From No Subject - Encyclopedia of Psychoanalysis
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paranoia (paranoÔa) Paranoia is a form of Psychosis characterised principally by Delusions. Freud's experience of treating paranoiacs was limited, and his most extensive work on the subject is not the record of a course of treatment, but the analysis of the written memoirs of a paranoiac man (a judge by the name of Daniel Paul Schreber) (Freud, 1911c). It is in this work that Freud puts forward his theory that paranoia is a defence against homosexuality, arguing that the different forms of paranoiac delusion are based on different ways of negating the phrase 'I (a man) love him'. Lacan's interest in paranoia predates his interest in psychoanalysis; it is the subject of his first major work, his doctoral dissertation (Lacan, 1932). In this work, Lacan discusses a psychotic Woman whom he calls 'AimÈe', whom he diagnoses as suffering from 'self-punishment paranoia' (paranoÔa d'autopunition) - a new clinical category proposed by Lacan himself. Lacan returns to the subject of paranoia in his seminar of 1955-6, which he devotes to a sustained commentary on the Schreber case. Lacan finds Freud's theory about the homosexual roots of paranoia inadequate and proposes instead his own theory of Foreclosure the specific mechanism of Psychosis. Like all clinical structures, paranoia reveals in a particularly vivid way certain basic features of the psyche. The ego has a paranoiac structure (E, 20) because it is the site of a paranoiac alienation (E, 5). Knowledge (connaissance) itself is paranoiac (E, 2, 3, 17). The process of psychoanalytic treatment induces controlled paranoia into the human subject (E, 15).