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Jacques Lacan used the French word <i>forclusion</i> (fore-closure) to translated the German term <i>Verwerfung</i>, previously rendered in French as <i>rejet</i> (repudiation). Sigmund Freud had introduced the term along with negation (<i>Verneinung</i>) and repression (<i>Verdrängung</i>) as a defense mechanism.</p>
<p>Foreclosure is a primordial defense because it does not act on a signifier that is already inscribed within the chain of signifiers, but rather, it rejects the inscription itself. Foreclosure is thus antithetical to <i>Bejahung</i> (affirmation).</p>
<p>This operation of repudiation especially affects highly meaningful signifiers such as the Name-of-the-Father, the guarantor of castration. Lacan viewed the foreclosure of this signifier as the characteristic mechanism of psychosis. In "On a Question Prior to any Possible Treatment of Psychosis" (<i>Écrits</i>), he wrote: "I will thus take <i>Verwerfung</i> to be foreclosure of the signifier. At the point at which the Name-of-the-Father is summoned—and we shall see how—a pure and simple hole may answer in the Other; due to the lack of the metaphoric effect, this hole will give rise to a corresponding hole in the place of phallic signification" (p. 191). To paraphrase, let us say that when the subject calls upon the Father to guarantee the law that situates both the subject and his desire in the Other, he encounters only an echo in a void that triggers a cascade of delusional metaphors. These readily become organized around the fantasmatic presence of an authority who is suspected of having intrusive or criminal intentions; it is as if the foreclosure of the Name-of-the-Father made present in the Real a malevolent authority desiring to commit sexual abuse or homicide.</p>
<p>Why does foreclosure come about? One explanation is that the child has been exposed to a mother who has refused to recognize the law, either because it does not situate her in accordance with her desires, or because it compels her to separate herself from its product. It may also happen that the real father reveals himself to be incapable of inscribing himself into a symbolic line-age, and consequently invalidates it (cf. Schreber's father in "Psycho-Analytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia [Dementia Paranoides]," 1911c). But not infrequently, skipping a generation, the child of a psychotic couple may validate the Name-of-the-Father on its own, based on what he finds in language and verifies with the help of substitute parent figures.</p>
<p>Could specific forms of foreclosure be responsible for the division of the psychoses into paranoia and schizophrenia? Nothing points to this conclusion, even if paranoia is an attempt at a cure through the designation of a real, albeit a persecutory father. This designation turns the signifier into a sign of certain truth.</p>
<p>Many have asked whether psychoanalytic treatment can repair a foreclosure. Case histories do not provide any clear answers.</p>
<p>Let us recall that Schreber, for his part, found a kind of stabilizing by accepting emasculation as being "consonant with the Order of Things" (p. 48); by becoming a woman, he could attract the divine presence that safeguarded him. Equally interesting are studies of borderline cases. It seems that the latter more likely result from a denial or annulment of the Name-of-the-Father, with a predictable failure of the law, but without producing the reshapings of the real (its fragmentation or its investment by a persecutory figure) that are characteristic of foreclosure.</p>
* [[Castration complex]]
* [[Parade of the signifier]]
* [[Infantile neurosis]]
* [[Law of the father]]
* [[Linguistics and psychoanalysis]]
* [[Psychoses, chronic and delusional]]
* [[Psychotic defenses]]
# Freud, Sigmund. (1894a) Obsessions and phobias: Their psychical mechanism and their aetiology. SE, 3, 69-82.
# ——. (1911c) Psycho-analytic notes on an autobiographical account of a case of paranoia (dementia paranoides). SE, 12, 1-82.
# Lacan, Jacques. (2004). On a question prior to any possible treatment of psychosis.Écrits: A Selection (Bruce Fink, Trans.). New York: W. W. Norton. (Original work published 1955-56)
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