The Problem of Style and the Psychiatric Conception of Paranoiac Forms of Experience (June 1933) & Motives of Paranoiac Crime (December 1933) : Jacques Lacan

by Julia Evans on June 1, 1933

Articles from Le Minotaure


June & December 1933

Translated by Jon Anderson, Columbia University

Published in Critical Texts 5.3, 1988

See Richard G. Klein’s website,, Available here

& Bilingual version of these two texts, The Problem of Style and the Psychiatric Conception of Paranoiac Forms of Experience (June 1933), and Motives of Paranoiac Crime: The Crime of the Papin Sisters (December 1933), published by also available here

Content of ‘Articles from Le Minotaure’

Translator’s Introduction : Jon Anderson

“The Problem of Style and the Psychiatric Conception of Paranoiac Forms of Experience” appeared in the first number of Le Minotaure in June 1933 : Jacques Lacan  (Le problême du style 
et la conception psychiatrique des formes paranoiaques de l’experience) and was reprinted as P383-388 of the 1975 Seuil edition. (Translated by Jon Anderson: p4-6 of Critical Texts 5(3), 1988)

“Motives of Paranoiac Crime,” Lacan’s analysis of the case appeared in December 1933 (Number 3-4) of Le Minotaure (Motifs du crime paranoiaque : le crime des soeurs Papin) and was reprinted in p389-398 of the French 1975 Seuil edition.  (Translated by Jon Anderson: p7-11 of Critical Texts 5(3), 1988)

Also in the collection at Freud2Lacan

–  Littoral 3/4

Exorbitantes sceurs Papin: by Jean Genet? : Documents rassembleset presentes par Jean Allouch :

– Littoral n” 9

Paris-soir 29 septembre 1933
A La veille des Assises du Mans les mobiles du crime des sceurs Papin reslent obscurs L’hypotithse de Ia folie a ete rejete.e par les experts

Si elle recommence, avait dit autrefois Lea, apres une reprimande de sa patronne, je ne me laisserai pas faire..

(De notre envoye special Jerome et Jean Tharaud)

– Littoral ???

 30 septembre 1933

Les Soeurs Papin ont comparu eel apres-midi devant les jures de la Sarthe

Christine, a qui it avait fallu passer la camisole de force, semble avoir maintenant retrouve son calme.

(De notre envoye special Jerome et Jean Tharaud)

– Littoral ??

8 octobre 1933

L’affaire Papin et les experts

(Par Jerome et Jean Tharaud)

Translation by Russell Grigg,

Published, bilingual, as Motives of Paranoic Crimes : The Crime of the Papin Sisters, in The Lacanian Review, Issue 10, September 2020, p16-34

Introduction to Russell Grigg’s translation : The mystery of the Papin Sisters and the knot of Paranoia by Laura Sokolowsky, The Lacanian Review, Issue 10, 2020, p14-15

“Lacan is a block, we take it as a whole, Lacan’s teaching is inseparable from his practice,” Jacques-Alain Miller claims. [1] This implies that we cannot separate Lacan the theoretician, the exceptional reader of Freud, the prodigious rhetorician, from the Lacan who was a practitioner of analysis. To take Lacan as a block is also to consider that his first explorations into psychosis (his 1932 thesis on the case of Aimée is its highest achievement) can be reread in the light of his final teaching. In the Seminar Le Sinthome, [Seminar XXIII : 10th February 1976 : pVI 2 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation] when he is considering Joyce’s relationship to writing, Lacan himself refers to his article in “Ecrits ‘Inspirées’ : Schizographie” of l93I (published by Massan, Paris). What were Joyce’s writings inspired by, he asks?

The admirable article on the Papin sisters, published by Lacan in the Surrealist review Le Minotaure at the end of 1933, is no exception to this rule. It aims to elucidate the double crime that scandalized the era: two daughters of the common people massacre two members of the bourgeoisie; French society itself was attacked, and justice must be swift! The scandal and fascination block out the logic of a criminal act that Lucan succeeds in decoding, while also giving it its tragically human signification.

One night in February 1933, Christine and Léa Papin, until then irreproachable maids in the service of a well-to-do family in Le Mans, savagely assassinated their boss and her daughter. Having committed the double crime, the sisters washed themselves, changed, and locked themselves in their room. The police found them huddled together in a bed. During the hastily put together trial, experts concluded that the two sisters were of perfectly sound mind and that their fits of anger had escalated into a homicidal rage.

Using the only medical testimony that picked up on the strangeness of the psychological couple formed by Christine and Léa Papin, Lacan takes a view opposed to the experts who had not been able to identify the subtle signs of psychosis before the accomplishment of their murderous passage to the act. For Lacan, it was an obvious case of ‘folie à deux’. He also relies on an article by Freud that was written in 1921, in which Freud discusses narcissistic object choice and the passage from hatred to love in sibling relations, leading to an erotic and rejected homosexual fixation in the case of the paranoiac. [probably Ch VI, SE XVIII p101-102 or SE SVIII p231] Lacan shows that the Papin sisters were stuck in the dead end of a specular relation. In order to resolve the mystery of femininity’s connection to the phallus, these Siamese sisters only had at their disposal the real of two other female bodies, to be cut up and scrutinized. In addition, the figurative expression “to tear out the eyes” (crever les yeux à quelqu’un) was not a metaphor; since the Papin sisters did tear out the eyes of their victims while they were still alive.

In his seminar on Joyce the issues of ‘folie à deux’ and the continuation of the symptom return in the question that bears on James Joyce’s relation to his schizophrenic daughter Lucia. [Seminar XXIII : 17th February 1976 : pVII 6, VII 7, VII 8-9 & Diagram VII-6  of Cormac Gallagher’s translation] In addition, the knot of paranoia will correspond to the trefoil knot, and Lacan will show that when a subject knots together the imaginary, symbolic, and real, the knot is only supported by the continuity of these three dimensions, R.S.I. are from then on ‘one and the same consistence, and it is in this that paranoid psychosis consists, ” [2]

Laura Sokolowsky


“Inspired” writings: Schizography : 12th November 1931 : Jacques Lacan  : See here  for quotation from pVI 2 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation.

Probably Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego : 1921 : Sigmund Freud, : SE XVIII p69-143 : published bilingual by : available  here : probably Ch VI, SE XVIII p101-102


Some Neurotic Mechanisms in Jealousy, Paranoia and Homosexuality : 1922b : Sigmund Freud : SE XVIII p221-231 : Published bilingually at , see here  : Suggest Section C – Homosexuality SE XVIII p231

[l] Jacques-Alain Miller, “L’homme décidé,” Vacarme, no.l8 (2002/1):51-54. Online: .

[2] Jacques Lacan, The Sinthome: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book xxiii, ed J.-A. Miller, trans. A.R. Price (Cambridge: Polity: 2016), p41. :  See Seminar XXIII: The Sinthome or Joyce and the Sinthome: 1975-1976: beginning on November 18th 1975 : Jacques Lacan or here

Related text

De la Psychose Paranoraque dans ses Rapports avec la Personnalite (1932),

See ‘The Case of Aimée, or Self-punitive Paranoia’: Jacques Lacan: 1932    or  here


Publication of Jacques Lacan’s doctoral thesis in French : ‘De la psychose paranoïaque dans ses rapports avec la personnalité, suivi de Premiers écrits sur la paranoïa’ (1932) Published: Paris: du Seuil, 1975

: Published at : here

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An increasing number of the texts with unavailable links, can now be found at If not then contact Julia Evans to request a particular text or book.


Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst in London & Sandwich, Kent


Further posts:

On Aimée  here

Lacanian Transmission here

Some Lacanian history here

Of the clinic here

Topology here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

Jacques Lacan in English or here

Translation Working Group here

Use of power here

By Julia Evans here