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The term 'foreclosure' (French: forclusion, German: Verwerfung)

is introduced by Jacques Lacan to describe the psychical mechanism that triggers psychosis.

Foreclosure is a (psychical) mechanism which rejects the inscription of the signifier within the chain of signifiers.

Foreclosure is a psychical mechanism which expels the primordial signifier (the phallus or the Name-of-the-Father) from the symbolic order.

"I will thus take Verwerfung 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."[1]


The subject calls upon the Father to guarantee the law that situates both the subject and his desire in the Other, but encounters only a void.

The foreclosure of the Name-of-the-Father gives rise to the fantasmatic presence (present in the Real) of a malevolent authority, suspected of having intrusive or criminal intentions, desiring to commit sexual abuse or homicide.

Unlike a repressed signifier, a foreclosed signifier is not absorbed into the unconscious and therefore does not reappear in the psyche in the form of a neurotic symptom.

It returns, rather, in the real, usually in the form of a hallucination.


Lacan viewed the foreclosure of the signifier as the characteristic mechanism of psychosis.

Sigmund Freud had introduced the term along with negation (Verneinung) and repression (Verdrängung) as a defense mechanism.


Why does foreclosure come about?

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).


Foreclosure is thus antithetical to Bejahung (affirmation).

See Also


  1. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. "On a Question Prior to any Possible Treatment of Psychosis." p.191
  1. Freud, Sigmund. (1894a) Obsessions and phobias: Their psychical mechanism and their aetiology. SE, 3, 69-82.
  2. ——. (1911c) Psycho-analytic notes on an autobiographical account of a case of paranoia (dementia paranoides). SE, 12, 1-82.
  3. 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)