Does the Woman Exist?: From Freud's Hysteric to Lacan's Feminine

Does the Woman Exist?: From Freud's Hysteric to Lacan's Feminine

Paul Verhaeghe

Language: English

Pages: 300

ISBN: 1892746158

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This book describes how Freud attempted to chart hysteria, yet came to a standstill at the problem of woman and her desire, and of how Lacan continued along this road by creating new conceptual tools. The difficulties and upsets encountered by both men are examined.

This lucid presentation of the dialectical process that carries Lacan through the evolution of Freud’s thought offers profound insights into the place of the “feminine mystique” in our social fabric. Patiently and carefully, Verhaeghe applies the Lacanian grid to Freud’s text and succeeds in explaining Lacan’s formulations without merely recapitulating his theories. The reader is informed, along the way, not only of Lacan’s take on Freudian ideas, but also of the array of interpretations emerging from other trends in post-Freudian literature, including feminist revisionism.

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H. Tisseau) Felix, Paris, 1993, passim. 8 Cf: The eleventh seminar, in which Lacan described the unconscious as a process of “béance causale,” a gap with a causal function, a particular movement of opening and closing. 9 For a further elaboration, see: P. Verhaeghe, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Hysteria. The Letter, Autumn 1994, nr. 2, pp. 47–68. 10 Freud, Project for a Scientific Psychology (1950a). S.E. 1, pp. 317–320. Of course this idea returns throughout the whole of Freud’s work.

accompanying comment, see J.-A. Miller, De la fin de l’analyse dans la théorie de Lacan. Quarto, VII, pp. 15–24, and especialy p. 22. 90 Freud, Studies on Hysteria (1895d), S.E. 2, p. 305. 91 Freud, S.E. 10, o.c., pp. 98–100. The typical continuous questioning of children at a given period of their language development, is discussed by Lacan as a try-out of the boundaries of the Other, of the possibility of representation in language, this means of his/its lack. Doing this via the other, i.e.,

the form of genuine family romance. The identification that takes place within this framework has to be linked to symptom-formation. This brings us to another new point: fantasies, insofar as they work over a primary defence and extend a boundary representation, can themselves become a target of subsequent repressions.35 All these pieces of the puzzle are very important, because they permit us to place a new Freudian discovery in a coherent framework: without them, this discovery would remain

but which we just cannot find. Freud was reminded of the joke about the cauldron and concluded that, when logic does not succeed, one has to start anew. He began to write down his observations, and by 1898, he had collected over two hundred case studies. The neurologist had entered new territory. At first there were some isolated discoveries, mostly negative. He came to the sobering conclusion for example—against the ideas of Charcot—that the word hysteria denotes in the main a compilation of

there was no room for the first central figure: the primal mother, the first Other. As a result, his theory was confronted with an impasse. Once again, it was the hysteric who showed him the way out of this deadlock. CHAPTER 9. CONSEQUENCES OF FREUD’S SECOND THEORY: PRIMARY PHENOMENA When he developed his first theory, Freud had been a pupil at the school run by his hysterical patients. Repression was the central mechanism and the content of the repressed material concerned fantasies

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