Difference between revisions of "Repression"

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It denotes the process by which certain [[thought]]s or [[memory|memories]] are expelled from [[consciousness]] and confined to the [[unconscious]].  
 
It denotes the process by which certain [[thought]]s or [[memory|memories]] are expelled from [[consciousness]] and confined to the [[unconscious]].  
  
[[Freud]] was first led to hypothesise the process of [[repression]] through his investigation into the [[amnesia]] of [[hysteria|hysterical]] [[patient]]s.
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[[Freud]] was first led to hypothesise the process of [[repression]] through his investigation into the amnesia of [[hysteria|hysterical]] [[patient]]s.
  
 
He later distinguished between [[primal repression]] (a '[[myth]]ical' [[forgetting]] of something that was never [[conscious]] to begin with, an originary 'psychical act' by which the [[unconscious]] is first constituted) and [[secondary repression]] (concrete acts of [[repression]] whereby some idea or perception that was once [[conscious]] is expelled from the [[conscious]]).  
 
He later distinguished between [[primal repression]] (a '[[myth]]ical' [[forgetting]] of something that was never [[conscious]] to begin with, an originary 'psychical act' by which the [[unconscious]] is first constituted) and [[secondary repression]] (concrete acts of [[repression]] whereby some idea or perception that was once [[conscious]] is expelled from the [[conscious]]).  
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What is it that is repressed?  
 
What is it that is repressed?  
At one point [[Lacan]] speaks of the [[signified]] as the [[object]] of repression,<ref>{{E}}} p.55</ref> but he soon abandons this view and argues instead that it is always a [[signifier]] that is [[repressed]], never a [[signified]].<ref>{{Sl1}} p.218</ref>  
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At one point [[Lacan]] speaks of the [[signified]] as the [[object]] of repression,<ref>{{E}}} p.55</ref> but he soon abandons this view and argues instead that it is always a [[signifier]] that is [[repressed]], never a [[signified]].<ref>{{S11}} p.218</ref>  
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This latter view seems to correspond more closely to [[Freud]]'s view that what is repressed is not the '[[affect]]' (which can only be displaced or transformed) but the 'ideational representative' of the [[drive]].
 
This latter view seems to correspond more closely to [[Freud]]'s view that what is repressed is not the '[[affect]]' (which can only be displaced or transformed) but the 'ideational representative' of the [[drive]].
  

Revision as of 11:26, 4 August 2006

The concept of repression (French: refoulement) is one of the most basic concepts in psychoanalytic theory.

It denotes the process by which certain thoughts or memories are expelled from consciousness and confined to the unconscious.

Freud was first led to hypothesise the process of repression through his investigation into the amnesia of hysterical patients.

He later distinguished between primal repression (a 'mythical' forgetting of something that was never conscious to begin with, an originary 'psychical act' by which the unconscious is first constituted) and secondary repression (concrete acts of repression whereby some idea or perception that was once conscious is expelled from the conscious).

Since repression does not destroy the ideas or memories that are its target, but merely confines them to the unconscious, the repressed material is always liable to return in a distorted form, in symptoms, dreams, slips of the tongue, etc. (the return of the repressed).


For Lacan, repression is the fundamental operation which distinguishes neurosis from the other clinical structures. Whereas psychotics foreclose, and perverts disavow, only neurotics repress.

What is it that is repressed? At one point Lacan speaks of the signified as the object of repression,[1] but he soon abandons this view and argues instead that it is always a signifier that is repressed, never a signified.[2]

This latter view seems to correspond more closely to Freud's view that what is repressed is not the 'affect' (which can only be displaced or transformed) but the 'ideational representative' of the drive.


Lacan also takes up Freud's distinction between primal repression and secondary repression:


Primal repression (Ger. Urverdr‰ngung) is the alienation of desire when need is articulated in demand.[3] It is also the unconscious signifying chain.[4] Primary repression is the repression of the first signifier.

"From the moment he speaks, from that precise moment and not before, I understand that there is repression."[5]

Lacan does not see primary repression as a specific psychical act, localisable in time, but as a structural feature of language itself - namely, its necessary incompleteness, the impossibility of ever saying "the truth about truth."[6]



Secondary repression (Ger. Verdr‰ngung) is a specific psychical act by which a signifier is elided from the signifying chain.

Secondary repression is structured like a metaphor, and always involves 'the return of the repressed', whereby the repressed signifier reappears under the guise of the various formations of the unconscious (i.e. symptoms, dreams, parapraxes, jokes, etc.).

In secondary repression, repression and the return of the repressed "are the same thing."

See Also

References

  1. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977.} p.55
  2. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book XI. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1977. p.218
  3. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.286
  4. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.314
  5. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre XX. Encore, 1972-73. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1975. p.53
  6. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p.868