Foreclosure

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f0reclOSure (forelusion) From his doctoral dissertation in 1932 on,

  one of the central quests which animates Lacan's work is that of identifying
  a specific psychical     cause for PSYCHOSIs. In the   course of addressing this

problem, two themes are constant.



  e    The exclusion of the FATHER  As early as 1938 Lacan relates the origin of

psychosis to an exclusion of the father from the family structure, with the

consequent reduction of the latter to mother-child relations (Lacan, 1938: 49).

  Later on in his work, when Lacan distinguishes between the real, imaginary




   and symbolic father, he specifies that it is the absence of the symbolic father
    which is linked to psychosis.



   .     The Freudian concept of Verwerfung          Freud uses the term Verwerfung
    (translated as 'repudiation' in the Standard Edition) in a number of disparate
    ways (see Laplanche and Pontalis, 1967: 166), but Lacan focuses on one in
   particular: namely, the sense of a specific defence mechanism which is distinct
    from repression (Verdr‰ngung), in which 'the ego rejects the incompatible
    idea together with its affect and behaves as if the idea had never occurred to
    the ego at all' (Freud, 1894a: SE III, 58). In 1954, basing himself on a reading
   of the 'Wolf Man' case history (see Freud, 1918b: SE XVII, 79-80), Lacan
    identifies Verwerfung as the specific mechanism of psychosis, in which an
    element is rejected outside the symbolic order just as if it had never existed
    (Ec, 386-7; Sl, 57-9). At this time Lacan proposes various ways of translating
    the term Verwerfung into French, rendering it as rejet, refus (Sl, 43) and
    retranchement (Ec, 386). It is not until 1956 that Lacan proposes the term

forclusion (a term in use in the French legal system; in English, 'foreclosure )

    as the best way of translating Verwerfung into French (S3, 321). It is this term
    that Lacan continues to use for the rest of his work.
       In 1954, when Lacan first turns to the Freudian concept of Verwerfung in his
    search for a specific mechanism for psychosis, it is not clear exactly what is
    repudiated; it can be castration that is repudiated, or speech itself (Sl, 53), or
    'the genital plane' (Sl, 58). Lacan finds a solution to the problem at the end of
    1957, when he proposes the idea that it is the NAME-OF-THE-FATHER (a funda-
    mental signifier) that is the object of foreclosure (E, 217). In this way Lacan is
    able to combine in      one formula both of the themes that had previously
    dominated his thinking on the causality of psychosis (the absence of the father
    and the concept of Verwerfung). This formula remains at the heart of Lacan's
    thinking on psychosis throughout the rest of his work.
       When the Name-of-the-Father is foreclosed for a particular subject, it leaves
    a hole in the symbolic order which can never be filled; the subject can then be
    said to have a psychotic structure, even if he shows none of the classical signs
    of psychosis. Sooner or later, when the foreclosed Name-of-the-Father re-
    appears in the real, the subject is unable to assimilate it, and the result of
    this 'collision with the inassimilable signifier' (S3, 321) is the 'entry into
    psychosis' proper, characterised typically by the onset of            HALLUCINATIONS
    and/or DELUSIONS.
       Foreclosure is to be distinguished from other operations such aS REPRESSION,
    NEGATION, and PROJECTION.



Repression

Foreclosure differs from repression in that the foreclosed

    element is not buried in the unconscious but expelled from the unconscious.
    Repression is the operation which constitutes neurosis, whereas foreclosure is
    the operation which constitutes psychosis.