Published The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 5.1 (1950) p175-211

Download at /Authors A-Z (Katan) or Authors by Date (1950)

Cited by Jacques Lacan

See Seminar III: The Psychoses: 1955-1956: from 16th November 1955: Jacques Lacan at this site /4 Jacques Lacan or /Lacan

In Seminar III : 25th January 1956 : p102 of Russell Grigg’s translation :

I shall return to one of the authors who have spoken in the greatest detail about the question of the psychoses, namely, Katan. He emphasizes the notion of defense. But I don’t want to proceed by means of commentaries on commentaries. We have to start with the book, as Freud recommends.

Seminar III : 25th January 1956 : p104-105 of Russell Grigg’s translation :

Delusions are indeed legible, but they are also transcribed into another register. In neurosis, one always remains inside the symbolic order, with this duality of signifier and signified that Freud translates as the neurotic compromise. Delusions occur in a completely different register. They are legible, but there is no way out. How does this come about? This is the economic problem that remains open at the time Freud completes the Schreber case.

I’m making some large claims. In the case of the neuroses the repressed reappears in loco where it was repressed, that is, in the very midst of symbols, insofar as man as agent and actor integrates himself into them and participates in them. The repressed reappears in loco beneath a mask. The repressed in psychosis, if we know how to read Freud, reappears in another place, in altero, in the imaginary, without a mask. This is quite clear, it’s neither new nor heterodox, it just has to be appreciated that this is the main point. This is far from being a settled issue at the time Freud puts the last full stop to his Schreber study. On the contrary, this is where the difficulties begin to appear.

Others have tried to pick up where Freud left off. Read Katan for example, who tries to give us an analytic theory of schizophrenia in volume five of the collection, Psychoanalysis of the Child. [A reference to Structural Aspects of a Case of Schizophrenia : 1950 : Maurits Katan : The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 5 : p175-211] Read it and you will see very clearly the path that analytic theory has taken.

In Freud the question of the subject’s center always remains open. In the analysis of paranoia, for example, he proceeds step by step to show the evolution of an essentially libidinal disturbance, a complex play of an aggregate of transferable, transmutable desires, which may regress, and the center of this entire dialectic is still problematic for us.

Seminar III :11th April 1956 : p190-192 of Russell Grigg’s translation :

Freud gave powerful expression, in the text on Schreber we’re working on among others, to the radical distinction between passional conviction and delusional conviction. The former depends upon the projection of intentions. It is, for example, jealousy where I’m jealous of my own feelings in the other, where it’s my own drives to be unfaithful that I impute to the other. As to the second, Freud formulates it thus, that what has been rejected from within reappears without, or again, as one tries to say in an expanded form, that [p191] what has been suppressed in the idea reappears in the real. But what does this mean, exactly?

In neurosis, too, we see this action of the drive and its consequences. Doesn’t this formulation leave something to be desired, something confused, defective, even absurd? Every author confines himself to this formulation, and in putting it to you in this form, I wasn’t wanting to contribute anything original. I think I can find someone among you to help me look more closely at the works in which Katan has tried to grasp the mechanism of psychotic neo-formation. You will observe what an extraordinary dead-end he arrives at, from which he escapes only at the price of contradictory formulations. This testifies to the conceptual difficulties one is committed to if one confuses, however slightly, the notion of reality with that of objectivity, or even with that of meaning, if one moves away from a reality distinct from the test of the real, from a reality in the sentiment of the real.

An entire phenomenological supposition, which extends well beyond the field of psychoanalysis and holds sway there only insofar as it equally holds sway elsewhere, is based on confusing the realm of meaningfulness with the realm of meaning. Proceeding from works that are extremely rigorous elaborations upon the function of the signifier, supposedly psychological phenomenology slides into the realm of meaning. This is its basic point of confusion. It’s led towards it like a dog on a scent, and, like the dog, this will never lead it to any kind of scientific result.

You know the would-be opposition between Erklaren [JE : probably to explain or account for] and Verstehen [JE : probably to understand, to interpret, to see]. Here we must maintain that the only scientific structure is where there is Erklaren. Verstehen opens onto all kinds of confusion. Erklaren doesn’t at all imply mechanical meaning or anything else of that order. The nature of Erklaren lies in the recourse to the signifier as the sole foundation of all conceivable scientific structuration.

At the beginning of the Schreber case we find a period of disorder, of fertile moment. It presents a whole set of symptoms which, because it has generally been hidden away or, more exactly, because it has slipped through our fingers, has been unable to be elucidated analytically and is most of the time only reconstructed. Now, in reconstructing it we can discover, with very few exceptions, what appear to be the meanings and mechanisms we see at work in neurosis. There is nothing that more closely resembles a neurotic symptomatology than a pre-psychotic symptomatology. Once the diagnosis has been made, we are told that one finds that the unconscious is displayed on the outside, that everything belonging to the id has passed into the external world, and that the meanings in play are so clear that we are precisely unable to intervene analytically.

This is the classical position, and it still has some value. The paradox it contains has escaped nobody, but all the reasons that have been advanced to [p192] explain it are of a tautological or contradictory character. They are super-structurations of totally absurd hypotheses. It suffices to take an interest in analytic literature as a symptom to realize this.

Where does it spring from? From the fact that the world of objects is in some way affected, captured, induced, by a meaning in relation with drives characteristic of the psychoses? Is the construction of an external world distinctive of the psychoses? However, if there is any way of equally defining neurosis, this is it. When do we decide that the subject has crossed over the limits, that he is delusional?

Take the pre-psychotic period. Our President Schreber is living out something in the nature of perplexity. He gives us in living form this question that I was saying lies at the bottom of every form of neurosis. He is prey to strange forebodings – he indicates this to us after the event. He is abruptly invaded by this image which would seem to be the least likely to enter the mind of a man of his kind and his style, that it really must be rather pleasant to be a woman succumbing to intercourse. This is a period of confusion and panic.

How are we to locate the border between this moment of confusion and the point at which his delusion ended with the construction that he was in actual fact a woman, and not just any woman, but the divine woman, or more exactly God’s fiancée? Is there anything here that is sufficient for locating the onset of psychosis? Certainly not, Katan reports a case that he saw declare itself at a much earlier period than Schreber’s, and about which he was able to form a direct idea, having come onto the scene at the turning point of the case.[Footnote 3] It was the case of a youth at the age of puberty, whose whole pre-psychotic period the author analyses very well, while conveying the idea that there was nothing in this subject of the order of accession to anything that would realize in him the virile type. Everything failed. And while he did try to conquer the typically virile attitude, it was by means of imitation, of a latching on, following the example of one of his friends. Like him and following him, he engaged in the first sexual maneuvers of puberty, namely masturbation, which he subsequently renounced under the injunction of the said friend, and he began to identify with him for a whole series of exercises that were called exercises of self-conquest. He behaved as if he were at the mercy of a severe father, which was the case with his friend. Like him, he became interested in a girl who, as if by chance, was the same one his friend was interested in. And once this identification with his friend has gone quite a way, the young girl will readily fall into his arms.

Here we obviously find the as if mechanism that Mrs. Helene Deutsch has stressed as being a significant dimension in the symptomatology of the schizophrenias. [Footnote 4] It’s a mechanism of imaginary compensation – you can verify the usefulness of the distinction between the three registers – for the absent Oedipus complex, which would have given him virility in the form, not of the paternal image, but of the signifier, the name of the father.

Once the psychosis has broken out, the subject will conduct himself in the same way as before, as an unconscious homosexual.

Footnote 3 : See “Structural Aspects of a Case of Schizophrenia” : 1950 : Maurits Katan : The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 5 : p175-211 & Schreber’s Prepsychotic Phase : 1953 : Maurits Katan – see end for availability

Footnote 4 : Some forms of emotional disturbance and their relationship to schizophrenia (‘as if’ case) : 1942 : Helene Deutsch : See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Deutsch) or /Other Authors A-Z

Related texts

Signifiers in the Real – from Schreber to the Wolf Man : 2nd June 2019 (Tel Aviv, Israel) : Russell Grigg. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Grigg)

Ordinary Psychosis: elaborations of James I/VI, Hamlet & Oedipus : 28th November 2015 : Julia Evans. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z /Evans or Index of Julia Evans’s texts

Schreber’s case revisited with echoes noted in the family of Fred West : 11th January 2015 : Julia Evans. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z /Evans or Index of Julia Evans’s texts

An Examination of ‘Learned Helplessness’ : 11th December 2014 : Julia Evans. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z /Evans or Index of Julia Evans’s texts

What Cannot Be Said: Desire, Fantasy, Real : 11th September 2013 : Dominique Holvoet : See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Holvoet) or /Other Authors A-Z (Holvoet)

Psychosis, or Radical Belief in the Symptom : 17th June 2012 : Éric Laurent : given in Tel Aviv, Israel. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Laurent) or /Laurent

The case, from unease to the lie : 2002 : Éric Laurent. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Laurent) or /Laurent

Enjoy-meant of language and jouissance of the letter : 15th December 2001 (London, UK) : Russell Grigg. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Grigg)

Three Enigmas: Meaning, Signification, Jouissance : February 1993 : Éric Laurent. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Laurent) or /Laurent

Lacan and the Discourse of the Other : 1968 : Anthony Wilden. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Wilden) or /Other Authors A-Z (Wilden)

Some forms of emotional disturbance and their relationship to schizophrenia (‘as if’ case) : 1942 : Helene Deutsch : See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Deutsch) or /5 Other Authors A-Z (Deutsch)

Psychoses of passion : 1921 : Gaétan Gatian de Clérambault. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (de Clérambault)

Misinterpretative delusional states : 1909 : Paul Sérieux & Joseph Capgras. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Sérieux or Capgras or Index of Authors’ texts)

The prognosis of dementia praecox-the group of schizophrenias : 1908 : Eugene Bleuler. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Bleuler)

Dementia Praecox : 1896 : Emil Kraepelin. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Kraepelin or Index of Authors’ texts)

Letter of 24th January 1895 and Draft H – Paranoia (The Emma Eckstein episode) : 24th January 1895 : Sigmund Freud. See this site /3 Sigmund Freud (18950124 or Index of Sigmund Freud’s texts)