Sublimation, substitution and social anxiety : July 1931 : Edward Glover

by Julia Evans on July 1, 1931

International Journal of Psychoanalysis : July 1931 : Vol 12 Part 3 : p 263-297

Available at /authors a-z or authors by date

Citations by Jacques Lacan

Seminar VI : 1st July 1959 : Chapter 27 : p345 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation

Availability given:  Seminar VI: Desire and its interpretation: 1958-1959 : from 12th November 1958 : Jacques Lacan or here

Quote : What is it in effect? What could this sublimation be? What must it be if we are to be able with Freud to define it as a sexual activity in so far as it is desexualised? How can we even conceive of it – because here it is no longer a question either of the source, nor of the direction of the tendency, nor of the object, it is a question of the very nature of what is called on this occasion the energy that is involved. It will be enough I think for you to read the article by Glover in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis in which he tries to approach with the critical preoccupations that he has, the notion of sublimation. What is this notion if we cannot define it as the very form into which desire flows, because what is pointed out to you is precisely that it can empty itself of the sexual drive as such, or more exactly that the very notion of drive far from confusing itself with the substance of the sexual relationship, is this form itself, that it is the interplay of the signifier, that normally it cannot be reduced to this pure interplay of the signifier. And it is also indeed as such that we can define sublimation. It is something through which, as I wrote somewhere, desire and the letter can become equivalent; if all the same here we can see in a point as paradoxical as perversion, namely in its most general form that which in the human being resists every normalisation, there being produced this discourse, this apparently empty elaboration which we call sublimation, which is something which of its nature, in its productions, is distinct from the social valorisation which is subsequently given to it – the difficulties that there are in attaching the notion of social value to the term sublimation are particularly well highlighted in this article by Glover that I am talking to you about. ( Seminar VI : 1st July 1959 : p345

Seminar VII : 20th January 1960 : Ch X The object and the thing : p111 of Dennis Porter’s translation, Routledge edition

Availability given Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: Jacques Lacan or here

Quote : To those who know German I suggest you read a little article by Richard Sterba that appeared in Internationale Zeitschrift in 1930, “Zur Problematik der Sublimierungslehre” [“On the Problematic of the Doctrine of Sublimation”]; it summarizes the difficulties that analysts found in the notion at the time – that is after an essential article by Bernfeld on the subject and also one by Glover in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis of 1931, “Sublimation, Substitution and Social Anxiety.”

This article in English will cause you much more difficulty. It’s very long and difficult to follow because it literally parades the standard of sublimation across all the notions known to analysis at that time in order to see how one might apply it to this or that level of the theory. The result of this survey is surprising. It gives rise to a reviejv of the whole of psychoanalytic theory from one end to the other, but it clearly shows, at least, the extraordinary difficulty that exists in using the notion of sublimation in practice without giving rise to contradictions, and this text is riddled with them.

I would like to try now to show you in what way we are going to posit sublimation, if only so as to be able to allow you to appreciate its functioning and value. (Seminar VII : 20th January 1960 : p111)

Related texts : Pierre Kaufmann : Intervention on Siegfried Bernfeld ‘Observations on Sublimation’ given during Seminar VII on 2nd March 1960 : Information here    

Siegfried Bernfeld : Bemerkungen über Sublimierung (Observations on Sublimation) : 1922   Information here    

References to Sigmund Freud (page numbers to be found)

Freud: Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie, 5tc Auf. 1922, ss. 23. P43-44, p100-101. – Sigmund Freud: Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality : 1905d : SE VII p123-245 : Published bilingual at

Eine Kindheitserinnerung des Leonardo da Vinci, 1919. ss. 17, 19, 20, 75,
Collected Papers : Vol. 1, 67 ; Vol. II, 33, 47-8, 55, 82,139; Vol. III, 376; Vol. IV, 51, 68-9, 92-3, 116, 123, 127, 132.

See Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of his Childhood : 1910c : Sigmund Freud,  translated by Alan Tyson : published SE XI, p57-137 & pfl Vol 14 – Published, bilingual, by

Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, pp. 117, 146, 198, 236, 248, 250-3, 259, 290, 293, 30l, 306-7, 323, 326, 372, 380.

Beyond the Pleasure Principle, pp. 52-3, 65.

Beyond the Pleasure Principle : 1920g : Sigmund Freud, SE XVIII  p1-64  Available bilingual published at

Group (Mass) Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, Pp. 17, 23, 33, 74-5, 118.

Group (Mass) Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego : 1921 : Sigmund Freud,  SE XVIII p69-143, published bilingual by

Freud : Hemmung, Symptom u. Angst, pp. 12, 18, 26, 30, 33-4, 39, 41, 44-6, 50-51, 54, 64, 83, 86, 94-5.

Inhibitions, Symptoms & Anxiety : 1926d : Sigmund Freud,  SE  XX p75-175 : Download bilingual from

Freud : Das Unbehagen in der Kultur, 1930, s. 30.

Civilization and its Discontents : 1929 : Sigmund Freud, SE XXI, Available bilingual at

Freud: The Ego and the Id,  pp.38, 63-7

The Ego & the Id (‘Das Ich und das Es’) : 1920 [1923]: Sigmund Freud, SE XIX p12-63 : Published bilingual at and

Freud: ‘The Economic Problem in Masochism’ . Collected Papers, Vol II, p255

The Economic Problem of Masochism: 1924  : Sigmund Freud, SE XIX p155-70, PFL Vol 11 p411-426 : Published bilingual at


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Julia Evans  

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst


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