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MOTHER-CHILD RELATION

In Freud's account of the Oedipus complex, the mother is the first love object of the child.

THE INTERVENTION OF THE FATHER

It is only the intervention of the father, via the threat of castration, which forces the child to give up his desire for the mother.

FATHER

The father is the agent who helps the child to overcome the primary attachment to the mother.

The father is the agent who helps the child to detach itself from the imaginary relation with the mother in order to enter the social world.


KLEINIAN PSYCHOANALYSIS

The work of Melanie Klein is concerned with the pregenital mother-child relation (rather than the with the role of the father).

Jacques Lacan alludes several times to Melanie Klein's work in his pre-war writings.

FAMILY COMPLEX - WEANING COMPLEX

Lacan argues that the first of the family complexes is the weaning complex, in which the interruption of the symbiotic relation with the mother leaves a permanent trace in the child's psyche.

The weaning complex

MOTHER AND DEATH DRIVE

Lacan describes the death drive as a nostalgic yearning to return to this relation of fusion with the mother's breast.[1]

DISORDERS

The failure of the child to detach itself from the imaginary relation with the mother can result in a number of disorders.

The failure of the paternal function can also give rise to such disorders.

IMAGINARY AND SYMBOLIC Much of Lacan's work is aimed at shifting the emphasis in psychoanalytic theory from the mother-child relation (the preoedipal, the prototype of the imaginary) back onto the role of the father (the Oedipus complex, the prototype of the symbolic)


PRIVATION Privation is Lacan's attempt to theorize more rigorously Freud's concept of female castration and penis envy.

According to Freud, when children realize that some people (women) do not have a penis, this is a traumatic moment which produces different effects in the boy and in the girl.

The consequences are different in the boy and the [[girl].

The boy develops a fear of having his penis cut off.

The boy fears that his own penis will be cut off by the father (castration anxiety).


THE BOY In the case of the boy, the castration complex is the point of exist from the Oedipus complex, its terminal crisis.

Because of his fear of castration (often aroused by a threat), the boy renounces his desire for the mother and thus enters the latency period.

THE GIRL In the case of the girl, the castration complex is the point of entry into the Oedipus complex; it is her restment of the mother, whom she blames for depriving her of the penis, that causes her to redirect her libidinal desires away from the mother and onto the father.



The child, on discovering the anatomical difference between the sexes (the presence or absence of the penis), makes the assumption that this difference is due to the female's penis having been cut off.[2]


THE DESIRE OF THE MOTHER

According to Freud, the desire of a woman to have a child is rooted in her envy of the man's penis.

The girl sees herself as already castrated (by the mother) and attempts to deny this or to compensate for it by seeking a child as a substitute for the penis (penis envy).

(The girl envies the boy's posession of the penis, which she sees as a highly valuable organ.)


Freud argues that the girl blames her mother for depriving her of a penis.

Lacan, however, argues that it is the imaginary father whois held to be the agent of privation.

(However, these two accounts are not encessarily incompatible.)

Even though the girl may at first resent the mother for depriving her of a penis and turn to the father in the hope that he will provide her with a symbolic substitute, she later turns her resentment against the father when he fails to provide her with the desired child.

Freud argues that penis envy persists into adulthood, manifesting itself in the desire to have a child (since the father has failed to provide her with a child, the woman turns to another man instead).

Lacan argues that even when the woman has a child, this does not spell the end of her sense of privation.

Her desire for the phallus remains unsatisfied, not matter how many children she has.

The mother's basic dissatisfaction is perceived by the child from very early on.[3]

The child realizes that she has a desire that aims at something beyond her relationship with him - the imaginary phallus.

The child then seeks to fulfil her desire by identifying with the imaginary phallus.

In this way, the privation of the mother is responsible for introducing the dialectic of desire in the child's life for the first time.

(The girl blames the mother for depriving her of a penis, and redirects her affections to the father in the hope that he will provide her with a child as a symbolic substitute for the penis she lacks.[4])

When the girl first realizes that she does not possess a penis, she feels deprived of something valuable, and seeks to compensate for this by obtaining a child as a symbolic substitute for the penis she has been denied.[5]

Lacan follows Freud, arguing that the child always represents for the mother a substitute for the symbolic phallus which she lacks.

However, Lacan emphasizes that this substitute never really satisfies the mother; her desire for the phallus persists even after she has had a child.

The child soon realizes that he does not completely satisfy the mother's desire, that her desire aims at something beyond him, and thus attempts to decipher this enigmatic desire.

He must work out an answer to the question Che vuoi? ("What do you want from me?").

The answer the child comes up with is that what the mother desires is the imaginary phallus.

IMAGINARY PHALLUS

The child then seeks to satisfy the mother's desire by identifying with the imaginary phallus.

In this game of "to be or not to be the phallus," the child is completely at the mercy of the capricious desire of the mother, helpless in the face of her omnipotence.[6]

This sense of powerlessness may not give rise to much anxiety at first.

For a time, the child experiences his attempts to satisfy the mother's desire, his attempts at being the phallus as a relatively satisfying game of seduction.

It is only when the child's sexual drives begin to stir (in infantile masturbation), and an element of the real is thus introduced into the imaginary game, that the omnipotence of the mother

IMAGINARY PHALLUS

The imaginary phallus is perceived by the child in the preoedipal phase as the object of the mother's desire, as that which she desires beyond the child.

The child thus seeks to identify with this object.

(The imaginary phallus, the "image of the penis,"[7], refers to the penis imagined as a partial object which may be detached from the body by castration.[8]


END OF IMAGINARY PHALLUS

The Oedipus complex and the castration complex involve the renunciation of this attempt to be the imaginary phallus.

(The imaginary phallus is written OP (lower-case phi) in Lacanian algebra.) (Castration is written -OP (minus lower-case phi).


LACAN

Following Freud, Lacan argues that the castration complex is central to the Oedipus complex.[9]

However, whereas Freud argues that these two complexes are articulated differently in boys and girls, Lacan argues that the castration complex always denotes the final moment of the Oedipus complex in both sexes.


LACK OF THE MOTHER The state of lack already exists in the mother prior to the birth of the child.

This lack is evident in her own desire, which the child perceives as a desire for the imaginary phallus.

In other words, the child realizes at a very early stage that the mother is not complete and self-sufficient in herself, nor fully satisfied with her child, but desires something else.

(This is the subject's first perception that the Other is not complete but lacking.)


1.

The child perceives that the mother desires something beyond the child itself - namely, the imaginary phallus - and then tries to be the phallus for the mother]] (see preoedipal phase).

(The mother is considered, by both sexes, as possessing the phallus, as the phallic mother.[10])

2.

The imaginary father intervenes to deprive the mother of her object (the phallus) by promulgating the incest taboo.

(Lacan argues that, properly speaking, this is not castration but privation.)

3.

The real father intervenes by showing that he really possesses the phallus, in such a way that the child is forced to abandon its attempts to be the phallus.[11]

(The Oedipus complex is resolved by means of castration.)

The child must renounce its attempts to be the phallus for the mother, to be the object of the mother's desire.


CASTRATION AND JOUISSANCE

The subject gives up a certain jouissance which is never regained despite all attempts to do so.

This "relationship to the phallus .. is established without regard to the anatomical difference of the sexes."[12]

CASTRATION

Castration is a symbolic act which bears on an imaginary object.

("Castration means that jouissance must be refused so that it can be reached on the inverted ladder (l'e(bottom left to upper right)chelle renversE(bottom left to upper right)e) of the Law of desire."[13])

CASTRATION AND PSYCHOPATHOLOGY

Lacan argues that it is only by accepting (or 'assuming') castration that the subject can reach a degree of psychic normality.

In other words, the assumption of castration has a "normalizing effect."

This normalizing effect is to be understood in terms of both psychopathology (clinical structures and symptoms) and sexual identity.

CASTRATION AND CLINICAL STRUCTURES

It is the refusal of castration that lies at the root of all psychopathological structures.

However, since it is impossible to accept castration entirely, a completely 'normal' position is never achieved.

The closest to such a position is the neurotic structure, in which the subject defends itself against the lack in the Other by repressing awareness of castration.

This prevents the neurotic from fully assuming its desire, since "it is the assumption of castration that creates the lack upon which desire is instituted.[14]

DISAVOWAL

Diavowal is a more radical defense against castration than repression.

Disavowal is at the root of the perverse structure.

PSYCHOSIS

The psychotic completely repudiates castration, as if it had never existed.[15]

This repudiation of symbolic castration leads to the return of castration in the real, such as in the form of hallucinations of dismemberment or even self-mutilation of the real genital organs.

CASTRATION AND SEXUALITY IDENTITY

It is only by assuming castration that the subject can take up a sexual position as a man or a woman (see sexual difference).

The different modalities of refusing castration find expression in the various forms of perversion.



PERVERSION

Perversion was defined by Freud as any form of sexual behavior which deviates from the norm of heterosexual genital intercourse.[16]

(However, this definition is problametized by Freud's own notions of the 'polymorphous perversity' of all human sexuality, which is characterized by the absence of any pregiven natural order.)

PERVERSION AND LACAN

Lacan overcomes this impasse in Freudian psychoanalytic theory by defining perversion not as a form of [[behavior] but as a clinical structure.

"What is perversion? It is not simply an aberration in relation to social criteria, an anomly contrary to good morals, although this register is not absent, nor is it an atypicality according to natural criteria, namely that it more or less derogates from the reproductive finality of the sexual union. It is something else in its very structure."[17]

SKIP

THE PHALLUS AND DISAVOWAL

Perversion is distinguished from the other clinical structures by the operation of disavowal.

The pervert disavows castration; he perceives that the mother lacks the phallus, and at the same time refuses to accept the reality of this traumatic perception.

This is most evident in fetishism (the "perversion of perversions"[18]), where the fetish is a symbolic substitute for the mother's missing phallus.

PERVERSION AND THE PHALLLUS

The problematic relation to the pahllus extends to all perversions.

"The whole problem of the perversions consists in conceiving how the child, in his relation to the mother ... identifies himself with the imaginary object of [her] desir [i.e. the phallus]."[19]




GESTALT

Gestalt is a German word meaning an organized pattern or whole which has properties other than those of its components in isolation.

The experimental study of gestalts began in 1910 with the study of certain phenomena of perception, and led to a school of thought known as "gestalt psychology" which was based on a holistic concept of mind and body and which stressed the psychological importance of body presentation.

These ideas formed the basis of Gestalt therapy as developed by Paul Goodman, Fritz Perls and Ralph Hefferline.


When Lacan refers to the gestalt, he refers specifically to one kind of oganized pattern, namely the visual image of another member of the same species, which is perceived as a unified whole.

Such an image is a gestalt because it has an effect which none of its component parts have in isolation; this effect is to act as a "releasing mechanism" (French: dEclencheur) which triggers certain instinctual responses, such as reproductive behavior.[20]

In other words, whne an animal perceives a unified image of another member of its species, it responds in certan instinctual ways.

Lacan gives many examples from ethology of such instinctual responses to images, but his main interest is in the way the gestalt functions in human beings.

For humans the body image is also a gestalt which produces instinctual responses, especially sexual ones, but the power of the image is also more than merely instinctual; it constitutes the essential captivating power of the specular iamge (see captation).

It is by identifying with the unified gestalt of the body image that the ego is constantly threatened by fears of disintegration, which manifest themselves in images of the fragmented body; these images represent the opposite of the unified gestalt of the body image.


GENITAL

In the stages of psychosexual development listed by Freud, the genital stageis the last stage in the series, coming after the two pregenital stages (the oral stage and the anal stage).

The genital stage first arises between the ages of three and five (the infantile genital organization or phallic phase) and is then interrupted by the latency period, before returning at puberty (the genital stage proper).

Freud defined this stage as the final "complete organization" of the libido, a synthesis of the previously anarchic "[[polymorphous perversity" of the pregenital stages.[21]

Because of this, the concept of 'genitality' came to represent a privileged value in psychoanalytic theory after Freud, coming to represent a stage of full psychosexual maturity.

Lacan rejects most psychoanalytic theory concerning the genital stage, genital love, etc., calling it an "absurd hymn to the harmony of the genital."[22]

According to Lacan, there is nothing harmonious about genitality.


THE GENITAL STAGE


THE GENITAL DRIVE


GENITAL LOVE

Lacan rejects Michael Balint's concept of 'genital love.'

The term indicates a psychosexual maturity in which the two elements of sensuality and affection are completely integrated and harmonized, and in which there is thus no longer any ambivalence.


HALLUCINATION


HELPLESSNESS The term '[[helplessness]' (French: [[dE(from lower left to upper right)tresse; German: Hilflosigkeit) is used in psychoanalysis to denote the state of the newborn infant who is incapable of carrying out the specific actions required to satisfy its own needs, and so is completely dependent on other people (especially the mother).

The helplessness of the human infant is grounded in its 'prematurity' of birth, a fact which was pointed out by Freud and which Lacan takes up in his early writings.

Compared to other animals such as apes, the human infant is relatively unformed when it is born, especially with respect to motor coordination.

This means that it is more dependent than other animals, and for a longer time, on its parents.


Lacan follows Freud in highlighting the importance of the initial dependence of the human infant on the mother.

Lacan's originality lies in the way he draws attention to "the fact that this dependence is maintained by a world of language.[23]

The mother interprets the infant's cries as hunger, tiredness, loneliness, etc. and retroactively determines their meaning (see [[punctuation).

The child's helplessness contrasts with the omnipotence of the mother, who can decide whether or not to satisfy the child's needs.[24]

(The recognition of this contrast engenders a depressive effect in the child.[25])


Lacan also uses the concept of [[helplessness] to illustrate the sense of abandonment and subjective destitution that the analysand feels at the end of analysis.

"At the end of a training analysis the subect should reach and know the domain and level of the experience of absolute disarray."[26]

The end of analysis is not conceived of by Lacan as the realization of some blissful plenitude, but quite the contrary, as a moment when the subject comes to terms with his utter solitude.

However, whereas the infant can rely on its mother's help, the analysand at the end of analysis "can expect help from no one."[27]

If this seems to present a particularly ascetic view of psychoanalytic treatment, this is exactly how Lacan wishes it to be seen; psychoanalysis is, in Lacan's words, a "long subjective acesis."[28]

INTERSUBJECTIVITY

Lacan begins (in 1953) to analyze in detail the function of speech in psychoanalysis.

Lacan emphasizes that speech is essentially an intersubjective process.

"The allocution of the subject entails an allocutor" and therefore "the locutor is constituted in it as intersubjectivity."[29]

The term 'intersubjectivity' draws attention to the importance of language in psychoanalysis and emphasizes the fact that the unconscious is "transindividual."

Psychoanalysis is thus to be conceived in intersubjective rather than intrasubjective terms.

By 1960 the term 'intersubjectivity' has come to acquire negative connotations for Lacan.

It is now associated, not with speech as such, but with the notions of reciprocity and symmetry that characterize the dual relationship;[30] that is, with the imaginary rather than with the symbolic.

Psychoanalysis is no longer to be conceived of in terms of intersubjectivity.[31]

Indeed, the experience of transference is precisely what undermines the notion of intersubjectivity.[32]


INTROJECTION


INVERSION

Freud uses the term 'inversion' to designate homosexuality, the idea being that homosexuality is the inverse of heterosexuality.

Lacan uses the term in this sense too in his early works.[33]

However, in Lacan's post-war works the term is used in quite a different sense.

Inversion then usually refers to a characteristic of the specular iamge.

What appears on one side of the real body appears on the other side of the image of the body reflected in the mirror.[34]

By extension, inversion becomes a quality of all imaginary phenomena, such as transitivism.

Thus in schema L, the imaginary is represented as a barrier blockign the discourse of the Other, causing this discourse to arrive at the subject in an inverted form.

Hence Lacan's definition of analytic communication in which the sender receives his own message in an inverted form.


In 1957, both senses of the term are brought together in Lacan's discussion of Leonardo da Vinci.

Taking up Freud's argument about Leonardo's homosexuality,[35] Lacan goes on to argue that Leonardo's specular identification was highly unusual in that it resulted in an inversion of the positions (on [[schema L) of the ego and the little other.[36]


TRANSITIVISM Transitivism (French: transitivisme), a phenomenon first discovered by Charlotte Buhler, refers to a special kind of identification often observed in the behavior of small children.

For example a child can hit another child of the same age on the left side of his face, and then touch hte right side of his own face and cry in imagined pain.

For Lacan, transitivism illustrates the confusion of ego and other which is inherent in imaginary identification.

The inversion (right to left) is further evidence of the function of the mirror.

Transitivism is also evident in paranoia, in which attack and counter-attack are bound together "in an absolute equivalence."Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag



LACAN AND FRUSTRATION

Lacan classifies frustration as one of three types of "lack of object," distinct from both castration and privation.

Lacan argues that frustration is at the heart of the dual relation between the mother ad child.[37]

Lacan argues that frustration does not concern biological needs but the demand for love.

The function of an object (to satisfy a need, such as hunger) (e.g. a breast) is soon completely overshadowed by its symbolic function, namely, the fact that it functions as a symbol of the mother's love.[38]

The object is thus valued more for being a symbolic gift than for its capacity to satisfy a need.

As a gift, it is inscribed in the [[symbolic[[[ network of laws which regulate the circulate of exchanges, and thus seen as something to which the subject has a legitimate claim.[39]

Frustration, properly speaking, can only occur in the context of this legal order, and thus whne the object which the infant demands is not provided, one can only speak of frustration when the infant senses that it has been wronged.[40]

In such a case, when the object is eventually provided, the sense of wrong persists in the child, who then consoles himself for this by enjoying the sensations which follow the satisfaction of the original need.

(Thus, far from frustration involving the failure to satisfy a biological need, it often involves precisely the opposite; a biological need is satisfied as a vain attempt to compensate for the true frustration, which is the refusal of love.)

FRUSTRATION AND PSYCHOANALYTIC TREATMENT

Frustration plays an important role in psychoanalytic treatment.

Freud noted that, to the extent that distressing symptoms disappear as the treatment progresses, the patient's motivation to continue the treatment tends to diminish accordingly.

In order, therefore, to avoid the risk of the patient losing motivation altogether and breaking off the treatment prematurely, Freud recommended that the analyst must "re-instate [the patient's suffering] elsewhere in the form of some appreciable privation."[41]

  1. Lacan. 1938. p.35
  2. Freud. 1908c.
  3. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.194
  4. Freud. 1924d.
  5. Freud. 1924d.
  6. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.69, 187
  7. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.319
  8. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.315
  9. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.216
  10. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.282
  11. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.208-9, 227
  12. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.282
  13. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.324
  14. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p.852
  15. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book I. Freud's Papers on Technique, 1953-54. Trans. John Forrester. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. p.53
  16. Freud. 1905d.
  17. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book I. Freud's Papers on Technique, 1953-54. Trans. John Forrester. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. p.221
  18. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.194
  19. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.197-8
  20. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book I. Freud's Papers on Technique, 1953-54. Trans. John Forrester. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. p.121f
  21. Freud. 1940a. SE XXIII. p.155
  22. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.245
  23. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.309
  24. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.69, 185
  25. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.186
  26. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p.304
  27. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p.304
  28. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.105
  29. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.49
  30. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre VIII. Le transfert, 1960-61. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.20
  31. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre VIII. Le transfert, 1960-61. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.20
  32. Lacan. 1967
  33. Lacan. 1938. p.109
  34. Lacan. 1951b. p.15
  35. Freud. 1910c.
  36. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.433-4
  37. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.66
  38. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.180-2
  39. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.101
  40. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.101
  41. Freud. 1919a. SE XVI. p.163