Tracing Stages linked to Libido in Freud

by Julia Evans on October 24, 2017

December 2018 : To request a copy of any text whose weblink does not work, please contact Julia Evans : je.lacanian@icloud.com : For fuller details, see Notice : Availability of texts from LacanianWorks by Julia Evans on 7th December 2018 or here

Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst in Earl’s Court, London

Summary

p238 of Jean LaPlanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis : The language of psychoanalysis : 1967 : Trans. D. Nicholson-Smith. New York: Norton. :

It is interesting that when he does raise the problem – as, for example, in ‘The Disposition to Obsessional Neurosis’ (1913) – the notion of the ego is not as yet restricted to the precise topographical sense that it is to have in The Ego and the Id (1923). He suggests that ‘a chronological outstripping of libidinal development by ego development should be included in the disposition to obsessional neurosis’, but he points out that ‘the stages of development of the ego-instincts are at present very little known to us’ …

We must stress that Freud for his part never undertook the formulation of a holistic theory of stages which would be able to embrace not only the evolution of the libido but also that of the defences, of the ego, etc.; such a theory eventually comes to include the development of the whole of the personality in a single genetic sequence under the general heading of the notion of object ­relations.

Index

References : Quotes from:

Draft E How Anxiety Originates : 6th June 1894? : Sigmund Freud : See here

Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess of 1st March 1896 : known as Letter 42 or here

Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess: 30th May 1896 : Known as Letter 46 or here

Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess of 2nd November 1896 : known as Letter 50 or here

Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess of 14th November 1897 : known as Letter 75 or here

Chemical Theory Section : Essay III Transformations of Puberty : Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality : Sigmund Freud : SE 7 p123-245 : p137 of pfl Vol 7

The Disposition to Obsessional Neurosis : 1913 : Sigmund Freud

Introduction to ‘The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess 1887-1904′ : 1950 : Ernst Kris or here h

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References:

Notes & References for Jacques Lacan’s Seminar IV : 21st November 1956 by Julia Evans on February 28, 2017 or here

ECp refers to page numbers in the Earl’s Court Collective’s translation : Greg Hynds, Jesse Cohn, 

Julia Evans (www.lacanianworks.net), Alma Buholzer.

See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here  for translations, notes and references.

The language of psychoanalysis : 1967 : Jean LaPlanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis : Trans. D. Nicholson-Smith : New York : Norton.

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Seminar IV : 21st November 1956 : ECp6 :

‘one of the first to emphasize this, but not as early on as is generally thought, was [Karl] Abraham’ :

probably A Short Study of the Development of the Libido, Viewed in the Light of Mental Disorders : 1924 : Karl Abraham : See here : This paper is the most thorough going attempt to establish correlations between the stages of libidinal stages or phases.

– Seminar IV : 21st November 1956 : ECp7 : This is set aside, even willingly, by some, especially celebrities, along with significant currents within analysis based on an object the end point of which is not our point of departure. We go backwards to understand how this endpoint is attained, an end point which incidentally is never observed, this ideal object which is literally unthinkable. Instead, it is conceived as a sort of focal point, a point of culmination for a whole series of experiments, elements, partial concepts of the object dating from a certain era, especially from the moment in 1924 when Abraham formulated it in his theory of the development of the libido, and which for many provides the very law of analysis, the law governing everything that takes place therein. The coordinate system within which the entire analytic experience is situated is that of the point of completion of this fabled ideal object, final, perfect, adequate, of that which is proposed in the analysis as being that which in itself marks the goal attained, the normalisation, so to speak – a term which itself already introduces a world of categories which are quite alien to this starting point of the analysis, the normalisation of the subject.

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Mixing of libido & stages – some quotes:

Draft E How Anxiety Originates : 6th June 1894? : Sigmund Freud : See here

P81 of Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s translation :

If one accepts the theory so far, one has to insist that in anxiety neurosis there must be a deficit to be noted in sexual affect, in psychic libido, And this is confirmed by observation. If this connection is put before women patients, they are always indignant and declare that on the contrary they now have no desire whatever, and similar statements. Men often confirm the observation that since suffering from anxiety they have felt no sexual desire.

P81 of Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s translation : An alienation is artificially brought about between the physicosexual act and its psychic working over. If the endogenous tension then increases further on its own account, it cannot be worked over and generates anxiety. Here libido can be present, but not at the same time as anxiety. Thus here psychic refusal is followed by psychic alienation; tension of endogenous origin is followed by induced tension.

P82 of Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s translation :

On the whole the agreement is not so bad. Where there is an abundant development of physical sexual tension, but this cannot be turned into affect by psychic working over – because of insufficient development of psychic sexuality or because of the attempted suppression of the latter (defense), or of its falling into decay, or because of habitual alienation between physical and psychic sexuality – the sexual tension is transformed into anxiety. Thus a part is played in this by the accumulation of physical tension and the prevention of discharge in the psychic direction.

But why does the transformation take place specifically into anxiety? Anxiety is the sensation of the accumulation of another endogenous stimulus, the stimulus to breathing, a stimulus incapable of being worked over psychically apart from this; anxiety might therefore be employed for accumulated physical tension in general. Furthermore, if the symptoms of anxiety neurosis are examined more closely, one finds in the neurosis disjointed pieces of a major anxiety attack: namely, mere dyspnea, mere palpitations, mere feeling of anxiety, and a combination of these. Looked at more precisely, these are the paths of innervation that the physical sexual tension, ordinarily traverses even when it is about to be worked over psychically. [The dyspnea and palpitations belong to coitus; and while ordinarily they are employed only as subsidiary paths of discharge here they serve, so to speak, as the only outlets for the excitation.] This is once again a kind of conversion in anxiety neurosis, just as occurs in hysteria (another instance of their similarity); but in hysteria it is psychic excitation that takes a wrong path exclusively into the somatic field, where as here it is a physical tension, which can not enter the psychic field and therefore remains on the physical path. The two are very often combined.

That is as far as I have got today. The gaps badly need filling. I think it is incomplete, I lack something; but I believe the foundation is right .

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Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess of 1st March 1896 : known as Letter 42 or here

P174 of Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s translation : Thus, it occurs to me that the limits of repression in my theory of neuroses – that is to say, the time after which sexual experiences no longer have a posthumous but an actual effect – coincide with the second dentition. It is only now that I dare to understand my anxiety neurosis: the menstrual period as its physiological model; the anxiety neurosis itself as an intoxication, for which an organic process must furnish the physiological foundation. The unknown organ (the thyroid or whatever it may be) probably will not, I hope, remain unknown to you for long.

P175 of Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s translation : I was less angry about Breuer’s letter than I had expected to be. I could console myself with the thought that the colorblind turns so quickly into a judge of colors, and I at least could understand why he held a low opinion of the etiology of the n[euroses]: because of my statement that trivial noxae may produce neurosis in persons who, it is true, never masturbated, but who nevertheless exhibit from the beginning a type of sexuality that has the same appearance as if they had acquired it through masturbation. In my mind I have always been uncertain whether one should assume that such cases are due to heredity or, instead, to childhood experiences. In any event, it is an obscure point in the theory, and the opponent rightly makes it into a weak point. The mere fact of this opposition -in an area where no theory can be completely fashioned all at once- shows how superficial are Breuer’s conversion and understanding in these matters. He is glad to be able to point to a gap, which is, after all, not
identical with a contradiction and even less so with a refutation.

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Footnote 2 p238 of Jean LaPlanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis : The language of psychoanalysis : 1967 : Trans. D. Nicholson-Smith : New York: Norton. : Letter 46. (May 30, 1896) SE I p229-231

Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess: 30th May 1896 : Known as Letter 46 or here

P187-190 of Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s translation : As the fruit of some tormenting reflections, I send you the following solution to the etiology of the psychoneuroses, which still awaits confirmation from individual analyses.

Four periods of life are to be distinguished:

Ages [following is in tabular form in the letter]

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            1a        |           1b        | A          |       II         |   B        |      III        |

Up to 4 years | Up to 8          | (shaded) | Up to 14   | (shaded)| Up to x

Preconscious   | Infantile         |   “          | Prepubertal |         “   | Maturity

 

A and B (from about 8 to 10 and 13 to 17) are the transitional periods, during which repression for the most part occurs.

The arousal in a later epoch of a sexual memory from an earlier one produces a surplus of sexuality in the psyche, which operates as an inhibitor of thought and gives the memory and its consequences an obsessive character – uninhibitability.

The period Ia has the characteristic of being untranslated, so that
the arousal of a Ia sexual scene leads, not to psychic consequences, but to realizations, that is, to a conversion. The surplus of sexuality impedes translation.

Surplus of sexuality alone is not enough to cause repression; the cooperation of defense is necessary; but without a surplus of sexuality defense does not produce a neurosis.

The individual neuroses have chronological requirements for their sexual scenes:

Chronological Requirements               ____________Repression________________

              |       1a        |         1b        | A          |       II         |   B        |      III       

| Up to 4 years | Up to 8     | (shaded) | Up to 14   | (shaded)| Up to x

               |                   |                     |                |                  |              |                   

Hysteria   | Scene        |                     |         Re-|pression     |         Re-|pression   

Obs. Neur.|                  | Scene           |         Re-|pression      |         Re-|pression   

Paranoia   |                  |                     |                | Scene       |        Re-pression    

That is, the scenes for hysteria fall in the first period of childhood (up to 4 years), in which the mnemic residues are not translated into verbal images. It is a matter of indifference whether these Ia scenes are aroused during the period after the second dentition (8to 10) or in the stage of puberty. Hysteria always results and in the form of conversion, since the combined operation of defense and surplus of sexuality impedes translation.

The scenes of obsessional neurosis belong to epoch Ib. They are provided with a translation into words and when they are aroused in II or III, psychic obsessional symptoms are generated.

The scenes for paranoia fall in the period after the second dentition, in epoch II, and are aroused in III (maturity). In that case defense is manifested in disbelief. Thus the periods at which repression occurs are of no significance for the choice of neurosis; the periods at which the event occurs are decisive. The nature of the scene is of importance in so far as it is able to give rise to defense.

What happens if the scenes extend over several age periods? Then
the earliest epoch is decisive- or combined forms appear, which it should be possible to demonstrate. Such a combination between paranoia and obsessional neurosis is for the most part impossible, because the repression of the Ib scene effected during II makes new sexual scenes impossible.

Hysteria is the only neurosis in which symptoms are perhaps possible without defense, for even so the characteristic of conversion would remain. (Pure somatic hysteria)

It will be seen that paranoia depends the least on infantile determinants. It is the neurosis of defense par excellence, independent even of morality and aversion to sexuality (which are what in A and B provide the motives for defense in obsessional neurosis and hysteria) and consequently accessible to the lower classes. It is an affection of maturity. If there are no scenes in Ia, Ib, or II, defense can have no pathological consequences (normal repression). The surplus of sexuality fulfills the preconditions for anxiety attacks during maturity. The memory traces are insufficient to take up the sexual quantity released, which should become libido.

The importance of intervals between sexual experiences is evident. A continuation of the scenes across a boundary between epochs may perhaps avoid the possibility of a repression, since in that case no surplus of sexuality arises between a scene and the next deeper memory of it.

[JE Note : Probably where the references to ‘reality’ come from in Seminar IV]

About consciousness [that is, being conscious], or rather becoming conscious, we must suppose three things:

(1) That with regard to memories, it consists for the most part in the verbal consciousness pertaining to them – that is, in access to the associated word presentations;

(2)That it is not attached exclusively and inseparably either to the so-called unconscious or to the so-called conscious realm, so that these names seem to call for rejection;

(3)That it is determined by a compromise between the different psychic powers which come into conflict with one another when repressions occur.

These powers must be closely studied and inferred from their results. They are (1) the inherent quantitative strength of a presentation and (2) a freely displaceable attention which is attracted according to certain rules and repelled in accordance with the rule of defense. Symptoms are almost all compromise formations. A fundamental distinction is to be made between uninhibited and thought-inhibited psychic processes. It is in the conflict between these two that symptoms arise as compromises through which the path to consciousness is opened. In neuroses each of these two processes is in itself rational (Footnote 1) (the uninhibited one is monoideistic, one-sided) ; the resultant compromise is irrational, analogous to an error in thought.

In every case quantitative conditions must be fulfilled, for otherwise the defense by the thought-inhibited process prevents the formation of the symptom.

One kind of psychic disturbance arises if the power of the uninhibited processes increases ; another if the force of the thought inhibition relaxes (Melancholia, exhaustion dreams as a prototype.)

An increase of the uninhibited processes to the point of being in sole possession of the path to verbal consciousness produces psychosis.

There is no question of a separation between the two processes, it is only motives of unpleasure that bar the various possible associative transitions between them.

With this, I shall probably bury the magic wand for this semester

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P238 of LaPlanche & Pontalis : Letter 50. (November 2, 1896) SE I p233 to 239 Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess of 2nd November 1896 : known as Letter 50 or here

P202 of Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s translation : Recently I heard the first reaction to my incursion into psychiatry. From it I quote : “Gruesome, horrible, old wives’ psychiatry.” That was Rieger in Wurzburg. [3] I was highly amused. And, of all things, about paranoia, which has become so transparent!

Footnote 3 : 3. Conrad Rieger, “Über die Behandlung ‘Nervenkranker,’ ” in Schmidt’s Jahr – bucher der in – und auslandischen gesamten Medizin, 251 (1896): 173-178, 273- 276, says: “I cannot imagine that an experienced psychiatrist could read this essay without feeling total indignation. The reason for this indignation is that the author attributes the greatest importance to paranoid blather with sexual content [on the part of his patients] about purely chance happenings which, even if they were not based merely on imagination, are of no significance whatsoever. This kind of thing cannot possibly lead to anything but a simply dreadful ‘old wives’ psychiatry’” [my translation]. The lack of psychological perception in this passage takes one’s breath away, although it has been defended by Sulloway (1979, p.454). Rieger goes on to say that the best treatment for such patients is physical labor, for they are laboring under the “poison of laziness.”

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From p237 of Jean LaPlanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis : The language of psychoanalysis : 1967 : Trans. D. Nicholson-Smith. New York: Norton. It was not long before the idea emerged of tying these successive periods to the dominance and the relinquishment of specific ‘sexual’ or ‘erotogenic zones’ (the anal region, the region of mouth and pharynx and-in the case of the girl -the clitoral region). Freud pursues this line of advance rather a long way ­ witness his letter to Fliess dated November 14, 1897 Letter 75

See Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess of 14th November 1897 : known as Letter 75 or here  (includes notes)

P280 of Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s translation :

What, now, does normal repression furnish us with? Something which, free, can lead to anxiety; if psychically bound, to rejection – that is to say, the affective basis for a multitude of intellectual processes of development, such as morality, shame, and the like. Thus the whole of this arises at the expense of extinct (virtual) sexuality. From this we can see that, with the successive thrusts in development, the child is overlaid with morality, shame, and such things, and how the nonoccurrence of this extinction of the sexual zones can produce moral insanity [in English in the original] as a developmental inhibition. These thrusts of development probably have a different chronological arrangement in the male and female sexes. (Disgust appears earlier in little girls than in boys.) But the main distinction between the sexes emerges at the time of puberty, when girls are seized by a nonneurotic sexual repugnance and males by libido.

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P278 of Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s translation : Letter 14th November 1897 Letter 75 to Fliess Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess of 14th November 1897 : known as Letter 75 or here

Dear Wilhelm,

“It was on November 12, 1897 ; the sun was precisely in the eastern

quarter, Mercury and Venus were in conjunction –“ No, birth announcements no longer start like that. It was on November 12, a day dominated by a left-sided migraine, on the afternoon of which Martin sat down to write a new poem,* on the evening of which Oli lost his second tooth,| that, after the frightful labor pains of the last few weeks, I gave birth to a new piece of knowledge. Not entirely new, to tell the truth; it had repeatedly shown itself and withdrawn again § but this time it stayed and looked upon the light of day. Strangely enough, I have a presentiment of such events a good while beforehand. For instance, I wrote to you once in the summer that I was going to find the source of normal sexual repression (morality, shame, and so forth) and then for a long time failed to find it. Before the vacation trip I told you that the most important patient for me was myself ; and then, after I came back from vacation, my self-analysis, of which there was at the time no sign, suddenly started. A few weeks ago came my wish that repression might be replaced by my knowledge of the essential thing lying behind it; and that is what I am concerned with now. I have often had a suspicion that something organic plays a part in repression; I was able once before to tell you that it was a question of the abandonment of former sexual zones, and I was able to add that I had been pleased at coming across a similar idea in Moll. … Now, the zones which no longer produce a release of sexuality in normal and mature human beings must be the regions of the anus and of the mouth and throat. This is to be understood in two ways: first, that seeing and imagining these zones no longer produce an exciting effect, and second, that the internal sensations arising from them make no contribution to the libido, the way the sexual organs proper do. In animals these sexual zones continue in force in both respects; if this persists in human beings too, perversion results. We must assume that in infancy the release of sexuality is not yet so much localized as it is later, so that the zones which are later abandoned (and perhaps the whole surface of the body as well) also instigate something that is analogous to the later release of sexuality. The extinction of these initial sexual zones would have a counterpart in the atrophy of certain internal organs in the course of development. A release of sexuality (as you know, I have in mind a kind of secretion which is rightly felt as the internal state of the libido) comes about, then, not only (1) through a peripheral stimulus upon the sexual organs, or (2) through the internal excitations arising from those organs, but also (3) from ideas- that is, from memory traces – therefore also by the path of deferred action. … Thus, there exists a nonneurotic deferred action occurring normally, and this generates compulsion. (Our other memories operate ordinarily only because they have operated as experiences.) Deferred action of this kind occurs also in connection with a memory of excitations of the abandoned sexual zones. The outcome, however, is not a release of libido but of an unpleasure, an internal sensation analogous to disgust in the case of an object.

To put it crudely, the memory actually stinks just as in the present the object stinks; and in the same manner as we turn away our sense organ (the head and nose) in disgust, the preconscious and the sense of consciousness
turn away from the memory. This is repression.

What, now, does normal repression furnish us with? Something which, free, can lead to anxiety; if psychically bound, to rejection – that is to say, the affective basis for a multitude of intellectual processes of development, such as morality, shame, and the like. Thus the whole of this arises at the expense of extinct (virtual) sexuality. From this we can see that, with the successive thrusts in development, the child is overlaid with piety, shame, and such things, and how the nonoccurrence of this extinction of the sexual zones can produce moral insanity [moral insanity in the original] as a developmental inhibition. These thrusts of development probably have a different chronological arrangement in the male and female sexes. (Disgust appears earlier in little girls than in boys.) But the main distinction between the sexes emerges at the time of puberty, girls are seized by a nonneurotic sexual repugnance and males by
libido. …

… .Insofar as memory has lighted upon an experience connected with the genitals, what it produces by deferred action is libido. Insofar as it has lighted upon an experience connected with the anus, mouth, and so on, it produces deferred internal disgust, and the final outcome is consequently that a quota of libido is not able, as is ordinarily the case, to force its way through to action or to translation into psychic terms, but is obliged to proceed in a regressive direction (as happens in dreams). Libido and disgust would seem to be associatively linked. We owe it to the former that the memory cannot lead to general unpleasure and the like, but that it finds a psychic use; and we owe it to the latter that this use furnishes nothing but symptoms instead of aim-directed ideas. The psychological side of this would not be hard to grasp, the organic factor in it is whether abandonment of the sexual zones takes place according to the masculine or feminine type of development or whether it takes place at all.

It is probable, then, that the choice of neurosis – the decision whether hysteria or obsessional neurosis or paranoia emerges – depends on the nature of the thrust (that is to say, its chronological placing) which enables repression to occur; that is, which transforms a source of internal pleasure into one of internal disgust.

This is where I have got to so far – with all the inherent obscurities. I have resolved, then, henceforth to regard as separate factors what causes libido and what causes anxiety. I have also given up the idea of explaining libido as the masculine factor and repression as the feminine one. These are, in any case, important decisions. The obscurity lies mainly in the nature of the change by which the internal sensation of need becomes the sensation of disgust. I need not draw your attention to other obscure points. The main value of the synthesis lies in its linking the neurotic process and the normal one. There is now a crying need, therefore, for a prompt elucidation of common neurasthenic anxiety.

[JE notes : Analyst’s position] My self-analysis remains interrupted. I have realized why I can analyze myself only with the help of knowledge obtained objectively (like an outsider). True self-analysis is impossible; otherwise there would be no [neurotic] illness. Since I am still contending with some kind of puzzle in my patients, this is bound to hold me up in my self-analysis as well.

Footnotes

* I was not supposed to know this. It seems his poetic tonsils have been cut.

| The first one was in fact pulled out on the evening of November 9 by the nurse, it might perhaps have lasted till the 10th.

Only tall fellows for sa Majesté le Roi de Prusse. [Freud is referring to the Potsdam guard under Friedrich Wilhelm I, which was recruited wholly from giants.]

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p237 of Pontalis : It was not long before the idea emerged of tieing these successive periods to the dominance and the relinquishment of specific ‘sexual’ or ‘erotogenic zones’ (the anal region, the region of mouth and pharynx and-in the case of the girl -the clitoral region). Freud pursues this line of advance rather a long way­ witness his letter to Fliess dated November 14, 1897 Letter 75 (See Above)

also masculine libido : the process of so-called normal repression is seen here as closely related to the relinquishing of one zone in favour of another, to the ‘decline’ of a particular zone.

Such conceptions are in many respects adumbrations of what is to become, in its more finished form, the theory of libidinal stages. But it is a striking fact that these ideas fade into the background with the first account that Freud gives of the evolution of sexuality, and they are taken up and clarified only at a later point. In the first edition of the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905),

(JE notes that Jacques Lacan refers to this in Seminar IV : 5th December 1956)

Three Essays on Sexuality

Chemical Theory Section : Essay III Transformations of Puberty : Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality : 1905 : from James Strachey’s translation : originally published in 1953 : 3 years before Seminar IV was given : SE 7 p123-245 : p137 of pfl Vol 7 On Sexuality : It must suffice us to hold firmly to what is essential in this view of the sexual processes: the assumption that substances of a peculiar kind arise from the sexual metabolism.

Footnote 1 : James Strachey : The whole of this paragraph as far as this point in its present form from 1920. In the first edition (1905) and the two subsequent ones the following passage appears in its place: ‘The truth is that we can give no information on the nature of sexual excitation, especially since (having found that the importance of the sex-glands in this respect has been over-estimated) we are in the dark as to the organ or organs to which sexuality is attached. After the surprising discoveries of the important part played by the thyroid gland in sexuality, it is reasonable to suspect that we are still ignorant of the essential factors of sexuality. Anyone who feels the need of a provisional hypothesis to fill this wide gap in our knowledge may well take as his starting-point the powerful substances which have been found to be present in the thyroid gland and may proceed along some such lines as the following. It may be supposed that, as a result of an appropriate stimulation of erotogenic zones, r in other circumstances that are accompanied by an onset of sexual excitation, some substance that is disseminated generally throughout the organism becomes decomposed and the products of its decomposition give rise to a specific stimulus which acts on the reproductive organs or upon a spinal centre related to them. (We are already familiar with the fact that other toxic substances, introduced into the body from outside, can bring about a similar transformation of a toxic condition into a stimulus acting on a particular organ.) The question of what interplay arises in the course of the sexual processes between the effects of purely toxic stimuli and of physiological ones cannot be treated, even hypothetically, in the present state of our knowledge. I may add that I attach no importance to this particular hypothesis and should be ready to abandon it at once in favour of another, provided that its fundamental nature remained unchanged – that is, the emphasis which it lays upon sexual chemistry.’

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p238 of Jean LaPlanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis : The language of psychoanalysis : 1967 : Trans. D. Nicholson-Smith. New York: Norton. :  It is interesting that when he does raise the problem – as, for example, in ‘The Disposition to Obsessional Neurosis’ (1913) – the notion of the ego is not as yet restricted to the precise topographical sense that it is to have in The Ego and the Id (1923). He suggests that a chronological outstripping of libidinal development by ego development should be included in the disposition to obsessional neurosis’, but he points out that ‘the stages of development of the ego-instincts are at present very little known to us’ …

We must stress that Freud for his part never undertook the formulation of a holistic theory of stages which would be able to embrace not only the evolution of the libido but also that of the defences, of the ego, etc.; such a theory eventually comes to include the development of the whole of the personality in a single genetic sequence under the general heading of the notion of object­ relations.

The Disposition to Obsessional Neurosis : 1913 : Sigmund Freud : p 311 to 326 of SE XII (G.W. VIII p451) or p143 of pfl, Vol 10 : James Strachey’s translation

Freud : The second gap in our hypothesis is far more important. As we know, the developmental disposition to a neurosis is only complete if the phase of the development of the ego at which fixation occurs is taken into account as well as that of the libido. But our hypothesis has only related to the latter, and therefore does not include all the knowledge that we should demand. The stages of development of the ego-instincts are at present very little known to us; I know of only one attempt – the highly promising one made by Ferenczi (1913) – to approach these questions. I cannot tell if it may seem too rash if, on the basis of such indications as we possess, I suggest the possibility that a chronological outstripping of libidinal development by ego development should be included in the disposition to obsessional neurosis. A precocity of this kind would necessitate the choice of an object under the influence of the ego-instincts, at a time at which the sexual instincts had not yet assumed their final shape, and a fixation at the stage of the pregenital sexual organization would thus be left. If we consider that obsessional neurotics have to develop a super-morality in order to protect their object-love from the hostility lurking behind it, we shall be inclined to regard some degree of this precocity of ego development as typical of human nature and to derive the capacity for the origin of morality from the fact that in the order of development hate is the precursor of love. This is perhaps the meaning of an assertion by Stekel (1911a, 536), which at the time I found incomprehensible, to the effect that hate and not love is the primary emotional relation between men.

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Is it physical?

p236 of Jean LaPlanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis : The language of psychoanalysis : 1967 : Trans. D. Nicholson-Smith. New York: Norton. : Thus, around 1896-97, Freud’s correspondence with Wilhelm Fliess -who, as we know, had himself worked out a whole theory of periods (See Kris below) -contains an attempt to establish a series of periods in childhood and adolescence which can be tied down chronologically with varying degrees of precision; this attempt is closely bound up with the notion of deferred action, and with the theory of seduction which Freud worked out at
this time.

Quote from Introduction to ‘The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess 1887-1904′ : 1950 : Ernst Kris : See here

P4-8 quoted by LaPlanche & Pontalis as describing how Wilhelm Fliess worked out a whole theory of periods or stages based on observable, physical phenomena.

P24 : The important discovery that the mechanism of anxiety neurosis lay “in the diversion of somatic sexual excitation from the psyche and the resultant abnormal utilization of that energy” was expressed by Freud in the formula: “Neurotic anxiety is transmuted sexual libido”. [from Freud 1897b.]

[Freud, Sigmund (1897b) is ‘Abstracts of the Scientific Writings of Dr. Sigm. Freud 1877-1897′, SE, v. 3, pp. 227-43. : [p352] Quote from abstract XXXII ‘On the grounds for detaching a particular syndrome from neurasthenia under the description “anxiety neurosis”.’ : translated by James Strachey : “An attempt to arrive at a theory of anxiety neurosis leads to a formula to the effect that its mechanism lies in the deflection of somatic sexual excitation from the psychical field and a consequent abnormal employment of that excitation. Neurotic anxiety is transformed sexual libido.” ]

This idea was mentioned only briefly in the ‘Studies on Hysteria’, which were published later, but had important consequences for the history of psycho-analysis. Until the theory of anxiety was revised by the publication in 1926 of ‘Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety’, the “toxicological” theory, which regarded anxiety as the result of dammed-up libido, held the field. This revision simultaneously revived another important idea which Freud had had in the early nineties;[* below] the idea of putting the function of defence in the centre of the theory of the neurosis. After an interval of more than thirty years part of the psycho-analytic ego-psychology was based on this concept of defence.

* In “On the Grounds for Detaching a Particular Syndrome from Neurasthenia under the Description ‘Anxiety Neurosis’ ” (Written around 1894 : published 1895b) Freud unquestionably pointed the way to this revision. “‘The psyche develops the affect of anxiety when it feels itself incapable of dealing (by an adequate reaction) with a task danger : approaching it externally”, he wrote. [Sigmund Freud : 1895 : Grounds for Detaching a Particular Syndrome from Neurasthenia under the Description “Anxiety Neurosis’ ‘ ‘, S.E., Vol. 3, p. 109.]

P29 : Quote : ‘[Freud’s] observations of adult neurotics enabled him to reconstruct some of the normal stages in the child’s growth towards maturity’;

P34 : In the summer and autumn of 1897 his self-analysis revealed the essential features of the Oedipus complex and enabled him to understand the nature of Hamlet’s inhibition. Insight into the role of the erotogenic zones in the development of the libido followed.

P42 : Quote : ‘In discussing developmental inhibitions which might be rooted in the disposition he referred to Fliess’s works. “Since the work of W. Fliess has revealed the biological importance of periodicity, it has become conceivable that developmental disturbances may be ascribed to modification in the duration of the various stages”, he wrote.

When Freud produced his own biological speculations in ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’ he mentioned Fliess again. “According to the grandiose conception of Wilhelm Fliess”, he wrote, “all the vital phenomena exhibited by organisms-including, no doubt, their
death-are linked with the conception of fixed periods, which express the dependence of two kinds of living substance (one male and the other female) upon the solar year. When we see, however, [p43] how easily and how extensively the influence of external forces is able to modify the date of the appearance of vital phenomena (especially in the plant world)-to precipitate them or hold them back-doubts must be cast upon the rigidity of Fliess’s formulas, or at least upon whether the laws laid down by him are the sole deter- mining factors”. In other words the period theory occupied a place at the periphery of Freud’s interests; it did not contribute to the creation of psycho-analysis.’

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Laplanche’s conclusion

p238 of Jean LaPlanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis : The language of psychoanalysis : 1967 : Trans. D. Nicholson-Smith. New York: Norton. :

Anna Freud too, in The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence, declines to set up a temporal scheme for the appearance of the various mechanisms of ego­ defence (7).

What overall view may be formed of these different approaches ? The most thoroughgoing attempt to establish correlations between the different types of stages is still Abraham’s ‘Short Study of the Development of the Libido, Viewed in the Light of Mental Disorders’ (1924) (See A Short Study of the Development of the Libido, Viewed in the Light of Mental Disorders : 1924 : Karl Abraham : See here). Robert Fliess has completed the picture proposed by Abraham (See Fliess , R. ‘An Ontogenetic Table’, 1942, in The Psychoanalytic Reader (London: Hogarth Press, 1950), 254-55.).

We must stress that Freud for his part never undertook the formulation of a holistic theory of stages which would be able to embrace not only the evolution of the libido but also that of the defences, of the ego, etc.; such a theory eventually comes to include the development of the whole of the personality in a single genetic sequence under the general heading of the notion of object­relations. In our view, Freud’s failure to reach such a position does not simply mean that he did not round out his thinking in this area; in fact the gap – and the possibility of a dialectic – between these different developmental sequences are in Freud’s eyes an essential factor in the determination of neurosis.

In this sense, even though the Freudian theory may have been one of the chief contributors in the history of psychology to the spread of the idea of stages, it would seem that in its fundamental inspiration it is at odds with the way this idea is used by genetic psychology, which postulates the existence, at each point in development, of an overall structure with an integrative function (‘Symposium de l’Association de Psychologie scientifique de langue francaise’, various authors, Geneva, 1955, in Le problème des stades en psychologie de l’enfant (Paris: P.U.F., 1956). ). [This conference is referenced in Seminar IV : 12th December 1956]

 

Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, Earl’s Court, London

 

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December 2018 : To request a copy of any text whose weblink does not work, please contact Julia Evans : je.lacanian@icloud.com : For fuller details, see Notice : Availability of texts from LacanianWorks by Julia Evans on 7th December 2018 or here

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Further posts:

Translation Working Group here

Some Lacanian history : here

Of the clinic : here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud : here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here