Presented at the New Lacanian School’s Congress on Urgent! in Tel Aviv, Israel on 2nd June 2019

Download at /Authors A-Z (Grigg)

Personal note : When I heard this paper being given by Russell in Tel Aviv, it made sense. It still intrigues and therefore I have decided to upload it to LWE, together with Russell’s references below. Julia


Seminar V :

-Quote from Grigg : I have chosen to return to the early period of his teaching and commence with a brief quotation from Seminar V, Formations of the Unconscious:

Hallucinations are phenomena structured at the level of signifiers. One cannot, not even for an instant, think about the organization of these hallucinations without seeing that the first thing to be emphasized in the phenomenon is that it’s a phenomenon of signifiers. . . .

. . . what characterizes the hallucinatory satisfaction of desire is that it is formed in the domain of signifiers and that, as such, it implies a locus of the Other. . . . [N]ot necessarily an Other [but] a locus of the Other, insofar as it is necessary for the position of the instance [agency] of signifiers (SV, 221).

JE notes that the last sentence is translated significantly different in the two translations.

-Seminar V : 5th February 1958 “ p158 – 159 in Cormac Gallagher’s translation :

But is it not obvious that the major, most striking, most massive, most intrusive phenomenon of all delusional phenomena, must not be just any phenomenon at all, must not be just something or other which is related to a type of reverie of the satisfaction of desire? It is something as clear cut as verbal hallucination, and before anything else, before thinking about whether this verbal hallucination takes place at this or that level, whether there is here in the subject something like a kind of internal reflection in the form of psycho-motor hallucination which is extremely important to determine, whether there is projection or something else, does it not appear from the first, that in the structuring of what presents itself as hallucination, that which dominates, and dominates from the first, and that which should serve as first element of classification, is its structure in the signifier? It is that they are phenomena structured at the level of the signifier, it is that the very organization of these hallucinations cannot even be thought about for an instant, without seeing that the first thing to be brought forward in this phenomenon, is that it is a signifying phenomenon.

Here then is something that should always remind us that if it is true that one can approach from this angle the characterization of what can be called the pleasure principle, namely the fundamentally unreal satisfaction of desire, the differentiation, the characteristic that the hallucinatory satisfaction of desire exists, is that it is absolutely original, that it proposes itself in the domaine of the signifier, and that it implies as such a certain locus of the other which is not moreover necessarily an other, but a certain locus of the other in so far as it is required by the positing of this agency of the signifier.

See Seminar V : The Formations of the Unconscious : 1957-1958 : begins 6th November 1957 : Jacques Lacan at /5 Jacques Lacan (19571106)


-Quote from Grigg : These comments were made by Lacan early 1958 when he was writing his Schreber paper that would be published in vol. 4 of La Psychanalyse in 1959.

See On a question preliminary to any possible treatment of psychosis : December 1955-January 1956 [1958]) – two most important parts of Seminar III : Jacques Lacan : See /4 Jacques Lacan (19551201) or /Lacan, published in the Écrits : 1966.


Seminar V :

-Quote from Grigg : The forms of psychosis from the most benign to the extreme state of dissolution present us with a pure and simple discourse of the Other (SV, 481)

-Seminar V : 25th June 1958 : p358 – 359 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation :

This indeed is what happens in psychosis, in so far as the name of the father is rejected, I mean is the object of a primitive Verwerfung which does not enter into the cycle of signifiers, and it is also why the desire of the other and in particular the desire of the mother, is not symbolised in it. It is very precisely that which on this schema, if we had to represent the position of psychosis, would make us say that this desire as such, I do not mean qua existing, everyone knows that even the mothers of psychotics have a desire, even though it is not always sure, but undoubtedly it is not symbolised in the system of the subject, and its not being symbolised, is what allows us to see what we see, namely that for the psychotic the word of the Other does not pass in any way into his unconscious; the Other speaks to him unceasingly, the Other qua the locus of the word. This does not necessarily mean you or I, it means more or less the sum of what is offered to him as a field of perception. This field naturally speaks to him about us, and also to take an example, the first one to come to mind, the well known one, the one repeated last night by Stein [?] in what he told us, that in delusions the red colour of a car can mean that he is immortal. Everything speaks to him because nothing of the symbolic organisation destined to dispatch the other to where he ought to be, namely to his unconscious, nothing of that order is realised, and that is why I could say, the Other speaks in a fashion that is entirely homogeneous to this first primitive word which is that of the demand. That is why everything is sonorised, that the Id which is in the unconscious for the neurotic subject speaks, is outside for the psychotic subject. That the Id speaks, and that it speaks aloud in the most natural fashion, is not a cause for astonishment. If the Other is the locus of the word, it is there that the Id speaks (ça parle), and resounds from every side.

Naturally we find the extreme case at the point of the outbreak of the psychosis, where as I have always formulated it for you, what is Verworft, or rejected from the symbolic, reappears in the real. This real which is in question, is precisely the hallucination in this case, that is to say the Other in so far as he speaks. It is always in the Other of course that the Id speaks, but here it takes on the form of the real. The psychotic subject does not doubt it: it is the other who is speaking to him, and speaks to him through every possible signifier, and it is enough to stoop down to collect them by the shovelfull in the human world. Advertisements, etc., everything that surrounds us has a character marked by the signifier. The character of loosening, of dissolution is more or less great according to the state of the psychosis. Everything that we see, and what Freud articulates for us as being the reason why the psychosis is organised, is articulated, being constructed precisely to supply for this absence in its organised point, I mean depending on the signifying structure of the desire of the Other, because what do the most benign forms of psychosis present us with, if it is not of course fundamentally, and right at the extreme state of dissolution, a pure and simple discourse of the Other, namely that that comes to be stressed here in the form of signification, namely as I showed you two years ago, these very curious sorts of decompositions of the word which, by the very structure of what is presented to us here – I could not show it to you then – necessarily proved themselves to be a message-code (code de messages). On the code what is sent back from O is then all that the subject has at his disposition to vivify the discourse of the Other.

You remember Schreber, the fundamental tongue, every word which is given to him involves in itself this kind of definition whose advent comes about with the giving of the word itself. It is a message code on the code, and inversely these phrases: “How is it that ……” “You only have to …….”.

Perhaps he will want, and again will want too much in the sentence. But that is all there is, namely a series of messages which only aim at what in the code refers to the messenger, that which in the code designates these particles, these personal pronouns, these auxiliary verbs, designates the place of the messenger.

See Seminar V : The Formations of the Unconscious : 1957-1958 : begins 6th November 1957 : Jacques Lacan at /5 Jacques Lacan (19571106)


“Response to Jean Hyppolite”

-Quote from Grigg : So, where do we find these phenomena in their “raw state”? Is there anywhere where the signifier in the real is presented to us in non-discursive form? Luckily, there is. The Wolf Man’s hallucination as a child is a case in point, and it is discussed in “Response to Jean Hyppolite”

Information and notes : Introduction and reply to Jean Hyppolite’s presentation of Freud’s ‘Verneinung’ & the commentary : 10th February 1954 : Jacques Lacan & Jean Hyppolite – published in Écrits. This is a more complete version of Seminar I 10th February 1954. See /4 Jacques Lacan (19540210)

-P321 of Bruce Fink’s translation of Écrits 1966 : I need go no further to find such an example than to take up the one that fell into our lap last week, by investigating a significant moment in the analysis of the Wolf Man. [Reference 2]

I believe that you still recall the hallucination whose trace the subject finds anew when he remembers [a scene from his childhood]. The hallucination appeared erratically in his fifth year, but it comes to him now with the illustration whose falsity is soon demonstrated, that he has already told Freud about it. Our examination of this phenomenon will be rendered easier by what we already know about its context. For it is not on the basis of an accumulation of facts that light can shine forth, but on the basis of a fact that is well reported with all its correlations, in other words, [p322/Fp385] with the correlations that one forgets precisely because one does not understand the fact – except when a genius intervenes intervenes who formulates the enigma precisely (here again) as if he already knew its solution(s).

This context is furnished to us in the obstacles to analysis that this case presented, Freud seeming to proceed here from one surprise to the next. For he did not, of course, have the omniscience that allows our neopracticitioners to situate case planning at the crux [principe] of the analysis. Indeed, it is in this very case study that he asserts with the greatest force that the crux should be quite the opposite – namely, that he would rather give up the entire stability of his theory than misrecognise the tiniest particularities of a case that might call his theory into question. This means that even if the sum total of analytic experience allows us to isolate some general forms, an analysis proceeds only from the particular to the particular.

The obstacles of the present case, like Freud’s surprises – assuming you remember not only what came to light last week but also my commentary on this case in the first year of this seminar [Reference 3] – lie at the heart of contemporary concerns: namely, the “intellectualization” of the analytic process, on the one hand, and the maintenance of repression, despite conscious acknowledgement [prise de conscience] of the repressed, on the other.

For Freud, in his inflexible inflection of analytic experience, comments here that, although the subjecy manifested in his behaviour that he had access (not without audacity) to genital reality, the latter went unheeded in his unconscious where the “sexual theory” of the anal phase still reigned.

Freud discerns the reason for this phenomenon in the fact that the feminine position, assumed by the subject in the imaginary capture of the primal trauma (namely, the one whose historicity gives the case write-up its major raison d’être), makes it impossible for him to accept genital reality without inevitably being threatened with castration.

But what Freud says about the nature of the phenomenon is far more remarkable. It is not a question, he says, of repression (Verdrängung), for repression cannot be distinguished from the return of the repressed in which the subject cries out from every pore of his being what he cannot talk about.

Regarding castration, Freud tells us that this subject “did not want to know anything about it in the sense of repression” (“er von ihr nichts wissen wollte im Sinne der Verdrāngung”). [Footnote 4] And to designate this process he uses the term Verwerfung, for which, on the whole, I would propose the term “excision” [retranchement]. [Footnote 5]

Its effect is a symbolic abolition. For, when Freud says, “Er verwarf sie,” “he excises” castration (adding, “und blieb auf dem standpunkt des Verkehrs im After,” “and held to his theory of anal intercourse”), he continues: “thereby one cannot say that any judgment regarding its existence was properly made, but it was as if it had never existed.” [Footnote 6]

Several pages earlier, right after having determined the historical situation of this process in the subject’s biography, Freud concluded by distinguishing it expressly from repression in the following terms: “Eine Verdrāngung ist etwas anderes als eineVerwerfung.” [Footnote 7] …

The process in question here known as Verwerfung, which I do not believe has ever been commented on in a sustained manner in the analytic literature, is situated very precisely in on of the moments that Prof Hyppolite has just brought out for us in the dialectic of Verneinung: Verwërfung is exactly what opposes the primal Bejahung and constitutes as such what is expelled. You will see proof of this in a sign whose obviousness will surprise you. For it is here that we find ourselves at the point at which I left you last week, a point beyond which it will be much easier for us to after what we have just learned from Prof. Hyppolite’s talk.

… has just brought out for us in the dialectic of Verneinung: Verwërfung is exactly what opposes the primal Bejahung and constitutes as such what is expelled. …

Footnotes to the above quote

2. GW XII, p103-21, [“From the History of an Infantile Neurosis,” chapter 7, “Anal Erotism and the Castration Complex,” SE XVII, 72-88] or Penguin Freud Library (PFL) : Vol 9: p225

From the History of an Infantile Neurosis (The ‘Wolf Man’): 1914 [published 1918b] : Sigmund Freud, SE XVII p3-122. See /3 Sigmund Freud (19140101) or /Freud. Published bilingual /Home Page (FROM THE HISTORY OF AN INFANTILE NEUROSIS [The Wolfman])

3. Namely in 1951-1952 : See Notes on the Wolfman – 4 sessions from 1951-1952 : 1st November 1951 : Jacques Lacan at /4 Jacques Lacan (19511101) or /Lacan

4. GW XII, 117 [SE XVII, p84]

5. [Added by Lacan in 1966] As you know, having since weighed this term more carefully, I have gotten the term “foreclosure” accepted as the translation.

Further reference to the Wolfman in ‘Response to Jean Hyppolite’

P323 of Bruce Fink’s translation : Verwerfung thus cuts short any manifestation of the symbolic order – that is, it cuts short the bejahung that Freud posits as the primary procedure in which the judgment of attritibution finds its root, and which is no other than the primordial condition for something from the real to come to offer itself up to the revelation of being, or, to employ Heidegger’s language, to be let-be. For it is clearly to this distant point that Freud brings us, since it is only afterwards that anything whatsoever can be found there as existent [comme étant].

Such is the inaugural affirmation, which can no longer recur [être renouvelée]except through the veiled forms of unconscious speech, for it is only by the negation of the negation that human discourse allows us to return to it.

But what thus becomes of that which is not let-be in this Bejahung? Freud told us right away that what the subject has thus excised (verworfen), as I put it, from the opening toward being will not be refound in his history, assuming we designate by the latter term the ocus in which the repressed manages to reappear. For I ask you to note how striking the formulation is since there is not the slightest ambiguity in it: the subject will not want “to know anything about it in the sense of repression.” For, in order for him to be able to know something about it in this sense, it would have had to come in some way to light in the primordial symbolisation. But once again, what becomes of it? You can see what becomes of it: what did not come to light in the symbolic appears in the real.

… In other words, it appears in relations of resistance without transference – to extend the metaphor I used earlier, I would say, like a punctuation without a text.

For the real does not wait [attend], especially not for the subject, since it expects [attends] nothing from speech. But it is there, identical to his existence, a noise in which one can hear anything and everything, ready to submerge with its roar what the “reality principle” constructs there that goes by the name of the “outside world”. For if the judgment of existence truly functions as we have understood it in Freud’s myth, it is clearly at the expense of a world from which the cunning [ruse] of reason has twice collected its share [part].

There is no other value to be given, in fact, to the reiteration of the dividing up [partage] of the outside and the inside articulated by Freud’s sentence: “Es ist, wie man sieht, wieder eine Frage des Aussen und Innen.” “It is, we see, once more a question of the outside and the inside.” When exactly does this sentence come? First there was the primal expulsion, that is the real as outside the subject. Then, within representation (Vorstellung), constituted by the (imaginary) reproduction of the original perception, there was the discrimination of reality as that aspect of the object of the original perception, there was the discrimination of reality as that aspect of the object of the original perception which is not simply posited as existing by the subject but can be refound (wiedergefunden) in a place where he can grab hold of it. It is in this respect alone that the operation, even if it is set in motion by the pleasure principle, es apes the latter’s mastery. But in this reality, which the subject must compose according to the well-tempered scale of his objects, the real – as that which is excised from the primordial symbolization – is already there. We might even say that it talks all by itself [cause tout seul]. The subject can see something of it emerge in the form of a thing which is far from being an object that satisfies him and which involves [p325] his presen tintentionality only in the most incongruous way – this is the hallucination here in so far as it is radically differentiated from the interpretive phenomenon. As we see here in the testimony Freud transcribes as the subject speaks.

The subject tells him that :

when he was five, he was playing in the garden next to his maid, and was cutting notches into the bark of one of the walnut trees (whose role in his dream we are aware of). Suddenly, he noticed, with a terror which was impossible to express, that he had sectioned his pinkie (right or left? He doesn’t know) and that the finger was hanging on by the skin alone. He didn’t feel any pain but a great deal of anxiety. He did not have the heart to say anything to the maid who was only a few steps away from him; he let himself fall onto a bench and remained there, incapable of looking at his finger again. In the end, he calmed down, looked carefully at his finger, and – lo and behold! – it was altogether intact.

Let us leave it to Freud to confirm for us-with his usual scrupulous care, employing all the thematic resonances and biographical correlations that he extracts from the subject by the pathway of association – the whole symbolic richness of the hallucinated scenario. But let us not ourselves be fascinated by it.

The correlations of the phenomenon will teach us more, regarding what we are interested in, than the narrative that submits the phenomenon to the conditions of the transmissibility of discourse. The fact that its content lends itself to this so easily, and that it goes so far as to coincide with themes of myth and poetry, certainly raises a question, a question which can be formulated immediately, but which perhaps must be posed anew in a second moment, if only owing to the fact that we know at the outset that the simple solution is not sufficient here.

For a fact is brought out in the narrative of the episode which is not at all necessary for its comprehension, quite the contrary : the fact that the subject felt it impossible to speak about at the time. Let us note that there is a reversal of the difficulty here in relation to the case of the forgetting of a name that we analysed earlier. In that case the subject no longer had the signifier at his disposal, whereas here he is arrested by the strangeness of the signified – to so great an extent that he cannot communicate the feeling he has, even if only by crying out, whereas the person who is most suited to hear his call, his beloved Nania, is right nearby.

Instead, he doesn’t balk [moufte], if you’ll allow me the term due to its expressive value. What he says about his attitude suggests that it is not simply that [p326] he sinks into immobility but that he sinks into a kind of temporal funnel out of which he eventually rises without having been able to count how many times he has wound around during his descent and his renascent, and without his return to the surface of ordinary time having in any way occurred in response to an effort on his part.

The feature of a temporal abyss proves to have significant correlations.

Doesn’t all of this indicate to us, in the recollection’s in some sense extratemporal character, something like the seal of origin of what is remembered?

And don’t we find in this character something not identical but that we might call complementary to what occurs in the famous sense of déjà vu …

One might say that the feeling of déjà vu comes to meet the erratic hallucination, that it is the imaginary echo which arises as a response to a point of reality that belongs to the limit where it has been excised from the symbolic.

This means that the sense that something is unreal is exactly the same phenomenon as the sense of reality, if we designate by this term the “click” [déclic] that signals the resurfacing, which is hard to obtain, of a forgotten memory. What allows the second to be felt as such is the fact that it is produced inside the symbolic text that constitutes the register of the recollection, whereas the first corresponds to the immemorial forms that appear on the palimpsest of the imaginary when the text, leaving off, lays bare the medium of reminiscence.

To understand it in Freud’s theory we need but listen to the latter all the way to the end, for if a representation is of value there only in terms of what it reproduces from the original perception, this recurrence cannot stop at the original perception, except mythically. This observation already led Plato to the eternal idea ; today it presides over the rebirth of the archetype. As for me, I will confine myself to remarking that perception takes on its characteristic of reality only through symbolic articulations that interweave it with a whole world.

But the subject has a no less convincing sense if he encounters the symbol that he originally excised from his Bejahung. For this symbol does not enter the imaginary, for all that. It constitutes, as Freud tells us, that which truly does not exist; as such, it ek-sists, for nothing exists except against a supposed background of absence. Nothing exists except insofar as it does not exist.

This is what we see in our example. The content of the hallucination, which is so massively symbolic, owes its appearance in the real to the fact that it does not exist for the subject. Everything indicates, indeed, that the subject remains fixated in his unconscious in an imaginary feminine position that evacuates all meaning from his hallucinatory mutilation.

In the symbolic order, the empty spaces are as signifying as the full ones; in reading Freud today, it certainly seems that the first step of the whole of his dialectical movement is constituted by the gap of an emptiness [la béance d’un vide].

This is what seems to explain the insistence with which the schizophrenic reiterates this step. In vain, however, since for him all of the symbolic is real.

He is very different in this respect from the paranoiac whose predominant imaginary structures I laid out in my doctoral thesis, that is, the retroaction in a cyclical time that makes the anamnesis of his troubles so difficult, the anamnesis of his elementary phenomena which are merely presignifying and which only attain that ever partial universe we call a delusion after a discursive organisation that is long and painful to establish and constitute. [Footnote 10]



10. De la psychose paranoïaque dans ses rapports avec la personnalité (Paris : Le François, 1932). See The Case of Aimée, or Self-punitive Paranoia : 1932 : Jacques Lacan. See /4 Jacques Lacan (Index or 19320101) or /Lacan (1932)