whom he could share (almost) anything: someone like Fliess, his other self, like Jung or Ferenczi, without this being the complete list, and also an enemy. And, quite often, these two characters were to be found in the same person, though not at the same time.

Does this recall Freud’s thesis in his interpretation of Schreber’s case, about the persecuting object being the same as was previously the loved object?

In Schreber’s case, the one that concerns us here, Freud says “The person who is now hated and feared for being a persecutor was at one time loved and honored” (21). The passage in question is that of Flechsig, the alienist who took care of the paranoid, in his transition from the role of the admired character to that of the harmful persecutor.

To question if this statement comes from the material provided by Schreber’s book, or has a different source is not far fetched, Freud says that this comes from the study of a series of cases of persecutory delirium and he proves the legitimity of the question when he specifies: “But it is nowhere expressly stated that the transformation into a woman which he so much dreaded was to be carried out for the benefit of Flechsig'”. (22)

Freud justifies his hypothesis and keeps on elaborating the relationship between the patient and the persecutor in the double role of loved and hated through the ambivalent relationship of the son with his father.

If we choose Schreber’s case, it is not by accident, the sentence from which the title of Chawki Azouri’s book is taken: I have succeeded there where the paranoid fails, can be found in a letter Freud wrote to Ferenzi on October 6th, 1910, after the famous holiday they shared in Sicily. There an insidious claim by Fereczi to Freud had aroused, the Hungarian student expected a situation of reciprocal truth and to be the recipient of all of Freud’s confidences. In his answer Freud writes: “I no longer have the need of that total opening of the personality… Since Fliess’s case, in which’s overcoming you yourself have seen me busy, this need has become extinct within me. A part of my homosexual investment has been withdrawn and used in the development of my own self. I have succeeded there where the paranoid fails.”(23). Another point of friction was a supposed agreement of working together, they obviously had different ideas of what that meant, and when Ferenczi felt that his role had been reduced to that of a scribe, there was an argument and then the bitter complaint.

About this incident. Freud wrote to Jung a letter in which he told his own account of what had happened, the tone of this letter is different: “My traveling companion is a dear fellow, but dreamy in a disturbing kind of way, and his attitude towards me is infantile. He never stops admiring me, which I don’t like, and is probably sharply critical of me in his unconscious when I am taking it easy. He has been to passive and receptive letting everything be done for him like a woman, and I really haven’t got enough homosexuality in me to accept him as one. These trips arouse a great longing for a real woman“. (24)

We underline this sentence because, in the analysis of Schreber’s case, when considering the influence of the conditions that trigger the disease, in pointing the absence of Schreber’s wife because of a trip, Freud says she functioned as a contention factor for the homosexual drive. It is in the absence of the real woman, that the homosexual drive can burst.

Ordered in a brief fashion, Freud’s approach begins by recounting Schreber’s delirium and attempts an interpretation: the persecutor is the previously loved one. The persecutory delirium is the response to the sudden manifestation of a homosexual drive, unbearable for the subject. The megalomaniac delirium, which reconciles him with the unbearable idea of becoming a woman in order to be God’s woman, and thus procreate a cast of new men. The frustration because of the lack of children in Schreber’s marriage, the impossibility of procreating, appears as an aid, but is not considered a central factor in this delirium; the homosexual drive is to Freud the triggering factor. Referring again to Azouri’s book (25) in the second chapter, titled Homosexuality or procreation?presents a clear analysis of this subject.

The association paths, through which God represents the father in Schreber’s delirium, are explained by Freud, and justifies as follows: “We shall not feel that we have been justified in thus introducing Schreber’s father into his delusions, unless the new hypothesis shows itself of some use to us in understanding the case and inelucidating details of the delusions which are as yet unintelligible. It will be recalled that Schreber’s God and his relation to Him exhibited the most curious features: how they showed the strangest mixture of blasphemous criticism mutinous insubordination on the one hand and of reverent devotion on the other.”(26)

Freud’s position about the role of that father is, to say the least, contradictory: on one hand, in his letters to Ferenczi he says: “… Had the old doctor Schreber preformed ‘miracles’ as a doctor? But besides that he was a domestic tyrant who yelled against his son and understood him as little as our “lower god” understood our paranoiac” (27), on the other hand we are surprised to read in the text devoted to Schreber’s case: “It may be suspected, however, that what enabled Schreber to reconcile himself to his homosexual fantasy, and so made it possible for his illness to terminate in something approximating to a recovery, may have been the fact that his father-complex was in the main positively toned and that in real life the later years of his relationship with an excellent father had probably been unclouded”. (28)

After proposing his interpretative hypothesis Freud goes on to question himself over the inner workings of the paranoid structure, and proposes two options: projection or repression. The projection option, as a causal mechanism is ruled out, since it is present in different fashions in all forms of psychopathology, and therefore can not account for the specific case of the paranoia that concerns us here. So he chooses repression. Thus in Freud’s text we must seek the cause of the paranoia in the manifestation of the homosexual drive, and it’s triggering mechanism is none other than repression.

This presentation does not intent to question Freud’s approach, but to correlate this scheme of loved and hated characters, of persecutors and persecuted, within the context of the relationships that existed when the material was first created, to leave open the question: Who is Freud referring to when he speaks of Schreber’s case”

It is worth to point out that what Freud and Ferenczi were going to work together was precisely Schreber’s case?

The relationship Freud had with his friends, his students and his patients was marked by a passion for knowledge and included homosexual aspects, of which they were well aware. We have mentioned the relationship between Freud and Fliess, some incidents of the relationship between Freud and Ferenczi, and now we will focus in the relationship with Jung. The later developments that brought about the separation between Freud and Jung, and Jung’s rupture with both Freud and the psychoanalytic movement along with the fact that then Jung turned towards a symbolism full of mysticism, all of this has created a screen that keeps us from seeing what was at stake in this dispute, and what was the nature of the relationship between both men. It is a relation of hainamoration that comes to an end. It is ambiguous, almost unbearable, the position of the students towards the teacher, when the teacher creates a new discourse and calls them to his side.

May this have something to do with what Lacan says about the devastating effect of the father over the child when he is both the legislator and the teacher? Because, Who can claim to be a representative of the law in psychoanalysis if not Freud himself? And what consequences has this had over the development of the Psychoanalytic movement?

The first encounter between Freud and Jung had all the characteristics of love at first sight:

“He invited me to visit him, and our first meeting took place in Vienna in March 1907. We met at one o’clock in the afternoon and talked virtually without a pause for thirteen hours. Freud was the first man of real importance I had encountered; in my experience up to that time, no one else could compare with him.” (29)

Some important episodes between both men are well worth pointing out. Twice Freud fainted in Jung’s presence. The first one took place in Bremen, their meeting point before their trip to America in 1909, were both had been invited to lecture at Clark University. Jung was interested in peat-bog corpses. ”

They are the bodies of prehistoric men who either drowned in the marshes or were buried there… This interest of mine got on Freud’s nerves ‘Why are you so concerned with these corpses? he asked me several times… Afterward he said to me that he was convinced that all this chatter about corpses meant I had death wishes towards him” (30).

The second one took place in Munich on November 24th, 1912. They were with Karl Abraham, and the subject was his work concerning Amenothep IV, better known as Akhenaton, who lived in the XIV century B. C. This young and short-lived pharaoh instated monotheism. It may be assumed that it was his hostility towards his father what drove him to erase his father’s name from all monuments (This study is an important antecedent of Freud’s work Moses and monotheistic religion, even though we find there no reference or credit given to Abraham’s pioneer work). It is at this moment, and to everyone’s concern that Freud faints. As he wakes up from it, he pronounces the strange sentence: “How nice must be to die”. It is Jung who helps Freud , and when he mentions to Freud that he is concerned for what he considers to be a dangerous tendency towards a voluntary death in him (31) he gets a clear cutting answer: “let each of us pay more attention to his own neurosis than his neighbor’s neurosis” (32)

What comes into play is the role of the father, an untouchable father that somehow imposes the law. And so this episodes present us again with the question: Who does Freud refer to when he speaks of Schreber’s case? Running the risk of being accused of an excessive use of quotations, it is worth remembering a letter to Jung, dated October 1st, 1910, in it Freud says:

“… This work interrupted my study of Schreber, which I shall now resume. I didn’t even read half the book in Sicily, but I have fathomed the secret. The case is easily reduced to this nuclear complex… During my trip I was able to amplify this theory a little, and now I mean to test my progress against Schreber’s case history and various other publications on paranoia. Still measured by my original design, the whole thing is so incomplete that I do not know when shall I be able to publish it or how long will it be. In any case the outcome will be a study on Schreber and people will think I designed my theory with the book in mind.” (33)

Freud was very much concerned on the parental-complex in his students, in his friends. He wrote Schreber’s case having read half of the book and bringing the theory from some other place. Could it be from his relationship with Fliess?

Chawki Azouri proposes a very important question, in the aforementioned book, Does Freud complete his analysis in his relationship with Fliess, or does it carry on in a conflicting, unsolvable way with his students, placed in the insane and unbearable position of being both students and spiritual children of a spiritual father, as well as unwilling analysts of the first analisant of psychoanalysis? (34) Analysts who can’t function as such, and who are called into silence, as in the fainting incident in Munich.

Jung expresses openly to Freud his fears about his homosexuality: he “confesses” to Freud having been the object of seduction, as a child, from a man he greatly admired. Freud’s comment, that include the reference to the “beautiful paranoia” developed by Fliess, don’t exactly set Jung’s mind at ease. The request is clear: “The reference to Fliess -surely not accidental- and you relationship with him impels me to ask you to enjoy your friendship not as one between equals, but as that of father and son. This distance appears to me fitting and natural.” (36). But Freud does not respect this distance and calls him “spirit of my spirit”.

The proposal with which we have titled the present work, the forced card of the clinic, that does not refer us back to that children play in which the accuser becomes the accused through the sentence “who says it, is it”. What is it about? We don’t contend here that whatever Freud says about Schreber applies mechanically to himself. Neither is Freud claiming: the psychotic is Fliess, the psychotic is Jung, the psychotic is Ferenczi (37) What we do say is that he who transmits his clinical experience into a teaching though the presentation of clinical cases, he does this from a position where his statement is already compromised. It is in this juncture that we must leave room for the analyst’s analysis, rather than attempt to fill this space with our own interpretation. It is here where we must consider the impossible analysis of what is unanalyzed in Freud.

There are some people (38) who say that it is after his break with Freud that Jung becomes delirious, producing a series of texts whose resemblance to the delirium of president Schreber is surprising. This break produces different reactions in both men; let’s refer to their statements to develop a notion of what was going on.

On Freud’s side we can refer to Jones testimony who points to the break with Jung as the most painful incident faced by Freud in 1913. None the less Freud was prepared for it: in July 1912 he wrote to Binswanger: “I feel completely indifferent, Warned by previous experiences and proud of my own plasticity, months ago I withdrew my libido from him (Jung), with the first signs, and now I don’t miss anything. Besides, these things are easier for me, because I can redistribute my remaining libido among new objects like yourself, Ferenczi, Rank, Sachs, Abraham, Jones, Brill and others” (39)

For Jung, this break has more serious consequences. It is in the four years between 1912 and 1916, that he is trapped in a deeply troubling situation. Jung’s text Confrontation with the unconscious (40), is amazing, in it we feel it’s author living in no-man’s land. It is in this text that Jung tells us about those four years, we find in it dreams, hallucinations, voices, experiences and moods, that affect not only Jung himself, but his whole family. Jung sinks into this situation. Hanging on to an analytical attitude he struggles to allow every part of his spirit and fantasy to manifest itself, beyond his own fear. All the time he feels as if he were on the edge of madness, and equates his own situation with that of Nietzsche when he felt he had no support whatsoever. We can say that Jung too has lost his base of support.

It is in this period that Jung took on a double task as a writer. Both the Black Book and the Red Book, include material from these tasks. In the first one he recorded all of his experiences, in a direct fashion, in the second one he reelaborated them- a search for consistency through writing – where all of his symbolic systems came into play. This is the task that enabled him to keep on living.

From this material I would like to pay special attention to two fragments I consider to be highly significant ( and I must apologize for the extension of this quote). The first one is a dream: “I was with an unknown, brown-skinned man, a savage, in a lonely, rocky mountain landscape. It was before dawn; the eastern sky was already bright and the stars fading. Then I heard Siegfried’s horn sounding over the mountains and I knew that we had to kill him… When he turned a corner, we shot at him, and he plunged down, struck dead.

“Filled with disgust and remorse for having destroyed something so great and beautiful, I turned to flee, impelled by the fear that the murder might be discovered. But a tremendous downfall of rain began, and I knew that it would wipe out all traces of the dead. I had escaped the danger of discovery; life could go on, but an unbearable feeling of guilt remained.”When I awoke from the dream, I turned it over in my mind, but was unable to understand it. I tried therefore to fall asleep, but a voice within me said ‘You must understand the dream, and must do so at once!’ The inner urgency mounted until the terrible moment come when the voice said, ‘If you do not understand the dream you must shoot yourself’… Siegfried, I thought represents what the Germans want to achieve, heroically to impose their will, have their own way. ‘Where there is as will there is a way!’ I had wanted to do the same. But now that was no longer possible. The dream showed that the attitude embodied by Siegfried, the hero, no longer suited me. Therefore it had to be killed.

“After the deed I felt an overpowering compassion, as though I myself had been shot: a sign of my secret identity with Siegfried…” (41)

The dream is not delirious at all, what catches our attention, as always, is what is missing. This is not about correcting or substituting, Jung’s associations, but we think it to be fitting to point out a well-known fact from this Norse saga: Siegfried’s father is Sigmund.

And it is this son of Sigmund that Jung is forced to kill, giving up his role as a hero to survive.

The second material I would like to refer to, takes us to the year 1916. Strange things begin to take place in the environment that surrounds Jung:

“It began with a restlessness, but I did not know what it meant or what ‘they’ wanted of me. There was an ominous atmosphere all around me. I had the strange feeling that the air was filled with ghostly entities. Then it was as if my house began to be haunted. My eldest daughter saw a figure passing through the room. My second daughter, independently of her elder sister, related that twice in the night her blanket had been snatched away; and that same night my nine year- old son had an anxiety dream…”Around five o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday the front door bell began ringing frantically. It was a bright summer day; the two maids were in the kitchen, from which the square outside the front door could be seen. Everyone immediately looked to see who was there, but there was no one in sight. I was sitting near the doorbell, and not only hear it but saw it moving. We all stared at one another. The atmosphere was thick, believe me! Then I knew that something had to happen. The whole house was filled as if there were a crowd present, crammed full of spirits… Then they cried out in chorus, ‘We have come back from Jerusalem where we found not what we sought’. That is the beginning of the Septem Sermons”.

And it is that night that Jung begins writing an amazing text The seven sermons to the dead , It begins with the words of the voices, and seldom has it been printed. This text is the reason why some authors subscribe to the thesis of Jung’s delirium and identify it with Schreber’s delirium

Jung publishes this text with a pen name, choosing the name Basilides, a gnostic from Alexandria, who lived in the first half of the II century. We believe that in considering this a delirious text, there is a mistake in ignoring the implications of his chosen pen name in the recreation of the experience, this implies a distance and therefore the dimension of as if, appropriate of the allegory and the fiction. There is a mythical elaboration, mystical, if you wish, but that can be found in any text that deals with or defines a coexistence of opposites:the life drive and the death drive or the all or nothing. At the end of the The seven sermons to the dead there is an anagram to which Jung never gave the key.

We will stop for a while in a fragment of the sermon devoted to Abraxas. Abraxas is the ultimate good and the infinite evil, he is both saint and traitor, he is the brightest light of the day and the darkest madness of the night, and Jung describes to us what happens when we are faced with this difficult deity:

“Abraxas begetteth truth and lying, good and evil, light and darkness, in the same word and in the same act. Wherefore is Abraxas terrible.”It is splendid as the lion in the instant he striketh down its victim.


“It is holy begetting.

“It is love and love’s murder.

“It is the saint and his betrayer.

“It is the brightest light of day and the darkest night of madness

“To look upon it is blindness.

“To know it is sickness.

“To worship him is wisdom.

“To resist it not, is redemption.” (44)

Commenting such a paragraph may be superfluous, or unsettling. So I leave it like that, open to the associations, produced by the readers.

The experiences we are correlating are extremely dramatic, and enable us to understand the context in which Freud’s theory of paranoia developed.

What can we say about Lacan’s reading of Freud’s text on Schreber, as we find it in the third seminar, The psychosis?

It is apparent that Freud’s Schreber is different from Lacan’s Schreber. For the later, the homosexual drive does not stand out as a cause for the psychosis, but rather something missing within the significant function. The missing significant is nothing less than the name of the father. While for Freud, what is not elaborated upon is the father’s complex, and the responsibility lies with the son, for Lacan it is the father’s fault in as much as the possibility of instating the symbolic function through it’s metaphor.

Lacan’s seminary devoted to psychosis is presented as the succession of four moments: 1) the subject as an effect from the significant, 2)Forclusion as a causal mechanism within the psychosis (this structural mechanism is differential and specific to the psychosis, and comes out of the elaboration of a paragraph by Freud: “It was incorrect to say that the perception which was suppressed internally is projected outwards; the truth is rather, as we now see, that what was abolished internally returns from without.” (45), 3) the figures of metaphor and metonymy, 4)the failure of the paternal metaphor. Such is the path taken by Lacan through Freud’s and Schreber’s texts, in order for him to present his theory of psychosis.

Schreber’s Schreber, in his Memories of a neuropath, Freud’s Schreber, in his princeps article and Lacan’s Schreber, in the seminar on the psychosis. Are all the same Schreber? Or are we faced here with the polifacetic reading of all of them with the forced card of the clinic?

We would like to introduce a new dimension. A correlation between the events that personally involved the pioneers of psychoanalysis with the events that took place within the psychoanalytical institution.

In 1910 the IPA was created, with Jung as it’s first president. This is the result of a series of political agreements that can be traced through official documents, as well as through the extensive correspondence exchanged between the characters that concern us. The institutional discomfort is present from the very beginning, with the constant rivalries, and fights over small differences. It is in 1912 that the Secret committee is created, through an initiative taken by Jones and Ferenczi, and with Freud’s strong support:

“What attracted my attention right away was the idea of forming a secret council with the most trusted and better men we have and which would take the responsibility the of later development of psychoanalysis and would defend the cause against the obstacles it might encounter once I’m no longer here…” (46),

so we see that we have a double institutional foundation, the first one, the IPA, was to become the model for mass psychology and the analysis of the I: the institution where we can all identify, and within which we can love each other, as long as we have instated the same ideal of I- this being the role of the founding father. On the other hand is the secret committee, priests of a sacred cause, that recognize themselves as such in order to protect Freud’s name. This committee, with its signals, rings and oaths of loyalty, is aimed at controlling Jung (Freud feared a troubling conclusion, such as in the Adler case). So we find that the division affects not only the individual, but the institution as well, since the very beginning.

The story of Lacan’s institutions is well known but we would like to mention some striking analogy with Schreber’s institutions.

The story of president Schreber does not end with the publication of his memories and the clinical recovery from a second psychotic break. The conclusion comes after a third psychotic break, from which he did not recover. What triggers this third episode is very interesting. His father died when Schreber was 21 years old. The founder of the Schreber association was his mother, Paulina (47). When Paulina died there was already a Federation of Schreber associations, devoted to Schreber’s father memory. One of these associations claimed to be recognized as the only one to be truly representative, claiming the others to be false – as is still happening to this day. They claim to be the only heirs. In this case they turned to Schreber, the only son of the founder, seeking to be legitimized, and he discovered he could not answer this question for the “legitimate son”. It was shortly after this incident that the final episode of his illness took place. The resemblance with the situations of division, excommunication of schools that claim to legitimized at the expense of other schools, does not seem to us to be a simple coincidence. It is not in vain that psychoanalysis, thanks to a Lacanian reading of the afore mentioned Valéry, is included among the so called paranoid practices.

What we have discussed here are the conditions in which Schreber’s case was created, intertwined with Freud’s relationship with his students, we have point how Freud and Lacan differ in dealing with the same subject and we have pointed out some institutional aspects. It is a legitimate question to ask ourselves Where are we going and what do we mean by this?

It is not about filling the role of a question with a psychologization of Freud, or to attempt madly to psychoanalyze Freud, a practice some have been known to pursuit. Quite the contrary, we want to point out that it is all about places that are structural and independent where they, the founders of psychoanalysis, in the same way as we do, in our ways of assuming our neurosis and psychosis, are played by, rather than play with this force that is a condition to any analysis and is called transference. This does not mean that we are not responsible for our own actions.

In a book by Guyomard, La Jouissance du tragique, the author speaks of both Lacan’s and Freud’s fascination with tragedy: “The rejection of the Jouissance in heroism could have and would have instated , in psychoanalysis other means of transmission?” (48) It is a good question, but as any question that includes the conditional- What if?- it can never be answered. We can think about it, and this is as a form of conclusion, in it’s relationship with a particular fiction, that of Borges story on the subject of the traitor and the hero (49). It is about the heroic founder of a cause. On the eve of the uprising that was to give the victory it is discovered that there is a traitor; the founder himself. The group develops a stratagem so that the execution, which is his sentences, appears to be a murder that turns him into a hero of the cause, for the benefit of the cause. Time passes and a descendant of the hero comes back to the place where all of this took place, and finds the keys that enable him to discover what really happened. All of the characters are part of a representation, that includes the descendant, who was to discover the truth, and yet, he can not talk about it. Can that be our own role in this story?

Frida Saal




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