Psychical reality in action

by Julia Evans on September 18, 2014

In my post How are Freud & Lacan evidence-based?  (Available here), I refer to Sigmund Freud’s arguments in The Project for a Scientific Psychology: 23rd & 25th September & 5th October 1895: Sigmund Freud  : Available here, to establish via clinical & histological evidence the definition of psychical processes.  It seems there is a construction that there are two forms for these processes: those which offer no resistance and retain nothing & those which resist and retain, which is the vehicle of memory and psychical processes in general.  Jacques Lacan commented extensively on Freud’s Project in his Seminar II [Availability given Seminar II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis: 1954-1955: begins 17th November 1954 : Jacques Lacan or here] Both Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan are interested in formalising the relationships within these processes and between them.

I will now leap over many decades of sifting evidence, to postulate that a subject’s relationship to ‘psychical processes’, informs their position in the world. In his post Racism 2.0 : 26th January 2014 : Éric Laurent (Availability given here), Éric Laurent  comments on these processes: ‘The logic by which Lacan constructs all human ensembles, of any shape whatsoever, actually gives a twist to Freud’s Massenpsychologie[i]. In 1921, after formulating the second topography that organises psychical reality, Freud looked again at the question of the destiny of the drive, starting off from the fate of identification which governs psychical life in a decisive way.’

Éric Laurent goes on to argue: ‘For Freud, hatred and racist rejection form a bond, but remain connected to the leader who takes the place of the father, or, more accurately, the place of the father’s murder. The limitless dimension of this requirement lives on in the group, and the establishment of the social bond remains founded upon the base of the identificatory drive. A stable group harbours within it the same principle of limitlessness that was isolated for the primal group. In this way, Freud was able to account both for the army as an organised mass and for the savage power of killing that accompanies it. A common hate can unify a group, which remains bound to a segregative identification with the leader.’

I write this on Thursday 18th September with two events in the background: 1) a debate I attended yesterday evening at on ‘Should economic growth be the primary goal of economic policy? & 2) Scottish referendum. The two able presenters – for (Dr Andrew Lilico) & against (Andy Haldane) –  can be heard here.  They both argued that economic growth (GDP) is important. Lilico stated that economic policy should be kept in a container by itself and Andy Haldane (Bank of England) started to relate it to other factors, such as, the relation of the richest to the poorest, how much opportunity is available, & how mindset can be set by perceived lack of resources. The first intervention was from someone who I noted as Nicholas Beech. (I can find no trace of him, though Andy Haldane acknowledged him as an expert on China. PS He may be the second clerk to the House of Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee) Beech noted that China concentrating on GDP, with regional officials being given targets down to a decimal place gave rise to acute environmental problems which have been addressed in the last year or so. So the ‘limitless dimension’ of China was challenged. I conclude it is not possible to concentrate on one target as if it is an isolated variable. Thus if economic growth is defined and controlled in isolation, other unintended consequences creep in which challenge this exclusive definition. Governance has been declared by Sigmund Freud as one of 3 impossibilities[ii].  Further Sigmund Freud (1937b) states: ‘those ‘impossible’ professions in which one can be sure beforehand of achieving unsatisfying results.’ So it seems to me that Andrew Lilico was arguing for a stability for economic growth which Andy Haldane was questioning by relating it to other factors and pointing to limits.

The second example of the Scottish referendum is closer to Laurent’s description above. I write not knowing the result. It seems that the choice is between the existing governance which fails or ‘achieves unsatisfying results’ and the certainty, according to Salmond, that when the English are expelled then everything will fall into place. There will be no more limits. This, I contend, is a racist position. The relationship back to Freud’s definition of two psychical processes is probably via the death drive to an identification. The other position contains no certainty and achieves unsatisfying results. To be continued.

Julia Evans

[i] ‘Freud’s Massenpsychologie. In 1921’  Availability:

Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego : 1921 : Sigmund Freud

You will find Freud’s paper in English with the original German text laid out in the right hand column : published by : available here : Reference found by Bruno de Florence

[ii] 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

: Available here

Quote from Sigmund Freud :

And finally we must not forget that the analytic relationship is based on a love of truth – that is, on a recognition of reality – and that it precludes any kind of sham or deceit. Here let us pause for a moment to assure the analyst that he has our sincere sympathy in the very exacting demands he has to fulfil in carrying out his activities. 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. Obviously we cannot demand that the prospective analyst should be a perfect being before he takes up analysis, in other words that only persons of such high and rare perfection should enter the profession. But where and how is the poor wretch to acquire the ideal qualifications which he will need in his profession? The answer is, in an analysis of himself, with which his preparation for his future activity begins. 

‘Analysis Terminable and Interminable’ : 1937c : Sigmund Freud


Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst in Earl’s Court, London


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


Further posts:

Some Lacanian history here

Lacanian Transmission here

Of the clinic here

Translation Working Group here

Use of power here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

This post is referred to in Notes & references for Seminar IV : 28th November 1956 by Julia Evans  on 2nd July 2017 : See here