Notes on p19-27 of Seminar VII: 25th November 1959: Reading Group of 27th October 2012 (Dream of ‘strawberries’ & of ‘dead father’)

by Julia Evans on October 27, 2012


– References for Dream of ‘dead father’ : see below for notes on these references.

The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  : Available here

Formulations on the two principles of mental functioning: 1911 : Sigmund Freud

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

Sem VI:  12th November 1958: p1

Sem VI: 19th November 1958:  p16

Sem VI:  19th November 1958: p24

See Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: from 18th November 1959 : Jacques Lacan or here

Sem VII: 25th November 1959: p27

– Other references:

Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: from 18th November 1959 : Jacques Lacan or here

Other notes for Seminar VII here

Notes from p1 – 7 of Seminar VII from the 21-09-12 Reading Group Meeting  or  here

Further comments on ‘perverse jouissance’: Seminar VII: session of 18th November 1959  or here

Notes on Seminar VII: 18th November 1959 from page 7 to 15 or here

– Jacques Lacan’s references in Sem VII : 18th November 1959 : p7 to 15:

Notes on Seminar VII: 18th November 1959 from page 7 to 15 by Julia Evans on October 6, 2012 or here

Some forms of emotional disturbance and their relationship to schizophrenia: 1942 : Helene Deutsch or here : Quoted as ‘the as if case’.

It almost looks as if analysis were the third of those ‘impossible’ professions in which one can be sure beforehand of achieving unsatisfying results. The other two, which have been known much longer, are education and government. Freud Or here

The Project for a Scientific Psychology: 23rd & 25th September & 5th October 1895: Sigmund Freud or here

References for Seminar VII: 25th November 1959: p19 to 27

A tangled web of “ethos” by Nicholas Stylianou on 31st October 2012 or here

Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess: 31st October 1897 : Known as Letter 73 or here

The Project for a Scientific Psychology: 23rd & 25th September & 5th October 1895: Sigmund Freud or here

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p17

Introduction: p18-19

Jacques-Alain Miller’s, editor, headings are the

Section heading of ‘Introduction to the thing’ (p19):

Chapter heading: ‘Pleasure and reality’

Sub-headings : The moral agency actualises the real, Inertia and rectification, reality is precarious, opposition and intersection of the principles.

Seminar VII: 25th November 1959 : p19

Seminar VII: 25th November 1959 : p19, para 2: Quote: Honey is either very hard or very fluid. If it’s hard, it is difficult to cut, since there are no natural breaks. If it’s very liquid, it is suddenly all over the place.  This is commenting on the different natures of primary and secondary processes – see comments on Seminar VII: 25th November 1959 : p27

Seminar VII: 25th November 1959 : p19, para 3: Quote: Hence the problem of pots. … The two have exactly the same meaning now that we no longer imagine that the hexagons in which we tend to store our harvest have a natural relationship to the structure of the world. Consequently, the question we are raising is in the end always the same, i.e., what is the significance of the world?  JE notes that ‘natural’ is used in two contexts here: ‘no natural breaks’ and ‘natural relationship to the structure of the world.’ One involves a cut and the other a relationship.

The following refers to similar arguments of inside/outside and the structure of the container. : Seminar II: 26th January 1955: p100 of Sylvana Tomaselli’s translation : See Seminar II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis: 1954-1955: begins 17th November 1954 : Jacques Lacan or here : Quote: P100 5th para: This is the sketch of this fruitful something which is going to be foundation of the psychology of conflict, and which makes a bridge between libidinal experience as such, and the world of human knowledge, which characterised by the fact that, for the most part, it escapes from the field of the forces of desire. The human world isn’t at all structurable as an ‘Umwelt’, fitting inside an ‘Innenwelt’ of needs, it isn’t enclosed, but rather open to a crowd of extraordinarily varied neutral objects, of objects which no longer even have anything to do with objects, in their radical function as symbols.

Seminar VII: 25th November 1959 : p19, para 4: …with realising how the ethical question of our practice is intimately related to one that we have been in a position to glimpse fro some time, namely, that the deep dissatisfaction we find in every psychology … derives from the fact that it is nothing more than a mask, … our own is simply another development of ethical reflection, of the search for a guide or a way, that in the last analysis may be formulated as follows: “Given our condition as men, what must we do in order to act in the right way?”

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p20

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p20, para 1: Quote: Our way of introducing this action, of presenting and justifying it, is different. Its beginning is characterised by features of demand, appeal and urgency, whose specialized meaning places us closer to earth as far as the idea of the articulation of an ethics is concerned. :  Bruno de Florence drew our attention to Aristotle’s distinction of Vegetable/Animal/Humans and what makes vegetable or animals or humans move.  Quote from philosophy here : In Μεταφυσικη (Metaphysics) Aristotle tried to justify the entire enterprise by grounding it all in an abstract study of being qua being. Although Aristotle rejected the Platonic theory of forms, he defended his own vision of ultimate reality, including the eternal existence of substance. On The Soul uses the notion of a hylomorphic composite to provide a detailed account of the functions exhibited by living things—vegetable, animal, and human—and explains the use of sensation and reason to achieve genuine knowledge.

That Aristotle was interested in more than a strictly scientific exploration of human nature is evident from the discussion of literary art (particularly tragedy) in Περι Ποιητικης (Poetics) and the methods of persuasion in the ‘Ρητορειας (Rhetoric).  I, however, wonder if Lacan is questioning from where the action or ethics is being driven – is it from earth or, perhaps, heaven? Thus earthly would be contrasted with the Good. (See previous references to Virtue Ethics)

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p20, para 2

Comment: This once again contrasts two ‘poles’: Quote: the recognition of the omnipresence of the moral imperative, of its infiltration into all our experience, to the other pole, that is to say, the pleasure in a second degree we may paradoxically find there, namely, moral masochism. :

Moral Masochism in Freud

The Economic Problem of Masochism: 1924 : Penguin Freud Library pfl: Volume 11 On Metapsychology : p411-426 : ( Available at /freud)

[p3061(p415pfl)] The conclusion to be drawn from these considerations is that the description of the pleasure principle as the watchman over our life cannot be rejected.

To return to masochism. Masochism comes under our observation in three forms: as a condition imposed on sexual excitation, as an expression of the feminine nature, and as a norm of behaviour. We may, accordingly, distinguish an erotogenic, a feminine and a moral masochism. The first, the erotogenic, masochism – pleasure in pain – lies at the bottom of the other two forms as well. Its basis must be sought along biological and constitutional lines and it remains incomprehensible unless one decides to make certain assumptions about matters that are extremely obscure. The third, and in some respects the most important, form assumed by masochism has only recently been recognized by psycho-analysis as a sense of guilt which is mostly unconscious; but it can already be completely explained and fitted into the rest of our knowledge. Feminine masochism, on the other hand, is the one that is most accessible to our observation and least problematical, and it can be surveyed in all its relations. We will begin our discussion with it.

[p3170 (417pfl)]On the other hand, this factor of guilt provides a transition to the third, moral, form of masochism.

This feminine masochism which we have been describing is entirely based on the primary, erotogenic masochism, on pleasure in pain.

[p3171(420pfl)] The third form of masochism, moral masochism, is chiefly remarkable for having loosened its connection with what we recognize as sexuality. All other masochistic sufferings carry with them the condition that they shall emanate from the loved person and shall be endured at his command. This restriction has been dropped in moral masochism. The suffering itself is what matters; whether it is decreed by someone who is loved or by someone who is indifferent is of no importance. It may even be caused by impersonal powers or by circumstances; the true masochist always turns his cheek whenever he has a chance of receiving a blow. It is very tempting, in explaining this attitude, to leave the libido out of account and to confine oneself to assuming that in this case the destructive instinct has been turned inwards again and is now raging against the self; yet there must be some meaning in the fact that linguistic usage has not given up the connection between this norm of behaviour and erotism and calls these self-injurers masochists too.

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p20, para 4

Quote: My thesis involves the idea that the moral law affirms itself in opposition to pleasure, and we can sense that to speak of the real in connection with the moral law seems to put into question the value of what we normally include in the notion of the ideal. Comment: So the moral law in connection with the real and pleasure is opposed to the moral law connected to the ideal.  Food for thought!

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p20, para 5

Quote: …that movement which traverses the whole of Freud’s thought. It is a movement which makes him start with a first opposition between reality principle and pleasure principle in order, … to conclude at the end of the theoretic formulations by positing something beyond the pleasure principle that might well leave us wondering how it relates to the first opposition. Beyond the pleasure principle we encounter that opaque surface which … that is known as the death drive.

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p21

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p21, para 1 :

a) Translation note: death instinct should be translated as death drive.

b) This is a reference to Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle: 1920g: pfl Volume 11: On Metapsychology: p269-338

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p21, para 2 :

Translation: Death instinct should be death drive.

The question: Quote: What is the death drive? What is this law beyond all law, that can only be posited as a final structure, as a vanishing point of any reality that might be attained? The answer: “In the coupling of the pleasure principle and reality principle, [either] the reality principle might seem to be a prolongation or an application of the pleasure principle [or] this dependent and limited position seems to cause something to emerge, something which controls in the broadest sense the whole of our relationship to the world. …. And in this process, this progress, … we see the problematic nature of that which Freud posits as reality.

Note: There was some discussion, by Bruno de Florence at this point of masks or totems which allow representation. Reference Freud’s Ego & id: 1920.  I cannot now relate this discussion to the text and welcome help.

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p21, para 3 : Questions what is Freud’s reality

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p21, para 4: Clinical remark: It is on the road to the investigation of this reality that we find ourselves as analysts, and it leads us a long way from something that can be expressed under the category of wholeness.  It leads us into a special area, that of psychic reality, …

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p21, para 6:  Quote: Moral action is, in effect grafted on to the real. It introduces something new into the real and thereby opens a path in which the point of our presence is legitimised.

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p22

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p22, para 1: I will say right off that the ethical limits of psychoanalysis coincide with the limits of his/her analysis. His/Her analysis is only preliminary to moral action as such – the so-called action being the one through which we enter the real.

b) Translation: practice is wrong and should be analysis.  Julia Evans thinks that its must be wrong as analysis refers to the psychoanalyst. Thus above ‘its’ has been rendered as her/his.

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p22, para 2

Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics available here : Provided by The Internet Classics Archive : Translated W. D. Ross

Notes on Aristotle & Nicomachean Ethics: taken from Wikipedia here  Aristotle (Ancient Greek: Ἀριστοτέλης, Aristotélēs) (384 BC – 322 BC)[1] was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theatre, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology. Together with Plato and Socrates (Plato’s teacher), Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Aristotle’s writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing morality, aesthetics, logic, science, politics, and metaphysics.

Aristotle’s views on the physical sciences profoundly shaped medieval scholarship, and their influence extended well into the Renaissance, although they were ultimately replaced by Newtonian physics. In the zoological sciences, some of his observations were confirmed to be accurate only in the 19th century. His works contain the earliest known formal study of logic, which was incorporated in the late 19th century into modern formal logic. In metaphysics, Aristotelianism had a profound influence on philosophical and theological thinking in the Islamic and Jewish traditions in the Middle Ages, and it continues to influence Christian theology, especially the scholastic tradition of the Catholic Church. Aristotle was well known among medieval Muslim intellectuals and revered as المعلم الأول – “The First Teacher”. His ethics, though always influential, gained renewed interest with the modern advent of virtue ethics. All aspects of Aristotle’s philosophy continue to be the object of active academic study today. Though Aristotle wrote many elegant treatises and dialogues (Cicero described his literary style as “a river of gold”), it is thought that the majority of his writings are now lost and only about one-third of the original works have survived.

Nicomachean Ethics: from Wikipedia here : The Nicomachean Ethics /nɪˌkɒmæˈkiːən is the name normally given to Aristotle’s best known work on ethics. The work, which plays a pre-eminent role in defining Aristotelian ethics, consists of ten books, originally separate scrolls, and is understood to be based on notes from his lectures at the Lyceum, which were either edited by or dedicated to Aristotle’s son, Nicomachus.

The theme of the work is the Socratic question which had previously been explored in Plato’s works, of how men should best live. In his Metaphysics, Aristotle described how Socrates turned philosophy to human questions, whereas Pre-Socratic philosophy had only been theoretical. Ethics, as now separated out for discussion by Aristotle, is practical rather than theoretical, in the original Aristotelian senses of these terms. In other words it is not only a contemplation about good living, but also aims to create good living. It is therefore connected to Aristotle’s other practical work, Politics, which similarly aims at people becoming good. However ethics is about how individuals should best live, while the study of politics is from the perspective of a law-giver, looking at the good of a whole community.

The Nicomachean Ethics is widely considered one of the most important historical philosophical works, and had an important impact upon the European Middle Ages, becoming one of the core works of medieval philosophy. It therefore indirectly became critical in the development of all modern philosophy as well as European law and theology. Many parts of the Nicomachean Ethics are well known in their own right, within different fields. In the Middle Ages, a synthesis between Aristotelian ethics and Christian theology became widespread, especially in Europe. While various philosophers had influenced Christendom since its earliest times, in Western Europe Aristotle became “the Philosopher” under the influence of the Spanish Moslem philosopher Averroes. The most important version of this synthesis was that of Thomas of Aquinas. Other more “Averroist” Aristotelians such as Marsilius of Padua were controversial but also very important. A critical period in the history of this work’s influence is at the end of the Middle Ages, and beginning of modernity, when several authors such as Niccolò Machiavelli, Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes, argued forcefully and largely successfully that the medieval Aristotelian tradition in practical thinking had become a great impediment to practical political thinking in their time. However in more recent generations, Aristotle’s original works (if not that of his medieval followers) have once again become an important source.

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p22, para 3 : Quote: something that to some extent the work has in common with all the other ethics – it tends to refer to an order.  … first of all as a science, an επιστημη  (both the ε and the first η have accents…)

a) translation: this was first translated by Nicholas Stylianou, as epistemology. The Pocket Oxford Classical Greek Dictionary defines it as: knowledge, intelligence, insight; skill; science, art

b) For the translation of εθος see reference below

c) Quote: the uncontested order which defines the norm of a certain character, εθος. Thus the problem is raised of the way in which that order may be established in a subject. How can a form of adequation be achieved in a subject so that he will enter that order and submit himself to it?

P22 : Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : §1 : p22 of Porter’s English translation : Quote “…habits – that’s what is mean by θος. And this θος has to be made to conform to the ήθος…”

Nicholas Stylianou, a reading group member, has been researching the ἔθος / ἦθος / ήθος terminology.  His findings are available on LacanianWorks as follows:  A tangled web of “ethos” by Nicholas Stylianou on October 31, 2012 or here  Thank you, Nick.

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p22, para 4: This returns to the difference between a living being and an inanimate, inert being.  This difference is the establishment of ηθος or morality.

b) So habits (ἔθος) are built to a ήθος which is made to conform to THE ήθος so a particular order is unified (I have written the word tuché in the margin here for unified) in a Sovereign Good.  There are therefore 4 levels: ἔθος or habits, a ήθος, THE ήθος, & Sovereign Good.

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p22, para 5: The problem constantly posed is he (or she) who possesses this science.  So that is at the level of ἔθος.  Instead of driving top-down: from the Sovereign Good to habits, it appears that Jacques Lacan is driving from the bottom ἔθος upwards to the Sovereign Good. When a disciple or pupil listens, they are brought within the Sovereign Good. So how can intemperance survive?

b) translation (all accents are missing) ορθος orthos P233 of Pocket Oxford Dictionary: straight, upright, erect; straight forward, in a straight line; unharmed, safe, prosperous; anxious, attentive, expecting; right, just, righteous, upright; etc

λογος Logos. P201 of Pocket Oxford Dictionary : saying, speaking, speech, mode of speaking; eloquence, discourse; conversation, talk; word, etc

Ethos, pathos & logos are used by Aristotle as appeals. The following are notes, from the internet on this:

From notes published by Durham Technical College, here

A General Summary of Aristotle’s Appeals . . .

The goal of argumentative writing is to persuade your audience that your ideas are valid, or more valid than someone else’s. The Greek philosopher Aristotle divided the means of persuasion, appeals, into three categories–Ethos, Pathos, Logos.

Ethos (Credibility), or ethical appeal, means convincing by the character of the author. We tend to believe people whom we respect. One of the central problems of argumentation is to project an impression to the reader that you are someone worth listening to, in other words making yourself as author into an authority on the subject of the paper, as well as someone who is likable and worthy of respect.

Pathos (Emotional) means persuading by appealing to the reader’s emotions. We can look at texts ranging from classic essays to contemporary advertisements to see how pathos, emotional appeals, are used to persuade. Language choice affects the audience’s emotional response, and emotional appeal can effectively be used to enhance an argument.

Logos (Logical) means persuading by the use of reasoning. This will be the most important technique we will study, and Aristotle’s favorite. We’ll look at deductive and inductive reasoning, and discuss what makes an effective, persuasive reason to back up your claims. Giving reasons is the heart of argumentation, and cannot be emphasized enough. We’ll study the types of support you can use to substantiate your thesis, and look at some of the common logical fallacies, in order to avoid them in your writing.

Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.

Logos (Greek for ‘word’) refers to the internal consistency of the message–the clarity of the claim, the logic of its reasons, and the effectiveness of its supporting evidence. The impact of logos on an audience is sometimes called the argument’s logical appeal.

Ethos (Greek for ‘character’) refers to the trustworthiness or credibility of the writer or speaker. Ethos is often conveyed through tone and style of the message and through the way the writer or speaker refers to differing views. It can also be affected by the writer’s reputation as it exists independently from the message–his or her expertise in the field, his or her previous record or integrity, and so forth. The impact of ethos is often called the argument’s ‘ethical appeal’ or the ‘appeal from credibility.’

[P]athos (Greek for ‘suffering’ or ‘experience’) is often associated with emotional appeal. But a better equivalent might be ‘appeal to the audience’s sympathies and imagination.’ An appeal to pathos causes an audience not just to respond emotionally but to identify with the writer’s point of view–to feel what the writer feels. In this sense, pathos evokes a meaning implicit in the verb ‘to suffer’–to feel pain imaginatively…. Perhaps the most common way of conveying a pathetic appeal is through narrative or story, which can turn the abstractions of logic into something palpable and present. The values, beliefs, and understandings of the writer are implicit in the story and conveyed imaginatively to the reader. Pathos thus refers to both the emotional and the imaginative impact of the message on an audience, the power with which the writer’s message moves the audience to decision or action.

[The above text drawn verbatim from Ramage, John D. and John C. Bean. Writing Arguments. 4th Edition. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1998, 81-82.]

From the University of Arizona, here Or The Shorthand Version:

Ethos: the source’s credibility, the speaker’s/author’s authority

Logos: the logic used to support a claim (induction and deduction); can also be the facts and statistics used to help support the argument.

Pathos: the emotional or motivational appeals; vivid language, emotional language and numerous sensory details.

Seminar VII : 25th November : p23

Seminar VII : 25th November : p23: para 1 : Translation: ‘impulses’ is ‘penchant’ in the French. Either ‘leanings’ or ‘penchant’ is suggested as the translation.  So the sentence becomes: How is it possible that a subject’s penchants draw him elsewhere? I suppose what Lacan is asking is : Why do we stray?  Lacan suggests that this is the question Aristotle is asking in his Ethics.

Seminar VII : 25th November : p23: para 3: See notes on Seminar VII: 18th November 1959 : p11 paragraph 6 : available here Notes on Seminar VII: 18th November 1959 from page 7 to 15 or here  for comments on Aristotle’s Master/Salve dialectic.

b)  Translation: p12 of Pocket Oxford Classical Greek Dictionary: ακολασια = licentiousness, debauchery, (possibly without limits)

c) Lacan states that for Aristotle it is a question of elucidating the relationship that may exist between ακολασια and the fault revealed relative to the essential virtue of the master (or the Supreme Good).

Seminar VII : 25th November : p23: para 4

There are notes on Hegel’s Master/Slave dialectic at Seminar VII: 18th November 1959 : p11 paragraph 6: available here Notes on Seminar VII: 18th November 1959 from page 7 to 15 or here

b) Lacan outlines the difference between Aristotle and Hegel. In Hegel the Master/Slave is isolated whereas in Aristotle the master belongs to a society of masters.

Seminar VII : 25th November : p23: para 5 : translation: νους : nous : p222 of Pocket Oxford Classical Greek Dictionary : mind, understanding, reason; thought, insight; purpose, intention,; meaning, sense.

b) I remember the term Scholastic (in the Greek) being used in this Seminar.  I cannot now find the reference (see below).  I understand that in Greek Society the pinnacle of achievement was lying around, probably drinking vast quantities of wine and discussing important matters. In this paragraph, Lacan draws attention to this and calls it an ‘idealization’. Lacan then argues that Aristotelian ethics are held within this point of view.

Seminar VII : 25th November : p23: para 6: translation: σχολαστικος = scholasticos : p314 of Pocket Oxford Classical Greek Dictionary. This exact word is not in the dictionary. The nearest word is translated as: be at leisure, have spare time; have leisure of time for; devote oneself to; linger; delay.

b) Lacan argues that Aristotle’s ethics are limited as they are held within this ideal of  σχολαστικος.  This does not mean the schemas are useless.  Quote: These schemas may be recomposed or transposed in such a way that we will not be putting our new honey into the same old containers.  (See page 19 of these notes for references to honey and containers.)

Seminar VII : 25th November : p24

Seminar VII : 25th November : p24: para 1: Lacan makes ‘search for a way’ the equivalent of ‘search for a truth’

b) Lacan questions: For what else are we seeking in analysis if not a liberating truth?

Seminar VII : 25th November : p24: para 2 : Quote: This truth that we are seeking in a concrete experience is not that of a superior law. If the truth that we are seeking is a truth that frees, it is a truth that we will look for in a hiding place in our subject. It is a particular truth.

Seminar VII : 25th November : p24: para 3 : Translation: Wunsch is wish or desire.

b) The definition of a particular truth: Quote: But if the form of its articulation that we find is the same in everyone though always different, it is because it appears to everyone in its intimate specificity with the charater of an imperious Wunsch. Nothing can be compared to it that allows it to be judged from the outside. The quality that best characterizes it is that of being the true Wunsch, which was at the origin of an aberrant or atypical behaviour.

Seminar VII : 25th November : p24: para 4 : Quote: this Wunsch … but of a final experience from whence it springs and is subsequently preserved in the depths of the subject in an irreducible form.  The Wunsch does not have the character of a universal law but … of the most particular laws … We find it in a form … characterised by a thought abandoned to desire, by desire taken to be reality.

Seminar VII : 25th November : p24: para 5 : If this is so, then ‘everything remains veiled for us.

Seminar VII : 25th November : p24: para 6 : The Child is father of the Man : William Wordsworth: 1802


My heart leaps up when I behold

A rainbow in the sky:

So was it when my life began;

So is it now I am a man;

So be it when I shall grow old,

Or let me die!

The Child is father of the Man;

I could wish my days to be

Bound each to each by natural piety.

Freud: [p2214] :  from The Claims of Psychoanalysis to Scientific Interest :1913 : Part II The Claims of Psychoanalysis to the Interest of the Non-Psychological Sciences : Section (D) The Interest of Psychoanalysis from a Developmental Point of View:  Psycho-analysis has been obliged to derive the mental life of adults from that of children, and has had to take seriously the old saying that the child is father to the man. It has traced the continuity between the infantile and adult mind, and has also noted the transformations and re-arrangements that occur in the process. In most of us there is a gap in our memories covering the first years of our childhood, of which only a few fragmentary recollections survive. Psycho-analysis may be said to have filled in this gap and to have abolished man’s infantile amnesia.

Seminar VII : 25th November : p25

Seminar VII : 25th November : p25: para 1 : Notes from and available here:  ‘metaphysical poets: “A term used to group together certain 17th-century poets, usually DONNE, MARVELL, VAUGHAN and TRAHERNE, though other figures like ABRAHAM COWLEY are sometimes included in the list. Although in no sense a school or movement proper, they share common characteristics of wit, inventiveness, and a love of elaborate stylistic manoeuvres.
  Metaphysical concerns are the common subject of their poetry, which investigates the world by rational discussion of its phenomena rather than by intuition or mysticism. DRYDEN was the first to apply the term to 17th-century poetry when, in 1693, he criticized Donne: ‘He affects the Metaphysics… in his amorous verses, where nature only should reign; and perplexes the minds of the fair sex with nice speculations of philosophy, when he should engage their hearts.’  He disapproved of Donne’s stylistic excesses, particularly his extravagant conceits (or witty comparisons) and his tendency towards hyperbolic abstractions. JOHNSON consolidated the argument in THE LIVES OF THE POETS, where he noted (with reference to Cowley) that ‘about the beginning of the seventeenth century appeared a race of writers that may be termed the metaphysical poets’.  He went on to describe the far-fetched nature of their comparisons as ‘a kind of discordia concors; a combination of dissimilar images, or discovery of occult resemblances in things apparently unlike’.  Examples of the practice Johnson condemned would include the extended comparison of love with astrology (by Donne) and of the soul with a drop of dew (by Marvell).

Seminar VII : 25th November : p25: para 2 : Quote: That reference to childhood, the idea of the child in man, the idea that something demands that a man be something other than a child, but that the demands of the child as such are perpetually felt in him, all of that in the sphere of psychology can be historically situated.

Seminar VII : 25th November : p25: para 3: Notes on Macaulay: quoted from available here : Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron Macaulay of Rothley   (born October 25, 1800, Rothley Temple, Leicestershire, England—died December 28, 1859, Campden Hill, London), English Whig politician, essayist, poet, and historian best known for his History of England, 5 vol. (1849–61); this work, which covers the period 1688–1702, secured his place as one of the founders of what has been called the Whig interpretation of history. He was raised to the peerage in 1857.

b)  Pascal : Notes on Blaise Pascal (Born: 19 June 1623 in Clermont (now Clermont-Ferrand), Auvergne, France
Died: 19 Aug 1662 in Paris, France) : From School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland: available here : Blaise Pascal was the third of Étienne Pascal’s children and his only son. Blaise’s mother died when he was only three years old. In 1632 the Pascal family, Étienne and his four children, left Clermont and settled in Paris. Blaise Pascal’s father had unorthodox educational views and decided to teach his son himself. Étienne Pascal decided that Blaise was not to study mathematics before the age of 15 and all mathematics texts were removed from their house. Blaise however, his curiosity raised by this, started to work on geometry himself at the age of 12. He discovered that the sum of the angles of a triangle are two right angles and, when his father found out, he relented and allowed Blaise a copy of Euclid.

At the age of 14 Blaise Pascal started to accompany his father to Mersenne’s meetings. Mersenne belonged to the religious order of the Minims, and his cell in Paris was a frequent meeting place for Gassendi, Roberval, Carcavi, Auzout, Mydorge, Mylon, Desargues and others. Soon, certainly by the time he was 15, Blaise came to admire the work of Desargues. At the age of sixteen, Pascal presented a single piece of paper to one of Mersenne’s meetings in June 1639. It contained a number of projective geometry theorems, including Pascal’s mystic hexagon.

In December 1639 the Pascal family left Paris to live in Rouen where Étienne had been appointed as a tax collector for Upper Normandy. Shortly after settling in Rouen, Blaise had his first work, Essay on Conic Sections published in February 1640. (Aged 17 years)

Seminar VII : 25th November : p25: para 4: Quote: We constantly come upon the fact that this adult thought runs out of steam relative to the famous child’s thought that we use to judge our adult. We use it not as a foil, but as a reference point, a vanishing point, where unfulfillments and even degradations come together and reach their end. There is a perpetual contradiction in the reference we make to these things.

Seminar VII : 25th November : p25: para 5 : Ernest Jones: I have not been able to trace this reference.

Seminar VII : 25th November : p25: para 6 : In this paragraph the idea of an ideal development is questioned. Quote: No doubt psychoanalysis has ended up ordering all the material of its experience in terms of an ideal development. But at its beginning it finds its terms in a wholly different system of references, to which development and genesis only give intermittent support.

Seminar VII : 25th November : p26

Seminar VII : 25th November : p26, para 1: Quote: The fundamental reference is the tension or, the opposition between the primary process and the secondary process, between the pleasure principle and the reality principle.

Seminar VII : 25th November : p26, para 2 : Translation mistake: remove so-called so the sentence reads: Freud in the course of his auto-analysis….

Seminar VII : 25th November : p26, para 2 : Letter 73 available here  Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess: 31st October 1897 : Known as Letter 73 or here

Note: the Strawberry dream, which was discussed during the reading group, is now available here (Dream: Child aged 10 months dream of strawberries: 31st October 1897 : Sigmund Freud by Julia Evans on October 31, 1897 or here) as Lacan does not discuss this dream.

Letter to Fliess of 31st October 1897 (Letter 73): Translated by Jeffrey Masson : P275 : My analysis continues and remains my chief interest. Everything is still obscure, even the problems/ but there is a comfortable feeling in it that one has only to reach into one’s storerooms to take out what is needed at a particular time. The most disagreeable part of it is the moods, which often completely hide reality. Sexual excitement/too, is no longer of use for someone like me. (Footnote 2 )But I am still pursuing it happily. As regards results, just now there is once more a lull. … Under the influence of analysis my cardiac symptoms are now very frequently replaced by gastrointestinal symptoms.

Footnote 2. The German text reads, “Auch die sexuelle Erregung ist frir einen wie ich nicht mehr zu brauchen.” It may be that Freud is referring to sexual excitement in the. context of his self-analysis. When he continues and says, “Ich bin aber noch immcr freudig dabei,” this is ambiguous and could refer either to sexuality (that he still takes pleasure in it) or, more likely, to the analysis.

Letter 73 to Wilhelm Fliess (31st October 1897): Translated by James Strachey : p227: My own analysis is going on, and it remains my chief interest.

Everything is still dark, including even the nature of the problems, but at the same time I have a reassuring feeling that one only has to put one’s hand in one’s own store-cupboard to be able to extract-in its own good time-what one needs. The most disagreeable thing about it is one’s moods, which often completely hide reality from one. Also sexual excitation is of no more use to a person like me. But I am still cheerful with it all.

At the moment another period lacking in results has set in.

Seminar VII: 25th November 1959: p26 para 4 : Erich Fromm : March 23, 1900 – March 18, 1980 : Sigmund Freud’s mission; an analysis of his personality and influence (1959)

Seminar VII: 25th November 1959: p27

Seminar VII: 25th November 1959: p27 para 3

Quote Para 2 & 3: It is, therefore, not only proper but necessary that we begin at that point our analysis of the meaning in Freud’s thought of the thematics of the reality principle in opposition to the pleasure principle. Is there or is there not something distinctive relative to the development of his thought there, and at the same time to the directions taken by our own experience?

Seminar VII: 25th November 1959: p27 , Para 3: Quote: The opposition between the pleasure principle and the reality principle was rearticulated throughout Freud’s work – 1895, the ‘Entwurf’ (Project for a Scientific Psychology) :The reference to Freud’s Entwurf (Project for a Scientific Psychology), available here The Project for a Scientific Psychology: 23rd & 25th September & 5th October 1895: Sigmund Freud or here): The following is an earlier reference to this work and the ‘so-called primary and secondary processes’ (JL). I think I originally found it when reading Seminar X but cannot now remember.

Seminar II: 26th January 1955: Introduction to the Entwurf: Sub-headings: On the level of psychosomatic reactions; The real is without fissure; The rediscovery of the object: p100 of Sylvana Tomaselli’s translation : See Seminar II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis: 1954-1955: begins 17th November 1954 : Jacques Lacan or here : Quote: Apropos of states of desire, what Freud puts into play is the correspondence between the object which appears and the structures already constituted in the ego. He stresses the following – either what appears is what is expected and that isn’t in the least interesting – or it doesn’t work out well and that’s very interesting, for any kind of construction of the object world is always an attempt to rediscover the object, Wiederzufinden [Footnote: See SE I p329 (1950). Project for a Scientific Psychology (1950 [1895]). The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume I ( 1886-1899) and GWII/III 572: Stud II 540; SEV 566 : See here] Freud distinguishes two completely different structurations of human experience – one which, along with Kierkegaard, I called ancient, based on reminiscence, presupposing agreement, harmony between man and the world of his objects, which means that he recognises them, because in some way, he has always known them – and, on the contrary, the conquest, the structuration of the world through the effort of labour, along the path of repetition. To the extent that what appears to him corresponds only partially with what has already gained him satisfaction, the subject engages in a quest, and repeats his quest indefinitely until he rediscovers this object.

Seminar II : 26th January 1955 : p101, 3rd para: Quote: Following the path of eighteenth-century philosophers, and like every one else at the time, Freud reconstructs everything, memory, judgement, etc., starting off from sensation, and only stopping for one moment in the quest for the object in itself. But he find himself returning to the primary process in so far as it concerns sleep and dreams. And this is how ever this mechanical reconstruction of reality still leads to the dream.

27th October 2012 : comment on these two processes or principles.

Owen Hewitson remarked that he thought that Jacques Lacan reverses their order as given by Freud.  I added that in Seminar VII: 18th November 1959 : p11 paragraph 2 (Available here Notes on Seminar VII: 18th November 1959 from page 7 to 15 by Julia Evans on October 6, 2012 or here), this point is also made.

b) Seminar VII: 25th November 1959: p27, Para 3: Quote: The opposition between the pleasure principle and the reality principle was rearticulated throughout Freud’s work … Chapter VII of the Traumdeutung (1900) with the first public rearticulation of the so-called primary and secondary processes, the one governed by the pleasure principle and the other by the reality principle: … : Reference to ‘ The Interpretation of Dreams: November 1899, published date given as 1900: Sigmund Freud. [Availability givenThe Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  : Available here] especially Chapter VII: Title: The Psychology of the Dream-processes : Sub-titles: (A) The Forgetting of Dreams, (B) Regression, (C) Wish-Fulfilment, (D) Arousal by dreams – The Function of dreams – Anxiety-Dreams (E) The Primary and Secondary Processes – Repression (F) The Unconscious and Conscious – Reality:  Quote from section (E) : p756 – 762 of pfl, Volume 4, The Interpretation of Dreams: (Well I think this is the relevant part)(JE editorial note: the italics are Strachey’s to which I have added inverted commas)  : Thus we are driven to conclude that two fundamentally different kinds of psychical process are concerned in the formation of dreams. One of these produces perfectly rational dream-thoughts, of no less validity than normal thinking; while the other treats these thoughts in a manner which is in the highest degree bewildering and irrational. We have already in Chapter VI segregated this second psychical process as being the dream-work proper. What light have we now to throw upon its origin?

It would not be possible for us to answer this question if we had not made some headway in the study of the psychology of the neuroses, and particularly of hysteria. We have found from this that the same irrational psychical processes, and others that we have not specified, dominate the production of hysterical symptoms. In hysteria, too, we come across a series of perfectly rational thoughts, equal in validity to our conscious thoughts; but to begin with we know nothing of their existence in this form and we can only reconstruct them subsequently. If they force themselves upon our notice at any point, we discover by analysing the symptom which has been produced that these normal thoughts have been submitted to abnormal treatment: ‘they have been transformed into the symptom by means of condensation and the formation of compromises, by way of superficial associations and in disregard of contradictions, and also, it may be, along the path of regression.’ In view of the complete identity between the characteristic features of the dream-work and those of the psychical activity which issues in psychoneurotic symptoms, we feel justified in carrying over to dreams the conclusions we have been led to by hysteria.

We accordingly borrow the following thesis from the theory of hysteria: ‘a normal train of thought is only submitted to abnormal psychical treatment of the sort we have been describing if an unconscious wish, derived from infancy and in a state of repression has been transferred on to it.’ In accordance with this thesis we have constructed our theory of dreams on the assumption that the dream-wish which provides the motive power invariably originates from the unconscious – an assumption which, as I myself am ready to admit, cannot be proved to hold generally, though neither can it be disproved. But in order to explain what is meant by ‘repression’, a term with which we have already made play so many times, it is necessary to proceed a stage further with our psychological scaffolding.

We have already [pfl p718 and onwards] explored the fiction of a primitive psychical apparatus whose activities are regulated by an effort to avoid an accumulation of excitation and to maintain itself so far as possible without excitation. For that reason it is built upon the plan of a reflex apparatus. The power of movement, which is in the first instance a means of bringing about internal alterations in its body, is at its disposal as the path to discharge. We went on to discuss the psychical consequences of an ‘experience of satisfaction’; and in that connection we were already able to add a second hypothesis, to the effect that the accumulation of excitation (brought about in various ways that need not concern us) is felt as unpleasure and that it sets the apparatus in action with a view to repeating the experience of satisfaction, which involved a diminution of excitation and was felt as pleasure. A current of this kind in the apparatus, starting from unpleasure and aiming at pleasure, we have termed a ‘wish’; and we have asserted that only a wish is able to set the apparatus in motion and that the course of the excitation in it is automatically regulated by feelings of pleasure and unpleasure. The first wishing seems to have been a hallucinatory cathecting of the memory of satisfaction. Such hallucinations, however, if they were not to be maintained to the point of exhaustion, proved to be inadequate to bring about the cessation of the need or, accordingly, the pleasure attaching to satisfaction.

A second activity – or, as we put it, the activity of a second system – became necessary, which would not allow the mnemic cathexis to proceed as far as perception and from there to bind the psychical forces; instead, it diverted the excitation arising from the need along a roundabout path which ultimately, by means of voluntary movement, altered the external world in such a way that it became possible to arrive at a real perception of the object of satisfaction. We have already outlined our schematic picture of the psychical apparatus up to this point; the two systems are the germ of what, in the fully developed apparatus, we have described as the ‘Ucs’. and ‘Pcs.’

In order to be able to employ the power of movement to make alterations in the external world that shall be effective, it is necessary to accumulate a great number of experiences in the mnemic systems and a multiplicity of permanent records of the associations called up in this mnemic material by different purposive ideas. [Cf. p688 pfl] We can now carry our hypotheses a step further. The activity of this second system, constantly feeling its way, and alternately sending out and withdrawing cathexes, needs on the one hand to have the whole of the material of memory freely at its command; but on the other hand it would be an unnecessary expenditure of energy if it sent out large quantities of cathexis along the various paths of thought and thus caused them to drain away to no useful purpose and diminish the quantity available for altering the external world. I therefore postulate that for the sake of efficiency the second system succeeds in retaining the major part of its cathexes of energy in a state of quiescence and in employing only a small part on displacement. The mechanics of these processes are quite unknown to me; anyone who wished to take these ideas seriously would have to look for physical analogies to them and find a means of picturing the movements that accompany excitation of neurones. All that I insist upon is the idea that the activity of the ‘first ψ-system’ is directed towards securing the ‘free discharge of the quantities of excitation’, while the ‘second’ system, by means of the cathexes emanating from it, succeeds in ‘inhibiting’ this discharge and in transforming the cathexis into a quiescent one, no doubt with a simultaneous raising of its level. I presume, therefore, that under the dominion of the second system the discharge of excitation is governed by quite different mechanical conditions from those in force under the dominion of the first system. When once the second system has concluded its exploratory thought-activity, it releases the inhibition and damming-up of the excitations and allows them to discharge themselves in movement.

Some interesting reflections follow if we consider the relations between this inhibition upon discharge exercised by the second system and the regulation effected by the unpleasure principle. [Strachey writes: In his later works Freud speaks of it as the ‘pleasure principle’.] Let us examine the antithesis to the primary experience of satisfaction – namely, the ‘experience of an external fright’. Let us suppose that the primitive apparatus is impinged upon by a perceptual stimulus which is a source of painful excitation. Uncoordinated motor manifestations will follow until one of them withdraws the apparatus from the perception and at the same time from the pain. If the perception reappears, the movement will at once be repeated (a movement of flight, it may be) till the perception has disappeared once more. In this case, no inclination will remain to recathect the perception of the source of pain, either hallucinatorily or in any other way. On the contrary, there will be an inclination in the primitive apparatus to drop the distressing mnemic image immediately, if anything happens to revive it, for the very reason that if its excitation were to overflow into perception it would provoke unpleasure (or, more precisely, would begin to provoke it). The avoidance of the memory, which is no more than a repetition of the previous flight from the perception, is also facilitated by the fact that the memory, unlike the perception, does not possess enough quality to excite consciousness and thus to attract fresh cathexis to itself. This effortless and regular avoidance by the psychical process of the memory of anything that had once been distressing affords us the prototype and first example of ‘psychical repression’. It is a familiar fact that much of this avoidance of what is distressing – this ostrich policy – is still to be seen in the normal mental life of adults.

As a result of the unpleasure principle, then, the first ‘ψ’-system is totally incapable of bringing anything disagreeable into the context of its thought. It is unable to do anything but wish. If things remained at that point, the thought-activity of the second system would be obstructed, since it requires free access to all the memories laid down by experience. Two possibilities now present themselves. Either the activity of the second system might set itself entirely free from the unpleasure principle and proceed without troubling about unpleasure of memories; or it might find a method of cathecting unpleasurable memories which would enable it to avoid releasing the unpleasure. We may dismiss the first of these possibilities, for the unpleasure principle clearly regulates the course of excitation in the second system as much as in the first. We are consequently left with the remaining possibility that the second system cathects memories in such a way that there is an inhibition of their discharge, including, therefore, an inhibition of discharge (comparable to that of a motor innervation) in the direction of the development of unpleasure. We have therefore been led from two directions to the hypothesis that cathexis by the second system implies a simultaneous inhibition of the discharge of excitation: we have been led to it by regard for the unpleasure principle and also by the principle of the least expenditure of innervation. Let us bear this firmly in mind, for it is the key to the whole theory of repression: ‘the second system can only cathect an idea if it is a position to inhibit any development of unpleasure that may proceed from it’. Anything that could evade that inhibition would be inaccessible to the second system as well as to the first; for it would promptly be dropped in obedience to the unpleasure principle. The inhibition of unpleasure need not, however, be a complete one: a beginning of it must be allowed, since that is what informs the second system of the nature of the memory concerned and of its possible unsuitability for the purpose which the thought-process has in view.

I propose to describe the psychical process of which the first system alone admits as the ‘primary process’, and the process which results from the inhibition imposed by the second system as the ‘secondary process’. [Strachey’s footnote: The distinction between the primary and secondary systems, and the hypothesis that psychical functioning operates differently in them, are among the most fundamental of Freud’s concepts. They are associated with the theory (indicated on p758f.  pfl about 2 to 3 paragraphs before and in the opening of the next section) that psychical energy occurs in two forms: ‘free’ or ‘mobile’ (as it occurs in the system Ucs.) and ‘bound’ or ‘quiescent’ (as it occurs in the system Pcs.). Where Freud discusses this subject in his later writings – e.g. in ‘The Unconscious’ (1915e), pfl Volume 11 On Metapsychology, p192, and in ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle: 1920g, pfl, Volume 11 On Metapsychology: p297-303 – he attributes this latter distinction to some dieas expressed by Breuer in their joint ‘Studies on Hysteria’: 1895, pfl, Volume 3: p269n]

There is yet another reason for which, as I can show, the second system is obliged to correct the primary process. The primary process endeavours to bring about a discharge of excitation in order that, with the help of the amount of excitation thus accumulated, it may establish a ‘perceptual identity’. [Strachey footnote: with the experience of satisfaction (see p719-720)]. The secondary process, however, has abandoned this intention and taken on another in its place – the establishment of a ‘thought identity’ [Strachey: with that of experience]. All thinking is no more than a circuitous path from the memory of a satisfaction (a memory which has been adopted as a purposive idea) to an identical cathexis of the same memory which it is hoped to attain once more through an intermediate stage of motor experiences. Thinking must concern itself with the connecting paths between ideas, without being led astray by the ‘intensities’ of those ideas. But it is obvious that condensations of ideas, as well as intermediate and compromise structures, must obstruct the attainment of the identity aimed at. Since they substitute one idea for another, they cause a deviation from the path which would have led on from the first idea. Processes of this kind are therefore scrupulously avoided in secondary thinking. It is easy to see, too, that the unpleasure principle, which in other respects supplies the thought-process with its most important signposts, puts difficulties in its path towards establishing ‘thought identity’. Accordingly, thinking must aim at freeing itself more and more from exclusive regulation by the unpleasure principle and at restricting the development of affect in thought-activity to the minimum required for acting as a signal. [Strachey footnote: This idea of a small amount of unpleasure acting as a ‘signal’ to prevent the occurrence of a much larger amount was taken up by Freud many years later and applied to the problem of anxiety. See Freud: ‘Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety: 1920d, Chapter XI(a)(b), pfl, Volume 10, p320f] The achievement of this greater delicacy in functioning is aimed at by means of a further hypercathexis, brought about by consciousness. [Strachey notes: See below in the text p776ff in pfl] As we well know, however, that aim is seldom attained completely, even in normal mental life, and our thinking always remains exposed to falsification by interference from the unpleasure principle.

This, however, is not the gap in the functional efficiency of our mental apparatus which makes it possible for thoughts, which represent themselves as products of the secondary thought activity, to become subject to the primary psychical process – for such is the formula in which we can now describe the activity which leads to dreams and to hysterical symptoms. Inefficiency arises from the convergence of two factors derived from our developmental history. One of these factors devolves entirely upon the mental apparatus and has had a decisive influence on the relation between the two systems, while the other makes itself felt to a variable degree and introduces instinctual forces of organic origin into mental life. Both of them originate in childhood and are a precipitate of the modifications undergone by our mental and somatic organism since our infancy.

When I described one of the psychical processes occurring in the mental apparatus as the ‘primary’ one, what I had in mind was not merely considerations of relative importance and efficiency; I intended also to choose a name which would give an indication of its chronological priority. It is true that, so far as we know, no psychical apparatus exists which possesses a primary process only and that such an apparatus is to that extent a theoretical fiction. But this much is a fact: the primary processes are present in the mental apparatus from the first, while it is only during the course of life that the secondary processes unfold, and come to inhibit and overlay the primary ones; it may even be that their complete domination is not attained until the prime of life. In consequence of the belated appearance of the secondary processes, the core of our being, consisting of unconscious wishful impulses, remains inaccessible to the understanding and inhibition of the preconscious; the part played by the latter is restricted once and for all to directing along the most expedient paths the wishful impulses that arise from the unconscious. These unconscious wishes exercise a compelling force upon all later mental trends, a force which those trends are obliged to fall in with or which they may perhaps endeavour to divert and direct to higher aims. A further result of the belated appearance of the secondary process is that a wide sphere of mnemic material is inaccessible to preconscious cathexis.

Among these wishful impulses derived from infancy, which can neither be destroyed nor inhibited, there are some whose fulfilment would be a contradiction of the purposive ideas of secondary thinking. The fulfilment of these wishes would no longer generate an affect of pleasure but of unpleasure; and ‘it is precisely this transformation of affect which constitutes the essence of what we term ‘repression’’. The problem of repression lies in the question of how it is and owing to what motive forces that this transformation occurs; but it is a problem that we need only touch upon here. It is enough for us to be clear that a transformation of this kind does occur in the course of development – we have only to recall the way in which disgust emerges in childhood after having been absent to begin with – and that it is related to the activity of the secondary system. The memories on the basis of which the unconscious wish brings about the release of affect were never accessible to the Pcs., and consequently the release of the affect attaching to those memories cannot be inhibited either. It is for the very reason of this generation of affect that these ideas are now inaccessible even by way of the preconscious thoughts on to which they have transferred their wishful force. On the contrary, the unpleasure principle takes control and causes the ‘Pcs.’ to turn away from the transference thoughts. They are left to themselves – ‘repressed’ – and thus it is that the presence of a store of infantile memories, which has from the first been held back from the ‘Pcs.’, becomes a sine qua non of repression.

In the most favourable cases the generation of unpleasure ceases along with the withdrawal of cathexis from the transference thoughts in the ‘Pcs.’; and this outcome signifies that the intervention of the unpleasure principle has served a useful purpose. But it is another matter when the repressed unconscious wish receives an organic reinforcement, which it passes on to its transference thoughts; in that way it may place them in a position to make an attempt at forcing their way through with their excitation, even if they have lost their cathexis from the ‘Pcs.’ There then follows a defensive struggle – for the ‘Pcs.’ in turn reinforces its opposition to the repressed thoughts (i.e. produces an ‘anticathexis’)[Strachey notes that this parenthesis was added in 1919.] – and thereafter the transference thoughts, which are the vehicles of the unconscious wish, force their way through in some form of compromise which is reached by the production of a symptom. But from the moment at which the repressed thoughts are strongly cathected by the unconscious wishful impulse and, on the other hand, abandoned by the preconscious cathexis, they become subject to the primary psychical process and their one aim is motor discharge or, if the path is open, hallucinatory revival of the desired perceptual identity. We have already found empirically that the irrational processes we have described are only carried out with thoughts that are under repression. We can now see our way a little further into the whole position. The irrational processes which occur in the psychical apparatus are the ‘primary’ ones. They appear wherever ideas are abandoned by the preconscious cathexis, are left to themselves and can become charged with the uninhibited energy from the unconscious which is striving to find an outlet. Some other observations lend support to the view that these processes which are described as irrational are not in fact falsifications of normal processes – intellectual errors – but are modes of activity of the psychical apparatus that have been freed from an inhibition. Thus we find that the transition from preconscious excitation to movement is governed by the same processes, and that the linking of preconscious ideas to words may easily exhibit the same displacements and confusions, which are then attributed to inattention. Evidence, finally, of the increase in activity which becomes necessary when these primary modes of functioning are inhibited is to be found in the fact that we produce a comic effect, that is, a surplus of energy which has to be discharged in laughter, ‘if we allow these modes of thinking to force their way through into consciousness’.

The theory of the psychoneuroses asserts as an indisputable and invariable fact that only sexual wishful impulses from infancy, which have undergone repression (i.e. a transformation of their affect) during the developmental period of childhood, are capable of being revived during ‘later’ developmental periods (whether as a result of the subject’s sexual constitution, which is derived from an initial bisexuality, or as a result of unfavourable influences acting upon the course of his sexual life) and are thus able to furnish the motive force for the formation of psychoneurotic symptoms of every kind. [Strachey’s footnote: The theme of this sentence was elaborated by Freud in his ‘Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality’: 1905d.] It is only by reference to these sexual forces that we can close the gaps that are still patent in the theory of repression. I will leave it an open question whether these sexual and infantile factors are equally required in the theory of dreams: I will leave that theory incomplete at this point, since I have already gone a step beyond what can be demonstrated in assuming that dream-wishes are invariably derived from the unconscious.¹ [Freud’s footnote at the end of this paragraph) Nor do I propose to enquire further into the nature of the distinction between the play of psychical forces in the formation of dreams and in that of hysterical symptoms: we are still without a sufficiently accurate knowledge of one of the two objects of the comparison.

[Footnote ¹ Here and elsewhere I have intentionally left gaps in the treatment of my theme because to fill them would on the one hand require too great an effort and on the other would involve my basing myself on material that is alien to the subject of dreams. For instance, I have omitted to state whether I attribute different meanings to the words ‘suppressed’ and ‘repressed.’ It should have been clear, however, that the latter lays more stress than the former upon the fact of attachment to the unconscious. Nor have I entered into the obvious problem of why the dream-thoughts are subjected to distortion by the censorship even in cases where they have abandoned the progressive path towards consciousness and have chosen the regressive one. And there are many similar omissions. What I was above all anxious to do was to create an impression of the problems to which a further analysis of the dream-work must lead and to give a hint of the other topics with which that further analysis would come into contact. It has not always been easy for me to decide the point at which to break off my pursuit of this line of exposition. There are special reasons, which may not be what my readers expect, why I have not given any exhaustive treatment to the part played in dreams by the world of sexual ideas and why I have avoided analysing dreams of obviously sexual content. Nothing could be further from my own views or from the theoretical opinions which I hold in neuropathology than to regard sexual life as something shameful, with which neither a physician nor a scientific research worker has any concern. Moreover, the moral indignation by which the translator of the Oneirocritica of Artemidorus of Daldis allowed himself to be led into withholding the chapter on sexual dreams from the knowledge a his readers strikes me as laughable. What governed my decision was simply my seeing that an explanation of sexual dreams would involve me deeply in the still unsolved problems of perversion and bisexuality; and I accordingly reserved this material for another occasion.]

c) Seminar VII: 25th November 1959: p27  Para 3: Quote: The opposition between the pleasure principle and the reality principle was rearticulated throughout Freud’s work … with the one governed by the pleasure principle and the other by the reality principle; …  Return to the article from which I selected the dream that I discussed at length last year, the dream of the dead father, “he didn’t know”; ….

From Seminar VI: Desire and its interpretation: 1958-1959 : from 12th November 1958 : Jacques Lacan : See here  : translated by Cormac Gallagher

Sem VI:  12th November 1958: p1:  I will leave you with that today. The next time we will take up a dream in Freud, and we will try to apply our methods of analysis, and this will at the same time allow us to situate the different modes of interpretation.

Sem VI: 19th November 1958:  p16:  I would like first of all to set out the limits of what I want to do today, I mean in this particular lecture, to state what I will show you today, and first of all by tackling the example of the interpretation of a dream, as well as the use of what we have called conventionally for some time the graph.

Sem VI:  19th November 1958: p24: You know that Freud introduced this term from the beginning of analysis. He introduced it in connection with dreams and in the form of the Wunsch, namely by right, something which is articulated on this line. The Wunsch is not in itself, all by itself desire, it is a formulated desire, it is an articulated desire.

What I would like to make you dwell on for a moment is the distinction which deserves to be drawn between what I am establishing and introducing this year, and which is called desire, and this Wunsch. You have of course read The Interpretation of Dreams, and this moment that I am talking to you about it marks the moment that we ourselves are going to begin speaking about it this year. Just as last year we began with the witticism, we are beginning this year with the dream. You have not failed to notice from the first pages, and to the very end, that if you think of desire in the form as I might say that you have to deal with it all the time in analytic experience, namely one that gives you a lot of work to do because of its excesses, its deviations, because, after all let us say it, most often because of its deficiencies, I mean sexual desire, that which by turns, even though in the whole analytic field there has always been brought to play on it a quite remarkable pressure to put it in the shade, a pressure that is increasing in analysis; you must therefore notice the difference, on condition of course that you really read, namely that you do not continue thinking about your own little affairs while your eyes are glancing through the Traumdeutunq. You will see that it is very difficult to grasp this famous desire, which is supposed to be found everywhere in each dream.

Ibid: p25: I will stop in designating this point of the phantasy which is an essential point, which is the key point around which I will show you the next day therefore how to situate the decisive point at which there must appear, if this term of desire has a meaning different to that of wish in the dream, where there must appear the interpretation of desire.

Sem VI: 26th November 1958: p26: The remark made by Freud that the assertion that “all dreams have a sexual signification‟, more exactly “require a sexual interpretation, against which critics rage so incessantly, occurs nowhere in my Traumdeutunq. In the seven editions of this book‟ – this is naturally written in the seventh – “it contradicts in a particularly striking way the rest of the content of what is found in it.‟(Gesammelte Werke II/III, which contain the Traumdeutunq, on page 402, cf SE V 397). …  Because we are now tackling – as I announced to you – the question of what desire is, in so far as it is the foundation of the dream, and you know that it is not easy to know right away what this desire is, if it is the motor of the dream; you know at least that it is twofold, that this desire is first of all directed towards the maintenance of sleep, Freud articulated it in the most explicit manner, namely of this state in which reality is suspended for the subject. Desire is the desire for death, it is this also and at the same time, and in a perfectly compatible way, I would say in so far as it is often through the mediation of the second desire that the first is satisfied. The desire being that in which the subject of the Wunsch is satisfied, and this subject, I would like to put in a sort of parenthesis: we do not know what the subject is, and it is a question of knowing who is the subject of the Wunsch, of the dream.

Ibid: p28: And when one says the unconscious, that means nothing. Therefore when I say: the subject of the Wunsch is satisfied, I put this subject in parenthesis, and all that Freud tells us, is that it is a Wunsch which is satisfied.

With what is it satisfied? I would say that it is satisfied with being, meaning with being that is satisfied. That is all we can say, because in fact it is quite clear that the dream does not bring with it any other satisfaction than satisfaction at the level of the Wunsch, namely what one might call a verbal satisfaction. The Wunsch is here content with appearances, and it is quite clear if we are dealing with a dream and moreover also the character of this satisfaction is here reflected in the language by which it has expressed it to us, by this “satisfied with being‟ (satisfait de l’être) as I expressed myself just now, and in which there is betrayed this ambiguity of the word being (être) in so far as it is there, that it slides around everywhere, and that also by formulating itself in this way in the grammatical form of a reference to being, being satisfied, I mean: can it be taken for this substantial aspect? There is nothing substantial in being except the word itself, it is satisfied with being, we can take it for what being is, if not literally (au pied de la lettre).

When all is said and done it is indeed in effect something of the order of being which satisfies the Wunsch. In short it is only in the dream, at least on the plane of being, that the Wunsch can be satisfied.

Ibid: p33-34: This is an altogether inevitable preamble before entering into the mode in which I intend here to pose the question connected with the interpretation of desire in the dream. I told you that for that I would take a dream from Freud’s text, because after all it is still the best guide to be sure about what he intends to say when he speaks about the desire of the dream. We are going to take a dream which I will borrow from this article which is called Formulierungen,‘Formulations on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning‟, from 1911, which appeared just before the Schreber case.

I take this dream and the fashion in which Freud speaks of it and treats it, from this  article, because it is articulated there in a simple, exemplary, significant, unambiguous fashion and to show how Freud understand the manipulation of these Vorstellungsreprasentanz, in so far as it is a question of the formulation of unconscious desire.

What can be extracted from the totality of Freud’s work concerning the relationships of this Vorstellunqsreprasentanz with the primary process, is not open to any kind of doubt. If the primary process is entitled in so far as it is subject to the first principle, which is called the pleasure principle, there is no other way of conceiving the opposition which is marked in Freud between the pleasure principle and the reality principle, except by perceiving that what is given to us as the hallucinatory arousal in which the primary process, namely desire at the level of the primary process, finds its satisfaction, does not simply concern an image, but something which is a signifier, it is moreover a surprising thing that this was not noticed in other ways, I mean starting from clinical observation. It was never noticed in other ways, it seems, precisely to the degree that the notion of signifier was something which was not elaborated at the time of the great expansion of classical psychiatry, because after all in the massiveness of clinical experience, under what forms are there presented to us the major, problematic, most insistent forms in which there are posed for us the question of hallucination, if not in verbal hallucinations or in verbal structures, namely in the intrusion, the immixtion in the field of the real not of something indifferent, not of an image, not of a phantasy, not of what is often simply supposed to support hallucinatory processes?

But if an hallucination poses us problems which are proper to itself, it is because it is a question of signifiers and not of images, not of causes, not of perceptions, indeed of false perceptions of the real as people say it is. But at Freud’s level there is no doubt about this and precisely at the end of this article,- to illustrate what he calls der neurotischen Wahrung (SE 12 225; GW 8 238), namely – it is a term to retain, the word Wahrung means to last; it is not very common in German, it is linked to the verb wahren which is a durative form of the verb wahren, and this idea of duration, of valorisation, because it is its most common usage: if the word Wahrung refers to duration, the most common usage which is made up of it, is value, valorisation – to talk to us about a properly neurotic valorisation, namely in so far as the primary process erupts into it, Freud takes as an example a dream, and here is this dream.

It is the dream of a subject who is mourning for his father, who had, he tells us, nursed him through a long and painful mortal illness.

This dream is presented as follows: “His father was alive once more and he was talking to him in his usual way. But he felt it exceedingly painful that his father had really died, only without knowing it.‟ (SE 12 225) It is a short dream, it is a dream which as always, Freud tackles at the level of its transcription, because the essential of Freudian analysis is always based on the narrative of the dream, first of all in so far as it is articulated. This dream then was repeated insistently in the months which followed the death of his father, and how is Freud going to tackle it?

There is no doubt of course that Freud never thought at any time that a dream, if only because of this distinction that he always made between the manifest content and the latent content, in referring himself immediately to what can be called and which one does not fail to call at every instant in analysis by this term which has not, I think, an equivalent, of wishful thinking. It is this that I would almost like to give back some sound of equivalence with alarm. This just by itself should make an analyst suspicious, even defensive, and persuade him that he is taking the wrong road.

There is no doubt that for a moment Freud teases this “wishful‟, and tells us that it is simply because he needs to see his father and that that makes him happy, because it is not at all enough, for the simple reason that it does not seem at all to be a satisfaction, and that this happens with the elements and in a context whose painful character is sufficiently marked, to make us avoid this sort of precipitous step which I mention here to show that at the limit it is possible. When all is said and done I do not think that a single analyst could go that far when it is a question of a dream. But it is precisely because one cannot go so far when it is a question of a dream, that psychoanalysts are no longer interested in dreams.

How does Freud tackle things? We will stay with his text: “The only way,” he writes in this article, right at the end, “the only way of understanding this apparently nonsensical dream is by adding ‘as the dreamer wished’” or “in consequence of his wish‟ after the words “that his father had really died‟, and by further adding “that he (the dreamer) wished it‟ to the last words. The dream-thought then runs: it was a painful memory for him that he had been obliged to wish for his father‟s death and how terrible it would have been if his father had had any suspicion of it!‟

This leads you to give its weight to the fashion that Freud treats the problem. It is a signifier. These are things which are clausulae (?) and we are going to try to articulate on the linguistic plane what they are, the exact value of what is given here as permitting access to the understanding of the dream. They are given as such, and as the fact that putting them in place, their adaptation in the text, gives the meaning of this text.

Please understand what I am saying. I am not saying that this is interpretation, and in effect it is perhaps interpretation, but I am not saying it yet, I am suspending you at this moment where a certain signifier is designated as being produced by its lack. What is the phenomenon of the dream that is in question? It is by replacing it in the context of the dream that we accede right away to something which is given as being the understanding of the dream, namely that the subject finds himself in the familiar case, this reproach by which one reproaches oneself about someone who is loved, and this reproach leads us back in this example to the infantile signification of the death wish.

We are here therefore before a typical case where the term transference, Übertragung, is employed in the primitive sense that it is first used in the Interpretation of Dreams. It is a question of carrying forward something which is an original situation, the original death-wish on this occasion, into some different, current thing, which is an analogous, homologous, parallel wish which is similar in some fashion or other, and introduces itself to revive this archaic wish that is in question.

It is naturally worthwhile dwelling on this, because it is starting from there simply that we can first try to elaborate what interpretation means, because we have left to one side the interpretation of “wishful‟.

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p27, 3rd para : Quote: The opposition between the pleasure and the reality principle was rearticulated throughout Freud’s work … – 1914, return to the article … the dream of the dead father, “he didn’t know”; the article, “Formulieringen über die Zwei Prinzipen des Psychischen Geschehens”, that one might translate as “Of the Structure of the Psyche”:

A)  Translation: a) Formulations regarding the two principles in mental functioning b) James Strachey’s 1958 translation in the Standard Edition : Formulations on the two principles of mental functioning: 1911 : Sigmund Freud : republished in pf, Vol 11, On Metapsychology :

B) The date is given as 1914 in Dennis Porter’s translation.  This should be 1911

C) See pfl p43 [p2019] for the dream :

Quote from p40 pfl (JE editorial note: Strachey’s italics are included with inverted commas added) : In consequence of these conditions, a closer connection arises, on the one hand, between the sexual instinct and phantasy and, on the other hand, between the ego-instincts and the activities of consciousness. Both in healthy and in neurotic people this connection strikes us as very intimate, although the considerations of genetic psychology which have just been put forward lead us to recognize it as a ‘secondary’ one. The continuance of auto-erotism is what makes it possible to retain for so long the easier momentary and imaginary satisfaction in relation to the sexual object in place of real satisfaction, which calls for effort and postponement. In the realm of phantasy, repression remains all-powerful; it brings about the inhibition of ideas ‘in statu nascendi’ before they can be noticed by consciousness, if their cathexis is likely to occasion a release of unpleasure. This is the weak spot in our psychical organization; and it can be employed to bring back under the dominance of the pleasure principle thought-processes which had already become rational. An essential part of the psychical disposition to neurosis thus lies in the delay in educating the sexual instincts to pay regard to reality and, as a corollary, in the conditions which make this delay possible.

(4) Just as the pleasure-ego can do nothing but ‘wish’, work for a yield of pleasure, and avoid unpleasure, so the reality-ego need do nothing but strive for what is ‘useful’ and guard itself against damage.¹ {Footnote ¹ The superiority of the reality-ego over the pleasure-ego has been aptly expressed by Bernard Shaw in these words: ‘To be able to choose the line of greatest advantage instead of yielding in the direction of least resistance.’ (Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosophy.) [Strachey adds: A remark made by Don Juan towards the end of the Mozartean interlude in Act III. – A much more elaborate account of the relations between the ‘pleasure-ego’ and the ‘reality-ego’ is given in Freud’s ‘Instincts and their Vicissitudes’ (1915c) p132-134 of pfl Vol 11]} Actually the substitution of the reality principle for the pleasure principle implies no deposing of the pleasure principle, but only a safeguarding of it. A momentary pleasure, uncertain in its results, is given up, but only in order to gain along the new path an assured pleasure at a later time. But the endopsychic impression made by this substitution has been so powerful that it is reflected in a special religious myth. The doctrine of reward in the after-life for the – voluntary or enforced – renunciation of earthly pleasures is nothing other than a mythical projection of this revolution in the mind. Following consistently along these lines, ‘religions’ have been able to effect absolute renunciation of pleasure in this life by means of the promise of compensation in a future existence; but they have not by this means achieved a conquest of the pleasure principle. It is science which comes nearest to succeeding in that conquest; science too, however, offers intellectual pleasure during its work and promises practical gain in the end.

(5) ‘Education’ can be described without more ado as an incitement to the conquest of the pleasure principle, and to its replacement by the reality principle; it seeks, that is, to lend its help to the developmental process which affects the ego. To this end it makes use of an offer of love as a reward from the educators; and it therefore fails if a spoilt child thinks that it possesses that love in any case and cannot lose it whatever happens.

(6) ‘Art’ brings about a reconciliation between the two principles in a peculiar way. An artist is originally a man who turns away from reality because he cannot come to terms with the renunciation of instinctual satisfaction which it at first demands, and who allows his erotic and ambitious wishes full play in the life of phantasy. He finds the way back to reality, however, from this world of phantasy by making use of special gifts to mould his phantasies into truths of a new kind, which are valued by men as precious reflections of reality. Thus in a certain fashion he actually becomes the hero, the king, the creator, or the favourite he desired to be, without following the one roundabout path of making real alterations in the external world. But he can only achieve this because other men feel the same dissatisfaction as he does with the renunciation demanded by reality, and because that dissatisfaction, which results from the replacement of the pleasure principle by the reality principle, is itself a part of reality.² {Footnote ² Cf. the similar position taken by Otto Rank (1907). [Strachey adds: See also Freud: Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming’: 1908e: pfl Vol 14, p129, as well as the closing paragraph of Lecture 23 of Freud’s Introductory Lectures: 1916-1917: pfl Volume 1 p423-424]}

(7) While the ego goes through its transformation from a ‘pleasure-ego’ into a ‘reality-ego’, the sexual instincts undergo the changes that lead them from their original auto-erotism through various intermediate phases to object-love in the service of procreation. If we are right in thinking that each step in these two courses of development may become the site of a disposition to later neurotic illness, it is plausible to suppose that the form taken by the subsequent illness (the ‘choice of neurosis’) will depend on the particular phase of the development of the ego and of the libido in which the dispositional inhibition of development has occurred. Thus unexpected significance attaches to the chronological features of the two developments (which have not yet been studied), and to possible variations in their synchronization. [Strachey states: This theme is developed in Freud: ‘The Disposition to Obsessional Neurosis’ : 1913i : pfl Volume 10 p142 onwards]

(8) The strangest characteristic of unconscious (repressed) processes, to which no investigator can become accustomed without the exercise of great self-discipline, is due to their entire disregard of reality-testing; they equate reality of thought with external actuality, and wishes with their fulfilment – with the event – just as happens automatically under the dominance of the ancient pleasure principle. Hence also the difficulty of distinguishing unconscious phantasies from memories which have become unconscious. [Strachey adds: This difficulty is discussed at length in the later part of Lecture 23 of Freud: Introductory Lectures: 1916-1917, pfl Volume 1, p414] But one must never allow oneself to be misled into applying the standards of reality to repressed psychical structures, and on that account, perhaps, into undervaluing the importance of phantasies in the formation of symptoms on the ground that they are not actualities, or into tracing a neurotic sense of guilt back to some other source because there is no evidence that any actual crime has been committed. One is bound to employ the currency that is in use in the country one is exploring – in our case a neurotic currency. Suppose, for instance, that one is trying to solve a dream such as this. A man who had once nursed his father through a long and painful mortal illness, told me that in the months following his father’s death he had repeatedly dreamt that ‘his father was alive once more and that he was talking to him in his usual way. But he felt it exceedingly painful that his father had really died, only without knowing it’. The only way of understanding this apparently nonsensical dream is by adding ‘as the dreamer wished’ or ‘in consequence of his wish’ after the words ‘that his father had really died’, and by further adding ‘that he [the dreamer] wished it’ to the last words. The dream-thought then runs: it was a painful memory for him that he had been obliged to wish for his father’s death (as a release) while he was still alive, and how terrible it would have been if his father had had any suspicion of it! What we have here is thus the familiar case of self-reproaches after the loss of someone loved, and in this instance the self-reproach went back to the infantile significance of death-wishes against the father. [Strachey adds: This difficulty is discussed at length in the later part of Lecture 23 of Freud: Introductory Lectures : 1916-1917: pfl Volume 1: p414 & onwards]

The deficiencies of this short paper, which is preparatory rather than expository, will perhaps be excused only in small part if I plead that they are unavoidable. In these few remarks on the psychical consequences of adaptation to the reality principle I have been obliged to adumbrate views which I should have preferred for the present to withhold and whose justification will certainly require no small effort. But I hope it will not escape the notice of the benevolent reader how in these pages too the dominance of the reality principle is beginning.

(End of quote from ‘Formulations on the two principles of mental functioning.)

D) At the Reading group on 27th October 2012, there was a dispute between Owen Hewitson and Bruno de Florence as to which dream was being referenced. Bruno has subsequently contacted me to thank Owen for correcting his remarks.  Bruno also draws attention to this dream’s appearance in ‘The Interpretation of Dreams : November 1899 published as 1900.

From Bruno de Florence : Freud’s dream about his dead father  in: The Interpretation of Dreams (Nov 1899 as 1900) , Section VI The Dream-Work, Part (G) Absurd Dreams – Intellectual Activity in Dreams: pfl p559 [p710] (JE editorial comment: Strache’s footnotes have been included and his italics have been emphasised with inverted commas.)

[Available The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  : Available here] : There is another kind of absurdity, which occurs in dreams of dead relatives but which does not express ridicule and derision. [Strachey adds:

 This paragraph was added in 1911. The first sentence of the paragraph implies that Freud has already explained absurdity in dreams as being due to the presence of ‘ridicule and derision’ in the dream-thoughts. Actually he has not yet done so, and this conclusion is only explicitly stated in the paragraph below (on p576 pfl) in which he sums up his theory of absurd dreams. It seems possible that the present paragraph may by some oversight have been introduced here instead of at the later point.] It indicates an extreme degree of repudiation, and so makes it possible to represent a repressed thought which the dreamer would prefer to regard as utterly unthinkable. It seems impossible to elucidate dreams of this kind unless one bears in mind the fact that dreams do not differentiate between what is wished and what is real. For instance, a man who had nursed his father during his last illness and had been deeply grieved by his death, had the following senseless dream some time afterwards. ‘His father was alive once more and talking to him in his usual way, but’ (the remarkable thing was that) he had really died, only he did not know it. This dream only becomes intelligible if, after the words ‘but he had really died’ we insert ‘in consequence of the dreamer’s wish’, and if we explain that what ‘he did not know’ was that the dreamer had had this wish. While he was nursing his father he had repeatedly wished his father were dead; that is to say, he had had what was actually a merciful thought that death might put an end to his sufferings. During his mourning, after his father’s death, even this sympathetic wish became a subject of unconscious self-reproach, as though by means of it he had really helped to shorten the sick man’s life. A stirring up of the dreamer’s earliest infantile impulses against his father made it possible for this self-reproach to find expression as a dream; but the fact that the instigator of the dream and the daytime thoughts were such worlds apart was precisely what necessitated the dream’s absurdity.¹ { ¹ [Footnote added 1911:] Cf. my paper on the two principles of mental functioning (1911b). [James Strachey footnote, 1956: This paragraph was added in 1911. JE: See above for this reference. Strachey: A very similar dream is analysed as No. 3 in the twelfth of Freud: Introductory Lectures: 1916-1917: pfl Volume 1, p222 – The next paragraph was added in 1919]

It is true that dreams of dead people whom the dreamer has loved raise difficult problems in dream-interpretation and that these cannot always be satisfactorily solved. The reason for this is to be found in the particularly strongly marked emotional ambivalence which dominates the dreamer’s relation to the dead person. It very commonly happens that in dreams of this kind the dead person is treated to begin with as though he were alive, that he then suddenly turns out to be dead and that in a subsequent part of the dream he is alive once more. This has a confusing effect, It eventually occurred to me that this alternation between death and life is intended to represent ‘indifference’ on the part of the dreamer. (‘It’s all the same to me whether he’s alive or dead.’) This indifference is, of course, not real but merely desired; it is intended to help the dreamer to repudiate his very intense and often contradictory emotional attitudes and it thus becomes a dream-representation of his ‘ambivalence’. -In other dreams in which the dreamer associates with dead people, the following rule often helps to give us our bearings. If there is no mention in the dream of the fact that the dead man is dead, the dreamer is equating himself with him: he is dreaming of his own death. If, in the course of the dream, the dreamer suddenly says to himself in astonishment, ‘why, he died ever so long ago’, he is repudiating this equation and is denying that the dream signifies his own death. – But I willingly confess to a feeling that dream-interpretation is far from having revealed all the secrets of dreams of this character.

E) Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p27,  para 3: reference to ‘Civilisation and its Discontents: 1929, published 1930 : Sigmund Freud : pfl Volume 12, Civilisation, Society and Religion: Available at Richard G. Klein’s site : See here : As Jacques Lacan is referring to ‘the opposition between the pleasure and the reality principle’, this may be the section to which he is referring: [p3439] pfl p259 (JE editorial note: Strachey’s use of italics is given with the addition of inverted commas. ): We bow to this objection; and, abandoning our attempt to draw a striking contrast, we will turn instead to what is after all a more closely related object of comparison – the body of an animal or a human being. But here, too, we find the same thing. The earlier phases of development are in no sense still preserved; they have been absorbed into the later phases for which they have supplied the material. The embryo cannot be discovered in the adult. The thymus gland of childhood is replaced after puberty by connective tissue, but is no longer present itself; in the marrow-bones of the grown man I can, it is true, trace the outline of the child’s bone, but it itself has disappeared, having lengthened and thickened until it has attained its definitive form. The fact remains that only in the mind is such a preservation of all the earlier stages alongside of the final form possible, and that we are not in a position to represent this phenomenon in pictorial terms.

Perhaps we are going too far in this. Perhaps we ought to content ourselves with asserting that what is past in mental life ‘may’ be preserved and is not ‘necessarily’ destroyed. It is always possible that even in the mind some of what is old is effaced or absorbed – whether in the normal course of things or as an exception – to such an extent that it cannot be restored or revivified by any means; or that preservation in general is dependent on certain favourable conditions. It is possible, but we know nothing about it. We can only hold fast to the fact that it is rather the rule than the exception for the past to be preserved in mental life.

Thus we are perfectly willing to acknowledge that the ‘oceanic’ feeling exists in many people, and we are inclined to trace it back to an early phase of ego-feeling.

Related texts

Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: from 18th November 1959 : Jacques Lacan or here

Texts from ‘Reading Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis’ group : here

The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here

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

Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, London

Further posts:

On Dreams  here

Topology and the clinic   here

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By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here

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Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

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