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Id

From No Subject - Encyclopedia of Lacanian Psychoanalysis
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French: ça

Sigmund Freud

Freud borrowed the term das Es (which the Standard Edition translates as "the Id") from Georg Groddeck, one of the first German psychiatrists to support psychoanalysis, although Freud also noted, Groddeck himself seems to have taken the term from Nietzche.[1]

"Unknown and Uncontrollable Forces"

Groddeck argued that "what we call the ego behaves essentially passively in life, and ... we are 'lived' by unknown and uncontrollable forces,"[2] and used the term das Es to denote these forces.

Structural Model of the Psyche

The term first appears in Freud's work in the early 1920s, in the context of the second model of the psyche; in this model, the psyche is divided into three agencies: the id, the ego and the superego.

The id corresponds roughly to what Freud called the unconsicous system in his first model of the psyche, but there are also important differences between these two concepts.

Jacques Lacan

Lacan's main contribution to the theory of the id is to stress that the "unknown and uncontrollable forces" in question are not primitive biological needs or wild instinctual forces of nature, but must be conceived of in linguistic terms:

The Es with which anlaysis is concerned is made of the signifier which is already there in the real, the uncomprehended signifier. It is already there, but it is made of the signifier, it is not some kind of primitive and confused property relevant to some kind of pre-established harmony...[3]

Origin of Speech

Lacan conceives of the id as the unconscious origin of speech, the symbolic "it" beyond the imaginary ego.

Thus whereas Groddeck states that "the affirmation 'I live' is only conditionally correct, it expresses only a small and superficial part of the fundamental principle 'Man is lived by the It,'"[4], Lacan's view could be summed up in similar terms, only replacing the verb "to live" with the verb "to speak"; the affirmation "I speak " is only a superifical part of the fundamental principle "Man is spoken by it."

Hence the phrase which Lacan frequently uses when discussing the id; "it speaks" (le ca parle).[5]

Subject

The symbolic nature of the id, beyond the imaginary sense of self-constituted by the ego, is what leads Lacan to equate it with the term "subject".

This equation is illustrated by the homophony between the German term Es and the letter S, which is Lacan's symbol for the subject.[6]

Wo Es war, soll Ich werden

One of Freud's most famous statements concerns the id and its relationship with psychoanalytic treatment; Wo Es war, soll Ich werden (which the Standard Edition renders "Where id was, there ego shall be.")[7]

One common reading of this cryptic statement has been to take it as meaning that the task of psychoanalytic treatment is to enlarge the field of consciousness; it is just such a reading that is crystallized in the original French translation of Freud's statement - le moi doit déloger le ça (the ego shall dislodge the id).

Lacan is completely opposed to such a reading.[8], arguing instead that the word soll is to be understood as an ethical injunction, so that the aim of analysis is for the ego to submit to the autonomy of the symbolic order.

Thus Lacan prefers to translate Freud's statement as "there where it was, or there where one was ... it is my duty that I should come into being" [Là où c'était, peut-on dire, là où s'était . . . c'est mon devoir que je vienne à être].[9]

The end of analysis, according to this view, is thus a kind of "existential recognition" of the symbolic determinants of one's being, a recognition of the fact that "You are this" (You are this symbolic chain, and no more).[10]

See Also

References

  1. Freud, Sigmund. The Ego and the Id. 1923b. SE XIX. p. 23
  2. Freud, Sigmund. The Ego and the Id. 1923b. SE XIX. p. 23
  3. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p. 49
  4. Groddeck, Georg. The Book of the It, London: Vision Press, 1949 [1923]. p. 5
  5. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p. 206
  6. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p. 129
  7. Freud, Sigmund. New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis. 1933a. SE XXII. p. 80
  8. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book I. Freud's Papers on Technique, 1953-54. Trans. John Forrester. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. p. 195
  9. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p. 129, 299-300; Ec p. 417-8
  10. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book I. Freud's Papers on Technique, 1953-54. Trans. John Forrester. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. p. 3


Index