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Le Cas Aimée

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=====The Case of Aimée=====
The [[thesis]] contains a detailed [[analysis ]] of a [[woman]], named [[Aimée]] after the heroine of one of her unpublished novels, who had attempted to stab a well-known [[Paris]]ian acctress, [[Huguette Duflos]]. The case was widely reported in the press at the [[time]], and [[Lacan]] tried gradually to piece together the [[logic ]] behind her apparently [[irrational ]] [[act]]. His [[thesis]] introduced a new [[concept ]] into the [[psychiatry|psychiatric milieu]], that of "[[self-punishment paranoia]]". [[Lacan]] argued that, in striking the actress, [[Aimée]] was in fact striking herself: [[Duflos]] represented a [[woman]] with [[freedom]] and [[culture|social prestige]], exactly the sort of [[woman]] that [[Aimée]] aspired to become.
In her [[ideas ]] of [[persecution]], it was this [[figure ]] that she saw as the source of [[threats]] to her and her young son. The [[ideal image]] was thus both the [[object]] of her [[hate]] and of her aspiration. [[Lacan]] was especially interested here in this [[complex ]] relation to [[image]]s and the ideas of [[identity]] to be found in [[paranoia]]. In her subsequent arrest and confinement, she found the [[punishment]] which was a [[real ]] source of the [[act]] itself. She [[understood]], at a certain level, that ''she was herself the [[object]] of [[punishment]]''.
[[Lacan]]'s analysis of the [[case]] shows many of the features which would later become central to his [[work]]: [[narcissism]], the [[image]], the [[ideal]], and how the [[personality]] could extend beyond the limits of the [[body]] and be constituted within a [[symbolic|complex social network]]. The actress represented a part of [[Aimée]] herself, indicating how the [[identity]] of a [[human]] [[being]] could include elements well [[outside]] the [[biological]] boundaries of the [[body]]. In a [[sense]], ''[[Aimée]]'s [[identity]] was literally [[outside]] of herself''.
As a result of this attempted "magnicide" on April 18, 1931, she was immediately imprisoned.
Lacan began to see her one month later at [[Sainte-Anne ]] Hospital. He reconstructed "almost the [[full ]] gamut of [[paranoid ]] themes" (1932, p. 158): persecution, [[jealousy]], and prejudice for the most part, themes of grandeur centered chiefly on [[dreams ]] of escape and a reformatory [[idealism]], along with traces of [[erotomania]].
Her cognitive functions were unaffected.
To this classic picture, which Lacan established by means of thorough biographical inquiry, Lacan added what he considered a decisive consideration: after twenty days of incarceration, the [[patient]]'s delusional [[state ]] diminished dramatically. This [[development ]] Lacan viewed as evidence of the acute [[nature ]] of her paranoia. Connecting Aimée's criminal act with this remission, he set out to discover the [[meaning ]] of her [[pathology]], and with this in [[mind ]] he proposed a new diagnostic [[category]]: "[[self]]-punishment paranoia."
Aimée also aroused Lacan's curiosity because of her attempts at [[writing]]. Lacan had already evinced an interest in the writing of psychotics, and in his thesis (1932) he published selected passages from "Aimée"—the [[name ]] being that of the heroine of the patient's projected novel. Aimée's writings and the sensational aspects her case brought Lacan's work to the attention of a [[public ]] well beyond [[psychiatry]]. The spirit of the [[times ]] saw [[links ]] among art, [[madness]], and [[psychoanalysis]]. The dreams related by André [[Breton ]] in [[Communicating ]] Vessels date from 1931, and his [[exchange ]] of letters with [[Freud]], which followed the publication of this book, date from 1932. René Crevel, PaulÉluard, Salvador Dalí, Joë Bousquet all echoed Lacan's thesis. In 1933, in the first issue of the [[Surrealist ]] magazine Minotaure, Dalí cited "[[Jacques Lacan]]'s admirable thesis" and praised the thesis of "the [[paranoiac ]] [[mechanism ]] as the force and [[power ]] acting at the very root of the phenomenon of personality." Lacan took pride in this acknowledgment. In hisÉcrits (1966), he described his thesis as merely an introduction to "paranoiac [[knowledge]]" (p. 65), an unmistakable allusion to Dalí's "paranoiac-critical method." He never revised this attitude: as late as December 16, 1975, he declared, "Paranoid [[psychosis ]] and personality have no [[relationship ]] because they are one and the same [[thing]]."
[[Left]]-wing [[philosophers ]] likewise fell under the spell of Lacan's book. [[Paul ]] Nizan, a careful reader of Jaspers, published a [[summary ]] of it the [[communist ]] daily L'humanité for February 10, 1933; Lacan's talk of a "[[concrete]]" [[psychology ]] related to "[[social ]] [[reality]]" sufficed to open that [[particular ]] door. Jean Bernier, in La critique social, a journal to the left of the Communist Party, offered a brilliant [[reading ]] of Lacan's thesis, despite being marred by misunderstandings of psychoanalysis so common among revolutionary critics.
Lacan's [[doctoral thesis ]] was significant in [[another ]] way too: it was his declaration of allegiance to psychoanalysis. He undertook a personal analysis and trained under the auspices of the recently established [[Société psychanalytique de Paris ]] (Paris [[Psychoanalytic ]] [[Society]]). In his thesis, he hailed "the [[scientific ]] import of [[Freudian ]] [[doctrine]]," the only [[theory ]] capable of apprehending the "[[true ]] nature of pathology," as opposed to [[other ]] methods, which, despite their "very valuable observational syntheses," failed to clear up uncertainties (1932, p. 255). Lacan's study of the case of Aimée and his overall view of the [[psychoses ]] were thoroughly imbued with Freudian [[teachings]]. Thus he saw the psychogenesis of Aimée's pathology in light of the theory of the development of the [[libido]], as rounded out a few years earlier by Karl [[Abraham ]] (1924/1927). And he understood [[delusion ]] as the [[unconscious ]] offering itself to the [[understanding ]] of [[consciousness]]. "Ça joue au clair," Lacan reiterated in his [[seminar ]] on [[the psychoses ]] (1981/1993, [[session ]] of 25 January 1956).
For Lacan, the [[notion ]] of personality certainly implied "a conception of oneself" (1932, p. 42), but in his view this conception was based on "ideal" [[images ]] brought up into consciousness. Under the acknowledged influence of Angelo Hesnard and René Laforgue's report to the Fifth Conference of [[French]]-[[Speaking ]] [[Psychoanalysts ]] in June 1930, Lacan advanced his hypothesis of psychosis as "self-punishment" under the influence of the [[superego]]. He suggested that a nosological [[distinction ]] be drawn for cases where an element of hate and a "combative attitude" turn back upon the [[subject ]] in the shape of self-accusation and self-depreciation, and concluded by proposing the category of "psychoses of the [[super-ego]]," to include contentious and self-punishing forms of paranoia (1932, p. 338).
The most striking aspect of Lacan's thesis, in the context of the time, was the evidence it offered of his solid Freudian grounding, gleaned in part, no [[doubt]], from his [[translation ]] into French, in that same year of 1932, of Freud's paper "Some [[Neurotic ]] Mechanisms in Jealousy, Paranoia, and [[Homosexuality]]" (1922b [1921]). What Lacan drew from this important work underlay his assertion that "Aimée's entire delusion" could "be understood as an increasingly centrifugal [[displacement ]] of a hate whose direct object she wished to misapprehend" (1932, p. 282). At the beginning of his [[discussion]], Lacan derived a general proposition from the same source: "The [[developmental ]] distance, according to Freud, that separates the [[homosexual ]] [[drive]], the [[cause ]] of [[traumatic ]] [[repression]], from the point of [[narcissistic ]] [[fixation]], which reveals a completed [[regression]], is a measure of the seriousness of the psychosis in any given case" (1932, p. 262).
The case of Aimée continued to play a part in Lacan's [[life]]. For one, he had [[good ]] cause to [[remember ]] it when, years later, Aimée turned out to be the [[mother ]] of one of his [[patients]], the [[psychoanalyst ]] Didier Anzieu. Furthermore, the themes explored in De la [[psychose ]] paranoïaque continued to preoccupy him in his later work. Most significantly, his resolutely psychoanalytic approach to the psychoses was confirmed by his defining work of the 1950s (1993, 2004), whose great [[theoretical ]] import was rivaled only by what he called "fidelity to the [[formal ]] envelope of the [[symptom]]" (1966, p. 66). This remark does far more than endorse the precepts of a grand [[clinical ]] [[tradition]]; it distills certain constants of Lacan's [[thinking]]. As he adds in the same passage, the formal envelope of the symptom may stretch to a "[[limit ]] where it reverses direction and becomes creative." This was a crucial issue for Lacan throughout his life, and in many different ways. The culmination of this concern was his engagement with the work of [[James ]] [[Joyce]], which informed his seminar of 1975-1976 on the "[[sinthome]]" (1976-1977). On the same page ofÉcrits (p. 66), Lacan, reviewing his own [[past ]] itinerary, described what might be considered the function of the symptom: to keep up, despite the ever-[[present ]] risk of slipping, with what he called "confronting the abyss." Psychosis exemplified such confrontation, which was why Lacan returned here to how "passing to the act" may serve to "fan the fire" of delusion—an original theme explored in his thesis. How such [[acts ]] relate to [[literary ]] creation, the function of the symptom, and passing to the act were thus just so many issues first broached in the case of Aimée.
* Dalí, Salvador. (1933). Le mythe tragique de l'Angélus de Millet. Minotaure, 1.
* [[Freud, Sigmund]]. (1922b [1921]). Some neurotic mechanisms in jealousy, paranoia, and homosexuality. SE: 18: 221-232.* [[Lacan, Jacques]]. (1932). De la psychose paranoïaque dans ses rapports avec la personnalité. Paris: Librairie le François.
* ——. (1966).Écrits. Paris: Seuil.
* ——. (1976-1977). Le séminaire XXIII, 1975-76: [[Le sinthome]]. [[Ornicar]]? 2-5.* ——. (1993). The seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book 3: The psychoses, 1955-1956 (Russell Grigg, Trans.). [[London]]: Routledge. (Original work published 1981)* ——. (2002). On a question prior to any possible [[treatment ]] of psychosis. In hisÉcrits: A selection ([[Bruce Fink]], Trans.). New York: Norton. (Original work published 1959)
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