Home > Philosophy > 1997 After Postmodernism Conference > Finlay (background)

Post-Modernizing Psychoanalysis / Psychoanalyzing Post-Modernity Before Emancipation -- Re-Ontologizing the Subject in Discourse (note 1)

Marike Finlay de Monchy
Department of English
McGill University

For Maria Kapuscinska


(Logic) process of reasoning from parallel cases; (Lang.) imitation of inflexion or construction of existing words in forming inflexions or construction of others, without intervention of the formative steps through which these at first arose; (Nat. Hist.) resemblance of form or function between organs essentially different. (O.E.C.D.)

0.0 Introduction

Post-modernism, including both its practices and its theories, poses a direct challenge to psychotherapeutic discourse, more especially psychoanalytically oriented therapy which traditionally bases itself in the study of the individual subjects and in the hermeneutic practice of interpretation of representations (note 2). At least three tenets of post-modernism threaten the underpinnings of psychoanalysis.

1.0 The First Tenet: The Decentering, Disintegration and Death of the Centered Subject

Just as Nietzsche's declaration of the death of God could be seen as heralding the shift from classicism to modernity, so may we isolate the French post-structuralists' claim that the subject is "dead;" that the subject is nothing more than the dispersion and splitting of language, as opening onto the post-modern era. The subject becomes nothing more than a functional place-holder for language. The subject is positioned by that language. The subject is no longer the source of language but rather a fragmented product of dispersed discourses. Each time "I" is pronounced it projects a different entity, as opposed to referring to a same and total subject that has continuity throughout space and time. The subject does not speak discourse; discourse speaks the subject. In this Copernican revolution of the theory of the subject and discourse, the subject loses its ontological status. Only discourse exists, and the subject is merely a function of it, positioned by it.

Instead of referring back to the synthesis or the unifying function of a subject, the various enunciative modalities manifest his dispersion ... Thus conceived, discourse is not the majestically unfolding manifestation of a thinking, knowing, speaking, subject, but on the contrary, a totality in which the dispersion of the subject and his discontinuity with himself may be determined. It is a space of exteriority in which a network of distinct sites is deployed. (Dreyfus and Rabinov 1982, 54-5)

2.0 The Second Tenet: The Historical and Cultural Relativization of the Concept of the Subject and of the Human Sciences, the Science of the Human Subject

Michel Foucault has argued throughout his work, especially in Histoire de la folie (1961), Les mots et les choses (1966), and L'archéologie du savoir (1969), that the human sciences are historically circumscribed, having emerged in the seventeenth century. Before then, the human subject was not considered to be a central nor primary object of study. The conditions of possibility, mostly socio-discursive, for the emergence of the subject and of a discourse of knowledge about the subject, simply did not exist before this epoch. Thus, such a discipline of the subject as psychoanalysis could also not have been thought or spoken before then. Furthermore, and this is the crux of post-modernist thought, if the individual subject did not exist, say, for example, in the Middle Ages, it could also cease to be in another, future epoch. They argue that post-modern capitalist society no longer provides the discourse and the conditions of possibility for the existence of a subject. Hence the sciences of the subject, especially psychoanalysis, must disappear with it. T.J. Reiss, writing about Freudian psychoanalysis wishes to make precisely this argument:

It is also suggested throughout the book, suggestion that culminates in a brief proposal for an analysis of the controlling discursive constraints of Freudian theory and practice, that the series of necessary occultations and traps accompanying this development have now been brought back to the surface of discourse and are responsible for a contemporary crisis at the same time that they propose suggestions for its solution. (Reiss 1982, 26)

Some psychoanalysts, such as D.W. Winnicott, are quite cognizant of Foucault's theory, agreeing with its reading of the past non-existence of the subject as we know it today, as well as with the notion of a discursive and scientific constitution of the subject as an object of knowledge for the human sciences:

One could suppose that before a certain era, say a thousand years ago, only a very few people lived creatively (cf. Foucault 1966). To explain this one would have to say that before a certain date it is possible that there was only very exceptionally a man or woman who achieved unit status in personal development. Before a certain date the vast millions of the world of human beings quite possibly never found or certainly soon lost at the end of infancy or childhood their sense of being individuals. . . . A body of science was needed before men and women could become united and integrated in terms of time and space, who could live creatively and exist as individuals. The subject of monotheism belongs to the arrival of this stage in human mental functioning. (Winnicott 1971-85, 81-82)

While there may be some discrepancies between the chronological coordinates cited by Winnicott and Foucault, their accord is essentially over the issue that certain social, environmental and discursive conditions of possibility are necessary for the emergence of the subject. These conditions are not absolute, but rather historically variable. Consequently the status of the subject is not ontologically a priori but historically and environmentally contingent. There is no metaphysics of presence. Thus the individual subject can disappear, just as it once did not exist at all. The post-modernists argue that it has indeed done so. The subject has been decentered in relation to the sciences; it is no longer at the heart and source of them but a production of a certain discourse of knowledge. Where the subject is decentered, then, discourse of knowledge and disciplines that grew up to study this object become superfluous. This, of course, poses a major challenge to psychoanalysis.

In short, where psychoanalysis is relativized as an historically circumscribed emergence of a discourse of knowledge, and where post-modernity testifies to the destruction of its raison d'être, i.e., the subject, how then can psychoanalysis legitimate its continued existence? Does post-modernity post-modernize psychoanalysis out of existence? Or, perhaps, is there still a place for an evolved psychoanalytical discourse which would account for this post-modern destruction of the subject. Psychoanalytical discourse, to do so, would have to venture into the realm of ontology -- the nature of being of things such as the subject, and the realm of -- epistemology -- the study of how we know things, such as how psychoanalysis can know the subject. Is it possible to construct a form of psychoanalytic discourse, both in theory and practice, that can squarely face the post-modern phenomenon of the murder of the individual subject of interiority, come to terms with it from an epistemological and ontological point of view, and yet preserve a function for its discourse both in theory and in praxis? In other words, can psychoanalysis psychoanalyze post-modernity?

3.0 The Third Tenet: The Crisis of Representation

Pre-classical views of language posited no difference between the word and the world/referent. The eucharist is the perfect example of such a view whereupon the word, the wine and the bread are God, not just substitutes for him. T.J. Reiss describes medieval discourse in a way which makes us all long for it.

We may perhaps say that the discourse of "patterning" sought only to place its user in context, whether divine or human. It employed the "images of things" not for the sake of a knowledge and use of things in themselves, not to gain power over them or so that they might become the manipulated objects of the master of discourse, but simply to make possible the utterance of intra-human relationships and a certain relation within a totality of which man himself was but a part. Such discourse sought what has been a "conjunctive" reality. (Reiss 1982, 354)

With classicism came the notion of difference between word and thing but where the word or sign was still a transparent mediator of the world for our knowledge. T.J. Reiss cites the classic's use of the telescope as a model of this mediation (Reiss 1982, 363ff) (note 3). The word/sign is adequate to portray the concept and the world. Modernity did, however, mark the cleavage between word and thing, between sign and concept, and between signifier and signified in semiotic terms. This rift, once introduced, was irreparable, a fundamental cleavage in language, in knowledge and in the subject, which latter could never more be identical with his image of himself.

The post-modern epoch pushes this crisis of representation one step further, to affirm the primacy of the signifier or the sign's materiality independently of the referent/world or signified/meaning. The important aspect of language became the signifier divorced from any attempt to stand for something which it is not. It stands only for itself, replete with the energy that produced it, but with nothing else underlying it. The surface of the sign is the only reality to which the sign refers. The sign is no longer a double which both is and is not the external world. Foucault, in Les mots et les choses (1966), speaks of modern discourse as that which evoked a cleavage between the word or image and the thing or world; modern discourse is the irony of the double (note 4). This is still the modernist view of language. The post-modernist view does away with this duplicity and argues simply for the identity of the surface of language with itself and nothing else, though still requiring energy, including libidinal energy, to produce it.

For psychoanalytical theory and practice the post-modern theory of language would abolish the activity of interpretation. Symptoms, dreams and speech are not signs of something else, they are merely work or play on surfaces produced by forces of energy. The are not to be translated or interpreted as in a depth hermeneutics, but rather allowed to speak for themselves, to leave the traces of their energy and to interact with other such discourses. What, then, if any, would be the new role for psychoanalytic discourse in such a view of language? Can psychoanalytic discourse go beyond the semantics of interpretation and translation once post-modernism declares that signs do not stand for something else, that they are traces of productive forces only? Can psychoanalysis survive the de-semantization of discourse both in theory and practice?

To summarize briefly, then, we will investigate whether psychoanalysis still has a voice and a function in an age where the dominant culture eliminates, or at least claims to eliminate, the identity between words and meanings or things, as well as to annihilate the centrality of the individual human subject of interiority as the once posited source and object of all discourse of knowledge. Not only the cure of psychoanalysis hangs in the balance of such a discussion but also that of the ontological status of the subject and some realm of existence and expression known as psychical interiority. Are the subject and his interiority once again to be relegated to non-existence as an anachronistic construction of a contingent social discourse? Or, do the subject and his psyche still have some key agential role to play in discourse and in history? If we do concur with the post-modern theorists that much of what we see today is a fragmentation and dissipation of the subject in the discourse of post-modern style, then, should psychoanalysis simply resign itself to the loss of this subject or can it continue to practice a discourse in such a way as to facilitate the reemergence of the subject, to recuperate it in both practice and in theory?

4.0 Post-Modern Practices

Post-modernism refers to a body of theory about the subject and discourse, including the works of such thinkers as Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, Blanchot, Lyotard, Baudrillard etc. But post-modernism also refers to a set of cultural practices and discursive productions now commonly labeled "post-modern" and in the literature often likened to the psychical presentation of the psychotic. Post-modernism has been described in terms of culturally generalized psychosis. A few cultural examples: The emptying of the star of any personal identity is analogous to the depersonalization of the psychotic. We know nothing of the personal lives of the members of ABBA, a very different approach to the star than the pages of gossip about personal lives that fill the traditional "Hollywood" popular press. This depersonalization is perhaps best exemplified in the title of the rock group, "Talking Heads." No identities, no subjective substance, just a thing out of which flows discourse, the new post-modern non-subject. Rather than considering the subject to be some sort of totalizable unity, the post-modern creature is a kind of universalized "bad object" in the Kleinian sense of the term. The lead singer of the "Sex Pistols" calls himself "Johnny Rotten." Rock groups, even in their performances, go to great measure to eradicate the subject as the source and amplification of sound. "Kraftwerk" -- factory work -- presents a concert in which the members of the group do not appear on stage, merely tend the computers from behind the scene. This production is likeable to the "Disembodied eye" of the psychotic subject that has no continuity in time and place and exists nowhere; the habit of jet-setting, so well practiced by post-modern theorists as well, being yet another manifestation of an individual who exists nowhere, unpositioned as a subject in time and space. Subjects don't exist, rather personae are manufactured for a temporary experience and then remade for another set of desires and experiences, a bit like being made up cosmetically. The heroes of Miami Vice are most noteworthy for the suits they wear.

Michael Jackson is a self-made man to such a degree that he had his face remade in "plastic" surgery in the image of fine white features and femininity. He looks more like Diana Ross than a man. MacLaren, the owner of clothes boutiques in London, created and marketed the "Sex Pistols" along the same principle as a new mode, first shock and then promote to recuperate. Even what Adorno has earlier touted as the "shock effect" (1970) becomes recuperated as a marketable commodity. There is no affect, it is blunted, in the sense of the psychiatric manual DSM III's diagnostic indicator of psychosis: "blunted affect." Johnny Rotten's voice is affectless, a harsh, neutral grating sound without human inflection.

The signs are not interpretable as symbols, but rather one is exhorted to indulge in the surface. The Sex Pistols' lyrics would have to be read to be understood. There is no significance, plot or character development of Miami Vice. The "pleasure" of it lies in feasting ones eyes on the surfaces of the electric blues, the wake cut in the sea by the speeding cigarette boat or the poison pink of flocking flamingos, before cutting to streaming traffic lights on lusciously curved turnpikes. Just as the psychotic is said to have blunted affect and an incapacity to symbolize: "A rose is a rose, no more than that," so too is "Pepsi Pepsi," "Coke is it!" no more, and the ads signify nothing but the self-evidencing of the can that whizzes across the screen. "That's Pepsi, nothing more." Discourse is merely a chain of signifiers with no correlative signified possible. It is only the trace of some socio-political and libidinal economic production, of pure energies. The psychotic, of course, is said to live in the realm of pure uncensored id, as opposed to that of the substitution and delay of pleasure, which latter is that of the neurotic; the poor, old-fashioned, modern neurotic.

Christopher Lasch in The Culture of Narcissism (1979), and The Minimal Self (1984) argues that post-modern capitalist culture reduces subjects to the mere extension of self whose only identity is the provision of immediate (sense) gratification. The creatures of post-modern culture do not relate to each other, they use each other as one would a candy bar or a coat:

The consumer lives surrounded not so much by things as by fantasies. He lives in a world that has no objective or independent existence and seems to exist only to gratify or thwart his desires. (Lasch 1984, 12)

The world of advertising imagery blurs the distinction between inner impulses and outer reality . . . The commodity world is too alien to be able to function "transitionally." (Lasch 1984, 50)

Again, like the psychotic, the post-modern body ego does not rest intact, but is fragmented and carved up. Punks stick safety pins through their ears and shred their clothes, while skin heads scalp themselves and carve patterns of scars into their bodies. One is reminded of Leni Riefenstahl's images of The Last of the Nuba. The photographer for Hitler's Olympiad self-exiles to this non-western, pre-modern tribe to etch on silver the Nuba's own colourful and puncturing etching on their bodies (Riefenstahl 1974).

5.0 What Is the Post-Modern Decentering of the Subject if Not Total and Disintegrative Splitting?

The subject in the post-modern age is often dubbed "psychotic" because there is "no centre" around which to unite or "resolve the various voices" that speak the post-modern citizen. For instance, when Mrs. Smith says on a televised Tide advertisement: "I use Tide because it gets my clothes whiter." is this not a case of a subject being a medium for voices from other sources be they mass mediated, cultural, commercial, economic, hygienic, or familial etc.? Perhaps it is no longer Christ who speaks through the tongue of the "religiously delusional" psychotic subject, but rather, "Mr. Tide" through the mouth of the consumerist "post-modern." There is no more core to the post-modern subject of the tongues of consumerism than to the traditional psychotic with religious delusions. Both are spoken by ideological and doxological voices from without. They do not speak their language; they are spoken by it. There is no kernel to the subject. The subject is no more than a field where a dispersed set of voices and languages play, a kind of "Polyglot" (Sollers 1973; Kristeva 1977) or "glossolalia" (Schnebel) (note 5) where no mother tongue prevails and the person surprises others by mouthing words that do not come from his personal experience but from without.

Nor can any single voice be translated adequately into a single, homogeneous, monophonic voice. There is no lingua franca into which we can reduce the plethora of voices that speak the person today. Translation, mediation, substitution are no longer possible discursive practices which would unify, identify, and hierarchize the heterogeneity of the discourses that circulate in today's society and speak the person. The person is a dispersion within these discourses. Each discourse operates a split upon the unity of the person who, in post-modernism, is considered the sum of the open-ended plethora of discourses that speak him.

This dispersion in discourse is a phenomenon that must be comparable with Klein's and the Object-Relations theorists' notion of "splitting." After all, what is splitting if not decentering? In splitting there is no core left. It is a splitting, not a chipping off tiny pieces from a unified subjective core. In splitting, multiple facets or voices of the subject which do not coagulate around a centre leave no core intact but rather fragment, projecting off in all directions. If the subject is constituted in symbolization and hence in discourse, and if, in this culture, a dispersed mass of discourses circulate through and speak the subject, then discourse may be said to split the subject by positioning or projecting the self off into as many directions as there are types of discourse.

It is necessary to distinguish between splitting as cleavage and splitting as disintegration splitting. Splitting as cleavage is still very much a modern concept in that it implies an initial whole which has a cleavage or two or more broken off parts. Splitting as disintegration, on the other hand, is a post-modern phenomenon in that it applies to the decentering of the subject from the very beginning. The subject is not born a unity, but rather a disintegrated collection of drives, experiences and bits which have no core. Splitting as cleavage finds its linguistic trace in the modern representational split between the signifier and the signified. Splitting as disintegration relates to the post-modern linguistic phenomenon of speech where upon-each time "I" is said it refers to a different instance of utterance as opposed to a unified or dyadically split subject. Splitting off from a core is neurotic. Disintegration is psychotic.

6.0 The End of History -- "On The Road to Nowhere"

More than all of these phenomena, and most seriously criticized by the social theorist and critic of the post-modern, Jürgen Habermas, the fourth and crucial tenet of post-modernism is the end of the historical project of emancipation in history, as well as the refusal to relate cultural practices to these social projects (Habermas 1981). The psychotic lives in the present at each instant of excruciatingly intense experience. He lacks a sense of projecting a continuity of self through time with some developmental hope. Adolescents drop out of school, or sit unmotivated at their desks because they have no hope of becoming anything, or for example, of getting a "meaningful" employment. The "Talking Heads" sing a song of "On the Road to Nowhere." A rock video portrays a father yelling at his son "What do you want to become," whereupon the son throws the father out of the window yelling: "I wanna rock!" Winnicott suggests that the child becomes psychotic if he gives up hope when his earliest needs and wants are not met within a reasonable time. The analysand in the case to which we refer spent hours, even days, playing bridge, a variation on the end of historical project -- whence the popularity of "Trivial Pursuits."

We are faced with the end of the utopian project to bring an end to human suffering and to emancipate man from repression, a project put forward in modernity by the philosophy of the Enlightenment. As opposed to such a project, the aim of post-modern culture is what Baudrillard calls "fatal strategies" -- Les stratégies fatales (1983). For example, if it is a culture of over-consumption, then, the fatal strategy is eating disorders -- Bulimia and Anorexia -- hyperbolizing consumption, becoming fatter than fat or thinner than thin, and this unto the death. If music is reduced to the technetronics of reproduction then the fatal strategy is not to bother with the music at all, merely to amplify the high fidelity to the utmost, to fetishize the equipment. No meaning, no goal, merely a fatal strategy which refuses to buy into all of the distinctions that made signification in modern culture beginning with those between word and meaning and ranging through that of communism vs. capitalism, male vs. female. In de Saussure's modern linguistics, difference is at the basis of all meaning. Whence the elimination of meaning in post-modernity's elimination of difference. Whence the androgyny of "Boy George" and Annie Lennox and the end of ideological critique in the rock videos that depoliticize politics so much as to portray Reagan and Breshnev in a wrestling match, each indistinguishably disgusting. Post-modern culture blurs and eradicates the boundaries of difference i.e., the structure at the heart of modern symbolic meaning. It reduces, all discourse and practice to a work or play on surfaces and to an emptying of discourse of the subject, after first fragmenting, splitting and dispersing it.

But here I pause for an interlude -- a host of voices going past!

7.0 Clinical Example -- The Case of Sophia

At this stage of our discussion of the post-modern, psychotic "non-subject," we will draw upon some clinical examples of a analysand who is going through a psychotic phase in analysis, although in her real and everyday existence she does not present psychotically at all. This dualism would already seem to reconfirm Fairbairn's and Winnicott's thesis, to which we will return, that in many common everyday neurotics there is a psychotic core reached through allowing a regression to the pregenital level of object-relating (or non-relating as the psychogenetic phenomenon would tend to suggest) (note 6). In other words, they too, see the psychotic phenomenon to be far more socially and culturally generalized than a case of a single disturbed psyche.

Apart from these overtly schizoid conditions, however, it is common to find features of a basically schizoid nature displayed by patients whose presenting symptoms are essentially psychoneurotic (e.g. hysterical, phobic, obsessional, or simply anxious). Such features, when present, are of course, specially liable to emerge when the psychoneurotic defences by which they personality has been protected become weakened in the course of (and through the agency of) analytical treatment; but increasing familiarity with the underlying schizoid background renders it increasingly possible for the analyst to detect the presence of schizoid features in the initial interview. (Fairbairn 1954, 4)

Before entering into a case history we must first say a word about our choice to work with concrete clinical material. We draw upon clinical material here and more and more in our argument not merely in order to say something about this particular analysand but in order to use the clinical material as an example of a particular practice of the subject in discourse that indicates something very important about the more generalizable nature of the existence of the subject in discourse. We do not report this analysand initially from a psychoanalytical perspective. Rather this clinical material illustrates not only how discourse both positions the subject in his social and psychical history, but also may serve as an agent of change for that subject. We wish to show an interdiscursive coincidence and interdetermination between so-called "individual discourses of interiority" and generalized socio-cultural discourse. Our initial hypothesis is that these discourses are not irrelevant to each other. Not only does psychoanalysis have something to learn from the social sciences of discourse but social theory can benefit from the clinical work of psychoanalysis. As a kind of privileged oral history psychoanalysis can more easily isolate and study life-history in speech. Furthermore, eventually, and optimistically, a certain psychoanalytical approach to individual psychotic discourse may indicate an approach for social discourse to deal with "cultural psychosis."

Finally, many writers who deal with psychoanalysis in the broader context of the human and social sciences tend to do so from a purely theoretical perspective: "I refer to Freudian psychoanalytic theory and practice in its conceptual context" (Reiss 1982, 362). But Freud did say that research and practice coincided in psychoanalytic theory. Perhaps the post-modern a-theoretical bent will force us back to a practical synthesis if no further. Clinical work, then, forces an avoidance of remaining exclusively at the level of modernist rationalization, a post-modern complaint.

Obviously, we are decontextualizing the analysand here in that the full context of the therapy cannot be given. We do so in order to recontextualize her within the discursive procedures of her epoch -- episteme -- in relation to those of the past and possible future eras. Before entering into the clinical material, however, one caveat must be borne in mind. We are faced with an interesting predicament when we attempt to combine cultural or social discursive studies with psychoanalysis. One cannot work in psychoanalysis without strict confidentiality. Therefore, the clinical examples furnished cannot be referentially accurate. To a degree, and as Barry Chabot has argued with reference to Freud's use of Schreber's memoirs in the Schreber case (Chabot 1982), any case narrative reflects this; the analysands had to be fictionalized. The analysand in this text is a figure/persona composed out of number of real clinical occurrences with different analysands. This initial impediment of the need for confidentiality becomes, we believe, an advantage in that it highlights the multiple levels of the representation of the complexity of social and psychical reality. Such an enterprise, we believe, is not inconsistent with our underlying theory of history which sees the imagination to be a productive force of history and which calls for a recognition of the role of desire and phantasy as crucial to the human subject, including what Robert Musil referred to as "lust zu fabulienen" -- the desire to tell stories. Our choice to fully embrace a certain fictionalization of the analysand was very much reinforced by Kovel's work (Kovel 1981, xiii -- xiv).

The analysand, Sophia, presented with an "overwhelming" sense of irreversible and irremediable loss. She spoke constantly of the "irreparable gap between word and meanings" about which "nothing can be done."

The major difference between the modern and the post-modern epochs resides in their respective attitudes toward the recognition of the split in language between sign and concept or referent. The modern constantly laments that cleavage and strives to repair the gap of separation by means of using the symbolic as a mediator of identity and difference. The post-modern does not lament the split; it accepts it and dissolves the other, be it concept, referent or person, into non-existence.

Instead, the post-modern sides with the pure plasticity of the sign, its surface. The post-modern is a practice of discourse as surface only. There is no attempt to relate to or to fuse with the other. The other is extinguished. Whence the often referred to extreme narcissism of post-modern man. This not only makes for a-representational language, but also dissolves the modern historical project of restoring union, harmony and ending the suffering of separation. Neither the social emancipatory project of creating a communalist society, nor the analytic project of re-finding the object, lies within the scope of a post-modern project. Reparation is an impossibility, is not sought and therefore provides no comfort. The missing signified is forever cut off from the signifier. Lacan's definition of the subject in language, we will argue, is post-modern par excellence. This schism cannot be repaired, we merely endlessly produce signifiers.

Sophia, then, judging from her initial complaints, is the post-modern analysand par excellence. She works with many languages in her most successful profession but detests translating, interpreting, reading translations or going to dubbed films. "It is never the same," she said earlier about them, meaning that the gap between word and meaning cannot be repaired and that the signifier is identical only with itself, but never with another signified or signifier. Faced with the difference between word and concept, she no longer strives to repair it; she simply makes insignificant sounds. She draws upon many resources of non-listening, for example, sleep, when the analyst tries to interpret, i.e., to say that one thing means another. She defiantly sleeps, or traces the lines of the ceiling with the eyes, refusing the attempt to repair the gap in language. She blocks out the analyst's interpretations by running interference through internally reciting poetry, humming and rhythmically tapping her fingers. Sounds without semantics, but nevertheless the production of a very pregenital libidinal force, to go back to the union with the mother rather than to be split and interpreted by the male, father-figure of the symbolic order who is the analyst. Constantly complaining that the analyst was but a simulacrous substitute, one day when the analyst left for a vacation and, worrying about the analysand offered a replacement, the analysand revolted against substitution with such vehemence that during the vacation she decided to leave the analyst -- "precisely for daring to be or to offer but a substitute." Seen, only when the analyst himself played the post-modern language game, by asking the analysand to hum out loud, did the communicative impasse between them dissolve. The analyst had to enter into the post-modern production of language as the pure expression of needs and wants beyond any semantics. Sounds of nostalgia for union but no attempt to restore that union, in the symbol, which is the mark of difference in modern discourse theory. Sophia rarely uses metaphor and metonymy, refusing them on the same grounds: they are mere substitutes for something they cannot possibly replace or repair. Nor does she try to repair her hate for the images of the abandoning parental figures. She cannot mourn their loss because she has no desire to repair and refind. She is a concrete thinker and speaker. The figurative does not figure in her language: "A rose is just a rose." When the analyst even begins to suggest otherwise by the very act of interpretation, she "kills" him by clicking off into the complete narcissism of unlistening.

For Sophia, the world is divided into two separate and non-unifiable realities: reality and fantasy, which she nevertheless makes no attempt to distinguish from one another, nor to relate to each other in "real," "external" life, for example, by interpreting the phantasy or dream as symbols for something in real life. Just as between metaphor and concreteness there is no relation for her between phantasies and her wakeful realities. The analysis itself was phantasy and kept separate from her married and professional life.

The image Sophia has of bodies, of her body, which again she does not interpret metaphorically is one of a fragmented decentered, conglomerate of part-objects. The post-modern, fragmented body ego. She speaks of being unable to put her organs back in place after the session. Suffering from an ulcer she experiences her insides as "a mustard coloured sewer pit of rot and infection which turns itself inside out to engulf her the rest of her body parts." Our metaphor for it would be the ulcer as "Klein" bottle. She is defending herself against the analyst, refusing to enter into the symbolic realm with him/her by refusing to unite, at least partially, sign and concept. The analyst had dismissed her, a first violence at the end of the first session, the loss of the object, for which she looked back at him/her tragically at the announced end of the first session. He/she then tried, as must all analysts, to cover up this dismissal by semantizing or interpreting, by pretending that the loss could be repaired by the symbol. She refused both attempts by sleeping or blocking out interpretations with other voices. Deleuze and Guattari would refer to this interfering concurrence of voices as the "schizo's polyphony":

But through the impasses and the triangles a schizophrenic flow moves irresistibly; sperm, river, drainage, inflamed genital mucous, or a stream of word that do not let themselves be coded, a libido that is too fluid, too viscous; a violence against syntax, a concerted destruction of the signifier, non-sense erected as flow, polyvocity that returns to haunt all relations. . . That is what style is, or rather absence of style -- asyntactic, agrammatical: the moment when language is no longer defined by what it says, even less by what makes it a signifying thing, but by what causes it to move, to flow, to explode -- desire. (Deleuze and Guattari 1977, 133)

Sophia defends herself not by rationally opposing one translation or interpretation to the analyst's, something the intellectualizing neurotic does incessantly. Instead, she makes another discourse of sounds and senses, sounds only in the form of rhythm or music, libidinal but meaningless sounds, which simply block out the analyst's voice. Furiously she taps her fingers to the internal melody, an interdiscursive interference with the analyst's attempt to get her first to symbolize the loss and then to repair it. In defence against the initial dismissal and the distance that the other's speech establishes, she leaves beforehand. Like the Rock video "I wanna rock" her humming is a kind of invocation to "get out of my face!" She refuses to play the terribly a-symmetrical language game that some analysis is, where the power to substitute through an interpretation is traditionally given to the analyst. After all, isn't this the nature of the economic relationship? She simply refuses to enter into dialogue, to play the language game, to communicate symbolically and socially.

Sophia's greatest escape from interpretation involved the body. At first, while pretending to listen she would trace with concentration the lines of her own face and hands and comment only on those gestures. Then she would stop the process of interpretation altogether as she would descend into a regressed experience of body parts as huge, heavy, out of proportion, spinning, minuscule in a vast space. Words meant nothing in the space of those intense pure body experiences.

To emerge from the refusal that the return to the regressed body is, makes her hurt. She spoke of pain in all her joints from decompression, a sign perhaps that this narcissistic refusal of the irreconcilable double that language is, stems for her from some earlier injury, one to the body before language, locked in body memory.

For Sophia, mediation is impossible. Communication is impossible. Consequently in the therapy she refuses it. Her body images are of self-eroding vitriolic sewage pits, cannibalistic solipsism instead of the related nurturing mother-child couple. She described herself as mouthing everyone else's speech repetitively, a broken record. Nothing new. A language that is closed in on itself, that cannibalizes itself. The language of post-modern culture is also such an auto-cannibalism. Think of the nostalgia for styles of the fifties, Bogart look-alike and James Dean tee shirts worn by youth who hardly know who they were, just that "that's them" and "that's the style." The style of the eighties cannibalizes the style of the fifties, adding nothing new except pastiche (note 7). The tee shirt is a sign only of itself: "Bogart is Bogart," nothing more, since the wearers are not at all apprised of who Bogart was or of what he signified in the modern culture that gave him birth as a subject. Or again, the simulacrum of the now famous James Dean poster painted from nothing, not even a frame of an old film.

Sophia does not want the breast to be the sign for the mother or the penis that of the father. Rather she imagines herself as it. She wants to be the breast or be the penis, just as the "hero" in Phillip Roth's The Breast. Here, we may recall Fairbairn's essay, "Schizoid Factors in the Personality," one of them being, "The Tendency to Orientation Towards a Partial Object (Bodily Organ)" (Fairbairn 1954, 12). Sophia harkens back to a Middle Ages version of language, whereas the semiotician, medievalist cum novelist, Umberto Eco, so well portrays in Il nome della rosa, the sign is the thing, not merely a standing in for the thing. But because this identity is not possible, she refuses the exchange value that symbolic substitution is for "real" identity and concentrates instead on pure figures, sounds, humming, tapping, stroking, scratching, spinning, on the concreteness of verbal and nonverbal language at the expense of the metaphorical and the figurative.

Various types of narratives may be characterized by the relationship of fantasy to exterior reality. A complete fusion is pre-classical, the allegorical union of speaking and spoken time and space in Spenser's Fairy Queene. No relation, complete disintegration, which is how Sophia handles the relation between analysis/fantasy and society/external reality. This is post-modern, a disintegrated splitting whereby one is either in one realm or the other, rather than juggling and mediating each with other. Sophia: "does not wake up to remember what she dreams: rather she continues to dream as a hallucination." She retreats from a symbolic societal exchange in which she would find the "not-me" in the analyst who would frustrate her closed dream or fantasy world with interpretation. Like the silent, closed-off wrath of the teenager, interrupted by a parent, whose fixation on the screen of the afternoon rock videos, (or perhaps even soap operas, since there is little difference) is a reaction against the intrusion of external-parental reality -- the symbolic order -into fantasy or imaginary worlds.

There is, however, an alternative narrative of the relation between external reality and fantasy which speaks of constantly juggling them, relating them, and espousing the paradoxes between them. The analysis may be like watching television. This is perhaps what post-modern analysis's task is. It is also that of modern -- as opposed to post-modern -- narrative such as Schlegel, Cervantes, Unamuno, Musil. Sophia refuses to do this and shuts out the analyst when he/she tries. We will, however, return later to this more ambivalent form of discourse.

The role of modern psychoanalysis and of cultural interpretation, it has been argued, is to move from the imaginary to the symbolic (Metz 1975) (note 8). But Sophia remains within the imaginary at the expense of the symbolic. Post-modern culture remains within the imaginary, and refuses the critical meta-discourse which would force it into the realm of the symbolic, hence post-modernism's anti-intellectuality and anti-rationality.

By the imaginary, Lacan refers to the experience of the image as same as self, an extension of self. It is the non-recognition of and non-relation to the other. The refusal of the double. Intrasubjectively, the imaginary is a narcissistic relation to self but already as other. Intersubjectively, it is taking the other to be self or extension of self. In language, it is taking the sign to be homogeneous with itself, identitarian but unrelated to anything outside itself, whence the a-semantic insistence on the plasticity of the signifier for its own sake. The imaginary is before the sign in the sense of a signifier-signified dyad (note 9).

The symbolic, on the other hand, is the basis of social communication as opposed to narcissism. It is the acceptance of the laws of substitution, displacement and condensation of language which Lacan calls the laws of the Other, the paternal Other "au nom du père." Sophia refuses this male order in the analyst's language and refuses to play that game according to those rules. She refuses metonymy and metaphor. The symbolic is an order, a social order. For Lacan, and other structuralists, this order is based on differential relationships, on opposition, on the double. French structuralists, beginning with Lévi-Strauss and Saussure, have argued that the symbolic is a socially constructed order, which Lacan then projects onto the unconscious. This order is founded in the "law" of the father -- "le nom-du-père." This is why for Sophia to accept to symbolize would be accepting a form of male domination. To communicate is to accept a form of socially imposed order, one based on the double: things are not present, but never just there in fused identity, which is what we would all long for: a nostalgia for the Middle Ages' vision of language and world (note 10).

Sophia cannot or will not symbolize. She tells her imaginary post facto in concrete terms to the analyst. Her discourse is indirect: "I had been thinking . . . " She never says directly what she is thinking or that she is thinking. She cannot symbolize because she would have to tolerate the ambivalence of the symbol: that it is the absence of the thing as well as a substitution for it. The symbol has loss written within it. She will not accept this loss and so sticks to the identity of the sign alone. If there is no complete restitution of the lost object she wants nothing to do with a substitute. Neither to repair the loss nor to refined a substitute object. It's like "resown clothes never the same again," says Sophia, without using the term "like" and bearing bodily witness to the physical pain of the repaired seam against the skin.

To refuse to symbolize, retreating instead to the imaginary, is to attempt to overcome the ontological doubt about one's own status as a self by retreating to the original omnipotence of the child who creates the breast by hallucinating it. It is a refusal to recognize the other, because this would be to acknowledge separation and ontological doubt of oneself. In phantasy only can one be omnipotent without loss or reparation.

A "post-modern" Rock video, Thriller, by Michael Jackson, ends in the reintroduction of phantasy, Michael as cat person, in the refusal, after many Byzantine twists on the theme of the paradox of reality and illusion, to awaken from the hallucination into the reality of awareness that this video is a symbolic artifact. Both the artifacts of rock videos themselves and the act of watching them on the part of teenagers at the exclusion of the other is retreat to such narcissism. But then, most scoptophilia, the drive which guarantees the film-market, can only occur when the voyeur excludes the presence of the other from his side of the keyhole. It is perhaps why we like to sit in the dark, like windowless monads (Leibnitz), when we go to the cinema -- a retreat to the imaginary that only the meta-language of film criticism can draw us back out of and project us into the symbolic. And here we may recall the famous scene in Hitchcock's Psycho where Norman passes from neurotic son to psychotic murder in the gaze upon the showering soon-to-be stabbed Marie (note 11).

Finally, then, Sophia's narcissistic, psychotic experience in analysis is a defense against the irremediableness of loss and separation, a retaliation and a refusal by retreating from the realm of the symbolic into the omnipotence of the imaginary, a kind of inner Medieval practice of identity. Only here the sole terms are images, no concepts or referents; signifiers without signified. Whence post-modernity, a psychotic defense against the loss of referential identity.

Post-modernism, too, may be seen as such an escape from the irremediableness of separation. Think of the average contemporary adolescent's family life. Parents separated in one form or another from each other and their children: divorce, working mothers, day care etc. The paradox of parents not there emotionally for their children yet never leaving their children be when it comes to the ambitions they have for them and the constraints they place on them. Switching on the rock videos is both a defense and a retaliation; a refusal to communicate according to the rules of the parental language game based on a hypocritical denial and conformist acceptance of separation and duplicity. Parents constantly complain that their "post-modern" teenage children will not enter into communication with them. Yet the subject of conversation is "What did you do?" rather than "How do you want to be?"

But Sophia is not, clinically speaking in terms of DSM III, psychotic. She functions perfectly well in the outside world. Perhaps because in that world she plays the game of the double without really believing in it, yet without challenging it either. She earns her living well and is stably married, saying only in analysis "It's not where it's at." Two identities: the real life interpreter of doubles vs. the analysand, regressed despiser of symbolic substitutes for imaginary images. The analytical situation is her place for battles against loss and substitution which she displaces from external social life. This allows her to continue to thrive in reality, most successfully, "comme il faut."

8.0 The Social Project of Post Modernity--Symbolism as the Lived Paradox of Illusion and Reality

Earlier we mentioned the classical and post-modern forms of respectively mixing, and refusing to mix phantasy and external reality. We mentioned, then, that there was a third way, which was to juggle both in a constantly lived paradox.

Carlos Fuentes, in the New York Review of Books, once wrote of Don Quixote, that it was the first work of modernity where illusion and reality were confused. He argues that, for Cervantes, this confusion became a psychological issue but also a social and moral issue. The symbolic is not only a psychological achievement of the acceptance of loss and the double, but also the symbolic is necessary for socially relating to others in maturity and mutual dependency as opposed to narcissistically retreating from them into a-sociality and a-morality.

The modern discursive practice, then, is neither to fuse nor to refuse the two elements, sign/image and concept/referent. But rather, it is to juggle them in their paradoxical relationship of difference and identity -- i.e., to ever re-fuse them. To unite with the other while simultaneously recognizing him as other.

Now, we have no epistemological ground for arguing that ethically, a subject must exist and must accept to symbolize in the social order. We will not attempt here to provide a ground for valuing the modern over the post-modern. All that we will attempt to show is that in the face of post-modern, psychotic elimination of the subject and the symbol, a certain form of psychoanalysis does not have its arms tied. Certain practices of psychoanalysis can psychoanalyse post-modernity, although as Deleuze and Guattari might query, perhaps it should not: "A schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic lying on the analyst's couch" (one of the most notorious slogans of Anti-Oedipus 1977, 2). Suffice it to say for the moment, then, that we will not, indeed cannot, substantiate the normative desirability of recuperating the subject and the symbolic. We will merely discuss the facilitating possibilities of psychoanalysis for so doing (note 12).

Whereas Freud refused to analyze psychotics because of their narcissism, their inability to object-cathect, as well as their deficiency in reality discernment, post-Freudians, such as the Object-Relations School, have as a matter of principle sought to do so. It is to them we now turn.

9.0 Post-Modern De-Ontologization of the Subject -- Ontologization of Discourse

We may summarize post-modernity's Copernican revolution in a nutshell: it has taken ontology -- core of Being -- away from the subject and given it to the material aspect of discourse, i.e., the traces without meaning. Verbal discourse, according to Lyotard in La condition post-moderne, is non-chromatic etching and painting is chromatic etching, while music is sonorous etching (Lyotard 1971). Only the signs themselves, the marks, traces, and sounds (not only what they stand for) are real in the sense of being unfragmented and identical with themselves.

The heterogeneity, the divergence, the disequilibrium of the two elements -- vocal and graphic -- is resolved by a third element: the visual, the eye. It might be said of this eye that it sees the word -- it sees it, it does not read it -- insofar as it evaluates the suffering caused by the graphism. Jean-François Lyotard has attempted to describe such a system in another context, where the word has only a designating function but does not of itself constitute the sigh; what becomes sign is rather the thing, a body designated as such, insofar as it reveals an unknown facet described on it, traced by the graphism that responds to the word. The gap between the two elements is bridged by the eye, which "sees" the word without reading it, inasmuch as it appraises the pain emanating from the graphism applied to the flesh itself: the eye jumps. (Deleuze and Guattari 1977, 203-04)

Words are not signs, but, as soon as there is a word, the object it designated becomes a sign, and an object becomes a sign exactly in the sense that it hides within its manifest identity a hidden content, keeping another face for another view of it . . . that perhaps it will never be possible to take. (Lyotard 1971, 81-82)

Hence, Sophia taps, spins, strokes, scratches and hums. This, Sophia's practices, and Lyotard's theory, of discourse is a radically different view of how the subject is positioned in language from the modern one.

There is a calculated game played in post-modern rumblings of language. That game runs most like an auction. The auctioneer mouths a steady flow of sounds -- sometimes meaningless -- whereby the space of activity is consistently overpowering, to conceal the bidding. In post modern discourse, the bidding is still taking place (the bid is desire) and the game is to see if the rumblings of discourse can be ever-so-slightly influenced to mumble the license of one's desire.

For Lacan, drawing upon the semioticians who inspired him, Saussure and Benveniste, the only reality of the subject is his non-identity, the gap or cleavage between the sign and what is eternally lost. It is not the thing lost, nor the being of the subject, but rather the signifier in and of itself and the lack it points to in every instance. It is the tragedy of the subject in discourse, whereupon the signified constantly slides out from under the signifier.

Psychoanalysis, for Lacan, should never strive to refind or to reproduce this state of lost union, rather it is a resignation to the primal lack or loss. It is a pointing to -- an index of -- the gap. Lacan accepted the post-modern state, before it was christened. He embraces it! Accept the order of language as difference -- "le nom/non du père" -- the no/name of the father -- it is the very nature of discourse. The "loi du père" -- law of the father -- is, among other things, the difference between binary oppositional terms, the non-identity yet necessity of substitution (Lacan 1977a).

Winnicott and other Object-Relations analysts such as Fairbairn, while being fully versed in this post-modern phenomenon of lack, on the other hand, do not simply accept the loss. Their therapy attempts more than a reconciliation to it. It is to their clinical work and the implications they draw from it, that we now turn.

10.0 Clinical Psychoanalytical Practice Precedes A Theory of The Symbol and Grapples with Post-Modernity

Winnicott has elaborated a very sophisticated theory of the significance of symbolization and of how and why the child develops a capacity for symbolizing, cultural activity and creativity. However, Winnicott was first a pediatrician, then a practitioner of analysis before elaborating a theory of symbolic language. His theory grows out of this clinical practice of discourse, to elaborate an alternative to the post-modern theory of the subject in discourse and in history on the basis of clinical discursive practice. Thus, it is with clinical discourse that we will begin before elaborating a theory out of it. Such a practical beginning is a "throw-forward" perhaps to post-modern anti-rationalism.

The object-relations analysts have no problem recognizing the post-modern phenomenon of the psychotic presentation of their analysands. Indeed, they suggest that many analysands who seem to present with neurotic symptoms actually have a psychotic core which is far more prevalent than traditional psychoanalysis recognized. Analysands presented to Winnicott complaining of "not feeling real," of "having the sense of having always missed the boat," of "being unable to feel," of "never saying what they mean but rather just mouthing the words of others" (Winnicott 1958). Blunted affect, de-ontologization, fragmentation, all emerge in the analysand's initial self-description.

The most difficult problem faced by both analysand and analyst is trying to reach for feeling, to say something meaningful, rather than being played as a cassette recording of the plethora of the discourses of the environment. These analysands do not seem to "be" as "subjects" or as "selves," rather they are dispersed as if spoken by the host of discourses of family, institutions, media, etc. The analysand is split-off from his discourse, and from a sense of himself, to the point of not having subject-status as "just Being."

Winnicott does not attempt to "cure the analysand through talking" in the semantic, self-reflective, interpretative mode. Jürgen Habermas, in Knowledge and Human Interests, in all of his Germanic classical hermeneutics, suggests that therapy functions: by (first the analyst and then the analysand) carrying out a self-reflective, interpretative, re-constructive hermeneutic which, in semantic content, speaks the repressed, ex-communicated, "true" wants and needs of the subject, thus freeing him from the major pathology of, censorship and repression (Habermas 1971, chs. 10, 11 & 12). But emancipation from repression, the neurotic complaint, is not Winnicott's first concern with the analysands. Nor is rational, semantized, self-reflective dialogue the means to go about helping these analysands, who have come for help often without quite knowing why.

If [a group of analysands with hidden schizoid features] likewise includes all those who enter the consulting-room with a mysterious or mystified air, and who open the conversation either with a quotation from Freud or with such a remark as "I don't really know why I have come." (Fairbairn 1954, 5)

Winnicott states that, as his experience increased, he tended to interpret less and less. The interventions that he does make are far from semantically self-reflective: they are of a different order of discourse, one which is perhaps best labelled, tongue-in-cheek, "post-post-modern." He is first concerned with restoring a sense-of-self and of being to the subject, necessary before freeing him to do: "First being, then doing and being done to." Often, these analysands, like Sophia, do not have major constraints on many of their social capacities to perform, i.e., to do. He is seeking to reach the non-semantic core of the subject, or to reconstitute it somehow through a discourse which is an alternative to the often rational and self-reflective one that the analysand initially re-presents with.

Nor does Winnicott simply revert to a pre-post-modern, i.e., modern, theory of the subject which simply presupposes the subject to exist unproblematically or trans-historically. As we have seen he was quite aware of Foucault's work and quite willing to acknowledge that the subject emerges in history at a certain period due to certain environmental, discursive conditions of possibility for its emergence. Emergence will be seen to become the key term here with regard to questions of ontology.

Thus, while Winnicott is not willing to relinquish the ontology of the subject, he, nevertheless, does not posit it as an a priori, i.e., as preceding experience, the environment or discourse. The very title of one of Winnicott's works, The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment, indicates that he argues that certain environmental conditions are necessary for the emergence of the being of the person, which he describes therein as the emergence of a subject or self with a sense of substance and being, "one aspect of the disturbance of ego emergence produced by environmental failure is the dissociation that is seen in the 'borderline case' in terms of the true and the false selves" (1965, 9). Winnicott also emphasizes the role of discourse in this process, insisting that a body of scientific discourse of the human sciences is one of those conditions of possibility for the emergence of the subject in history. In other words, re-ontologizing the subject, here, does not throw us back to what Derrida criticized in Heidegger as the metaphysics of pure presence (Derrida 1967).

11.0 Two Versions of the Mirror Stage

A watershed for the distinction between Lacan's and Winnicott's theory and practice of the subject in discourse is their respective views of the significance of the mirror stage -- "le stade du miroir" -- in the development of the infant, who is, for both, "not-yet-a-subject."

Winnicott, while acknowledging Lacan's work on the mirror stage, was simultaneously elaborating a theory of the psychotic, dispersed subject and discourse with relation to the significance of the mirror stage in a quite distinct manner. We will wish to argue that Winnicott's version of the mirror stage and the theory of the subject, and discourse that can be drawn out of it, can recognize the post-modern phenomenon of the dispersion of the subject without remaining in theory and practice at the level of resignation to the lacks which Lacan seems to do.

Jacques Lacan's paper "Le stade du miroir" (1936-49) has certainly influenced me. He refers to the use of the mirror in each individual's ego development. However, Lacan does not think of the mirror in terms of the mother's face in the way that I wish to do here. (Winnicott 1971, 130)

The differences between Winnicott's and Lacan's theories of the mirror stage are crucial in that each develops out of it a radically distinct theory of the place of the subject both in discourse and in both social and biographical history. Both begin, however, with the recognition of the post-modern or psychotic dilemma of an individual who feels unreal, who cannot mean, and thus whose ontological and representational status is painfully problematic.

11.1 Lacan's Version of the Mirror Stage

Lacan's account of the significance of the mirror stage (1949) postulates the subject as "fiction." The mirror image is the first model and the foundation of the child's future position in relation to images, languages and other objects. This image is a lie -- "une fiction" -- for Lacan, because it freezes an image of something which does not exist, namely the coordination and continuity of the child's drives which are, in reality, constantly in a flux. The mirror image is a simulacrum of a continuous identity for the child, where simulacrum is a copy of something which does not and never has existed. The "referent" of the mirror image is merely a fantasy. Furthermore, this image splits the child into this image of "me," which is continuous and fixed, versus, the watching "I" that is ever moving, ever dis-coordinated by drives, desires, wants, needs and perceptions. Our first recognition of just how split we are occurs in trying to look at ourselves in the mirror without catching ourselves doing the looking. This gesture is the impossible attempt to fuse the subject into an identity of watched and watching, of subject and object.

Lacan, like Winnicott, does take into account the necessity of the mother's look as the child watches the mirror, the recognition of the third term, the other. For Lacan, this "look" -- the gaze -- is not what it will be seen to be for Winnicott. But rather it is a referring which also fractures off from unity. The apparent smoothness, totality and continuity of the mirror image is a myth in relation to the actual discontinuity and fragmented nature of the infant's relation to himself and to the mother, from whom he is separated by her look. The mirror is not meant merely literally for Lacan: "the idea of the mirror should be understood as an object which reflects -- not just visible, but also what is heard, touched and willed by the child" (Lacan 1966, 567).

Lacan, then, likens the "eye" in the mirror to the "I" in language, the most unstable feature of language which, as a "shifter," "déictique" (Benveniste 1966), means someone different each time that it is deployed as the subject of enunciation. Hence, in and of its very linguistic nature, "I" disperses the subject into discontinuity whenever "I" is uttered. Just as the looking "eye" in the mirror is always changing, so too is the uttering "I," in language. Rather than assuring the totality and continuity of the subject, it fragments and disperses it. This is what Lacan means when he says that the "subject is positioned by language," an order outside of itself, whose very structure is instability, dispersion, fragmentation, and loss.

It is at the mirror stage that the capacity for symbolization starts for the child, according to both Winnicott and Lacan. For the latter, it begins here because the child gets its first sense that something is missing -- lost. The very essence of language as substitution is predicated on the precondition of the recognition of loss, absence, lack, non-presence of what is desired. Were nothing missing, in the first place, the symbol would not be required to stand in for it. The order of language by and into which the communicating subject must be positioned and enter, then, is the cleavage between what is desired and yet missing, an identity of image and thing and what is present, i.e., a mere signifier.

But the subject itself is only a fiction. The only "reality" is the impossibility of union where the signifier or trace meets with the desire for what it is not. It is the "real" that positions the individual as a non-continuous, non-identitarian, dispersed "subject-fiction." It is this, Lacan's "real" taken as symbolic gap, and enunciative instability that constitutes the so-called post-modern murder of the subject. The "réel" is a bumping up against, the recognition of the distance and impossibility of fusing the gap.

Thus the post-modern solution has been to resist the very attempt at fusing the gap while letting extensions of index float for temporary and random attachment to meaning. These are mere "brushes" with meaning which only leave traces. A continual re-fus-al.

11.2 Winnicott's Version of the Mirror Phase

Winnicott's version of the mirror phase does share certain tenets with the Lacanian rendition. They agree about the age at which this occurs, the necessity of the mother's look, its linkage to the capacity to symbolize, and the importance of the element of the recognition of otherness or separation involved in the mirror phase.

For Winnicott, however, there is one essential difference. In the mirror stage, for Winnicott, the mother does not "refer to" the child, a reference fracturing the unity of mother and child and of child with itself. The mother dialogues with the child and her face simultaneously looks at the child as an other and grants to the child an image of itself as identical. This double is neither so frightening nor so isolating as Lacan's. It is as much a dialogical fusion as it is a reflection of separation. For Winnicott, the mirror stage is not a definitive split, nor a fiction of continuity where none exists, but rather an experience of what Winnicott calls a transitional zone where difference and identity are paradoxically allowed to co-exist. In this zone and through this experience the subject comes to be out of the mixture of fantasy and external reality, of self-image and the look of the other. The transitional zone does not leave the infant a post-modern nothingness, a non-subject, but rather, allows him to emerge as self. The child ends up a post-modern dispersion only if he has not passed through this transitional zone with the "good enough" mirroring mother. Psychoanalysis, for Winnicott, by recreating such a transitional zone and mirroring can recuperate that sense-of-being-as-a-subject.

12.0 Playing and Juggling in the Transitional Zone

Winnicott describes the transitional zone as one where the paradox of phantasy and reality is maintained. Allowing this paradox makes the pain of banging into and yielding to the harsh surfaces of the Other, of exterior reality, less acute. In the transitional zone there occurs a kind of playful juggling of the entities of the double between internal and external, me and not-me, phantasy and reality, whereby the struggle is not resolved in favour of one side or the other. Once the initial unity between mother and child is lost, this transitional zone is necessary. The mirror stage, while indicating the loss of unity, also simultaneously reflects back to the child an identity, thus allowing the paradox of separation and identity in both the mother's face and the child's mind.

"The Play Element of Regression in the Psychoanalytic Process" provides a sheltered situation for a regression to this transitional zone where the paradox can be allowed time and again in a playful exchange and mirroring between analysand and analyst (London 1981, 7-27). Winnicott does not give self-reflective, rationalizing interpretations so much as he enters into a kind of mirroring play with his analysands. His early procedure of child analysis, the game "squiggles," is precisely this mutual mirroring, playfulness, and above all, holding, that Winnicott says must be allowed to spoil children, and the child in adults, time and again.

For Lasch, in The Culture of Narcissism, life in post-modern capitalist society, and also, we would argue, in the eroded family, disturbs the stability of what Winnicott identifies as transitional objects, such as the baby's blanket from which he is inseparable, which are so essential to the development of a self accepting of its separateness and creatively engaged with the outer world. Transitional objects are undermined by living amidst "constantly changing, insubstantial commodities" (Lasch 1979, 12).

Psychoanalysis seeks to replace these deprivations and to repair the faults caused by an absent transitional zone by recreating it in therapeutic discourse. Sophia's analyst had first to stop interpreting in the semantic sense of pointing out the symbolic value of her words. Instead, he/she encouraged or facilitated the regression further back to where the conditions of possibility for the capacity to symbolize are laid, i.e., the mirror stage and the transitional zone. Earlier, she seemed to take no pleasure in analysis. She was incapable of being playful. Then, the analyst instead of interpreting the humming and tapping as resistance, asked her to sing it out loud. They have entered a play zone of lullaby where mother is both watching over and identified with the child she sings to sleep. Both analysand and analyst re-presented or re-played past lullabies. Winnicott, while playing "squiggles" (Winnicott 1971) with a child who draws a mess of scratches and calls it a muddle, in turn draws a circle around it and a knife and a fork, turning the chaos into a feed, a plate of spaghetti. He plays along when a psychotic analysand fantasizes taking him with her on a train trip during vacation time, but sending him back after half the voyage. At times the analyst may even use what Bakhtin called quasi-direct discourse (Finlay and Robertson, forthcoming), even adopt the "analysand's 'I,' " to merge temporarily with him. A paradoxical game of fusion and separation at best, one which Lacanians disapprove of as Moss's attack on the pseudoquote exemplifies (Moss 1985).

Then, and only then, when this paradox of union and separation is allowed in therapy, can the analysand begin to accept the separations and the unions paradoxically entailed by symbolization. Separation from the thing symbolized, but union with the other, in social dialogue, such is the paradox of communicational, dialogical symbolization. But this would imply a different definition of symbol than one based on cleavage; perhaps one closer to the etymological understanding: a tablet, broken, upon parting, each partner taking a half which, when joined upon reencounter, attests to remeeting after separation.

13.0 The Transitional Zone Re-Territorialises the Post-Modern/ Psychotic Subject Who Lives Nowhere

In post-modernism, jet-setting is the culmination of the abolition of time and space coordinates in which the subject lives. The jet-setter hops from longitude to longitude, through time zone to time zone, with no longer any standard of reference, home base or home time. Like Deleuze and Guattari's schizo, he is deterritorialized. For Sophia, there was a conflict of two spaces, neither of which she could live in entirely: imaginary and external reality. She cannot tolerate the interface of these two spaces and refuses to mix them. If not left time to decompress, she leaves the session in a daze as though waking up not knowing where she is, as in the beginning of Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu. Not only is time lost, but space as well.

Winnicott, in Playing and Reality, elaborates the concept of the transitional zone "à la recherche de l'espace perdu." He likens the practice of psychoanalysis to that of mothering the infant through the transitional zone which is a gentle permissiveness of walking a tightrope where the inner and outer spaces meet -- a transition between inner and outer zones.

For Winnicott, this transitional zone is the place where we play, create, have cultural experience and where good enough mothers or analysts help us to live. In "The Location of Cultural Experience" he writes:

The Place where cultural experience is located is in the potential space between the individual and the environment (originally the object). The same can be said of playing. Cultural experience begins with creative living first manifested in play. (Winnicott 1971, 118)

It is up to the mother to create this space of adaptation for the child, and if this early experience of permitted playfulness and first-time ever experience is faulty, then, it is up to analytical technique to create a space of trust for playfully daring to mix phantasy and reality.

Psychotics tend to live "nowhere" but in delusion, perhaps because there was no hope for such a mediating, trustworthy space. Where this playful space was not created, and playfulness met with danger, the person may often become over-compliant by way of defense, the opposite of bodily stretching or stretching the creative imagination. No wonder they defend by living "nowhere," both physically and psychically; they are, to paraphrase the Talking Heads, "On the Road to Nowhere."

In "The Place Where We Live," Winnicott uses "the word [place] in an abstract sense, where we most of the time are when we are experiencing life" (Winnicott 1971-85, 122). Again, as in the space of symbolization, creativity, play and cultural production, this place is:

... the potential space between the baby and the mother. I refer to the hypnotic area that exists (but cannot exist) between the baby and the object (mother or part mother) during the phase of the repudiation of the object as not-me, that is, at the end of being merged in with the object. (Winnicott 1971-85, 126-29)

Once again, the practice of an Object-Relations therapeutic discourse can recreate this potential space which is both hypothetically possible and really impossible:

This is exactly the same as the danger area that is arrived at sooner or latter in all psychiatric treatments, the patient having felt secure and viable because of the analyst's reliability, adaptation to need, and willingness to become involved, and now beginning to need to shake free and to achieve autonomy. Like the baby with the mother, the patient cannot become autonomous except in conjunction with the therapist's readiness to let go, and yet any move on the part of the therapist away from a state of being merged in with the patient is under dire suspicion, so that disaster threatens. (Winnicott 1971-85, 126)

The place where the psychoanalyzed post-modern subject can live, then, is not first of all in any physically localizable area that gives him security, but in this potential space where, paradoxically, the subject can experience autonomy and dependency/dependability. "The other two areas are inner or personal psychic reality and the actual world with the individual living in it" (Winnicott 1971-85, 121). The psychotic part of subject often refuses the actual world, or may live in it as a false self while escaping to that of fantasy, delusion, daydreaming, or sleeping. There is no mediation of the two worlds. It is dangerous or at least hopeless and futile to attempt to make them meet. Thus Sophia, too, compartmentalizes her phantasizing and reality in analysis, closing it off from the successes of her everyday life. The two states are not mediated in the place where she lives as a paradoxical transitional, playful zone.

Winnicott's clinical practice attempts to construct -- or reconstruct -- just such a place where the subject can dare to juggle these two realities in a tight rope act that is the stuff of life, but none-the-less its joy. And here we might extrapolate to a broader social sphere to argue that cultural and creative discourses may have as their "therapeutic" role the creation of just such a transitional zone of society. Here subjects would find the contentment of knowing where to go -- or to make the best guesses about where to go -- even where to go for help in re-integrating / re-centering.

13.1 The Nature of Discourse in the Transitional Zone

"One must define life as a trace, before defining being as presence" (Derrida 1967, 302). But what is the nature of the discourse of play and mirroring in the transitional zone? It is certainly not a semantic or representational interpretation of the sort: "Signified/phallus equals signifier/snake."

13.2 The Object-Relations Theory of Symbolization

For the Object-Relations theorists, the symbol is not, as it is for Lacan, primarily the product of the individual's encounter with, and the indicia of lack. For Object-Relations, the symbolic does arise out of the anxiety of separation, but it is a means of transcending it on the path to reality (Klein 1975c; Segal & Rivière 1957).

We may explain this difference perhaps in terms of Lacan's explicit semantic orientation of language theory as opposed to the Object-Relations thinkers' implicit insistence on the role of pragmatics of dialogical interaction. The symbolic is less a representation of the missing object, as it is a mediator of the other person involved in interaction. They never claim that the symbol makes the lost breast actually reappear, but it does in interactive practice join the mother (or Other) and the subject in a kind of socio-communicative, two-person relationship which is part union, part separation; a re-play of the symbiotic/individuation experience (Mahler et al. 1975). The symbol is a construct around and with which people interact, not a genuine mimetic substitute for what is not there:

It is important to keep psychoanalytic object-relations theory distinct from psychological or sociological accounts to which it might bear some superficial resemblance. The "object" in question is, of course, the human object; but, more importantly, it is its internalization by the subject that is the issue at stake. It is never only an actual object but also always the fantasies of it, that shape it as an internal image for the subject. Object-Relations theory originated as an attempt to shift psychoanalysis away from a one-person to a two-person theory stressing that there is always a relationship between at least two people. In object-relations theory the object is active in relation to the subject who is formed in complex interaction with it. This contrasts with Lacan's account of the object. (Mitchell & Rose 1982, 3n1)

Thus, representationally or semantically speaking, Lacan is right to say that the symbol marks the separation from and lack of what is not there. However, pragmatically, the symbol is what draws close together the Other and the infant or person, by way of being both introject and project, i.e., internalized and externalized communication of and with that Other. In that object-relations theory is a two-person theory, the joining occurs not in isolated symbolizing but in shared dialoguing with symbols. Herein is the actual practice of merging, as opposed to the simulacrous representation of union taking place, "letting it happen," in and through discourse.

This early language does not so much refer to things or symbolize them as make for what Winnicott calls a meeting of the membranes of self and Other that separate internal from external. The two membranic surfaces, that of infant and that of environment, meet in visual, chromatic, sonorous and physical etchings on each other. Paradoxically again, these membranes both separate and join the self and Other in contact with each other. They etch on each other identity yet separation, which is, by the way, probably the same experience, as shaking or holding hands or moving bodies in love-making.

Winnicott sees the subject to emerge as an entity out of this meeting of membranes. It is in their meeting, in the gaps and contacts/encounters of etching between these two surfaces that the infant becomes a subject, by virtue of the impressions, scratches, traces left on it, often painfully, by the not-me, the Other, the environment. Discourse, in Winnicott's practice, resembles such an etching, a meeting of membranes as a holding, which, again both, unites and separates.

This version of discourse in the transitional zone is a very different theory of discourse from the modern representational one where language was considered to be a transparent mediator for our perception of the world, a bit like Galileo's telescope held between the eye and the star. The telescope as transparent translator was a favourite metaphor of Freud's in The Interpretation of Dreams, as Timothy Reiss has discussed at length in his Discourse on Modernism.

The dual hypothesis of unconscious mental functioning and of the mind as a telescopic apparatus themselves correspond to the division in question, (i.e., in so far as they're a means of conceptualizing the psyche, they correspond to the dualism of internal/external, process/stasis, etc.). (Reiss 1982, 367)

But in the transitional zone, language as Winnicott practices it, is more akin to what Derrida has written at length about with regard to Freud's metaphor for the psyche, the mystic writing pad. The mystic writing pad is a set of membranes or surfaces, in contact with each other; the wax, the cellophane and then the pointed stick. The often painful meeting with the stick scratches the wax under the surface of the cellophane and leaves a temporary trace on the top layer but a permanent etching on the under layer. Freud writes that "at each ideal stage of the apparatus . . . is left an imprint that may be described as a 'memory-trace' [Erinnerungspur]" (S.E., 5: 538). The optical trace is not imitative of natural languages but rather a hieroglyph. The traces left are signals of the presence of surfaces that meet.

This new metaphor for the subject, then, is not the telescope, not translation and the inevitable gap between a word and a sign, but Writing taken as the visual, corporal, chromatic, sonorous, or olfactory etching of surface/membranes which meet, which join, but which are different and resist each other as well, thereby leaving upon removal an imprint on each other. It is in the pain and pleasure of this meeting of membranes and surfaces which are at once continuous and smooth, yet which "scratch" each other, that the subject gets a sense of self in relatedness to others outside himself which fuse with him while simultaneously marking their difference. This presence to self emerges otherwise than through interpretative, self-reflective reconstruction.

While we guard against reading any psychologism at all into Derrida, he has made much more of the notion of writing as a scratching -- "frayage" -- of surfaces in terms of an alternative theory of discourse; alternative that is to the modern representational one based on the gap between signifier and signified (note 13). The traces of writing are left by meetings of surfaces and these surfaces are forced together by libidinal impulses or drive potentials. Freud has often presented metaphors of the psyche as text, one of surfaces. He also often says dreams occur as original writing, as rebus, as hieroglyph. Everyday writing he argues is only a metaphor for psychical writing (Derrida 1967, 310).

Freud also, in the Project, makes traces between neurons responsible for memory (S.E., vol. 1). The neurons might be likened to the wax underpad of the mystic writing pad upon which the scars of scratching always remain. This alternative theory of discourse posits the order of language and of the subject in language neither as cleavage nor as lack as does Lacanian semiotic-based psychoanalysis. Rather, the subject's ontology emerges out of the meeting of discursive (verbal and non-verbal) surfaces, for which latter post-modernity has already recognized an ontology. (It will be recalled that material existence belonged only to the signifier in post-modernity.)

There is no "metaphysics of pure presence" for Derrida, contra Heidegger. Presence or being are attained in the meeting of surfaces, the practice of constituting consciousness. Here, a clinical example will exemplify this post-representational, archaic, if not post-modern, concept of discourse. Sophia recounts a fantasy which stimulates her to love-making, one in which with her finger she traces the lines of the muscles on the athletic thighs of her partner (as) a butcher's knife cutting the sides of beef along the muscles. This is not a symbol in the sense of signifier/signified -- it is an etching on surfaces of the body. These interventions are not translations or interpretations which associate another signifier for the meaning that the analysand conveys. Rather they are a verbal body which do not allow interpretation if the self, the body, the text are to retain their "corporality." They are a text as a writing process, never fixed, never substitutable. Nor is this text already there. It emerges in the meeting that analysis is (Derrida 1967, 312).

The genius of Winnicott's practice and theory of psychoanalytical discourse lies in the fact that it did not refuse the observations of post-modernism concerning the nature of the subject and discourse. It began with the post-modern crisis, the "unreality" of the subject, and with the "material" as opposed to "semantic" nature of discourse. He, then, used this materiality of discourse, discourse as holding, as etching its way to feelings, as union and separation of membranes/surfaces, rather than discourse as an interpretation, to allow the person a playfulness, a merging with the analyst, while recognizing simultaneously the joining and separation entailed. Out of this experience, the analysand could come to have a sense of substance as self-in-relatedness-to (not merely cut off from) Other. In contact and deferral of contact, be it verbal, sonorous, chromatic, olfactory, or physical, the two individuals adapt to each other, an indication that each has a being but that being is dependent on or joined to that of the Other, not just referred to by it.

There were at least two small breakthroughs in the case of Sophia, both due, we believe, to the analyst's use of this dialogical and corporal symbolization process. Only when the analyst played the post-modern language game, by asking the analysand to hum out loud, did the communicative impasse between them dissolve. The analyst had to enter into the post-modern production of language as the pure expression of needs and wants beyond any semantics. Sounds of nostalgia for union but no attempt to restore that union or mark the gap, in the representational symbol, which is the mark of difference in modern discourse theory. In a more corporal vein still, the analysand gained the confidence to reach for self and for feeling when the analyst replied to an inquiry as to why he/she sat where he did with a volunteering of mutual corporal adaptability: "I'll sit anywhere you wish but you must tell me where." The model of the mystic writing pad is a post-modern theory of discourse in that it does not at all insist on written words as representing something else but as a graphic which is not subjugated to something outside itself. The humming and the moving of a chair are graphisms/scratchings -- "frayages" -- not replacements (Derrida 1967, 296-97). This writing surpasses modern representational theory and classical notions of the subject as always-already-there. It is the "trace" as caused by a meeting of two surfaces (analysand and analyst) that is not a representational substitute but a pure presence, a return of the repressed. We might recall here that Freud also spoke of the hereditary mnemesic trace. Finally, this alternative discursive model of therapeutic interaction can also explain why both new experiences and analysis are painful. There is no trace without resistance, and there is no etching on a surface without pain. We need think of it as tattooing: "There are no graphisms without the beginnings of pain, and pain leaves behind particularly rich graphisms" (Derrida 1967, 301).

They are also far more deep and primitive than secondary processes and logical language, they are primary process. "Graphics serve primary processes" (Derrida 1967, 302). Thus, we might hazard the guess that psychoanalytic discourse, if it is to reach primary process must be a trace rather than a representational interpretation.

Winnicott has moved beyond the loneliness and excremental nature of post-modern culture to recuperate the subject while taking quite seriously post-modernism's relativizations of the human sciences, its querying of the adequacy of representational discourse, and its de-ontologization of the subject with a corresponding ontologization of language's traces. He elaborated discursive procedures for recuperating the subject. His was not a conservative return to modernity but a breaking of new ground to answer to a set of personal and cultural crises presented to modernity by post-modernity. He has allowed psychoanalysis to be post-modernized. Then, he took that revolutionized psychoanalysis now called Object-Relations theory and used it to analyze post-modernity. Perhaps this is what Winnicott meant when he dedicated his work to his analysands, many of them psychotic, saying that they had taught him everything he knew.

At this stage it might be argued that we have idealized Winnicott somewhat by reading him as a "post-post-modern" whereas there is much in his writing to suggest a somewhat outmoded self-righteous humanist representative of the church of England. We are not disputing the presence in Winnicott's canon of this modern humanist tendency, nor that Winnicott would probably not classify himself as a "post-modern." What we are suggesting is that there are certain elements in Winnicott's therapeutic practice and metapsychological writings which, whether it be self-consciously or un-self-consciously, surpass the modernist paradigm and dove-tail with certain post-modern tenets of the subject in discourse, more especially acknowledgment of the a priori disintegration of the subject, the importance of the meeting of surface membranes to constitute ontology, and a theory of interaction in the mirror stage that overrides reference.

14.0 Conclusion

Finally we have reviewed the theoretical tenets of post-modernism as well as its practices in the light of the challenge they pose to psychoanalysis as a human science. We have looked at some culturally generalized social practices as instance of so-called post-modern psychotic practices, i.e., what we might call cultural psychosis. We then attempted to show how such a cultural psychosis can be displayed in clinical experience and vice versa.

By demonstrating the analogies between psychosis and post-modernity we are not seeking to argue that psychosis in epochally specific, i.e., did not exist before post-modern cultural practices emerged, but rather that disturbed mental process is opportunistic, seizing upon available material and practices in the environment to amplify and express itself, and that the environment itself dialectically contributes toward and feeds back into the expression of the disturbed mental process. Perhaps the most striking example, of this dialectic, today, is that of anorexia nervosa in adolescent girls. One would be foolish to suggest that the hormone and developmental changes that mark adolescence have not been disturbing in other times and other cultures, yet the fact remains that anorexia nervosa has become only recently a phenomenon of epidemic proportion and that it occurs solely in the North Western affluent societies which have left little space for the expression of the body and where the exploitation of the abundance of food presents itself to the opportunistic psyche as a means of working out a whole spectrum of Pre-oedipal, oedipal, and separation-individuation problems. There is, we are arguing, a co-construction between psyche and environment which exists as internalization and as epidemic, i.e., socio-cultural generalization. The psyche and the environment, then, we wish to argue, seem to be resonating together in today's society to produce a certain increase in the predominance of the discursive and behavioral practices which are sometimes referred to as "psychotic" and at other times as "post-modern." In subsequent chapters, AIDS and horror as well seem to be other examples of this co-construction.

Subsequently, we have situated these instances within the theoretical and practical work of Winnicott and his associates with the intent of contrasting Winnicott's and Lacan's reactions to the post-modern dissipation of the subject in discourse. This exercise leads us to the conclusion that it is possible both to sustain a concern with psychoanalytical theorization of interior experience in conjunction with some sense of social and cultural discourse and the relativization of historical change and emancipation by the post-modern. In other words, we have tried to argue that post-modern discourse can be used, at least in the psychoanalytical context, to transcend post-modernism's psychoses.

This does not, however, necessitate valorizing post-modernism over its cultural predecessors. But it does recognize that procedures evidencing an epistemic shift pose inescapable questions for psychoanalysis in particular and the history of the human sciences in general.


1 A shorter version of this text was published in Free Associations 16 (1989).

2 Before we begin, a few caveats about our use of the term "post-modernity" and its derivatives are in order to avoid several of the misconceptions that underpinned the responses to an early presentation of this material. Are we claiming that post-modernity has become in fact the dominant episteme (Foucault)? No. Rather, what we wish to claim is that certain discursive theories, procedures and practices have emerged in western society, whether deliberately or inadvertently (though we suggest that it is a bit of both), which draw our attention to them and that have been labelled "post-modern" in so far as they are either significantly different from previous modern practices or theorize themselves explicitly a such. Whether this constellation may be called an evolution of modernity, or something qualitatively unrelated to modernity altogether, is not for us the crucial issue. What matters to us is that these procedures and practices, and their corollary theorizations, do articulate certain discontinuities in relation to modernity and raise certain questions that we wish to address.

Several other thinkers have written explicitly about the post-modern in ways that have placed into relief certain parallels between post-modern practices and the psychotic "disturbances," based on a similarity of behaviour, discourse and world vision. We have, however, been careful to include the definition of "analogy" to begin with in order to avoid a reading of vulgar empiricist identification of psychosis with post-modernity, as well as any form of causal relationship between them. We are merely indicating a certain cultural generalization of discursive behaviour that has often been associated with the psychoses in the past. We do, however, wish to signal that the psychiatric profession itself has noted an increase in such discursive events. Statistically, the incidence of adolescent suicides and psychotic breakdowns has increased exponentially in western societies. Many psychoanalysts, not just Winnicott, have tended to take on more and more patients who would not have met the "neurotic" criteria for analyzability, but who have psychotic dimensions and who must be treated with "parameters" which modify classical psychoanalytical technique, precisely because of the patient's difficulties in relating to the analyst meaningfully. And, so, while not assuming causal links, we seek here to continue the project of discursive criticism, i.e., that of tracing relations of regularity and/or transformation in the plethora of interrelated language practices that make up our society

The question as to whether or not post-modern discourse has or will become dominant and normative we shall leave open in this essay. Its answer would depend on a critical study of post-modern discourse which this drawing of analogies dos not purport to be. Unless, of course, such a critique is in terms of a new discursive space itself. "By the time a critique of discourse is no longer able to affect the premises or the functioning of that discourse, it seems safe to say the discourse in question has become dominant" (Reiss 1982, 352). In this sense, we will wish to argue that Winnicottean psychoanalysis does not leave the functioning of post-modern discourse intact. Another argument, of an ethical nature, might be based on the human interest in the reduction of suffering, which Habermas places at the heart of psychoanalysis - i.e., do patients have a reduced level of suffering following the emergence of a sense of self?

3 Note the following passage from Reiss' Discourse on Modernism:

I have suggested that the reductive metaphor of the telescope was of considerable importance: it stood for the emergence of a new kind of conceptualizing practice. Nonetheless, like Tesauro later, Galileo himself always recognized that signs (whether mathematical or linguistic) fall in between what is taken as the conceptualizing mind and a world of objects. They fall, to keep the metaphor, in the space of the telescope itself. They can be identified neither with the mind nor with the world, but they are subject to the organization of the former. Such a division of elements is essential to our modern episteme. It is the order of the cogito ergo sum: mind-sings-world. But Galileo himself always emphasizes that knowledge is a sing-manipulating activity. This is why he argues that a star seen through the telescope is not the same objet as the star seen with the naked eye, or that changing the length of the telescope gives us a different instrument and, therefore, yet again, a different object. The terms used by Galileo to describe the scientist's acquisition of knowledge are always those of violence. (1982, 33-34)

4 Writing of Las Meninas by Velasquez as the "representation of classical representation" and, therefore, as striding the classical and modern epistemes, Foucault insists on the double, a rapport that is always interrupted and never identitarian:

Tout atour de la scène sont déposés les signes et les formes successives de la représentation; mais le double rapport de la représentation à son modèle et a son souverain, à son auteur comme à celui à qui on en fait offrande, ce rapport est nécessairement interrompu. Jamais il ne peut être présent sans reste, fût-ce dans une représentation qui se donnerait elle-même en spectacle. . . . [L]a disparition nécessaire de ce qui la fonde, - de celui ,a qui elle ressemble et de celui aux yeux de qui elle n'est que ressemblance. Ce sujet même - qui est le même - a été élidé. (Foucault 1966, 31)

5 We refer the reader to an excellent study of François Vanasse which applies Deleuze and Guattari's concept of "rhizome" to Dieter Schnebel's contemporary musical composition, Glossolalie, in "Glossolalie: oeuvre ouverte," Canadian University Music Review 4 (1980): 95-124.

6 D.W. Winnicott, "Playing: The Search for the Self," Playing and Reality, 62-75.

7 Linda Hutcheon, "Blank Parody," A Theory of Parody (New York: Methuen, 1985).

8 Consider the following passage from Metz' "The Imaginary Signifier":

Reduced to its most fundamental approach, any psychoanalytical reflection might be defined in Lacanian terms as an attempt to disengage the cinema-object from the imaginary and to win it for the symbolic, in the hope of extending the latter by a new province: an enterprise of displacement, a territorial enterprise, a symbolising advance; that is to say, in the field of films as in other fields, the psychoanalytic itinerary is from the outset a semiological one, even (above all) if in comparison with the discourse of a more classical semiology it shifts from attention to the énoncé to concern for the énonciation. (1975, 14)

9 Consider the following entry in Laplanche et Pontalis' The Language of Psycho-Analysis:

Imaginary: In the sense given to this term by Jacques Lacan (and generally used substantively): one of the three essential orders of the psycho-analytic field, namely the Real, the Symbolic, and the Imaginary. The imaginary order is characterised by the prevalence of the relation to the image of the counterpart (le semblable).

. . . we may categorise the following as falling into the Imaginary: 

a. from the intrasubjective point of view, the basically narcissistic relation of the subject to his ego;

b. from the intersubjective point of view, a so-called dual relationship based on -- and captured by -- the image of a counterpart (erotic attraction, aggressive tension). For Lacan, a counterpart ( i.e., another who is me) can only exist by virtue of the fact that the ego is originally another; . . . Lacan insists on the difference, and the opposition, between the Imaginary and the Symbolic, showing that intersubjectivity cannot be reduced to the group of relations that he classes as imaginary; it is particularly important, in his view, that the two "orders" should not be confused in the course of analytic treatment. (1973, 210)

10 From Laplanche et Pontalis' The Language of Psychoanalysis:

Symbolic: Term introduced (in its masculine, substantival form) by Jacques Lacan, who distinguishes three essential orders of the psycho-analytic field -- the Symbolic, the Imaginary and the Real. The Symbolic covers those phenomena with which psycho-analysis deals in so far as they are structured like a language. The term also refers to the idea that the effectiveness of the cure is based on the constitutive nature of the Word (le caractère fondateur de la parole ). . . .Lacan's use of the notion of the Symbolic in psycho-analysis seems to us to have two aims:

 a. to compare the structure of the unconscious with that of language, and to apply to the former a method which has borne fruit in its application to linguistics.

 b. to show how the human subject is inserted into a preestablished order which is itself symbolic in nature in Lacan's sense. To attempt to contain the meaning of "Symbolic" within strict boundaries -- to define it -- would amount to a contradiction of Lacan's thought, since he refuses to acknowledge that the signifier can be permanently bound to the signified. We shall therefore confine ourselves to pointing out that Lacan's use of this term takes two different yet complementary paths. First, he uses it to designate a structure whose discrete elements operate as signifiers (linguistic model) or, more generally, the order to which such structures belong (the symbolic order). Secondly, he uses it to refer to the law on which this order is based; thus when Lacan speaks of the symbolic father, or of the Name-of-the-Father, he has an agency in mind which cannot be reduced to whatever forms may be taken by the "real" or the "imaginary" father -- an agency which promulgates the law. (1973, 439-40)

11 Raymond Bellour, "Psychose, névrose, perversion," L'analyse du film (Paris: Albatros, 1979).

12 This position is totally unsatisfactory to many materialists and ontologists alike. A curious synthesis of both parties' objection to it, is Jameson's reference to Heidegger in "Post-Modernism and Consumer Society" (see bibliography). Jameson criticizes post-modernity's evacuation from culture of the subject/agent of history referring as one of its causes to the ideology of late state capitalism. He goes on to say that post-modernity has converted Heidegger's "House of Being" into condominiums and replaced Van Gogh's rendering of boots with Warhol's. Rather than dictating that a subject should arise in a certain form, i.e., as first and foremost a collective agential subject or relying on a Heideggarian metaphysics of pure presence, we prefer here to examine out of what kind of early environmental conditions a sense of self can emerge within the infant. Nor are we arguing that patients/people must be forced to symbolize. We are simply putting forward an alternative theory and practice of symbolization out of which a different kind of subject may be seen to emerge.

13 Derrida does not equate "être" with subject but we think it possible to combine him with Winnicott to show how the "être" of an individual is not originally present but emerges out of a meeting of surfaces.


Adorno, T. 1970. Astetische Theorie. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Baudrillard, J. 1983. Les stratégies fatales. Paris: Grasset.

Benveniste, E. 1966. Problèmes de linguistique générale. Paris: Gallimard.

Chabot, B. 1982. Freud on Schreber: Psychoanalytic Theory and the Critical Act. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P.

Deleuze, G. and F. Guattari. 1977. Anti-Oedipus. Trans. H.R. Lane, R. Hurley & M. Seem. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P.

Derrida, J. 1967. L'écriture et la différence. Paris: Seuil.

Dreyfus, H., and P. Rabinow. 1982. Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutic. Chicago: U of Chicago P.

Fairbairn, W.R.D. 1954. An Object Relations Theory of Personality. New York: Basic.

Finlay, M., & B. Robertson. Forthcoming. Dialogical Strategies / Strategies for Dialogue: A Socio-Discursive Approach to Psychotherapy.

Foucault, M. 1980-88. History of Sexuality. 3 vols. Trans. R. Hurley. New York: Vintage.

Foucault, M. 1986. Le souci de soi. Histoire de la sexualité, vol. 3. Paris: Gallimard.

Foucault, M. 1984. L'usage des plaisirs. Histoire de la sexualité, vol. 2. Paris: Gallimard.

Foucault, M. 1980. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977. Ed. and trans. C. Gordon. New York: Pantheon.

Foucault, M. 1977. L'ordre du discours. Paris: Gallimard.

Foucault, M. 1977. Language, Counter-Memory, Practice. Eds. and trans. D. Bouchard and S. Simon. Ithaca: Conrell UP.

Foucault, M. 1976. La volonté de savoir. Histoire de la sexualité, vol. 1. Paris: Gallimard.

Foucault, M. 1965-73. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. Trans. R. Howard. New York: Vintage.

Foucault, M. 1972a. The Archeology of Knowledge. New York: Pantheon.

Foucault, Michel. 1972b. The Archaeology of Knowledge & The Discourse on Language. Trans. A.M. Sheridan Smith. New York: Harper & Row.

Foucault, M. 1970. The Order of Things. London: Tavistock.

Foucault, M. 1969. L'archéologie du savoir. Paris: Gallimard.

Foucault, M. 1966. Les mots et les choses. Paris: Gallimard.

Foucault, M. 1961. Histoire de la folie. Paris: UGE.

Freud, S. 1953-74. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. 24 vols. London: Hogarth.

Habermas, J. 1981. Theorie des Kommuinikativen Handelns. Vol. 1 & 2. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Habermas, J. 1971. Knowledge and Human Interest. Trans. J. Shapiro. Boston: Beacon.

Klein, M. 1975a. Envy and Gratitude & Other Works: 1946-1963. New York: Delta.

Klein, M. 1975b. Love, Guilt and Reparation & Other Works: 1921-1945. New York: Delta.

Klein, M. 1975c. The Psycho-Analysis of Children. Revised ed. Trans. A. Strachey. London: Hogarth.

Kovel, J. 1981. The Age of Desire: Relfections of a Radical Psychoanalyst. New York: Pantheon.

Kristeva, J. 1977. Polylogue. Paris:Seuil.

Lacan, J. 1977a. Ecrits: A Selection. Trans. A. Sheridan. New York: Norton.

Lacan, J. 1977b. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. Ed. J.A. Miller. Trans. A. Sheridan. New York: Norton.

Lasch, C. 1984. The Minimal Self: Psychic Survival in Troubled Times. New York: Norton.

Lasch, C. 1979. The Culture of Narcissism. New York: Norton.

London, N. 1981. "The Play Element of Regression in the Psychoanalytic Process." Psychoanalytic Inquiry 7.1: 7-27.

Lyotard, J.F. 1971. Discours, figure. Paris: Klincksieck.

Mahler, M., F. Pine & A. Bergmann. 1975. The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant. New York: Basic.

Metz, C. 1975F. "Le signifiant imaginaire." Communications 23.

Metz, C. 1975E. "The Imaginary Signifier." Screen 16.2: 14-76.

Mitchell, J., & J. Rose, eds. 1982. Feminine Sexuality: Jacques Lacan and the école freudienne. New York: Norton.

Moss, D. 1985. "Pseudoquotes in Psychoanalytic Interventions." JAPA 33: 23-46.

Reiss, T.J. 1982. Discourse on Modernity. Ithaca: Cornell UP.

Riefenstahl, L. 1974. The Last of the Nuba. New York: Harper & Row.

Segal, H., and Rivière. 1957. "Notes on Symbol Formation." Int. J. Psycho-Anal 38: 391-97.

Sollers, P. 1973. H: roman. Paris: Seuil.

Winnicott, D.W. 1971-85. Therapeutic Consultations in Child Psychiatry. New York: Basic.

Winnicott, D.W. 1975. Through Paediatrics to Psycho-Analysis. New York: Basic.

Winnicott, D.W. 1971. Playing and Reality. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Winnicott, D.W. 1969. "The Use of an Object." Int. J. Psycho-Anal. 50: 711-16.

Winnicott, D.W. 1966. "Psychosomoatic Illness in its Positive and Negative Aspects" Int. J. of Psycho-Anal. 48: 510-16.

Winnicott, D.W. 1966. "The Location of Cultural Experience." Int. J. Psycho-Anal. 48: 368-72.

Winnicott, D.W. 1966. "Comment on Obsessional Neurosis and 'Frankie'." Int. J. Psycho-Anal. 47: 143-44.

Winnicott, D.W. 1965. The Maturational Process and the Facilitating Environment. New York: IUP.

Winnicott, D.W. 1965. "A Clinical Study of the Effect of a Failure of the Average Expectable Environment on a Child's Mental Functioning." Int. J. Psycho-Anal. 46: 81-87.

Winnicott, D.W. 1963. "Dependence in Infant Care, in Child Care, and in the Psycho-Analytic Setting." Int. J. Psycho-Anal. 44: 339-44.

Winnicott, D.W. 1958. Collected Papers: Through Paediatrics to Psycho-Analysis. London: Tavistock.

Winnicott, D.W. 1958. "Mind and Its Relation to the Psyche-Soma," and "Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena." Collected Papers: Through Pediatrics to Psycho-Analysis. London: Hogarth. 243-54 & 229-42.

Winnicott, D.W. 1953. "Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena." Int. J. of Pysch-Anal. 34.2. 89-97.

[After Post-Modernism Conference. Copyright 1997.]

All contents Copyright 2003 by The Focusing Institute
Email comments to webmaster