On a question preliminary to any possible treatment of psychosis : December 1955-January 1956 [1958] : two most important parts of Seminar III : Jacques Lacan

by Julia Evans on December 1, 1955

This is dated December 1955 to January 1956  at the end of the text.


a) p179-225, Chapter Six of Écrits: A Selection, translated by Alan Sheridan, published by Tavistock/Routledge, 1977.

Available at www.LacanianWorksExchange.net /lacan 

Commentaries by Alan Sheridan & Jacques-Alain Miller

Translator’s note, Bibliography Note : 1977 : Alan Sheridan & Classified index of the major concepts, Commentary on the graphs : 1966 : Jacques-Alain Miller : from ‘Écrits: a selection’ or here

b) p445-488 of ‘Jacques Lacan: Écrits:The first complete edition in English’, translated by Bruce Fink, published by W. W, Norton & Company, 2006.

c) (1958b), D’une question préliminaire à tout traitement possible de la psychose : La Psychanalyse : Vol 4: pl- 50.

d) Jacques Lacan :  “Question préliminaire à tout traitement possible de la psychose”, Ecrits, Seuil, 1966, p. 549

Quote from the introduction to this text in the Alan Sheridan translation, op. cit.:

This article contains the most important parts of the seminar given during the first two terms of the academic year 1955-1956, at the École Normale Supérieure. It first appeared in ‘La Psychanalyse’, Vol 4. [end quote]


John P. Muller & William J. Richardson: A Reader’s Guide to Écrits: Published by International Universities Press, NY, USA: 1982:

A Reader’s Guide to Écrits: Ch 6: On a Question Preliminary to Any Possible Treatment of Psychosis:

Available at www.LacanianWorksExchange.net  /lacan

Further information A Reader’s Guide to Écrits: 1982: John P. Muller and William J. Richardson or here

Citation of Niederman (1950) by Jacques Lacan

See Three Notes on the Schreber Case : 14th March 1950 (New York) : William G. Niederland  or  here

p208 of Alan Sheridan’s translation of this text : It is because others were now no more than ‘images of men flung together any old how’, to combine in this translation of ‘flüchtig hingemachte’ Männer W. G. Niederland’s remarks on the uses of’ hinmachen’ and Edouard Pichon’s brilliant  stroke in the French translation

p213 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : As for the question that I am proposing here concerning the alienating effect of the signifier, I would refer to that nadir of a July night in 1894 when Ahriman, the lower God, revealing himself to Schreber in the most impressive apparel of his power, called him by that simple word, which, according to the subject, is a common word of the fundamental language: ‘Luder!’

To translate the word we must do more than simply look it up in the Sachs-Villate dictionary, which is what the French translator was content to do. M. Niederland’s reference to the English lewd does not seem to me to be acceptable as an attempt to convey the sense of ‘wretch’ or ‘slut’, which is what it means when used as a term of abuse.

p219 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : Niederland provides a remarkable example of this when he draws attention to Flechsig’s delusional genealogy, constructed with the names of Schreber’s real ancestors. Gottfried, Gottlieb, Fürchtegott, and, above all, Daniel, which is handed down from father to son and of which he gives the meaning in Hebrew, to show in their convergence on the name of God (Gott) an important symbolic chain by which the function of the father can be manifested in the delusion.

But failing to distinguish in it the agency of the Name-of-the-Father, and it is obviously not enough, in order to recognize it, that it should be visible here to the naked eye, he misses the opportunity of grasping it in the chain in which the erotic aggressions experienced by the subject are formed, and thereby of contributing to putting in its place what should properly be termed delusional homosexuality.

p219-220 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : How, then, can he stop at what is concealed in the statement of the sentence quoted above from the first lines of Schreber’s second chapter: one of those statement so obviously made not to be heard that they must be noted. ‘What, to take it literally, is the meaning of the equal footing on which the author joins the names of Flechsig and Schreber to soul-murder in order to introduce us to the principle of abuse of which he [p220] is the victim? We must leave something for future commentators to Penetrate.

As uncertain is the attempt made by Niederland in the same article to specify, this time on the basis of the subject, rather than the signifier (the terms, of course, are not his), the role of the paternal function in the triggering off of delusion.

If, indeed, he claims to be able to designate the occasion of the psychosis in the mere assumption of paternity by the subject, which is the theme of his attempt, it is contradictory to regard as equivalent the frustration noted by Schreber of his hopes of paternity and his appointment as a High Court judge, the title of which (Senätspräsidnet) emphasizes the quality of Father (albeit a conscript father) that it accords him: this for the sole motivation of his second crisis, without prejudice to the first, which can be explained in a similar way by the failure of his candidature for the Reichstag.

Whereas the reference to the third position, to which the signifier of paternity is called in all such cases, would be correct and would resolve this contradiction.

But from the point of view of my thesis it is the primordial foreclosure (Verwerfung) that dominates everything with its problem, and the preceding considerations leave me here unprepared

Linked Reading:

Seminar III: The Psychoses: 1955-1956: from 16th November 1955: Jacques Lacan or here

Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan or here

Autres Écrits: 2001 : Jacques Lacan or here


Note : If links to any required text do not work, check www.LacanianWorksExchange.net. If a particular text or book remains absent, contact Julia Evans.


Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst


Related texts

Texts related to the case of President Schreber   https://lacanianworks.net/category/practice/case-studies/case-studies-people/historial-figures/president-schreber/

For further engagements with this case, see Case of President Schreber : 1910 in References to Sigmund Freud within LacanianWorks or here

Schreber’s case revisited with echoes noted in the family of Fred West by Julia Evans : 11th January 2015 : Available here

Ordinary Psychosis: elaborations of James I/VI, Hamlet & Oedipus by Julia Evans on 28th  November 2015 or here

Schreber’s case revisited with echoes noted in the family of Fred West by Julia Evans on 11th  January 2015 : Available here

An Examination of ‘Learned Helplessness’ by Julia Evans on 11th  December 2014 or here

What Cannot Be Said: Desire, Fantasy, Real : 11th September 2013 : Dominique Holvoet or here   by Julia Evans on 11th September 2013

Psychosis, or Radical Belief in the Symptom : 17th June 2012 : Éric Laurent : given in Tel Aviv, Israel or here

The case, from unease to the lie : 2002 : Éric Laurentor here

Three Enigmas: Meaning, Signification, Jouissance : February 1993 : Éric Laurent or here    

Lacan and the Discourse of the Other : 1968 : Anthony Wilden or here

References cited by Sigmund Freud & Jacques Lacan

Some forms of emotional disturbance and their relationship to schizophrenia (‘as if’ case) : 1942 : Helene Deutsch : See  here

Psychoses of passion : 1921 : Gaétan Gatian de Clérambault  or here

Misinterpretative delusional states : 1909 : Paul Sérieux & Joseph Capgras or here

The prognosis of dementia praecox: the group of schizophrenias : 1908 : Eugene Bleuler or here

Dementia Praecox : 1896 : Emil Kraepelin or here

Letter of 24th January 1895 and Draft H, Paranoia (The Emma Eckstein episode) : 24th January 1895 : Sigmund Freud or here

Other texts

Click on categories in the right hand margin, then scroll down.

Availability of Daniel Paul Schreber’s Memoirs of my nervous illness & many of the commentaries  by Julia Evans on 2ndSeptember 2015 or at http://www.lacanianworks.net/?p=11934

Texts related to the case of President Schreber  https://lacanianworks.net/category/practice/case-studies/case-studies-people/historial-figures/president-schreber/

By Daniel Paul Schreber  https://lacanianworks.net/category/by-author/schreber-daniel-paul/

By Sigmund Freud https://lacanianworks.net/category/by-author/freud-sigmund/

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud   https://lacanianworks.net/category/works-in-progress/freud/

By Jacques Lacan  https://lacanianworks.net/category/by-author/lacan-jacques/

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan  https://lacanianworks.net/category/works-in-progress/lacan/

Use of power  https://lacanianworks.net/category/networking-politics/b-policy/ii-use-of-power/

Of the clinic  https://lacanianworks.net/category/practice/case-studies/case-studies-clinical/

Ordinary Psychosis https://lacanianworks.net/category/practice/case-studies/case-studies-clinical/ordinary-psychosis/

Lacanian Transmission  https://lacanianworks.net/category/networking-politics/a-ethics/lacanian-transmission/

Some Lacanian History  https://lacanianworks.net/category/lacanianworks-references-to-freud-lacan/some-lacanian-history/

Topology   https://lacanianworks.net/category/practice/case-studies/case-studies-clinical/topology-and-the-clinic/

From LW working groups https://lacanianworks.net/category/works-in-progress/

By Julia Evans   http://www.lacanianworks.net/?p=12365