Ordinary Psychosis and Addiction in the Postmodern Era : 1st March 2016 : Thomas Svolos

by Julia Evans on March 1, 2016

Towards the XIVth Congress of Psychoanalyis of the NLS [New Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis] ‘Discreet Signs in Ordinary Psychoses. Clinic and Treatment’ : 2nd & 3rd July 2016 : Dublin, Ireland :

Circulated on the New Lacanian School Messager :

New Lacanian School

Enquiries: nls-messager-help@amp-nls.org

New registration: http://www.amp-nls.org/page/gb/42/sinscrire-nls-messager

The website of the NLS www.amp-nls.org

– As Subject: [nls-messager] 1948.en/ NLS Minute – 4

– Date: 1 March 2016 at 18:29:18 GMT


1) here

2) here


* ‘Lacan’s graph of desire’ : Seminar XX : 13th March 1973 : pVIII 1 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Information & availability here

* ‘For Lacan, addiction is defined as detachment from the phallus.’ :

Probably : Lacan, J. (1976).  Intervention in the “Journées des cartels de l’École freudienne de Paris.” Lettre de l’École freudienne, 18: p263-270

The following are suggestions only – I am in process of seeking the correct reference!


p75 of Lacan and Addiction: An Anthology : edited by Yael Goldman Baldwin, Kareen R. Malone, Thomas Svolos : Karnac Books : 2011

A read-only version available here : quote:

Chapter Five

Introducing the “New Symptoms” by Thomas Svolos

To attach or detach from the Phallus

There is a very curious relationship between what Freud and what Lacan had to say about addictions. Freud makes a few comments on addictions in his work, most of them a gloss in one form or another of his comments to Wilhelm Fleiss in a letter of 22 December 1897 [Available Letter to Wilhelm Fliess of 22nd December 1897 : known as Letter 79 : Sigmund Freud or here http://www.lacanianworks.net/?p=12056 ], in which he states that “masturbation is the one major habit, the ‘primary addiction’, and it is only as a substitute and replacement for it that the other addictions – to alcohol, morphine and tobacco, and the like – come into existence” (Freud 1985 p287). Lacan had fewer things to say about addictions, but perhaps his most well-known comment was delivered in 1975, [See <> below] as an aside, at a meeting of the École, when Lacan noted that there is no other definition of drugs than that which allows one to break the marriage, the relationship, with the Phallus (Lacan 1976 [See <> below]). With Freud, addictions are a means of maintaining a relationship with the Phallus – in this masturbatory sense, without the connection to the Other, a short circuit to jouissance; for Lacan, addictions are a way of obtaining jouissance, but, instead of obtaining this through the Phallus, he speaks of obtaining it by breaking a connection with the Phallus.


My first thesis is that this divergence indicates a different place for the Phallus with regard to castration and its relationship to jouissance. For Freud, castration (of the mother or the child) for the male is linked to a perceived threat of the loss of one’s Phallus, further linked to a perceived paternal injunction. Integration into the social bond is further, for Freud, linked to a certain perceived renunciation of enjoyment achieved through the mechanism of paternal identification and the pursuit of a jouissance regulated, in a sense, through that identification. Addictions, in this model, short-circuit the path to satisfaction, taking the subject out of the social bond in a mode of direct satisfaction, akin to masturbation. Now, Lacan does – for example, in Seminar V [See <> below] – rework this Freudian proposition, rewrite it, importing linguistics and partially reformulating this structure of castration and Oedipus with his notion of “the-Name-of-the-Father”. And, in that sense, one can certainly easily read Lacan’s comments in 1975 about breaking the relation with the Phallus in addictions as breaking the relation with the social order, disconnecting from the Other – as regulated by the Symbolic Phallus (Lacan, 1976).

I would suggest, however, that we read this comment of Lacan’s in the light of his later comments on the Phallus, in particular those which Jacques-Alain Miller has recently drawn our attention to within Seminar X [See <> below]. Miller notes that in this Seminar we see the return of the Phallus, not only as Symbolic, but as organ.

References to this text:

From here

Warning : These references to Lacan 1975 & 1976 are being checked.

<> ‘Lacan had fewer things to say about addictions, but perhaps his most well-known comment was delivered in 1975’ :

See Lacan, J. (1976).  Intervention in the “Journées des cartels de l’École freudienne de Paris.” Lettre de l’École freudienne, 18: p263-270

The translation is given

Religions and the Real (Paris) : 13th April 1975 : Jacques Lacan or here

[Probably not but relevant!

Seminar XXIIII : 18th November 1975 : p4 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Information & availability here

Hence the necessity – I think all the same, seeing you here in such large numbers, that there are some of you who have already heard my old refrains – hence the necessity that the flaw should never cease but always grow unless it submits to the cease of castration as possible. This possible, as I have previously said without you noticing it, because I myself did not note it by not putting in the comma, this possible, I formerly said, is what does not cease to be written, but you have to put in the comma: it is what ceases, comma, to be written. Or rather would cease to take that path if [p5] the discourse I have evoked, which might not be a semblance were at last to arrive.]

<> (Lacan, 1976).:

Probably Seminar XXIII : 11th May 1976 but not found…

From Rik Loose ‘A Lacanian approach to clinical diagnosis’ : p288 of ‘Lacan & Science : Edited by Jason Glynos & Yannis Stavrakakis : Karnac 2002

Copy available here : A Lacanian approach to clinical diagnosis and addiction – DBS eSource

A Lacanian approach to clinical diagnosis and addiction by Rik Loose.

P263 Towards the end of his ‘Civilization and its Discontents’ Freud poses a question which he feels he cannot evade. After contemplating the similarities between the development of civilisation and the individual he wonders whether it is possible to make the diagnosis that “under the influence of cultural urges, some civilisations, or some epochs of civilisation – possibly the whole of mankind – have become neurotic?” (Freud, 1930:144). He immediately points out the danger implicit in making this kind of diagnosis by saying that “we are only dealing with analogies and that it is dangerous, not only with men but also with concepts, to tear them from the sphere in which they have originated and been evolved” (Freud, 1930:144). This is a very important remark.

P273 In the very last page of ‘Civilisation and its Discontents’ Freud diagnoses the disorder in human civilization in a way that would not be acceptable to psychiatry. In his observation of civilisation he has come to the conclusion that it is an irrefutable fact that man wants happiness, but cannot have it. (Freud, 1930:145). In other words, man is destined to suffer. Earlier on in the article he wrote:

p274 But the most interesting methods of averting suffering are those which seek to influence our own organism. In the last analysis, all suffering is nothing else than sensation; it only exists in so far as we feel it, and we ony feel it in consequence of certain ways in which our organism is regulated. The crudest, but also the most effective among these methods of influence is the chemical one – intoxication. [Freud, 1930:78]

The connection, established by Freud here, between suffering, the regulation of our bodies and intoxication is extremely interesting and demands further exploration. The immediate context from which this quote is taken is crucial for an understanding of the problem of addiction in the field of psychoanalysis. I will therefore explore this context in some details here. Freud indicates that suffering threatens us from three directions: our bodies, the external world and our relations to others (Freud, 1930:77). This last source causes us most suffering. Isolating ourselves from others is thus one solution to our problems. Drugs and alcohol can provide us with pleasure, but they can also render us incapable of “receiving unpleasurable impulses”. …..

P279 of Lacan & Science: Rik Loose states : In neurosis and perversion the mechanisms of repression and disavowal result in a fundamental dissatisfaction due to a failure of the pleasure principle. What lies beyond this pleasure principle is always “too much” and yet the absence of this beyond creates a “never enough”, a plus-de-jouir’ (more-to-be-enjoyed). Here we can situate one of the few (maybe the only) reference(s) Lacan makes to addiction: “everything which permits the escape from this marriage (to the phallus) is clearly very welcome, that is the reason for the success of drugs, for instance; there is no other definition for drugs than this one: it is what permits to break the marriage to the little Willie” (Lacan, 1976:263-270, Loose’s translation) From Lacan J (1976[1975]) : Discours pendant la séance de cloture : Lettres de L’École Freudienne, Vol 18 : p263-270

<> Seminar V : The Formations of the Unconscious : 1957-1958 : begins 6th November 1957 : Jacques Lacan : Information & availability here

<> Jacques-Alain Miller on Seminar X, two possibilities:

“Introduction to Reading Jacques Lacan’s Seminar on Anxiety I “, New York: Lacanian Ink 26, Fall 2005.

“Introduction to Reading Jacques Lacan’s Seminar on Anxiety II”, New York: Lacanian Ink 27, Spring 2006.

“The Seminar on Anxiety is developed outside of the paternal metaphor and also takes its departure from an initial term, opaque and mythical, which is not Desire of the Mother but jouissance. The point of departure Lacan proposes, when he speaks of an irreducible remainder, is that no metaphor is capable of symbolising it integrally. Petit a designates in this respect the failure of the metaphor.” Jacques-Alain Miller, Reading Lacan’s Seminar on Anxiety, II, 2004.

Seminar X: The Anxiety (or Dread): 1962-1963: begins 14th November 1962: Jacques Lacan: Text in English & References or here

Further texts:

By Thomas Svolos here

By Rik Loose here

By Jacques Lacan here

By Sigmund Freud here

On Ordinary Psychosis here