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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.[1]

Lacan amplifies the concept of Spaltung to designate not a process unique to fetishism or psychosis but a general characteristic of subjectivity itself. The subject can never be anything other than divided, split, alienated from himself. The split is irreducible, can never be healed; there is no possibility of synthesis. The split or 'divided subject' is symbolised by the bar which strikes through the S to produce the barred subject, S.[2] 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',[3] 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).[4]

See Also


  1. (see Freud, 1940b)
  2. (see E, 288)
  3. E 269
  4. (see Ec, 856)