split (refente) Freud talks about the 'splitting of the ego' (Ger. Ich-
spaltung, Fr. clivage du moi) as a process, observable in fetishism and
psychosis, whereby two contradictory attitudes to reality come to exist side
by side in the ego; those of acceptance and DISAVOWAL (see Freud, 1940b).
Lacan amplifies the concept of Spaltung (which he prefers to translate by the
term refente; see S8, 144) to designate not a process unique to fetishism or
psychosis but a general characteristic of subjectity itself; the SUBJECT Can neVer
be anything other than divided, split, alienated from himself (see ALIENATION).
The split is irreducible, can never be healed; there is no possibility of
The split or divided subject is symbolised by the BAR which strikes through
the S to produce the barred subject, S (see E, 288). The split denotes the
impossibility of the ideal of a fully present self-consciousness; the subject will
never know himself completely, but will always be cut off from his own
knowledge. It thus indicates the presence of the unconscious, and is an effect
of the signifier. The subject is split by the very fact that he is a speaking being
(E, 269), since speech divides the subject of the ENUNCIATION from the subject
of the statement. In his seminar of 1964-5 Lacan theorises the split subject in
terms of a division between truth and knowledge (savoir) (see Ec, 856).