Disturbing pschoanalytic origins


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Disturbing pschoanalytic origins a Derridean reading of Freudian theory
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vii, 392 leaves : ; 29 cm.
Anders, Eric W
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 2000.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 384-391).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Eric W. Anders.
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University of Florida
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Copyright 2000


Eric W. Anders

To my parents in appreciation of their support:

Valerie E. Anders


William A. Anders



1. THE (DIS)POSITION OF A PET MONSTER.......................................... 1
Double Gam es................................................ ................................. 5
Responding to Freud and the Ethics of Psychoanalysis.......................... 11
Supposing Psychoanalysis...................................... ......................... 15
Disturbing Psychoanalytic Origins .................................................. 26
Filling G aps ...................................................................................... 31
"To Post or N ot to Post?"................................................ ..................... 40

ORIGIN OF PSYCHOANALYSIS........................ ...................... .. 44
H istoria .................................. ...... ..... ............................ 47
Hysteria and Hysterization............................................... 57
Feminism and the Hysteric....................... ........................... ......... 62
Hom(m)osexual Pornographics and the Performing Hysteric................ 66
Psychoanalysis/Hysteria......................... 79
The Lacanian Hysteric's Essential Question of Lack ........................ 88

3. (UN)EASILY CONTAINED ELEMENTS............................ ........................ 101
Suffering Reminiscences: Reading Derrida's Reading
of the Project..... .. .... ............................................. 106
The Basics of the Project and Derrida's Reading of It.................... 108
Limiting the Effects of Memory and Chance in
Freud's Work with "Hysterics" .......................................... 116
My Reading of Derrida's "Freud and the Scene of Writing" ....... 127
From Memory to Fantasy................................. ... 138
Disturbing Origins: The Interpretation of Dreams .................................... 143
Overdetermination and Chance.................................................. 145
The Interpretation of Dreams: Rand and Torok ............................. 156
The Interpretation of Dreams: Weber............................ ..... 162
From Primary Process to Primal Phantasies......................... 169

4. FREUD'S M ASTERPLOTTING.......................................................................... 186
The Beyonds of Freud's Case Work: From Ontogenetic to
Phylogenetic ............................ ................. ............ .......... ... 199
The Wolf Man Case History.......................................................... 205
Primal Phantasies: Freud as the Archeologist of the Mind.......... 211
Freud's Masterplot Revisited............................. ................ .......... 222
Narratology and the Wolf Man..................................................... 222
Freud's Oedipal Masterplot ............................. ................... 232
"To Speculate on 'Freud'" and Beyond ... ................................. 247
Extending Freud's Masterplot: A Reading of
Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety....................... ................. 259

PSYCHOAN ALYSIS ......................................................... ............................ 288
The Lack of "The 'Uncanny'" I: Primary Femininity.............................. 299
The Lack of "The 'Uncanny'" II: Freud and Lac(k)an .............................. 313
"The 'Uncanny'" and Superstition....................................................... 318
H om e Secrets.......................................................... .......................... 332

AND FEMINISMS............................................................................ ............. 344
The Analysis of a Repression.......................... ............ ........... 344
Post(al)-Psychoanalysis.............................................................................. 364
Phallocentrism and Logocentrism: Relating to Feminisms...................... 370

WORKS CITED..................................................................................... 384

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ......................................................... 392

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Eric W. Anders

December 2000

Chair: John P. Leavey, Jr., Ph.D.
Major Department: English

This Derridean reading of Freud asks the question of how we should

read Freud with respect to sexual difference and what Derrida considers a

radicalized concept of trace, a "scene of writing" of diffirance-that is, how we

should read Freud with respect to phallogocentrism. Throughout I consider

the possible relationships among the "mainstyles" (Derrida) of various

psychoanalyses, deconstructions, and feminisms. By analyzing what is most

original for Freud-the cause of hysteria, the navel of the dream, the

perceptual identity, the primal phantasies, for example-I find that Freud

consistently seeks a single origin, a "caput Nili," on which to base a grand

narrative. At first this narrative is an etiology of hysteria, but it evolves into a

masterplot of sexual development and later into one of humanity. The

establishment of an oedipal origin and telos, and the masterplot based on

them, moves psychoanalysis toward a totalizing theory, and therefore its

openness to chance and something beyond what that theory can master is

greatly reduced.

I approach these topics in terms of a question of the ethics of

psychoanalysis. This appropriative or reductive process of Freud's

masterplotting is based on what Derrida calls "castration-truth" in his

reading of Lacan, "Lefacteur de la vgriti." In contrast to some theorists who

appeal to the radical spirit of Freudian theory as a basis for their

radicalization of psychoanalysis--specifically Barnaby B. Barratt's

Psychoanalysis and the Postmodern Impulse-I argue that Lacan's

phallogocentric "return to Freud" is actually a more faithful one since I find

both "mainstyles" of these psychoanalyses based on a logic of lack or

"castration-truth." I argue throughout that the radical spirit of Freud is at

times overemphasized or exaggerated by Derridean theorists-and even

Derrida himself, though rarely-and that the dominant specter of Freud is an

"establishment" or appropriative one, rather than one which is radical or

"other-wise." I connect this trend of Derridean thinkers claiming too much

debt to psychoanalysis to these thinkers not taking seriously Freud's

commitment to and interest in an idealized phylogenetics: "phylo-'genetics."'

Since my establishment of this establishment specter of Freud as the

"mainstyle" of Freudian theory itself risks reproducing exactly the kind of

appropriative discourse I hope to problematize, I attempt to avoid such a

reproduction by considering what remains of the radical spirit of Freudian

theory in what might be called a deconstructive "technology of iterability," a

"cyborg-analysis," or what I call "post(al)-psychoanalysis."


Psychoanalysis, supposedly, is found.
When one finds it, it is psychoanalysis itself, supposedly, that finds itself.
When it finds, supposedly, it finds itself/is found-something. (Der87a 413)

Jacques Derrida'

It's extraordinary what happens when you get rid of the centrality of the concept of the
phallus. I mean, you get rid of the unconscious, get rid of sexuality, get rid of the
original psychoanalytic point. (Mit82 15)

Juliet Mitchell

In "Some Statements and Truisms about Neologisms, Newisms, Postisms,

Parasitisms, and Other Small Seismisms," Jacques Derrida argues that those

"within the university and elsewhere who aren't completely asleep know that"

titles of academic discourses such as psychoanalysis, deconstruction, or feminism

"do not correspond to any classifiable identity, to any corpus which can be

delimited. However, for all that, this doesn't make those titles empty or

insignificant. What they name is the mainstyle of each jetty" (67).

Psychoanalysis is thus the "mainstyle" of one "theoretical jetty" in "the open and

SAlan Bass, the translator of The Post Card, writes the following note to the above: "La
psychanalyse, a supposed, se trouve. Quand on croit la trouver, c'est elle, a supposed, qui se trouve.
Quand elle trouve, i supposed, elle se trouve-quelque chose. The double meaning of reflexive verbs in
French is being played on here. Se trouver can mean both to find itself and to be found. Thus,
these are three or four statements, since the third sentence must be read in two ways. The
passage from three to four via irreducible doubleness is a constant theme in Derrida's works"

nonunified" field of forces that the doxa tries to stabilize and objectify in order to

fit into a neat and orderly taxonomy of discourses (65-67 passim). Here I will

attempt to establish the "mainstyle" of Freudian theory, if not of psychoanalysis

in general, with respect to my version of the "mainstyle" deconstruction. A

guiding question throughout this project is what is the relationship between

these two "mainstyle" theoretical jetties? And what is the "mainstyle" spirit of

Freudian theory of the incalculable specterss of Freud" that haunt the

"mainstyle" deconstruction and other academic discourses under consideration


The "quasi-concept" (94) of "jetty," according to Derrida, "has no status"

in "theory," but is used here to refer "to the force of that movement which is not

yet subject, project, or object, not even rejection, but in which takes place any

production and any determination, which finds its possibility in the jetty" (65).

"Each theoretical jetty," Derrida continues, "enters a priori, originally, into

conflict and competition" ibidd.) with other theoretical jetties: a "convergent

competition" (72) of unstable and destabilizing pseudo-identities where "each

jetty, far from being the part included in the whole, is only a theoretical jetty

inasmuch as it claims to comprehend itself by comprehending all the others"

(65), and "each species in this table constitutes its own identity only by

incorporating other identities-by contamination, parasitism, grafts, organ

transplants, incorporation etc." (66). Derrida states that this process of

convergent competition and incorporation is based on a "principle of taxonomic

disorder" (67) and he wonders "to what kinds of monsters these combinatory

operations must give birth, considering the fact that theories incorporate

opposing theorems, which have themselves incorporated other ones" (ibid.).

According to Derrida, "Monsters cannot be announced. One cannot say: 'Here

are our monsters,' without immediately turning them into pets" (80). The

present study attempts to be, I announce here, a monstrous pet project that

combines various styles of the theoretical jetties of psychoanalysis,

deconstruction, and feminism. In English departments in North America, this

type of combinatory pet monster, known as "theory," is the norm of the "trans-,

inter-, and above all ultra-disciplinary approaches, which, up to now [1990], met

nowhere, in no department, in no area of any discipline" (82).

The present study is monstrous because its corpus tries to be of indefinite

locale with respect to traditional disciplines, to eschew traditional axiomatic

boundaries by embracing a certain litarariness found in deconstruction and some

styles of feminism; a pet because, beyond announcing itself as a monster using

predicative clauses and being required to meet the institutional standards of the

university, it also attempts to be a (transferential) testament to my position as the

proper legatee, a legitimate son, of a complex parentage that would seem quite

familiar to those doing the "theory" of English departments in North American

research universities. The parentage consists of what I will argue are generally

misunderstood elements of psychoanalysis that are too rare or too unsupported

to constitute a "mainstyle," a certain "ms. en abyme" feminism (Elam), and a

Derrida who I hope is not too simplified, especially by making him one who

would be less resistant to any such paternity or any genealogy than he actually

is. It is monstrous because this complex parentage resists being an oedipal

complex. It could also be considered a pet, however, because there are traces of

what I call, borrowing from Luce Irigaray, "hom(m)osexuality" (Iri85 98), since

the feminism here, which might be construed as occupying the position of the

theoretical mother, is significantly Derridean-but this type of critique would

require the most essentialist, phallogocentric assumptions, which are the very

assumptions I try to disrupt here. It is also monstrous because its attempt to

privilege a literariness of open-endedness and Keatsian negative capability will

endeavor to resist forming into a "corpus of philosophical-hence

phallogocentric-axioms" (Der90 84) as Derrida describes what he sees as the

"mainstyle" of feminism. It is a pet because it will also be called upon to form

just such a corpus, not just in order to be recognized by the university as a proper

dissertation, but in order to develop a somewhat cohesive, though necessarily

partial, hybrid of so-called literary, psychoanalytic, feminist, and

deconstructionist axioms of a certain ethics and undecidability that would allow

for tactical political praxis. Psychoanalysis, according to its orthodox origin

myths, was born from Freud's work with hysterics: the potentially monstrous

offspring of a diseased womb. Yet this supposed offspring, as I will argue,

would have been very much a pet if we supposed such a birth.

Freud considered psychoanalysis to be one of the "three severe blows"

received by "the universal narcissism of men ... from the researches of science"

(XVII 139). The first blow, according to Freud, was cosmological and associated

with Copernicus: the decentering of the earth in the cosmos. The second he

considered biological and associated with Darwin: the association of "man" with

the rest of the animal kingdom, and therefore the problematization of the notion

that what separated "man" out was "his" possession of a soul. The third-which

Freud associated with himself and psychoanalysis, and referred to as

"psychological in nature" and "probably the most wounding" (XVII 141)-was

the subordination of the ego to the forces of the unconscious. Contrary to this


positioning of psychoanalysis as such a blow, something monstrous with respect

to god-like man at the center of the cosmos, I read psychoanalysis as a powerful

mode of maintaining what Derrida calls the "system" of "phallogocentrism"

(Der87b 196): a pet as watch dog with respect to a different slant on "the

universal narcissism of men." My question throughout is how much monstrous

potential, if any, remains in this pet. The disposition of my pet monster is to be

highly skeptical of any such monstrous potential of psychoanalysis: watching out

for watch dogs.

Double Games

My positioning of the present study negotiates this phantasmatic

boundary between monsters and pets by attempting to play a double game

appropriate to the singularity of the Freudian texts I read here. In "The Double

Game: An Introduction," an essay in Taking Chances: Derrida, Psychoanalysis, and

Literature, Alan Bass calls the affirmation of the irreducibility of division the

"affirmation of doubleness":

I would call [the affirmation of doubleness] the essence of

psychoanalysis if I had not learned from Derrida that the concept of

essence is designed to denigrate the play of doubleness. Thus, I

will call the affirmation of doubleness the metaphor that imposes

itself upon any conception of the analytic situation, and will say

that this metaphor is no more secondary and exterior to such

concepts as transference and resistance, ego and id, than writing is

to speech. (82)

Though Bass reads the mainstyle of the psychoanalytic jetty as being akin to the

mainstyle of the jetty of deconstruction-reflecting more the way I wish I could

read psychoanalysis than how I read it here as a mode of repressing "the

affirmation of doubleness"-I want to focus here on Bass's concept of doubleness

and Derrida's concept of "disseminal alterity" (Der90 72), what I call irreducible

division. Bass's doubleness is not the doubleness of oppositional binaries, but

the doubleness of an infinity of the Other-as Emmanuel Levinas might put

it-that the doubleness of oppositional binaries dissimulate. This is the

doubleness of what Derrida calls the "disseminal alterity ... which would make

impossible pure identity" and the "convergent competition" ibidd.) of forces that

allow for the space where there is the possibility of some provisional identity

emerging. In other words, this is not the doubleness of a particular identity and

its other as two stable identities (binarisms, dualisms), and especially not the

doubleness of a One and its repressed other, but the doubleness of the possibility

of the act of establishing some unstable identity and of the "otherwise other" to

identity, the radical alterity, the space from whence this possibility emerges.2

Derrida also describes a certain doubleness of theoretical jetties, what he

calls "typical consequences-i.e., general and regular consequences" (Der90 84).

He distinguishes

on the one hand, the force of the movement which throws

something or throws itself (jette or se jette) forward and backwards

at the same time, prior to any subject, object, or project, prior to any

rejection or abjection, from, on the other hand, its institutional and

S"Act of establishment" and "otherwise other" come from Barratt's Psychoanalysis and the
Postmodern Impulse.

protective consolidation, which can be compared to the jetty, the

pier in a harbor meant to break the waves and maintain low tide for

boats at anchor or for swimmers. ibidd.)

Derrida calls the former jetty "the destabilizing jetty or even more artificially the

devastating jetty" ibidd.), which he aligns with a certain deeeR natretien that refers

neither to "specific texts nor to specific authors, and above all not to this

formation which disciplines the process and effect of deconstruction into a

theory or a critical method called deconstructionism or deconstructionisms"

(Der90 83). This deeenstruction "is neither a theory nor a philosophy. It is

neither a school nor a method. It is not even a discourse, nor an act, nor a

practice. It is what happens ..." (Der90 85). The latter jetty Derrida calls "the

stabilizing, establishing, or simply stating jetty" (Der90 84), which "proceeds with

predicative clauses, reassures with assertory statements, with assertions, with

statements such as 'this is that'" ibidd.), as when Derrida writes, "deconstruction

is neither...." That the stating or static jetty is a phallic metaphor, a piece of terra

firma jutting into, or breaking the waves of, the ocean, suggests that either getting

beyond phallocentrism is difficult even for Derrida, one of the most vigilant

theorists, or his metaphor is an example of what he sees as the phallic


In as much as the doubleness of transference and resistance of the

psychoanalytic unconscious happens in any setting, including and especially the

analytic setting, we can say that "psychoanalysis happens," or better,

"psyeheanalysis happens." I will argue, however, that Freud-and Lacan who

3 The latter idea-that Derrida's phallic metaphor of a jetty might be a self-conscious example of
the phallic establishment-was suggested to me by John P. Leavey, Jr.

follows in his "pas-de-marche" (Derrida) footsteps-consistently reduces this

doubleness or irreducible division to "castration-truth" (Der81 441) and its

phallic One that transforms the difference of (op)positionality into identity, and

therefore the notion that "psychoanalysis happens," or that there would be a

need to put "psychoanalysis" under erasure, that it would have a "devastating"

jetty, which it would recognize as "psychoanalysis" without trying to tame it or

reappropriate it back into the terms of the "stating" jetty of "psychoanalysis," is

problematic, if not a moot point. In this respect, I argue here that

"psychoanalysis" does not simply happen. It must be established; it is

identitarian and not otherwise; it represses its own "devastating" tendencies in

order to secure its "stating" position.

The stating or "state" forms of psychoanalysis, what I call "establishment

psychoanalysis" or "psychoanalysis proper," are axiomatic, where particular and

somewhat distorted forms of the Oedipus myth occupy the position of the truth

of the unconscious, the basis for a symbolist approach to psychoanalytic

interpretation, the fundament of phylogenetic primal fantasies, the "patrix" of

the pleasure principle (which, as Derrida makes clear, Freud never goes beyond),

the "destination" of the phallic letter, and the foundation of "castration-truth."

In the (non)origin myth of establishment psychoanalysis I tell here, oedipal

psychoanalysis is a theoretical fantasy employed as a defense against the Other.

We might call it a reaction to the trauma of Freud's encounter with so-called

"hysterical" patients, his unethical "face to face" with the Other, if the categories

and concepts of hysteria and trauma were not so embedded in psychoanalysis

itself. The devastating jetty of psychoanalysis, which (under erasure) is the effect

of the deconstruction that happens with any mainstyle jetty, a "typical

consequence," has a different relationship to the stating jetty of psychoanalysis

than the devastating jetty of "deconstruction" has to its stating jetty: the latter

recognizes its devastating jetty, even actively subverts its stating jetty by working

not to repress the devastating one. I will argue here that "deconstruction," as a

mainstyle, stating jetty, points to its devastating jetty, whereas establishment

psychoanalysis, though it makes some motions toward such a recognition and

has certain elements with devastating potential as what seem to be its

foundational "discoveries," ultimately actively represses those elements,

especially with respect to its own discourse. My double game reading of

psychoanalysis is more about problematizing my own reading, my own position,

by taking seriously the irreducibility of division, than modeling my reading on

the supposed devastating aspects, or "the affirmation of doubleness" of

psychoanalysis. In other words, my reading is more deconstructive than


In general what follows is an attempt to take seriously several texts by

Freud and several Derridean readings of Freud, especially Derrida's early essay

"Freud and the Scene of Writing" in Writing and Difference, his later "To

Speculate-on 'Freud'" in The Post Card, and Samuel Weber's The Legend of Freud.

Barnaby B. Barratt's Psychoanalysis and the Postmodern Impulse has had a

significant influence on how I approach these readings, despite the fact that his

privileging of the radical or monstrous spirit of Freud ends up a repression of the

establishment Freud. Barratt reads what are typically considered Freud's

"devastating" moments as the essence of Freudian theory, and "Oedipus" and

"fantasy" (either spelling) are not listed in the index of this book. In Legends of

Freud, Samuel Weber highlights certain "devastating" moments of Freudian

theory overlooked by Freudian scholars (except Derrida), and often by Freud

himself. Derrida and Weber are closer in their readings of Freud. Weber more

than Derrida speculates on possible points of overlap between psychoanalysis

and his deconstructive theories, but, unlike Barratt, refrains from positioning

psychoanalysis as an authority for establishing a type of postmodern theory. Of

the three, Derrida seems the most reticent to give psychoanalysis undue "credit"

for not repressing its "devastating" moments, to acknowledge more debt for

deconstruction to psychoanalysis than necessary. In "Freud and the Scene of

Writing," Derrida explains his work on psychoanalysis preceding this early essay


An attempt to justify a theoretical reticence to utilize Freudian

concepts, otherwise than in quotation marks: all these concepts,

without exception, belong to the history of metaphysics, that is, to

the system of logocentric repression which was organized in order

to exclude or to lower (to put outside or below), the body of the

written trace as a didactic and technical metaphor, as servile matter

or excrement. (197)

Logocentrism, and its reduction of the Other to its terms of the Same, would be

an ethical category for Derrida. Despite his reticence, he does find potentially

"devastating" elements of Freudian theory:

Our aim is limited: to locate in Freud's text several points of

reference, and to isolate, on the threshold of a systematic

examination, those elements of psychoanalysis which can only

uneasily be contained within logocentric closure, as this closure

limits not only the history of philosophy but also the orientation of

the "human sciences," notably a certain linguistics. (198-99)

The "certain linguistics" is a reference to Saussure and Lacanian psychoanalysis,

and much of what follows touches on whether Lacan's "return" to Freud was in

fact a return and not a betrayal, as Barratt argues it was (see Bar84 and Bar93).

Beyond problematizing Barratt's "return" to a "devastating" or postmodern

Freud, I attempt to problematize Derrida's and Weber's location of only uneasily

contained elements of Freudian theory, particularly with respect to psychoanalytic

origins. What is at stake here is not only how to read Freud, but what would

constitute a good reading of him with respect to the issues forefronted in what

has been too-vaguely called the linguistic turn in the humanities. Is the Freudian

unconscious structured like a destinational language, or unstructuring like an

adestinational language? What remains of psychoanalysis after a deconstructive

reading? What debt does "deconstruction" owe to "psychoanalysis"? What, if

anything, might be considered a "Freudian breakthrough"? As Derrida suggests

in Resistances with respect to Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams, what is at stake

here is not just psychoanalytic conceptions of "sense and truth" (Der98 18), but

sense and truth in general.

Responding to Freud and the Ethics of Psychoanalysis

For me, deconstructing psychoanalysis is like an imperative, but one

without foundation in some supposed moral code. Derrida argues that this

"obligation to protect the other's otherness is not merely a theoretical

imperative" (Der91 111) suggesting that this obligation is also an ethical one, and

that this ethics cannot be bound by the strictures of theory. According to

Derrida, "there is a duty in deconstruction" (Der91 108), and I understand this

duty as being related to Derrida's reading of Levinas in "Violence and

Metaphysics," and the former's notion of "the call that comes from nowhere"

(Der91 110). According to Colin Davis, the "thought of Emmanuel Levinas is

governed by one simple yet far-reaching idea: Western philosophy has

consistently practiced a suppression of the Other" (1). Levinas's ethics is

interested in protecting the Other from the violence of the Same's (or Self's)

reappropriations. In contrast to moral philosophy, which claims to be grounded

in ontological truths, Levinas's ethics attempts a certain groundlessness in this

respect. Levinas tries to argue for the priority of ethics to ontology, but his

project is complicated by the fact that the notions of grounds and priorities

belong to ontology. In his otherwise deconstructive reading of Levinas in

"Violence and Metaphysics," Derrida critiques Levinas for not recognizing the

necessity of working within the logocentrism of language and philosophy.

Levinas's project requires the playing of double games. Derrida finds Levinas's

intentions of positioning himself outside of Western ontology in conflict with the

ontological dependence of his philosophical discourse. Levinas's concern is for

developing a sense of justice and responsibility with respect to encounters with

the Other, and to do this while resisting the totalizing foundationalism of

establishing an ontological moral order. "Something of this call of the other,"

according to Derrida, "must remain nonreappropriable, nonsubjectivable, and in

a certain way nonidentifiable, a sheer supposition, so as to remain other, a

singular call to response or to responsibility" (Der91 110-111). Diane Elam's

type of feminism, as argued in Feminism and Deconstruction: Ms. en Abyme, is

"based" on such a "groundless" ethics. Political activity for her should grow out

of "groundless solidarity" where political actions stem from necessary ethical

judgements that "are always threatened by the displacing action of other

judgements" (115), and not from ethical judgments supposedly grounded in

ontotheological or phallogocentric truths of identity and morality.

The significance of such an ethics for psychoanalytic theory and practice is

great, especially if Freud's conception of "the unconscious" is read as a radical

alterity or an "otherwise other" to the meanings and structures of the ego or "I-

now-is," as Barratt reads it. "The unconscious" then would be akin to Levinas's

Other; the ego-what Barratt formulates as the "I-now-is" (Bar93 101)-would be

akin to Levinas's the Same, Self, or self-Same. The duty in psychoanalysis would

then be to avoid reducing the "otherwise other" to the self-Same of the ego of the

analysand or the analyst. If the duty in deconstruction is the protection of "the

other's otherness," it achieves this while still allowing for meaning, as would this

"otherwise" psychoanalysis, through the playing of a double game. Meaning or

readability require some reduction of the differance of language to the self-Same:

the stating game of a double game, where the other game is a devastating one.

Beyond there being an ethical quality of such double games, they also avoid the

pitfalls of embracing irrationalisms and the simple reversing of the Same/Other

binarism. Derrida's employment of deconstructive double games allows him to

work within logocentrism while opening up spaces to make it otherwise: he

respects the otherness of the text he is deconstructing-that is, he respects

diffrance, he responds to the singularity of the text-and is able to form a reading

of and argument about this text and its radical alterity that is potentially


Insofar as I have not reduced the Other of Freud's texts to more of my

Same, I have responded to the singularity of Freud's texts, and I have resisted

transforming my understanding of "deconstruction" into some "monolith" of

deconstructionismm" (Der90 88). The ethics I describe here have not only

informed my theorization of my approach, if not the approach itself, it has also

informed my understanding of what makes these texts readable. I suppose

Freud's readability with regard to his encounters with what Levinas would call

the Other. Often Freud's reappropriations of the Other in a way follow what

would otherwise be an ethical encounter with the Other. Practically invariably,

Freud either transforms these "other-wise" moments into "establishment"

theories by establishing an origin of identity prior to the "theory" or "time" of

these moments, or he represses these moments via neglect or obfuscation. Freud

even uses what seems to be something "otherwise" about a theory (for example,

the "contradictoriness" [Barratt] of the unconscious) to support his

"establishment" conclusions or closure (such as what I will call the seemingly

contradictory "trauma"-structure trope of "castration-truth"). My theory of

readability with respect to Freudian texts is in some ways a generalization of

Derrida's reading of Beyond the Pleasure Principle in terms of what he calls Freud's

"pas de march" (Der81 283), where the step beyond is always taken back or

transformed into a non-step. One possible difference between Derrida's "pas de

march" and my theory of readability is that I want to focus more on how Freud's

most "otherwise" concepts are sometimes more than taken back or transformed

into their absence, but are redeployed as part of the "establishment" arsenal in

the defensive war of maintaining a proper identity, institution, and legacy. I am

interested in connecting Freud's readability-the necessary stating game of any

deconstructive double-game-to a Levinasian and Derridean type of ethics.

Supposing Psychoanalysis

What is at stake when one supposes psychoanalysis? To suppose

psychoanalysis-to hypothesize that it exists as one thing, identical to itself, self-

same--would mean to disregard the divisions, conflicts, aporias, and to decide

undecidables "within" psychoanalysis. To suppose psychoanalysis as a

unifiable, delimitable theoretical identity is also to disregard the competitive,

conflictual, and differential process by which it comes into being and sustains

itself in relation to other discursive forces: to decide undecidables regarding its

relation to what is "without" psychoanalysis. Yet my questioning of the

supposition of psychoanalysis is also a questioning of the very boundaries that

would allow for a "within" and a "without," a problematization of the notion of

psychoanalysis as having secure and identifiable boundaries: an identification, a

locale, an inside and outside. Moreover, to write of psychoanalysis as coming

into being and sustaining itself, to assume that it is ever a simple presence in the

present, or a simple re-presentation, that it is simply demarcated in opposition to

other discourses, other locales, is to miss the aspect of deferral and the

relatedness and imbrication of differences in the generation of any pseudo-

identity-that is, to disregard the generative powers involved in what Jacques

Derrida calls "diffrrance." Among other things, to suppose psychoanalysis is to

mark an inside and an outside of psychoanalysis, then to make cohesive what

could only be an aporetic inside, and to make the outside separate and passive

with regard to the creation of this identity. In other words, the creation of a

binary-inside/outside-that constitutes a certain repression of undecidables, of

difffrance, is at stake in the supposition of an identity "psychoanalysis." Some

might argue that this supposition would be unpsychoanalytic, but this argument

itself requires a supposition of psychoanalysis as essentially about the

problematization of certain identities achieved via the repression of

undecidables. I suppose a psychoanalysis here, on the contrary, that is very

much about this kind of repression.

What is at stake when one does not suppose psychoanalysis? Without

such a supposition any treatment of "psychoanalysis"-whether it be a critique,

a so-called "deconstruction," or some other mode of reading-would be

impossible. The stakes would be not to question the traditional suppositions of

psychoanalysis as found truth. Some mode of questioning is required to disrupt

these types of suppositions. While critique is a single game that simply assumes

the subject position for the critic and the object position for what is being

criticized, a deconstructive reading plays a double game where the subject-object

positions of critique are problemetized as they are assumed. This

problematization of the subject-object split subverts any simple inside/outside

for both the supposed subject and the supposed object, yet even a deconstructive

reading of "psychoanalysis" would be difficult, if not impossible, without the

supposition of "psychoanalysis" as its simple, unified object. In his 1991 lecture

"'To Do Justice to Freud, The History of Madness in the Age of Psychoanalysis,"

Derrida asks his audience to allow him to "provisionally assume that there is

indeed a psychoanalysis that is a single whole: as if it were not, already in Freud,

sufficiently divided to make its localization and identification more than

problematic" (Der98 76-77). As always with Derrida, that the assumption is

provisional is a crucial part of any double game. My provisional assumptions of

"Freud" and "psychoanalysis" do not ultimately assume them as single wholes: I

attempt to show here how they are irreducibly divided. But to do so, I do

provisionally assume a single or basic tactic or strategy of

"Freud"/"psychoanalysis" of securing a position of undividedness for

himself/itself. The "Freud" and "psychoanalysis" I suppose are both

"interested" in their own unity even though, in significant ways, they position

themselves as the Truth of universal "division"--or "division" as castration,

which is why the quotes are needed.

With respect to Derrida's quotation above, it must also be asked to assume

provisionally that there is indeed an author, a "Derrida," as subject that is single

and whole, separate from the assumed object: as if he were not, already with

respect to Freud and to himself, already divided to make his localization and

identification more than problematic. Also, the assumed "objects" of "Freud"

and "psychoanalysis" are not only divided but "within" the "author" in that

he/I cannot simply step outside "Freud" in order to make it his/my object.

Inasmuch as my reading becomes a critique unawares-a single game of simple

insides and outsides, simple subjects and objects, repressing the irreducibility of

division from my awareness-my reading becomes an example of what I am

trying to disrupt in "Freud": the identitarian force or "interest" I call

(op)positionality. Simply put, (op)positionality is a mode of securing a position,

and therefore a subject identity, by establishing the separate identity of the

object, and the subject's mastery of that object. To whatever degree my work

here is a reading in this mode, a critique, I am suspect of securing my "I," of

finding myself with respect to an "object" I suppose and oppose:

"Freud"/"psychoanalysis." Insofar as this mode of positioning is unavoidable,

especially in the highly formalized mode of a dissertation, the question of

awareness of "one's"-the "subject's," the "author's"--own division, and the

effect of this division on the supposed "object," becomes a crucial focal point for

differentiating types of discourses, particularly between critiques and

deconstructive readings. The provisional and the playing of double games

becomes crucial. Some might argue, as Barnaby B. Barratt suggests in

Psychoanalysis and the Postmodern Impulse, that (op)positionality and critical

modes of reading that stem from this type of identitarian logic would be

unpsychoanalytic. But this argument is itself dependent on a supposition of

psychoanalysis as essentially about revealing identities and subjects (egos) as

essentially divided. Again, this is another version of the supposition I mentioned

above, and which I want to disrupt here.

From such a (supposed) Freudian perspective this argument might hold

up for everything and everyone except Freud himself/psychoanalysis

itself-that is, Freud/psychoanalysis reveals all other identities to be divided

except for himself/itself. Herein lies a significant difference between what is

signed by Derrida and what is signed by Freud: the texts signed by Freud lack a

certain awareness of the irreducible division of the Freudian text, its signature,

and its signator, whereas the double games of so-called "deconstruction" are the

manifestation of this type of awareness. Psychoanalysis claims to be a method, a

science, based on a discovery of Truth. Derrida resists deconstruction as a

method since it is a mode of reading that treats every text singularly, according

to its own readability: a response to the text, rather than an application of some

Truth of deconstruction. We might paraphrase the pun of the title of Shoshana

Felman's book questioning applied psychoanalytic readings of literary texts,

Literature and Psychoanalysis: The Question of Reading: Otherwise, and call this

reading mode, this responsive (non)methodology, "reading other-wise."

Following Derrida's "Lefacteur de la viriti," his reading of Jacques Lacan's

"Seminar on 'The Purloined Letter,"' I argue here that Freud/psychoanalysis

attempts to establish himself/itself as that unity that stops the incessant sliding

of the "en abyme" effects of disruptions to the simple subject-object, a simple

inside/outside, caused by irreducible division. As the discoverer of the Truth of

psychoanalysis, Freud positions himself as the unified subject. He is supposedly

beyond the obvious en abyme effects of "the unconscious," his supposed

discovery, in his self analysis. Derrida asks, "how can an autobiographical

writing, in the abyss of an unterminated self-analysis, give to a worldwide

institution its birth?" (Der81 305). As the Truth discovered, psychoanalysis is

established as the unified object: a strangely material-ideal object, a stereotomy,

an "point de capiton" (Lacan). The self-sameness and immediacy of this "act of

establishment" require the repetitive repression of the differences and endless

deferrals of meaning in the creation of any signifying system: diffirance. Derrida

calls this strangely material-ideal subject-object positioning the metaphysics of

presence or logocentrism: the found "object" of psychoanalysis is part of the

"object world" and the signifying system at the same time, the centering

idea/matter, the idea that matters, or logos. This repression of diffirance is

logocentric repression. We might say that the unconscious of

Freud/psychoanalysis is this differance, kept out of awareness as part of the "act

of establishment" of an identity, an institution, a legacy-that is, if the word

"unconscious" were not so imbricated in the very identities of Freud and

psychoanalysis I wish to disrupt. My use of "unconscious" under erasure can be

read as an example of how "I" cannot be simply inside or outside


Though "Freud" opposess himself as subject to the object of

psychoanalysis, there is also a unity of subject and object here, which sends the

phenomenology "en abyme": "When one finds it, it is psychoanalysis itself,

supposedly, that finds itself" (ibid.). One doesn't just find oneself with respect to

the object, but in the object. (Op)positionality, as a mode of stabilizing the

dizzying movement of diffirance, is itself unstable: the unification of "Freud" is

"discovered" through the discovery of the Truth of the unconscious,

"psychoanalysis," which "then" "sutures" (Miller) the "Freud" who was

previously divided between his conscious and unconscious self, which "then"

allows the unified "Freud" to discover psychoanalysis unencumbered by his

own division.... This process of "positioning" beyond (op)positioning, where

the subject and object are no longer opposed in a simple phenomenology, which

moves toward a totality of the Self via Truth, an identity of subject and object, I

call, following Derrida, "self-posting," where the self sends itself a post of its

own identity. For Lacan in "The Seminar on 'The Purloined Letter," as Derrida

argues in "Lefacteur de la vtritj," posts always arrive at their destination. For

Derrida, there is always the chance that something otherwise could happen. For

Lacan, the Truth of psychoanalysis is the Truth of a destinational linguistics:

"Quand elle trouve, a supposed, elle se trouve-quelque chose." The sending envoii) of

the post, which is supposedly identical with the self-sender, in fact reveals the

presence of something totally other that causes the sending. Derrida reads Lacan

as positing the truth as "something" found, and a cause of the "eternal return"

(Nietzsche): a destinational linguistics based on a theory of the postal system

without a dead letter office. For Derrida, the "eternal return" cannot be reduced

to a thing or a transcendental structure centered on an absence or a veiled

presence (the phallus as an always already absent presence)-a negative

theology (Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy) or a "Negative Concord"

(Kermode)-but is something radically other, which subverts ontology

(conceptions of thingness, centers, structures) and Lacan's synchronic

transcendent structures: a (non)origin of repetition and an adestinational postal

system. That letters are repetitively sent and may end up in the dead letter office

suggests the system is related to and part of something totally other.

Lacan stresses the detour the letter takes, the division its detour signifies.

But this detour is quite specific, and it is necessary in order to allow for the

proper return. Division is reduced to presence/absence where the absence is

always the absence of a very specific presence. Psychoanalysis 4 la Lacan and

Lacan himself are unified in the truth of the proper detour of the letter, the

proper division. Derrida calls this truth "castration-truth" (Der81 441). The

metaphysics of presence, the logocentrism of Lacanian psychoanalysis is

phallogocentrism, where the material-ideal letter is the penis-phallus. Castration

as the proper division, the proper detour of the letter, reduces the binary of

male/female to one-sex system in terms of presence/absence of the phallus:

male/not-male. The not-male secures the phallus as transcendental Truth by

reducing division to an absence, or lack. In Lacanian psychoanalysis, according

to Derrida, somethingig is missing from its place, but the lack is never missing

from it" (Der81 441). The "something" that psychoanalysis finds when it finds

itself is lack as the "central place," the familiar locale, and also the center of a

structural system, a logic of lack: what Derrida refers to as the psychoanalytic

oikos, where the Greek word suggests both home and economy. This lack

signifies the transcendence of the phallus and therefore its uncastratability.

According to Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy, "the ultimate effect of the Lacanian

strategy thus turns out to be a surprising but vigorous repetition of negative

theology" (Nan92 xviii).

For Derrida, division is that which disrupts the concept of truth by

disrupting the signifying system that might support such a concept.

"Dissemination" is one word Derrida uses with respect to irreducible division:

dis-semination as not allowing for a stable semantics, which is supposedly the

spawn (semen) of phallic truth. The spreading and dispersal of seeds suggested

by dissemination suggest the dispersal of meaning of diffrance, the disruption of

any economy, any logic. No "central place" of absence, no castration home, is

allowed by dissemination: "the lack does not have its place in dissemination"

(Der81 441). Following Derrida's reading of Lacan, this project contrasts a logic

of lack with a "logic" of dissemination with respect to Freud. Is Freud another

"facteur de la viritJ" of a destinational postal system? Is Freudian theory based on

"castration-truth," where "Femininity is the Truth (of) castration" (Der81 442)?

Like Lacan, who positions himself as the mystic who has mastered the

cosmology of the Real-Symbolic-Imaginary or "RSI," Freud often positions

himself as undivided, in possession of the whole story, properly analyzed.

In chapter two, "Problematizing Hysteria and the Origins of

Psychoanalysis," I explore how the theme of Freud's lack of awareness of the

irreducibility of division, and how division would apply to oneself and one's

theories, is reflected in the large role his self-analysis plays in his claims to have

access to truth and in the orthodox origin myths of psychoanalysis which he

invented and fostered. Freud, the undivided subject, the subject that "sutures"

his own division-that is, cures the "hysteria" that marks this

division--supposedly discovers Freud/psychoanalysis. He/it is found, a solid

whole, a stereotomy, a something. The something Freud initially finds are gaps

in narratives, which he fills first with phallic memories of "seduction" and then

later with fantasies of phallic wholeness when "hysteria" is replaced by

"femininity" as the privileged object and "gaps" are replaced by "castration" as

the lack that secures the oikos of Truth. Freud secures an undivided, phallic

subject position by creating an object of lack: the hysteric and her narratives full

of gaps. I will explore in chapter two whether Freud's writing on so-called

"hysteria" is an example of what Barratt calls the phenomenologyy of fucking":

"the operation of 'I' as the aggressingg or aggressed) subject of

(phallo)logocentric discourse" (Bar93 150). Foreshadowing the "castration-truth"

of psychoanalysis proper, the division of the object, the so-called hysteric, was

reduced to a specific absence, a specific gap. I argue that the phenomenology is a

sort of mixture of (op)positionality and self-posting, and is ultimately unstable

because it depends on cure: as with woman in Freud's later theory, the so-called

hysteric exists as gap to be filled and as what must disappear as cured.

One question I want to privilege in this study is whether Freudian theory

can get beyond its phallocentrism-that is, what, if anything, remains of

Freudian theory once Derrida's project is accomplished: "the Freudian concept of

trace must be radicalized and extracted from the metaphysics of presence which

still retains it" (Der78 229)? Is Freud's logocentrism the same as his

phallocentrism: phallogocentrism? Since Barratt's book lacks an entry in its

index for anything related to Oedipus-the expanded oikos of castration-

truth-and his book sets forth a general metapsychology of sorts, it seems that he

would answer yes to this query, and his theory of "genitality" reflects an attempt

at such a distancing from phallocentrism while remaining "within" his supposed

psychoanalysis. Barratt suggests that Freud's phallocentrism, the oedipal aspects

of psychoanalysis, are in fact a betrayal of what is essential about psychoanalysis.

Certainly Derrida has shown that one cannot simply step outside the

metaphysics of presence of logocentrism. In "Violence and Metaphysics,"

Derrida argues for the necessity of "lodging oneself within traditional

conceptuality in order to destroy it" (111). But is phallocentrism unavoidable?

Since the Freud I suppose here is one of "castration-truth" and the logic of

lack-arguing that Freud, like Lacan, is a "facteur de la vfritd" of a phallocentric

and destinational postal system-I conclude that little would remain of Freudian

theory to constitute a radical spirit of Freud if its oikos lost its privileged place.

Barratt's Freud represents something closer to what I wish Freud would be,

rather than how I actually read him. To "suppose" is not only to assume or to

hypothesize, but to suspect too.

The function of "castration-truth" is to theorize division in terms of what

secures identity. Phallocentrism, therefore, is the mode of logocentrism of

psychoanalysis in its Lacanian mode, as Derrida argues, and in its Freudian

mode, as I argue here. The Lacanian "phallic function," according to Bruce Fink,

author of The Lacanian Subject, "is the function that institutes lack" (103). In Lacan's

own words, the "phallus is the privileged signifier of that mark in which the role

of the logos is joined with the advent of desire" (Lac77b 287). Since Lacanian

desire is never in relation to an object but to lack, the joining point or "point de

capiton" of desire to the logos would be a "mark" of lack. The phallus is that

magical signifier/mark, the letter, that sets the Symbolic in motion but also keeps

it centered enough to write "Symbolic" with a capitol "S."

One central question for me here is how well does Lacan read Freud?

How faithful is Lacan's return to Freud? I argue that Lacan's "phallic function"

can be generalized and theorized as what I call the "actual phallic function,"

another way of naming phallogocentrism and its one-sex self-posting, what I will

later call, co-opting Irigaray's pun, "hom(m)osexuality," which Lacan attempts to

address in Encore (Lac98 84). The series of acts of self-posting constituting the

actual phallic function comprise what I call a "triple (self-)deception": the first

deception is the dissimulation of difference and chance behind the binarism of

Man/Woman dissimulatingg the Other), the second is the dissimulation of the

significance of woman's role in establishing the identity of man dissimulatingg

the other), and the third is the dissimulation of all previous dissimulations. With

the actual phallic function, as with Derrida's conception of phallogocentrism,

presence is established by reducing the Other to absence, binary difference is

effaced by erecting one term (the phallus) to identify difference, the binary is

always already a hierarchy, and these processes are naturalized via the

repression of repression and the supplementarity of what remains. I argue that

Lacan's phallogocentrism suggests a faithful return to Freud since Freud

consistently reverts to the "actual phallic function" in his theorizing. I argue in

chapter three, "(Un)Easily Contained Elements," that many of the concepts of

psychoanalysis that are traditionally read as the "otherwise" elements of

psychoanalysis-for example, overdetermination, free-association, memory, and

the primary process-either are actually more dependent or related to

"castration-truth," or are simply not as "otherwise," as previously thought.

Disturbing Psychoanalytic Origins

What does psychoanalysis risk by being logocentric? Is there any other

kind of psychoanalysis? Can there be an-other kind, a non-logocentric

psychoanalysis, an "other-wise" psychoanalysis? Can psychoanalysis afford not

to assume that it masters the truth it supposedly finds and is? Psychoanalysis as

truth must master especially itself, and then all other. Can it afford not to

assume that it has a privileged access to this truth and the totality it implies?

How can it master this truth, itself, if this truth is the division of self? As I argue

in chapter two, one way is to repress how this truth applies to itself, to repress

how the found disrupts trust in the finding and founder. Self-analysis as

repression: a (non)origin since this repression would be required to attain this

truth. Doesn't the unconscious as, not a self-absence, but a self-differance-a

deferral, dispersal, dissemination of the self-obliterate the possibility of self-

presence? Yet the self-present founder is the primary figure of the orthodox

myth: Freud's self-presence is the result of a successful self-analysis, where it

seems all of the Es (Other) was transformed into Ich (Same), his "hysteria" cured.

Through the inspiration of genius, so the myth goes, Freud is able to simply step

outside of the truth that he supposedly founded, achieve a self-presence

uncorrupted by the unconscious forces he supposedly discovers, and he is then

able to perceive this truth (himself, his unconscious, psychoanalysis) without

distortion, without transference or resistance. He is thus able to be the founding

father of psychoanalysis, a primal father as in Totem and Taboo, with his legatees

establishing institutes with reportable training analyses that supposedly assure

the reproduction of this founding perception in the form of the proper paternal

transference. I cite Derrida's question again, "how can an autobiographical

writing, in the abyss of an unterminated self-analysis, give to a worldwide

institution its birth?" (Der81 305).

Or, turning the question above around, can psychoanalysis be anything

but otherwise than logocentric since what is supposedly found disrupts the

possibility of finding? Does Freud take seriously the unconscious as what Barratt

calls an "otherwise other"? In chapter three, I argue that Freud does not sustain

the fragments of conceptualizations that might constitute theorizing the

unconscious in terms of something totally other, an "otherwise other," or Other,

but that he consistently reduces its origin ultimately to a simple presence (with

respect to a "specific" absence, a lack that has its place) that he then treats as

oikos, home and economy (the logic of lack). Yet does not the unconscious, the

traditional "object" of psychoanalysis, supposedly the site of unreason, promote

a "logic" where contradiction is tolerated? Can the unconscious be both the site

of unreason and the validating center for psychoanalysis's logocentrism, the

center of the logos, the site of the organizing principle of reason, of the finding of

the truth found? Building on the disturbances of psychoanalytic myths of origins

in chapters two and three, I attempt to show in chapter four, "Freud's

Masterplotting," that there is a progression in Freudian theory, one repressed by

the psychoanalytic orthodoxy and others, where the ego transforms from the site

of order to the site of disorder and contradiction, and its beyond-the

unconscious, and then the id-transforms from the site of disorder and

contradiction to the site of a priori order. I will show that this progression is

connected to the ascendancy of Freud's plotting of his master narratives of

human kind, and the descendancy in his interest in etiologies of neurosis and


Is a logocentric psychoanalysis contradicted if the truth that it finds/is

found is posited as the unconscious as the site of unreason? Is it contradicted if

this truth is posited as the truth of Freud's Oedipus complex? "Unreason" could

be construed, and is construed by Freud, as the absence of reason. I will argue

that Oedipus is construed as that Truth whose repression allows for reason, and

therefore Oedipus can be conceptualized as the unreason (phallic absence) that

allows for reason (transcendental phallic presence): the lack which assures the

place of the phallus, "castration-truth." In this way, Oedipus as the truth of the

unconscious secures the totality of psychoanalysis as truth that establishes reason

and therefore goes beyond reason. Freud's supposed discovery, the truth he

supposedly found, is therefore prior to reason. Because this "prior to" is also a

beyond, Lacan positions himself as within but also beyond reason or his

Symbolic. He calls himself both an hysteric and a mystic. But the "prior to" does

not really work for Lacan's structuralist psychoanalysis: his structures are

outside of time, transcendent more than synchronic. In chapter four, I will

attempt to show that the origins that Freud developed with respect to his

dominant masterplot of the war years are also more transcendent and structural

in this way, even though he uses the diachronic term "genetic" to describe them.

Freud's "before" becomes a "beyond" and then a type of "always already." I

argue that he pushes his origins beyond the ontogenetic and "into" an "always

already" he calls phylogeneticc." I will attempt to show how Freud posits the

truth he discovered as Oedipus in terms of this "always already" phylo-

"genesis," and that the "uneasily contained elements" (Derrida) of Freudian

theory were consistently employed theoretically to sustain this truth as the truth

beyond reason, the truth that supposedly secures reason and science. Like

Lacan's Symbolic, this structure becomes a totality as what is Other to it-for

Lacan the Real-is reduced to the absence of the structure. For Freud, any

potential Other, all the beyond he considers, are ultimately reduced to the

absence of the structure of his masterplot: gaps in the narrative or "trauma."

Specifically the "logic" of oedipal and logocentric Freudian theory

positions the truth Freud found as the "Urphantasien,"4 the oedipal "origin of

origins" (Bro84 276), the primal fantasies of the primal scene, castration, and

seduction, which Laplanche and Pontalis equate with the Oedipus complex: "The

universality of these [primal fantasy] structures should be related to the

universality that Freud accords to the Oedipus complex as a nuclear complex

whose structuring a priori role he often stressed" (Lap67 333na). Primal

fantasies, according to Laplanche and Pontalis, are typicalcl phantasy structures

... which psychoanalysis reveals to be responsible for the organization of

phantasy life, regardless of personal experiences of different subjects; according

to Freud, the universality of these phantasies is explained by the fact that they

constitute a phylogenetically transmitted inheritance" (Lap67 331). Freud

posited these structures at the same time that he held that the unconscious was

the site of unreason that could tolerate contradiction. One wonders how these

structures, these a priori organizing principles of the unconscious, could tolerate

4 Sigmund Freud, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Ed.
and trans. J. Strachey et al. Volume XIV (London: Hogarth Press, 1953-74), 269. Hereafter the
Standard Edition will be cited by volume using Roman numerals.

contradiction, and, as theorized, they could not. Freud argues in his 1918

addendum to the Wolf Man case that they supercede any conflict with anything

ontogenetic. Thus we have the makings of an aporia with respect to what truth

psychoanalysis finds and to what truth it is founded on: the oedipal unconscious

versus the unconscious of contradiction, that which secures the Same or reason

versus that which is radically other to reason. I will also show how Freud's

phylo"genetic" "origin of origins" conflicts with his foundation, his origin of

psychoanalytic authority: the differentiation of the normal and the neurotic, or

the answering of the question, "whence the neurosis?," via a cure and an etiology

based on that cure. Many readers of Freudian theory have repressed the

significance of phylo"genetics" for Freud, including the readers of Freud I am

concerned with here. The "mainstyle" psychoanalysis I suppose is one that takes

seriously Freud's oedipal masterplot, and this focus will differentiate me to

different degrees from these other readers of Freud who attempt to take seriously

the ethical imperative to be "otherwise."

The primal phantasies naturalize "castration-truth" as the center of its

logic, its oikos (home and economy). According to Derrida, "castration-truth" is

"the very antidote for fragmentation" since "that which is missing from its place

has in castration a fixed central place, freed from all substitution (Der87a 441).

With Lacan, Freud's primal fantasies are transformed into an inevitably

phallocentric language: the Symbolic. According to Derrida, the absence of the

penis-phallus sets in place the phallogocentric signifying chain of Lacanian

psychoanalysis, the destination at which all sliding arrives: "truth-unveiled-

woman-castration-shame" (Der87a 416) or simply "castration-truth." This

absence, he argues, is "that which contracts itself (stricture of the ring) in order to

bring the phallus, the signifier, the letter, or the fetish back into their oikos, their

familiar dwelling, their proper place" (Der87a 441).

Filling Gaps

In the spirit of intertextuality, I cite Weber citing Freud citing Heine.

Weber argues that Freud contrasts his theories with what the former calls the

"phobosophie" of the philosopher whose approach Freud compares to the making-

cohesive function of the secondary revision of dreams:

This function behaves in the manner which the poet maliciously

ascribes to philosophers: it fills up the gaps in the dream-structure

with shreds and patches. As a result of its efforts, the dream loses

its appearance of absurdity and disconnectedness and

approximates to the model of an intelligible experience. (XXII 161)

The "shreds and patches" are references to two lines in Heine's "Die Heimkehr,"

which Freud cites in full at the beginning of his final "New Introductory Lecture"

in 1933: "Mit seinen Nachtmiitzen und Schlafrockfetzen / Stopft er die Liicken des

Weltenbaus." Strachey translates these lines as follows: "With his nightcaps and

the tatters of his dressing-gown he patches up the gaps in the structure of the

universe" (ibid.). Whereas our nightcaps and dressing-gowns bring us comfort

during sleep, secondary revision is that which brings us comfort after we awake,

that which transforms the "absurdity and disconnectedness" of the primary

processes as experienced in dreams into what is an "intelligible experience" for

the awake consciousness. The "primary revision" would be the dreamwork of

the dream, the condensation and displacement of the primary processes: the

dissimulatingg function" which allows the ideational material-which would

otherwise remain unconscious-to slip by the sleeping censors of consciousness.

Secondary revision is thus a re-establishment of consciousness, its corresponding

sense of self, and their censors after they have been vulnerable to the disruptive

forces of the unconscious material during sleep.

The unconscious is thus theorized here by Freud as being a locus of

disruptive forces with respect to consciousness, forces radically other to

consciousness and its systems. Freud also associates the unconscious with "the

gaps in the structure of the universe," gaps which cannot be filled despite the

systematic "pretensions" of "phobosophers" or anyone else:

The secondary revision of the product of dream-activity is an

admirable example of the nature and pretensions of a system.

There is an intellectual function in us which demands unity,

connection and intelligibility from any material, whether of

perception or thought, that comes within its grasp; and if, as a

result of special circumstances, it is unable to establish a true

connection, it does not hesitate to fabricate a false one. (XII95)

System making therefore can have a defensive quality, and, in Levinasian terms,

an unethical quality inasmuch as it attempts to move toward totality by reducing

what is totally other to the system's logic-that is, inasmuch as it denies the

necessity for partiality, provisionality, and openness as a system, and inasmuch

as it denies the irreducibility of division as a unity. Following Freud, Weber

makes the connection explicit between theory (speculations, system making) and


The "expectation of an intelligible whole" described by Freud, the

expectation of a coherent meaning, appears thus to denote the

reaction of an ego seeking to defend its conflict-ridden cohesion

against equally endemic centripetal tendencies. The pursuit of

meaning; the activity of construction, synthesis, unification; the

incapacity to admit anything irreducibly alien, to leave any residue

unexplained-all this indicates the struggle of the ego to establish

and to maintain an identity that is all the more precarious and

vulnerable to the extent that it depends on what it must exclude. In

short, speculative, systematic thinking draws its force from the

effort of the ego to appropriate an exteriority of which, as Freud

will later put it, it is only the "organized part." (Web82 13-14)

Thus there is something "phobosophic" and narcissistic, if not unpsychoanalytic,

about theorizing in general, if that which is opposed to the ego, that against

which it organizes itself-"the" unconscious, the id, or that which simply

happens-is posited as that which cannot be organized in terms of the ego, that

which resists theory, that which is radically other to intelligible wholes, coherent

meaning, sense, organization. "For speculation," Weber continues, "which

Freud associates with narcissism, systematization, and secondary revision,

would be a form of thought ill-suited to 'judge unconscious material' inasmuch

as it is driven precisely to deny the influence of its own unconscious" (14).

Hence Freud's criticism of Adlerian theory: "The Adlerian theory was from the

very beginning a 'system'-which psychoanalysis was careful to avoid

becoming" (XIV 50). I will argue in later chapters that the year Freud made this

statement, 1914, he was on the verge of making the move toward primal

phantasies as the basis of his masterplotting, his ultimate system based on

"castration-truth." With this system, the identity of Narcissus and Oedipus is


Freud decries all system making that is different from his own, and yet,

there are moments when Freud approaches taking seriously his own criticisms of

"phobosophie." In "Resistances," Derrida discusses one of these moments in a

note Freud makes to his interpretation of the Irma dream in The Interpretation of

Dreams where "Freud confesses a feeling, a premonition (Ich ahne, he writes)" (4)

that "something exceeds [his] analysis" (5):

I had a feeling that the interpretation of this part of the dream was

not carried far enough to make it possible to follow the whole of its

concealed meaning.... There is at least one spot in every dream at

which it is unplumbable-a navel, as it were, that is its point of

contact with the unknown. (IV 111nl)

Towards the end of The Interpretation of Dreams Freud reiterates this point:

There is often a passage in even the most thoroughly interpreted

dream which has to be left obscure; this is because we become

aware during the work of interpretation that at that point there is a

tangle of dream-thoughts which cannot be unraveled and which

moreover adds nothing to our knowledge of the content of the

dream. This is the dream's navel, the spot where it reaches down

into the unknown. The dream-thoughts to which we are led by

interpretation cannot, from the nature of things, have any definite

endings; they are bound to branch out in every direction into the

intricate network of our world of thought. (V 525)

These might be the dream-thoughts that take detour and never return to some

notion of the proper destination--one might say an adestinational theory of the

unconscious. This would make the "unknown" the "unknowable." Freud

seems to be arguing that the system-making of philosophy will necessarily be

incomplete due to "the unknown" of the most entangled roots of the

unconscious, and that any attempt to create a unity, eine Weltanschauung, as

Freud says, is similar to the folly of secondary revision: a projection of the need

for unity. It would seem that we have a Freud here that demands that certain

holes or gaps remain unfilled: open spaces.

Yet, Derrida argues, "Freud seems to have no doubts that this hidden

thing has a sense," that "the secret" (4) is unknown but not unknowable, and that

the open spaces are gaps where a certain presence is missing from its place. For

Freud, if the interpreter could do the impossible and accomplish just the right

unraveling of the tangle of dream-thoughts, and follow all the myriad detours,

sense could be made of the dream:

The inaccessible secret is some sense, it is full of sense. In other

words, for the moment the secret refuses analysis, but as sense it is

analyzable; it is homogeneous to the order of the analyzable. It comes

under psychoanalytic reason. Psychoanalytic reason as hermeneutic

reason. ibidd.)

We might argue that Freud becomes split regarding the sense of the navel of the

dream into two Freuds: one is the Freud of the inaccessible secret, the unknown

as exceeding the analysis, but as ultimately knowable and "homogeneous to the

order of the analyzable"; and the second is the Freud, not of the unplumbable

unknown, or not-yet-known, but of the unplumbable and therefore unknowable,

the abyssal. One Freud would be of system-making grounded in truth; the other

would recognize that all systems will fall short of a totality and have spaces open

up within due to the irreducibility of the Other to the Same. I will argue that

there is little evidence of this latter Freud, and abundant evidence of former.

Moreover, what is the not-yet-known for Freud here becomes that which

grounds all of his later theory.

Both Weber and Derrida draw attention to the maternal connections of

Freud's navel metaphor. As will be even more the case as the "castration-truth"

system of oedipal psychoanalysis develops, the center of the structure, its navel,

will be associated with an absence (the "unknown") related to woman, the

absence of woman, and the mother's absence (as in the fort/da game of Beyond the

Pleasure Principle). At one point in his treatment of this note to the Irma dream,

Weber argues that the navel of the dream would not necessarily be a site of

destabilizing mystery:

What could be more reassuring and familiar, more primordial and

powerful than this reference to the place where the body was last

joined to its maternal origins. That this place is also the site of a

trace and of a separation, but also of a knot, is a reflection that

carries little force next to the reassuring sense of continuity,

generation, and originality connoted by the figure. (76)

The question of Freud's "navel of the dream" becomes: is it a "gap" that can be

filled by discovering the correct sense that would then correspond to this

dream's truth, or an infinity of ever-returning spaces that do not allow for a

totality, a system (something that simply happens)? And what is the relationship

of these gaps/spaces to the mother, femininity, and woman?

What is at stake here seems to be the status of (psychoanalytic) knowledge

and the very nature of the unconscious: whether it has a nature and whether that

nature can be expressed in a form that might be meaningful. Discussing related

issues, Derrida states matter-of-factly in Resistance of Psychoanalysis that what is at

stake "are sense and truth" (18). In "Lefacteur de la vriti," Derrida argues that

Lacan treats the navel simply as a fillable gap. According to Lacan, whatht

Freud calls the navel-the navel of the dreams, he writes, to designate their

ultimately unknown centre ... is simply, like the same anatomical navel that

represents it, that gap of which I have already spoken" (Lac77b 23). Lacan's

interest in what Derrida calls "the gap and the carved-out localization of the

umbilical hole" (Der96 11) is a repetition of the "castration-truth" Derrida finds

to be the basis of Lacan's reading of "The Purloined Letter," and of Lacan's

"destinational" theory of language. More simply, Lacan's rendering of the navel

as a center reveals his penchant for idealist structures with centers. It is a

philosophy or "phobosophie" that "fills up the gaps in the dream-structure with

shreds and patches," but Lacan fills it with a supposedly material and, at the

same time, indivisible letter, what I call a material-ideal letter. Again the

question becomes: how well does Lacan read Freud? Or does psychoanalysis

itself, despite Freud's criticisms of philosophers, attempt to be a Weltanschauung?

Freud's transformation of open spaces into specific absences, and making

these absences the center of a grand system, begins with his treatment of

hysterics and ends with the "castration-truth" of psychoanalysis proper. In "A

Fragment of a Case of Hysteria," Freud's 1901 case commonly known as the Dora

case, Freud states clearly that "[n]o one who disdains the key will ever be able to

unlock the door" (VII 115). At this point in his theorizing, the gaps in hysterical

narratives are the locks supposedly unlocked by Freud's, and later Lacan's,

phallic keys. When Dora recounts her narrative of being assaulted by Herr K. at

fourteen, the absence of Dora's desire for Herr K.'s advances is for Freud a

telltale bit of the "unconscious disingenuousness" (17) that leaves "gaps

unfilled" (16) in the narratives of hysterics. Effecting an abreaction, according to

the Freud of the Dora case, would supposedly require a catharsis of the

repressed ideational content via its dialogical reconstruction from the

analysand's free associations and the analyst's interpretations. Freud, however,

does not report filling this supposed gap in Dora's narrative with a

reconstruction that is at all dialogical. Rather, Freud, as he often does, employs

his own associations: "I believe that during the man's passionate embrace she felt

not merely his kiss upon her lips but also the pressure of his erect member

against her body" (30). Freud's primary key to the supposed hysteria of his

female patients up to and including Dora, the absent presence of every gap, is

often an "erect member," which he uses to know his patients, to penetrate their

unconscious desires.

The hysteric with her gaps ready to be filled by the phallocentric master

narratives of Freudian theory provides the initial small-"o" other. Freud

assumes a position of the narrative totality from whence he can see gaps. Later,

this position would be one of a masterplot, a metapsychology, rather than an

etiological narrative totality. Freud's initial system is based on cure, etiological,

and provides the foundation of truth on which psychoanalysis is supposedly

based. Psychoanalysis proper would be theorized according to the terms of

universal fantasies rather than the traumatic memories from which hysterics

supposedly suffered during the "seduction"5 theory: "hysterics suffer mainly from

reminiscences" (II 7). Supposedly, Freud was right about the truth he found, but,

he would later rationalize, this truth was in the form of universal fantasies rather

than traumatic memories. Freud's movement from his system of filling gaps in

phallic narratives to the "castration-truth" of totalizing masterplots is

complicated by a question that ultimately remains unanswered by Freud after

the movement: whence the neurosis? Though Freud's theorization, treatment,

and cure of hysteria are supposedly the authoritative foundation of

psychoanalytic truth, Freud would argue in The Interpretation of Dreams that

psychoanalysis finds "no fundamental, but only quantitative, distinctions

between normal and neurotic life" (V 373). Freud thus clearly differentiates a

nascent psychoanalysis proper from his earlier etiology of hysteria here. The

latter posited a structural difference between hysteria, one form of neurosis, and

normalcy: the hysteric, according to the Freud of around 1895 and 1896, suffered

from the pathogenic repression of traumatic memories of incestuous violence,

whereas the normal female did not. The Freud of the Dora case, written as an

addendum to The Interpretation of Dreams, had no clear etiology: this Freud could

not answer, "whence the neurosis?," and he avoided answering the question in

this mere "fragment of an analysis."

One of the dominant themes in my study is the possibility of chance in

Freud's system making. During the "seduction" theory, the difference between

5 Freud's theory was called the "seduction" theory only later and not by Freud. It is quite a
misnomer given that the theory is really one of child molestation or rape. The idea of
"seduction," however, seems to support the contention of psychoanalysis proper that there is a
desire in the child for the parent, which seems to be a retroactive rhetorical move to make the
child rape theory more cohesive with psychoanalysis proper.

neurotic and normal development was dependent on the chance occurrence of

the rape, molestation, or "seduction." In this sense, trauma, chance, and memory

are clearly linked in the answering of the question, "whence the neurosis?"

Freud's initial truth, his supposed "discovery," is the answering of this question

as part of a more general question of cure and the nature of the unconscious.

Narratives as etiologies, chance as part of that narrative, answering the question,

and cure are all the basis of establishing this truth. In one of his last essays,

"Analysis Terminable and Interminable," Freud argues that the way

psychoanalysis has come to understand the nature of resistance means that cure

is hard to come by. But cure is supposedly how psychoanalysis came to

understand the nature of resistance. What Freud is doing in this essay written in

1938, the year before the year of his death, and forty-three years after the

publication of Studies on Hysteria, is privileging metapsychology (metanarratives)

over technique etiologiess, cure) as the central concern of his theorizing and

forgetting that all of his appeals to the authority in his metapsychology are

ultimately based on cure. I return to the theme of chance in chapter three, and

again in chapter five, where I link it to the (non)position of woman in mainstyle


"To Post or Not to Post?"

This project attempts to show how the masterplotting of psychoanalysis

proper reduces "open spaces" to the specific absences of "castration-truth," and,

as I quote Derrida above, this psychoanalytic absence is "that which contracts

itself (stricture of the ring) in order to bring the phallus, the signifier, the letter, or

the fetish back into their oikos, their familiar dwelling, their proper place"

(Der87a 441). As I argue in chapter five, "Uncanny (Wo)Man," the double games

of deconstructive readings should be differentiated from the phallocentric fetish

and its disavowal, where doubleness is dissimulated in order to achieve the

illusion of a One, rather than the explicit acknowledgment of fragmentation-not

as castration, but as "difference as division" (Der96 33)-when a double game is

played. I read the "castration-truth," the phallogocentrism of Freudian theory, as

such a legie of disavowal: divided not by its simultaneous belief in the

presence/absence of the phallus, a fetish, but in the simultaneous belief in the

presence/absence of woman. Contrary to those psychoanalyses that reduce

woman to desire for the phallus, the question regarding "woman" of the present

study is not the truth of woman, but the way psychoanalysis posits Truth of

woman in terms of the presence/absence of woman: first the hysterical gaps in

narratives and the cured hysteric (chapter two), then (op)positionality of

Freudian sexual theories, and finally the phallic One via the actual phallic

function and "castration-truth" (chapter five). Through my reading of Freud's

essay "The 'Uncanny'" in chapter five, I attempt to bring together many of the

questions and themes of the previous chapters in relation to Freud's treatment of

his formulation of the question of woman, especially the theme of the possibility

of chance in Freud's theory, which stems from my reading of Derrida's essay,

"My Chances/Mes Chances: A Rendezvous with Some Epicurean Stereophonies."

I argue that Freud's strong superstitious tendencies are related to his desire to

extend his deterministic psychology into a cosmology. I connect these themes to

Freud's repression of the importance of the mother. The question for me in this

chapter is not the question of woman revisited, and especially not Freud's

question, "Was will das Weib?" The question here is of psychoanalysis: the

question of psychoanalysis and its uses of truth, determinism, castration,

woman, and hysteria as the basis of its phallogocentrism and destinational


Derrida argues that "deconstruction has developed itself as a

deconstruction of a system which is called phallogocentrism, which is a whole

structure, which is a system so to speak" (Der87b 196). As Derrida attempts to

"open a space within which we can make philosophy otherwise" (Der78 178), I

hope to do so here with psychoanalysis. I imagine psychoanalysis proper would

see the opened spaces for making psychoanalysis otherwise as Freud saw the

narratives of the so-called hysterics he treated: as gaps in what would be a

complete narrative, Freud's oedipal narrative of totality, his masterplot. Seen

from psychoanalysis proper, such a deconstructive reading of psychoanalysis

would appear to be an hysterical reading. For Lacan, the structure of hysteria is

centered on the question, "What is it to be a woman?" (Lac93 175). Here the

opened spaces of deconstruction would be seen as evidence of certain semantic

castration. The other neurotic structure Lacan theorizes is the obsessional

structure, and its question is Hamlet's: "to be or not to be?" (Lac93 179-180).

Since castration is equated with not being according to Lacan's "castration-

truth," we can equate the two questions: to be a woman is not to be, or as Lacan

says, "Woman doesn't ex-sist" (Lac90 38). I read Freud's texts as stuck in what

might be called an obsessional structure if I were not so interested in

problematizing such psychoanalytic categories and the structures on which they

depend. Not to be in this structure would mean not to have mastery over

woman, and woman here, according to the actual phallic function, is a way of

reducing the Other to a specific absence. In other words, psychoanalysis

obsessionally attempts to master the trauma of the Other by reducing whatever

spaces open up-"deconstruction happens"-to castration.

The question on which the structure of this project is provisionally

centered with respect to one of its double games is what remains after the

phallogocentrism, the "castration-truth," of psychoanalysis is deconstructed, and

whether these remains can or should be called "psychoanalysis," or if the

remains of this deconstruction would in some way constitute a posting of

psychoanalysis: "post-psychoanalysis." In a section of chapter six I call "Post(al)-

Psychoanalysis," I attempt to problematize such a posting, if not embrace it.

Besides the obvious drawbacks of such a trendy move, a simplistic posting, a

putting behind of psychoanalysis, of course, seems to assume that one can

simply step outside and in front of psychoanalysis: moves I try to problematize

here. As with post-Marxism, for example, this posting, if it is one, would be one

where the emphasis would remain ambiguous: is it post-psychoanalysis or post-

psychoanalysis? Adding an "al" in parentheses is intended to problematize any

reading of the title of the conclusion as such a simple posting of psychoanalysis

and to associate this problematized posting with Derrida's problematization of

postal systems.


In this chapter I show how Freud's system-making begins very much in

terms of gap filling, a process at least related to what I have described, following

Barratt, as the phenomenologyy of fucking." The Other to Freud's system-

making is consistently transformed from Other into other, from the unconscious

or the unknown (the open spaces, the remains of the system) into femininity,

woman, or, as I will discuss here, hysteria (gaps, specific absences). Because the

traditional myth of psychoanalytic origins is that psychoanalysis was discovered

during Freud's work with hysterics, hysteria becomes a privileged category for

any project interested in disturbing these origins and the myths based on them. I

posit here what I think has been a repressed binary, psychoanalysis/hysteria,

where, analogous to the male/female of psychoanalysis, this binary reduces the

Other to a simple other, "hysteria," in order to establish itself, "psychoanalysis,"

in a mode of self-posting "auto-bio-graphy" (Derrida). My goal in this chapter is

to deconstruct this binary and therefore problematize psychoanalysis at what the

orthodoxy considers to be its origin: its analysis and cure of hysteria. By

focusing on Freud's own "hysteria" and his impossible "self-analysis," I hope to

further problematize these myths by (dis)placing them en abyme, and, in general,

to show that Freud's own "phobosophie" is consistently mixed with misogyny.

This latter theme is treated in chapter five below.

What is hysteria? Or should I ask, what was it? In Feminism and

Psychoanalysis: A Critical Dictionary, Ellie Ragland-Sullivan's Lacanian entry for

hysteria is typical in its acceptance of certain myths of hysteria:

Psychoanalysis was born with Freud's treatment of the illness then

named "hysteria" (from the Greek hysteros 'womb'), a uterus

thought to be "wandering," a malady as old as Hippocrates and the

subject of the oldest known medical text. (163)

Ragland-Sullivan's acceptance of this so-called "illness" as one is a typical

psychoanalytic assumption, one on which the myth of the birth of

psychoanalysis depends. Moreover, she seems unquestioning that this "illness"

indeed had something to do with a reality related to actual diseased wombs. The

womb (hystera) has been consistently established as the essence of women

throughout Western history, and from this determination came the various

discourses of medicine, biology, sexuality, religion, etc., which gave birth to

many forms of sexism stemming from the notion that "anatomy is destiny."

Of course, we are investing ourselves in a "certain linguistics" when we

speak of "maladies" with ancient histories and their realities. And this

linguistics and its essentialism and reality, as I will argue, create this "illness"

and the misogyny associated with it in order to sustain itself. This linguistics

and its phallogocentrism need this "illness." Yet, even within the context of such

a linguistics, the symptomatology of what was called "hysteria" has a long,

unwieldy, and inconsistent history, though not nearly as long as presumed by

Ragland-Sullivan, nor as is usually presumed. The orthodox mythology of the

birth of psychoanalysis depends on the objective existence of hysteria as a

disease entity that psychoanalysis cures. What I argue here is that even within a

logocentric episteme, hysteria can make no claim to being a proper disease.

Freud constructs his "hysteria" and its cure to father psychoanalysis and

"Freud," and Lacan and Lacanians, such as Ragland-Sullivan, will assume its

existence within a "certain linguistics" of phallo-phono-logocentrism. I will

argue that psychoanalytic hysteria constitutes a magical detour-destination,

which allows the letter to be properly purloined so that it will always properly

arrive back at its proper destination. Psychoanalysis and "hysteria" are one:

psychoanalysis/hysteria. All detours must be construed as circles leading back

to the proper destination, and the sending of the self-post must be appropriated

as the proper detour, instead of indicating something radically other that might

account for the compulsion to repeat the sending.

In Womanizing Nietzsche, Kelly Oliver argues that "woman and the

feminine" (5) are the excluded other in the discourse of Western philosophy, but

that this excluded other is also an other within. Oliver urges philosophy to

"engage in a dialogue with the other within it, the other out of which it was

born" (4). Certainly this approach could be applied to Freudian theory and

psychoanalysis in general: hysteria was indeed repressed as a psychoanalytic

concern after the Dora case, and the cure of hysteria has been considered the

womb out of which psychoanalysis was born. Yet the way Oliver sets up her

problem reinscribes the (op)positionality of the binary philosophy/woman in

order to create a dialogue, and, as with any (op)positionality, the binary

dissimulates difference and division behind opposed identities or ideal

categories. I do not ascribe to a project where psychoanalysis would "engage in

a dialogue with the [hysterical] other within it, the other out of which it was

born" since to do so would be to risk reinscribing the binary I reveal/construct

here in order to destabilize: psychoanalysis/hysteria. My hope in this chapter is

to show how this binary acts as a mode of defense against the radical alterity

Freud encounters in this initial phase of his theorizing. I do this after showing

how the history and the histories of this supposed disease support the repression

of what is totally other via this supposition. Because of the tradition of how this

word "hysteria" was used to support a variety of patriarchies, it seems to me that

any attempt at any "reappropriation" (a making proper to a discourse interested

in subversion of the proper)-for example, hystericizing hysteria or hystericizing

psychoanalysis-even if successful, would run the risk of reproducing the

reification of "hysteria" and all of the misogynistic baggage this reification

carries with it, and it would do so without any clear gain with respect to

problematizing how "hysteria" was used to create this baggage or how

psychoanalysis/hysteria was used by Freud and his followers as the basis of an

origin myth.


Sweeping histories of this supposed disease, this supposed

singularity-such as Ilza Veith's classic, Hysteria: The History of a Disease-are

flawed in that they create what Mark Micale, author of Approaching Hysteria, calls

"a remote and venerable historical heritage" (Mic95 46) rooted in the Hippocratic

texts. In "Once upon a Text: Hysteria and Hippocrates," Helen King undercuts

traditional histories of hysteria in three crucial ways: (1) by problematizing the

similarity between popular conceptions of hysteria in its modern forms and the

hysterike pnix, or "suffocation by the womb" (Gil93 28-9), which Hippocrates

described; (2) by arguing that anything recognizable as a modern form of

hysteria was not recorded until the 16th century; and (3) by pointing out that the

diagnosis "hysteria" was not coined until 1801 (Gil93 73). According to Micale,

the common type of mythical historical heritage of a disease entity for something

"as elusive and mysterious as hysteria ... implies the universality of the disorder,

establishes the validity of the diagnostic category, and bolsters the scientific

status of psychiatric medicine itself" (Mic95 46). Even during the latter part of

the nineteenth century, which Fulgence Raymond called "la pdriode h&roique de

I'hystrie" (qtd. in Mic95 3), hysteria's symptomatology could not sustain what

most nosologists, then or now, would consider proper disease status. Jean-

Martin Charcot's conceptions of hysteria in his writings of the 1870s and 1880s

reveal a dizzying polysymptomatology despite his efforts to make the diagnosis

functional through a delimiting classification system. Basically any behavioral

abnormality in a woman was suspect of being a sign of hysteria during "la periode

hdroique de l'hystrie."

Contemporary symptomatologies for hysteria-a diagnosis unfortunately

still in use-are also extremely vague and general. The very recently outdated

Diagnostical and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Third Edition-Revised) or

DSM-III-R lists "paralysis, aphonia, seizures, coordination disturbance, akinesia,

dyskinesia, blindness, tunnel vision, anosmia, anesthesia, and paresthesia ...

[disturbances of the] autonomic and endocrine systems ... [and vomiting" (257)

as symptoms of the more specific category of "Hysterical Neurosis, Conversion

Type." The DSM-III-R also lists the dissociative type of hysterical neurosis,

hysterical personality (histrionic personality disorder), and various kinds of

hysterical psychoses. The updated and current DSM-IV does not list hysteria at

all, I hope in recognition of the nosological chaos of the history of this diagnosis

and, more importantly, the often violent misogyny of the history of "hysteria's"

theorizations and treatments. Since the term remains a common element of

psychoanalytic discourse, it seems that the psychoanalytic community is far from

acknowledging this history of misogyny and nosological chaos. To do so would

be to undercut the origin myth and therefore the very foundation of the

supposed scientific status of psychoanalysis-not to mention the complicity of

psychoanalysis in the latter part of this misogynistic history.

As with many psychoanalytic feminists who write about hysteria, many

Freudian faithful attempt to limit hysteria to symptoms of "conversion," the

somatic expression of psychical conflict, as Freud, early in his career, claimed

should be done (see 141-52 passim). Reducing the vast polysymptomatology of

hysteria to its merely broad psychosomatic component appeals to psychoanalytic

feminists because the metaphorics of the silenced women who can only express

their dis-ease within) the patriarchy through their culturally hypercathected

bodies is indeed powerful. This reduction appeals to the Freudian faithful

because the mythologies surrounding Freud's supposed cure of hysterics, and

hysteria as the womb of psychoanalysis, comprise the origin myths of

psychoanalysis (Freud cures/anchors the womb that gives birth to

psychoanalysis as anchor). Freud's own symptomatologies and theorizations

with respect to hysteria, however, were varied, inconsistent, contradictory, and

usually conflated with female homosexuality after the initial writing of the Dora

case-a far cry from the "gross, florid motor and sensory somatizations" (Mic95

4) we associate with Freud's earlier work on hysteria with Breuer. At the same

time that Freud would try to limit the symptomatology of hysteria in order to

make it manageable, he would also bring in many other symptoms from the

dizzying polysymptomatology when they would suit his particular purposes at

that time.

If hysteria could be said to have been one thing, something that might

constitute a categorization, it was simply a diagnosis, one that was historically

made by males in positions of authority-primarily nineteenth-century

physicians-about women who were somehow beyond the boundaries of what

was contemporaneously considered proper womanhood. The diagnosis of

hysteria itself may be a symptom of a patriarchal "dis-ease"-that is, the

patriarchy's dis-ease with those bodies classified as female that did not conform

to, were in excess of, its dictates of proper womanhood. Many of the feminists

who make this argument or similar ones, however, treat hysteria as if it were

something beyond a diagnosis. If they don't explicitly do this, and even if they at

times argue against such a position, their common unproblematized use of

"hysteria" suggests just such an assumption (see Showalter, Kahane, Matlock,

Smith-Rosenberg, among others). In other words, many feminist theorists often

use "hysteria" as an unproblematized denotation of an actual disease even

though these feminists suggest that the word "hysteria" itself cannot be anything

but the discursive manifestations of a variety of related patriarchal defensive

strategies, especially with its unavoidable anatomical etymology of a diseased

womb. There seems to be an understandable, if unfortunate, need to figure out

the causes of hysteria-the-disease at the same time that some feminists argue for

hysteria as a part of a reappropriative discourse of nineteenth century physicians

made insecure by the changes happening with respect to women and their roles

in society, in the family, and in their personal and sexual relations.

Histories such as Veith's-not a "hys-story" as much as a case of

"historia"-if not histories of a disease entity, may be useful as histories of what

Elaine Showalter calls "the pervasive association of women and madness" (Sch85

4), if their use of "hysteria" is retroactively problematized. For two reasons I

hesitate to say that such histories might be considered histories of female

madness. First of all, Showalter would see this as a redundancy since she argues

"madness is a female malady" (Sch85 3). Second, Derrida might argue that this

would be an "infeasible" (Der78 33) categorization for the same reasons that

Foucault's intention of writing his History of Madness from the position, as

Foucault said, "of madness itself ... before being captured by knowledge" (qtd.

in Der78 34), is for Derrida infeasible, or even "the maddest aspect of his project"

(ibid.). Any history is on the side of reason, thus making a history of madness a

reduction of the Other of "madness" to reason's more of the Same. Indeed,

madness can be read as the oppositionn that allows for reason.

What these "hys-stories" mask as aspects of this general reduction of the

Other to the Same with respect to reason/madness, are the undecidables of

certain boundaries that make up the dualisms or (op)positionalities that have

played major roles in the West's representational histories. This masking is a

process of naturalization of dualisms such as male/female and reason/madness,

a deciding of undecidables along traditional lines. A third dualism, mind/body,

is also a major player in the general representational histories of the West. On

one level, what is at stake with these hys-stories, and the many questions of

hysteria in general, is the reproduction of what Showalter calls "the fundamental

alliance between 'woman' and 'madness'" (Sch85 3) and "how women, within

our dualistic systems of language and representation, are typically situated on

the side of irrationality, silence, nature, and body, while men are situated on the

side of reason, discourse, culture, and mind" (Sch85 3-4). These dualisms have

been hierarchies in practice, and they mask the undecidables-the radical alterity

of what is Other, the instability of the same-and the futility of the various

patriarchies' attempts to reduce what is Other to its dualistic codes and

hierarchies once and for all.

Showalter's feminism itself seems to be based on the self-evidence or

naturalness of such a dualism, male/female, and therefore it risks reproducing

the phallogocentric reduction of what is Other to more of the Same-that is,

inasmuch as such an assumption necessarily leads to such a reproduction, and

inasmuch as feminism necessarily makes such an assumption. In,

"Deconstruction in America," Derrida suggests that feminisms are necessarily


So I would say that deconstruction is a deconstruction of feminism,

from the start, in so far as feminism is a form-no doubt a

necessary form at a certain moment-but a form of

phallogocentrism among many others. (Der85 30)

Psychoanalysis, of course, would also be one of these phallogocentric forms. The

appeal of psychoanalysis for some feminisms seems to be what these forms of

feminism read as its anti-essentialism, which gets away from "anatomy is

destiny." And yet, since Derrida argues both psychoanalysis and feminism are

forms of phallogocentrism, the source of this attraction may also be that they

share phallogocentric assumptions. In so far as phallogocentrism prescribes a

destiny, a destinational linguistics, ultimately "anchored" to the letter of

anatomy, the two "lures" of psychoanalysis for certain feminisms-anti-

essentialism and sharing phallogocentric assumptions-become mutually

exclusive. Without getting embroiled in the intricacies of the relationship

between deconstruction and feminism at this point, I am interested in suggesting

here that the conflicted strategies of treating hysteria as a discursive formation

and attempting to theorize the origins and essence of hysteria-that is, treating it

as a "real" illness-can be understood in relation to the certain feminisms'

conflicted relationship to phallogocentrism and the mainstyles of psychoanalysis

and deconstruction. I return to these issues in the concluding chapter.

The primary function of hysteria is to bolster and reproduce the

aforementioned hierarchical dualisms-mind over body, reason over madness,

and male over female. Even when the diagnosis of hysteria was used for men, as

in the late nineteenth century by Charcot and Freud-and though the diagnosis

was severed here from its history of connecting the pathology to a diseased

womb-the diagnosis was used figuratively to suggest that the male had

succumbed to a feminine type of madness, a "female malady." Freud returns to

this type of metaphorics-the type where Freud must cure himself of his

hysterical symptoms, his femininity-in the late essay, "Analysis Terminable and

Interminable," where he stresses the difficulty of curing his male patients of their

residual femininity (though he never theorizes this source of femininity beyond

simply stating the universality of bisexuality).

The discursive formation "hysteria," the diagnosis, was used to justify

oppressive practices in the service of the stability of various patriarchies. Prior to

the inception of "hysteria" as a diagnosis in 1801, the theories, speculations, and

"treatments" of aberrant forms of femininity were also used oppressively, often

violently. I will refer to all aberrant forms of femininity I deal with here that

various Western patriarchies felt the need to classify or diagnose to defend

against their disruptive potential, borrowing from Showalter, "the female

malady"-though I use this phrase, not as a synonym for madness in general,

but as a way of denoting the paradoxical imbrications of femininity and madness

from the perspective of a hom(m)osexual patriarchy-that is, the malady of

being female, and, furthermore, the malady of not being female enough.

Psychoanalysis continues this treatment of the themes of femininity in terms of a

malady for both men (see "Analysis Terminable and Interminable") and women

(the "peculiar" sex, penis envy), and this contradictory treatment of the feminine

malady as not being female enough (either hysteria or female homosexuality

with respect to Freud's "three lines of development"). With respect to

terminology, my hope here is to differentiate the broader term, "the female

malady," from its subset "hysteria," and therefore to historicize "hysteria" as a

diagnosis made after 1800. This allows me to maintain the broad strokes of

related histories of female oppression associated with female madness without

reifying hysteria and making the error of assuming that nineteenth-century

hysteria has a "remote and venerable historical heritage" (Mic95 46) rooted in the

Hippocratic texts. In fact, I would say that a "remote and (un)venerable

historical heritage" of the imbrication of femininity and madness would be less

vulnerable to historica" than a comparable hys-story.

The theories and treatments for the female malady were aspects of varied

though similar forms of patriarchal reappropriation, where the aberrancy of

things feminine-that is, associated with femininity yet in excess of its proper

form-is reappropriated by establishing that which is aberrant as the abject form

of the proper in a name-game of mastery that re-establishes the One and the

same in the face of the Other. As usual, the aberrancy-the transgression,

perversion-was used as limit and negative in order to establish and center the

proper, the norm, the law. In the Timaeus, Plato wrote:

the womb is an animal which longs to generate children. When it

remains barren too long after puberty, it is distressed and sorely

disturbed, and straying about in the body and cutting off the

passages of the breath, it impedes respiration and brings the

sufferer into the extremist anguish and provokes all manner of

diseases besides. (qtd. in Mic95 19)

With proper femininity in Plato's Greece, the womb is irrigated and inseminated;

the happy womb does not wander as it is anchored by the penis. A proper

sexuality, a proper relation of womb to penis, therefore, is the cure and antithesis

of the diseased womb, the symptom of aberrant femininity. The themes of

proper sexuality and the curative penis/phallus would recur throughout the

history of the female malady. For example, Rudolph Chrobak sent along the

following course of treatment with a patient he had diagnosed as hysterical and

had sent to Freud: "penis normalis dosim repetatur" (Gay 92).

Another recurring theme in histories of the female malady is violent

misogyny. Despite what seems like what should have been the sound security of

Western patriarchies throughout history due to their rootedness and

overwhelming power, violent misogyny regarding the treatment and

theorization of the female malady has been common and often virulent, which

suggests that these patriarchies were not as stable as they were powerful, and

that the threat of what is Other associated with the phantasmatic feminine was

consistently great. After St. Augustine, who attributed all illness to "a

manifestation of innate evil" (Mic95 20), the female malady became synonymous

with witchcraft and possession by the devil:

During the late medieval and Renaissance periods, the scene of

diagnosis of the hysteric [sic] shifted from the hospital to the

church and the courtroom, which now became the loci of

spectacular interrogations. Official manuals for the detection of

witches, often virulently misogynistic, supplied instructions for the

detection, torture, and at times execution of the witch/hysteric.

The number of such inquisitions remains unknown but is believed

to be high. (Mic95 20-1)

The violence of the nineteenth-century patriarchal reactions to what was named

"hysteria" is consistent with the violence of previous eras' patriarchal reactions

to the demonic female malady, such as the uncountable murders of women

deemed to be witches. Nineteenth century forms of violence were often

medicalized and sexualized in keeping with its less religious Enlightenment

ethos. The seventeenth century would see the beginning of a neurological model

used to theorize the female malady, one that would evolve until the present time.

A revival of uterine theories would occur in the late eighteenth and early

nineteenth century, hence the womb-oriented diagnosis of "hysteria" for what

were considered materialist maladies circa 1801. As examples of this

combination of medicalization and sexualization, treatments that stemmed from

a combinatory, neuro-uterine model of "hysteria" included "intrauterine

injections, the cervical and vulvar application of leeches, and clitoral

cauterizations," and recalcitrant "cases were occasionally subjected to

amputative and extirpative gynecological surgery, including bilateral

ovariotomies" (Mic95 24). Though a pioneer in getting away from physically

violent forms of treatment, Freud in 1896 volunteered one of his "hysterical"

patients, Emma Eckstein, for a procedure developed by his friend Wilhelm Fliess,

who posited that the cauterization of the turbinate bone of the nasal cavity could

supposedly cure sexually related neurotic and physiological ailments such as

hysteria. By Freud's own account, the operation had disastrous effects: the

patient nearly bled to death because of bone chips and a meter of gauze left in

her nose after the operation. As late as 1920, Freud would consider an

overidectomy as a potential therapy for one of his patient's homosexuality and

the hysteria Freud associated with it (XVIII 172). Whether neurological or

uterine/sexual, there are clear connections between "hysteria," the female

malady, aberrant forms of femininity, proper forms of femininity, feminine

sexuality, patriarchal insecurity, and the violence to which this insecurity led.

Hysteria and Hysterization

Differentiating my conception of hysteria from Foucault's "hysterization

of women's bodies" (Fou78 104)-one of his "four great strategic unities which,

beginning in the eighteenth century, formed specific mechanisms of knowledge

and power centering on sex" (Fou78 103)-will help to expand my own

treatment of the questions of hysteria I have raised here. According to Joan

Matlock, author of Scenes of Seduction: Prostitution, Hysteria, and Reading Difference

in Nineteenth-Century France, hysteria "is far less the diagnostic name for a set

symptoms than a category for perceptions":

While doctors with radically different views reported similar

phenomena-paralyses, fainting, coughing fits, convulsions,

impressionability, and hypersensitivity to physical and emotional

stimulation-the range of symptoms for this disorder [sic] was so

great that some doctors refused to categorize it at all except as an

exacerbation of whatever made women different from men. (3)

Except for Matlock's unproblematized assumption that hysteria is a "disorder,"

so far so good. Matlock continues by incorporating her reading of Foucault:

What Foucault called the hysterization of women's bodies was

achieved in the nineteenth century by differentiating orderly bodies

from those perceived as disorderly. The hysteric and the prostitute

provided opposite models against which an orderly body could be

measured-the one tormented by desires welling up from the

inside, the other transformed into a holding tank for desires that

might contaminate society from the outside. (4)

What Foucault called the hysterization of those bodies called female, however,

was not achieved through any differentiation among these bodies. On the

contrary, his anti-essentialist take on hysteria and sexuality posits the

hysterization of those bodies called female as a "strategy" of "the deployment of

sexuality," and, according to Foucault, it would not have excluded any "women"

from the category of the potentially threatening to the hegemonic patriarchal

order: all "women" were deemed "thoroughly saturated with sexuality" (Fou78

104), therefore they were all disorderly, and this disorderliness was used as an

alibi for policing by being "integrated into the sphere of medical practices, by

reason of a pathology intrinsic to" sexuality (ibid.). In other words, hysterization

allowed for the policing of all women, but Foucault does not address the

differentiation between proper women and hysterics in the first volume of the

History of Sexuality. Lacan's conception of hysteria can be seen as an example of

Foucault's hysterization since Lacan's "hysteric" cannot be differentiated from

his "woman."

Besides the anti-essentialism of Foucault's take on the hysterization of

women, another strength of his formulation is the imbrication of women and

madness with respect to sexuality, which seems to have been the source of Elaine

Showalter's notion of "the female malady" in her book by that name, despite the

critique of Foucault we find there:

Although anyone who writes about the history of madness must

owe an intellectual debt to Michel Foucault, his critique of

institutional power in Madness and Civilization (1961) does not take

account of sexual difference. (6)

Foucault's notion of the hysterization of women's bodies, published seven years

before The Female Malady, does take into consideration something akin to what

Showalter calls "the pervasive cultural association of women and madness"

(4)-that is, how being designated female equals suspicion of being laden with a

malady, since the female is defined as being saturated with supposedly

pathogenic sexuality. Where Showalter truly differs from Foucault-and what

seems to be the source of her misunderstanding of Foucault's anti-

essentialism-is her acceptance of hysteria as a disease, and her other essentialist

notions concerning "the feminine":

While he exposed the repressive ideologies that lay behind the

reform of the asylum, Foucault did not explore the possibility that

the irrationality and difference the asylum silenced and confined is

also the feminine. (6)

In other words, Showalter does not acknowledge that such an essentialist

exploration in relation to an a priori feminine is contrary to the anti-essentialist

thrust of Foucaults work, and, accordingly, she does not problematize her

essentialist notion of hysteria.

Where I differ with Foucault begins with his tendency toward a

monolithic conception of power. According to Lois McNay, author of Feminism

and Foucault,

What Foucault's account of power does not explain is how, even

within the intensified process of the hysterization of female bodies,

women did not slip easily and passively into socially prescribed

feminine roles. (41)

Accordingly, Foucault's first volume of The History of Sexuality argues against the

psychoanalytic idea of repression. Repression and resistance, which Freud and

Derrida argue are two sides of the same coin, fall away when power is

monolithic: without something otherwise to the discursive constructs that make

up the ego and other institutions of power, what is there to repress or resist?

Where or how do the discursive constructs and what is otherwise to them meet

without the aporetic "logic" of what Barratt calls the "in but not of" (Bar93 133)

relation of the "otherwise other" to the "I-now-is" (Bar93 passim)? When

Foucault does posit an Other, it is either completely passive-as with the silence

of madness in Madness and Civilization--or it betrays his anti-essentialist creed, as

with the notions of "plebs," "subjugated knowledges" and "disqualified

knowledge" in his later work. Whereas all authors who write about some form

of what is totally other, or "the Other," struggle to avoid the reduction of this

"subject" to the more of the Same-as Derrida argues in his analysis of Levinas

in "Violence and Metaphysics"-Foucault is a special case since he is one theorist

who seems to understand such struggles and their significance-for example,

when he writes that madness is "the absence of the work" (qtd. in Der78 43) in

reference to Madness and Civilization. Unfortunately, he sometimes passes over

these difficulties as he posits the Other as the simple opposite of the Same

(Madness and Reason in Madness and Civilization), or ontologizes and

essentializes the Other (plebs, Madness), or makes it an a priori in the form of the

Same (disqualified and subjugated knowledges.

The passivity that characterizes some of the conceptions of a non-

reductive encounter with what is Other-for example, the silence of

Madness-accounts for neither the instability of the Same, nor the necessary

exclusion of what is Other (repression and resistance) that allows for the

establishment of the Same and its logic. In other words, Foucault does not

account for the role the Other plays in the "acts of establishment" (Bar93 12) that

constitute the Same, and how the Other is "in but not of" the Same. The

energetic of Foucault's discursive power, what he calls "biopower" in his later

theorizing, is all on the side of the Same: the power of the Same determines the

modes of the "bio," as with the hysterization of women's bodies. Foucault seems

to have been unable to conceptualize a type of power, what might be called an

otherwise energetic (that is, an otherwise energeticc" under erasure), which is

"of" the Other yet constitutive of, or "in," the Same (that is, "in but not of" the

same). According to Foucault,

Sexuality must not be thought of as a kind of natural given which

power tries to hold in check, or as an obscure domain which

knowledge tries gradually to uncover. It is the name that can be

given to a historical construct: not a furtive reality that is difficult to

grasp, but a great surface network in which the stimulation of

bodies, the intensification of pleasures, the incitement to discourse,

the formation of special knowledge, the strengthening of controls

and resistances, are linked to one another, in accordance with a few

major strategies of knowledge and power. (Fou78 105-6)

With this monolithic "deployment of sexuality," repression of the Other that

allows for an "act of establishment" of the Same would not be needed since it is a

totality of the Same. Derrida refers to Foucault's use of "The Decision" for

Foucault's separating of "sexuality" and the energetic of discursive power

(Der78 38). Is this evidence of a certain avoidance by Foucualt of the problem of

the relationship between language and what makes it unstable, what it represses

and resists? Derrida asks how Foucault could write about madness as an Other

within a history of reason. I would add: whence the madness with respect to

such a monolithic power of reason? Foucault gestures toward letting madness

speak for itself, which is a gesture towards writing ethically in the Levinasian

sense. Ethics, in this sense, seems to preclude "The Decision," a distinct

delimitation between the Other and the Same, which would be different than

Barratt's "in but not of" and Derrida's "dissension" where "the exterior (is) the

interior, is the fission that produces and divides it along the lines of the Hegelian

Entzweiung" (Der78 38-39).

Feminism and the Hysteric

Foucault's concept of hysterization theorizes a pathologizing of all

women's bodies, employed to justify all policing, but it does not account for the

use of the diagnosis as a means of appropriation or reappropriation of the

disorderly bodies labeled as hysterics. The difference between the normal female

body and the hysterical one, in a pseudo-Foucauldian sense, might be construed

as the difference between the always potentially disruptive body (in need of

policing) and the actually disruptive body (in need of a type of incarceration, a

diagnosis as incarceration). It would be "pseudo" because Foucault did not

theorize anything beyond the body as a discursive formation: nothing to repress,

and nothing otherwise to the power that might create a dissension within

discursvity. Furthermore, Foucault's hysterization does not account for the

difference between the normal and hysterical positions of "woman" within

patriarchies that used the diagnosis of hysteria, and it does not account for the

deployment of "hysteria" as a reappropriative measure. As with Lacan's

hysteric, Foucauldian "hysterized body" is synonymous with "female body."

Whatever created the dissension within the strictures of proper womanhood, or

within the hysterized body, would have been radically other to the identitarian

logics of these discursive formations, and therefore would have been threatening

to the stability of these logics and the powers of the patriarchies in question. To

call this source of dissension "hysteria," however, would reduce what is radically

otherwise to that logic, to make it recognizable and therefore masterable within

that logic and its possible bodily positions. "Hysteria" marks what is otherwise

to a particular phallic order, while providing one of many feminine positions

within that order, and a mode of defense against what is radically other to that

order. In all cases "hysteria" is a reappropriative tool of these orders.

The hysteric as proto-feminist would be oxymoronic if hysteria is

understood only as a patriarchal tool of appropriation, and if feminism is

understood as being about problematizing, if not disrupting or destroying,

traditional positions which would be in the service of patriarchy. Dianne

Hunter's assertion that "feminism is transformed hysteria, or more precisely, that

hysteria is feminism lacking a social network in the outer world" (Hun83 68)

would thus seem to be contrary to my position, as Hunter's position seems to

associate hysteria with what is otherwise to the patriarchy, rather than with

patriarchy's appropriation or totalization processes, its identitarian or

(op)positional logics of the Same. Some feminisms might aspire for feminism to

be the transformation of the disruption of whatever it is that creates Derrida's

"dissension," and by definition this (non)source or seuree would lack a social

network. Again, to call this disruption "hysteria" is to risk legitimizing the

patriarchal tool that associates any deviation from proper womanhood with an

essentialist notion of a diseased womb--even if "hysteria" is used in a way that

attempts to destabilize what is proper by "reappropriating" "hysteria."

Derrida might argue that both "hysteria" and feminism are both part of a

phallogocentric social network. We might ask, how much is the

phallogocentrism of "hysteria" linked to the phallogocentrism of feminism? The

larger question becomes how much is feminism invested in the "social network

of the outer world," its logic of the Same, its essentialism, and its use of

"hysteria." Limiting the scope of my inquiry, I want to focus on the problematic

relation of certain feminisms to essentialist conceptions of hysteria. These

conceptions might be seen as the lure of phallogocentrism for these feminisms.

As I stated above, Derrida reduces feminism to a phallogocentric discourse, and

feminisms' inability to give up essentialist conceptions of hysteria seem to be

evidence supporting Derrida's reduction. Yet Derrida's reduction of feminism to

phallogocentrism is just that, a reduction. It assumes that, like logocentrism,

phallocentrism is inescapable, thus all logocetrism would be phallogocentrism.

In Spurs, Derrida writes probably his most infamous lines for feminists:

And in truth, they too are men, those women feminists so derided

by Nietzsche. Feminism is nothing but the operation of a woman

who aspires to be like a man. And in order to resemble the

masculine dogmatic philosopher this woman lays claim-just as

much claim as he-to truth, science and objectivity in all their

castrated delusions of virility. Feminism too seeks to castrate. It

wants a castrated woman. Gone the style. (Der79 62-65)

Derrida assumes that all feminists assume only two positions available to bodies:

male or female. Most feminists do just this, particularly psychoanalytic

feminists, who seem to be the most invested in this fundamental aspect of

phallogocentrism. In Feminism and Deconstruction: Ms. en Abyme, however, Diane

Elam writes,

If feminism is merely a form of phallogocentrism, then Derrida,

however much he gestures at historical necessity, would be

equating all of feminism with a teleological search for the essence

of woman. Thus, he would be reducing all feminisms to one and

the same feminism. Lost the style, for Derrida as well. (16-17)

Derrida also reduces all male/female binaries to its phallogocentric form:

presence/absence of the penis-phallus by assuming that all searches for truth or

logocentrism are necessarily phallogocentrism. Since Derrida wrote Spurs in

1978, many feminists have attempted to theorize bodies, genders, and sexualities

beyond the limitations of phallogocentrism and its male/female. For me the

question remains open whether logocentrism, which seems to be inescapable for

theory, is necessarily phallocentric. Logocentrism seems inescapable for any

theory of bodily or sexual positioning. But why would phallocentrism be

inescapable? What seems to be at stake here is the relationship between the

traditional binary of sexual difference, male/female, and the traditional binaries

of presence/absence. Which is primary? Is logocentrism, the metaphysics of

presence, always phallogocentrism? Can we have logocentrism without

phallocentrism? I return to this question in the concluding chapter.

Hom(m)osexual Pornographics and the Performing Hysteric

The hysteric as an individual seems to disappear, not only with Foucault's

hysterization, but also with the reduction of hysteria to a reappropriative

discursive strategy of patriarchy. The potential drawback of this disappearance

is that certain feminists portray the hysteric as a potential revolutionary figure, or

as a proto-feminist and resister to the misogynistic violence of patriarchy.

Though I argue that the feminist-hysteric is oxymoronic given the way I define

hysteria, the hysteric as an individual does not necessarily fall away: there were

individuals, mostly women, who performed a masquerade of hysteria I la the

supposedly anti-essentialist line of theory that grew out of feminist readings of

Joan Riviere's 1929 essay, "Womanliness as a Masquerade." I write

"supposedly" because this line of theory has become essentially an extension of

Lacanian theory, which, as I have argued, following Derrida, is ultimately

essentialist with its phallogocentrism. Can the performance of the so-called

"hysteric" legitimate the use of "hysteric" within an anti-essentialist argument

that attempts to problematize traditional uses of "hysteria"?

To address this question I turn to Catherine Clement's and Helene Cixous'

The Newly Born Woman. It follows from my conceptualization of "hysteria" as

being a patriarchal tool that I would feel more kinship with Clement's position

than with H61ene Cixous' in the part of their "Exchange" dealing with

conceptualizing "the hysteric" as an individual:

H: ... Dora seemed to me the one who resists the system.... And

this girl-like all hysterics, deprived of the possibility of saying

directly what she perceived ... still had the strength to make it

known. It is the nuclear example of women's power to protest. It

happened in 1899; it happens today wherever women have not

been able to speak differently from Dora, but have spoken so

effectively that it bursts the family into pieces.... The hysteric is, to

my eyes, the typical woman in all her force....

C: ... but when you say "that bursts the family into pieces," no. It

mimics, it metaphorizes destruction, but the family reconstitutes

itself around it.... The analysis I make of hysteria comes through

my reflection on the place of deviants who are not hysterics but

clowns, charlatans, crazies, all sorts of odd people. They all occupy

challenging positions foreseen by the social bodies, challenging

functions within the scope of all cultures. That doesn't change the

structures, however. On the contrary, it makes them more

comfortable.... In that position, they are part of one of the deepest

reinforcements of the superstructure, of the Symbolic. (154-55).

Clement seems to struggle in her exchange with Cixous because she accepts that

the hysteric as an individual, and hysteria as a reified disease entity, rather than

focus her attention on how the name-game of the diagnosis hysteria, the

discursive construction of hysteria, is what reinforces what she calls "the

Symbolic"-"the Symbolic" as what this name game might call itself, under the

spell of an "Imaginary" and structuralist delusion, since language cannot be

"anchored" in order to justify the capital "S." Cixous seems to privilege the

disruptive alterity of what "hysteria" tries to name and master, but then errs, like

Clement, by reifying "hysteria." This reification follows, as with Lacan, from the

assumption of a "Symbolic" and the "certain linguistics" that is connected to this


Cixous also disregards those individuals deemed hysterics who

performed in a way that colluded with the patriarchy in question, and whose

performance was therefore antithetical to any disruptive force that might be

construed as feminist. This patriarchy-friendly version of the hysteric, who I call

the performing hysteric, seems to be the version of the hysteric Clement

privileges in her theorizations. The performing hysteric would hardly be

considered a protofeminist. With respect to Clement's position, I am hesitant to

criticize her essentialist and unproblematized use of "hysteric" since her

privileged version of the hysteric, it might be argued, exists as much as any body

who performs an identity exists. The performing hysteric would be an hysteric

whose positionality is in collaboration with the patriarchy in question, and with

its appropriative categories or roles for women. Calling this positionality an

"hysteric" does not betray some disruptive force as I have argued the figure of

the hysteric as proto-feminist potentially would do. Clement's use of the word

"hysteric" risks essentialism-and, again, this essentialism seems to be the crux

of her struggle in the exchange-but her argument is still powerful since she

relates the hysteric to those deviants who are "the deepest reinforcements of the

superstructure." The potential essentialism of her argument is undermined by

her focus on the hysteric as performing a patriarchal function, since essentialism

and performance are potentially at odds.

Showalter's description of a fifteen-year-old patient in Charcot's SalpEtri4re

named Augustine provides an almost archetypal illustration of the performing


Intelligent, coquettish, and eager to please, Augustine was an apt

pupil of the atelier. All of her poses suggest the exaggerated

gestures of the French classical style, or stills from silent movies.

Some photographs of Augustine with flowing locks and white

hospital gown also seem to imitate poses in nineteenth-century

paintings.... Among her gifts was her ability to time and divide

her hysterical performances into scenes, acts, tableaux, and

intermissions, to perform on cue and on schedule with the click of

the camera. (153-54)

Actually, the cameras of that time didn't click: the lenses were held open and the

subjects would have to hold their poses for fifteen seconds or so, which would

have been exceedingly demanding during what would have been the expected

stages of the hysterical attack. Showalter explains that in "Charcot's own

lifetime, one of his assistants admitted that some of the women had been coached

in order to produce attacks that would please the maftre," which confirmed

suspicions that the hysterics' performances were "the result of suggestion,

imitation, or even fraud" (150).

I would add that these performances were also the result of a strong

unconscious desire of the performing hysteric to be something, some-body

recognized by the patriarchy after "the cult of true womanhood" became in some

way untenable. That Augustine reported being raped by her mother's lover

suggests that Augustine was probably seeking a safe role she could play that

would be recognized and appreciated by the patriarchy. Her masquerade would

then be similar to the masquerade in Riviere's essay, where the woman puts on a

mask to avert the violence of the patriarchy. What was masked here, however,

was not the essentialist masculinity of Riviere's essay, and what was feared here

was not the "reprisals" of the patriarchy that discovered a female possessing this

masculinity. What was masked was a radical alterity no longer able to transform

and channel its otherwise energetic into the structures of "the cult of true

womanhood" since this cult had become too dangerous and therefore untenable.

What was feared was the abyss of not having a mode of channeling and

transforming this otherwise energetic that would have been recognizable to

others, and therefore unable to support an object relating ego. To the identitarian

ego, constantly re-establishing itself in the "face to face" with this abyss, the

radical alterity of falling into the abyss, of being "uniterable"-that is, of not

"being"-would be the ultimate horror. Therefore the pleasure of the

performing hysteric would be the eschewal of the pain of this abyss: a certain

unpleasure principle.

The structures of the hysteric might have provided Augustine a

temporary asylum, so to speak, from this horrific abyss. The maitre's pleasure

would assure her recognition as an hysteric. The female body in this scenario is

mastered by the patriarch in question and by performing for his pleasure; the

patriarch is displaying his scientific (mental) mastery by solving a riddle of

female sexuality gone awry, as Freud would do later. The hierarchies of

hysteria-mind/body, reason/madness, and male/female-are re-established

by her performance, whence the pleasure of the male, and of the performing

hysteric, who now has an identity and a body where otherwise energetic are

channeled by/into that identity. Within the Salpitriere, the male maftre displays

that mastery among a forum of voyeuristic "subjects," most of them identified as

male, and within a hom(m)osexual economy of scientific-sexual pleasures-what

Barratt would associate with the patriarchal phenomenologyy of fucking," a

violent and phallic way of knowing what is deemed feminine nature via the

penetration of feminine mysteries (Bar93 150).

I also see here a parallel between the hysteric's position among the male

physicians of the Salpetriere and the position of the female porn star with respect

to the men involved with pornography-consumers and producers. According

to Stephen Heath,

... pornography is a relation between men, nothing to do with a

relation to women except by a process of phallic conversion that

sets them as terms of male exchange. (Hea87 2)

The hysteric mastered would have been the colonized "dark continent" of

science, the discovery of the caput Nili. Though formerly a "sexual threat" to the

male's sense of mastery and the limits of the domain of that mastery, the hysteric

would be domesticated via "the phenomenology of fucking," often violently

brought back into what Derrida calls the oikos. The Salpetri&re and its performing

hysterics, who were coached to please the voyeuristic crowds, suggest a possible

parallel between the prostitute and the hysteric: both provide ever-ready

supports for a pornographic economy for the channeling of otherwise energetic

into the "patrix" of a hom(m)osexually-reproductive patriarchy.

The hom(m)osexual pornographic of hysteria was not limited to the

Salpetriere, as evidenced by Chrobak's recommendation to Freud for the patient

he sent him-"penis normalis dosim repetatur" (Gay 92)-which can be read in a

new light along the lines of the themes introduced above: the patients passed

between the physicians can be interpreted as the products of a "phallic

conversion that sets them as terms of male exchange." Carroll Smith-Rosenberg,

author of Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America, was a pioneer

of hysteria studies in that she treated the doctor-hysteric relationship as sexual.

She points out how the physician legitimized the hysteric, and how he was often

the replacement of the husband as the woman in question went from the typical

domestic relationship structures of the home to those of the doctor(s)-hysteric of

the clinic, hospital, or doctor's office (209). Though many had theorized the

hysteric's role in this relationship as sexual, Smith-Rosenberg also recognizes the

potential sexuality of the doctor's role:

In a number of cases, the physician could have played the role of

Oedipal father figure to the patient's child-woman role, and in such

instances his complicity [with the hysteric's disruption of the

family] was not only moral and intellectual but sexual as well.

These doctors had become part of a domestic triangle-a husband's

rival, the fatherly attendant of a daughter. (209)

Smith-Rosenberg is also suggestive regarding the sexuality of the supposed cure:

"Her cure demonstrated that he had mastered her will and body" (211). Smith-

Rosenberg's analysis, however, suffers from understatement. What is missing

from it is the sexuality or even the pornographic of this mastery-how the cure

was often the climax of a scientific phenomenologyy of fucking." In 1888, Freud

most likely wrote the following in a contribution to Villaret's encyclopaedia

entitled "Hysteria" (the contribution was unsigned but mentioned in Freud's

letters): "In the face of no other illness can the physician perform such miracles or

remain so impotent" (153). Switching Freud's causation where the potency

provided the miracle cure, I would argue that the cure provided the miracles of


There is one potential disruption to my perhaps too-neat demarcation

between performing hysterics and the disorderly bodies that resist the diagnosis

of hysteria, and therefore the reappropriative name-game of patriarchy: the

protean symptomatology of hysteria that would frustrate physicians. This
frustration was one source of the violence of physicians mentioned above, and

would be contrary to the physicians' pleasure, which equaled recognition. I

interpret protean symptomatology as a potential aspect of the sexualized and

unstable relationship between the performing hysteric and the physician, and as

a way of the performing hysteric to have some control over that relationship.

I see at least three possibilities for reasons why this relationship is

unstable. First, the doctor could not tolerate his own sexuality coming to

consciousness in a recognizable, non-scientific form. This might have been the

case with Brueur's treatment of Bertha Pappenheim (Anna 0.), though this can

only be speculation (see Api92 83). It certainly was the case often with Freud.

Second, in overly simplistic terms, the position of hysteric was probably

inadequate for the task of channeling what I am calling under erasure "otherwise

energetics" Third, and I believe most significantly, the physician would lose

interest in the mastered hysteric once mastered, like the Don Juan who loses

interest in a conquest after he is sexually satisfied. Protean symptomatology

would be a vehicle for allowing the physician a miracle or two, while not

allowing him to reach the final satisfaction that would threaten the performing

hysteric with his departure.

Freud's comment in an 1895 letter to Wilhelm Fliess reveals his awareness

of the sexualization of the doctor-patient relationship: 'There are two kinds of

women patients: one kind who are loyal to their doctors as to their husbands, the

other kind who change their doctors as often as their lovers" (FF 110). He would,

however, consistently deny his own investment in this sexualized structure. An

illustration of my argument with respect to the protean symptoms of a

performing hysteric and the role this type of symptomatology plays in the

sexualized doctor-patient relationship would be Freud's first extensive case

study of Fanny Moser as presented in Studies on Hysteria as the case of Emmy

von N. According to Appignanesi and Forrester, authors of Freud's Women,

Fanny Moser was the latter type of patient: changing her doctors and lovers with

regularity. Freud seemed to share this opinion of her when in 1895 he looked

back at the case that spanned about three years starting in 1889. During the case,

however, Appignanesi and Forrester show that Freud sees her as the former,

loyal kind of patient. Freud would secure his husband-like position with her by

establishing that he had what Appignanesi and Forrester call "exclusive hypnotic

rights over her" (97). Freud writes at the close of his description of the case:

... in the summer of 1893, I had a short note from [Fanny Moser]

asking my permission for her to be hypnotized by another doctor,

since she was ill again and could not come to Vienna. At first I did

not understand why my permission was necessary, till I

remembered that in 18901 had, at her own request, protected her

against being hypnotized by anyone else, so that there should be no

danger of her being distressed by coming under the control of a

doctor who was antipathetic to her, as had happened at -berg (-tal, -

wald). I accordingly renounced my exclusive prerogative in

writing. (II 85)

Appignanesi and Forrester also show that Freud is aware of "how much the

power of suggestion [in hypnosis] places him in the role of an ex-lover" (97):

It may be remarked, by the way, that, outside hypnosis and in real

life, credulity such as the subject has in relation to his hypnotist is

shown only by a child towards his beloved parents, and that an

attitude of similar subjection on the part of one person towards

another has only one parallel, though a complete one-namely in

certain love-relationships where there is extreme devotion. A

combination of exclusive attachment and credulous obedience is in

general among the characteristics of love. (VII 296)

Freud would play the authoritative master to Frau Moser's subservient slave,

who would give him exclusive reign in the netherworlds of her psychological

interior. He even isolated her from her daughters, who seemed to him to pose a

threat to the doctor-patient bond. Freud, in relation to other doctors-suitors,

jealously guards his exclusive rights to his patient and attempts to secure her

loyalty. His hypnotic mastery and competitiveness with other doctors would

combine, according to Appignanesi and Forrester, as Freud would use his power

as hypnotist to perform tricks on Frau Moser "to demonstrate the stupidity,

cruder hypnotic skills and less amicable effectiveness of the other doctors who

had tended to Fanny" (96)-at Frau Moser's expense. According to Appignanesi

and Forrester, Frau Moser cooperated with Freud with respect to attaining

exclusive rights over her and with respect to isolating her from her family, a plan

which she agreed to, according to Freud, "without raising the slightest objection"

(II 50):

Fanny's body collaborated in Freud's plan of isolating her so that

only he had influence over her, in particular by erupting in a flurry

of symptoms whenever the resident house-physician entered her

room. (Api92 94)

Freud's initial treatment met with some successes, but Frau Moser's symptoms

returned after she left his care and returned to her home in Switzerland. During

the second phase of treatment Freud had to deal with a new and initially

recalcitrant symptom: anorexia. His treatment was based on Frau Moser's

valuing their relationship more than this relatively dangerous symptom, and,

like much of this case, had little to do with Freud's future methodologies:

Freud put their future relationship on the line: he threatened to

leave if she did not accept within twenty-four hours that it was her

fear, rather than her constitution, which made it impossible for her

to eat and drink normally. Give up your symptom, or give up your

masterly doctor! (95)

When Frau Moser wanted Freud to visit her, rather than her usual visit to

Vienna, she produced another new symptom: a phobia of trains (a case of

mimicking her doctor). Frau Moser would use her polysymptomatology to keep

Freud near her in three ways: first, by intensifying her symptoms when other

doctors would attempt to treat her while she was initially isolated from her

family; second, by giving him small "miracles," enough to keep him interested

and feeling like a man; and third, by coming up with new symptoms when she

either wanted him near or wanted to renew the treatment-and even when she

wanted to check his cock-assuredness or to stage a protest. Freud would not

only deny his sexual investment in the relationship, but hers too. He saw the

source of her neurosis as abstinence even though, as Appignanesi and Forrester,

put it: "People in the neighborhood remembered her particularly for her erotic

extravagance" (98).

The eroticism, sexuality, and pornographic of "hysteria" bring together

two themes I explore throughout this chapter, and particularly in the fifth

chapter on 'The 'Uncanny"': the relationship of questions of "sexuality" to

questions of positionality, or, as is almost invariably the case with Freud,

(op)positionality. Returning to Matlock and the relation of the positions of the

hysteric and the prostitute to the position of proper womanhood, Matlock argues


The hysteric and the prostitute provided opposite models against

which an orderly body could be measured-the one tormented by

desires welling up from the inside, the other transformed into a

holding tank for desires that might contaminate society from the

outside. (4)

Yet neither the hysteric nor the prostitute would constitute a disorderly body in

the terms I am trying to establish here: both are integral parts of the phallocratic

deployment of power in relation to what has been deemed feminine. They

would have provided the boundaries of the "cult of true womanhood": an

(op)positionality within "womanhood." The difference between the prostitute

and the performing hysteric might be theorized as follows: the prostitute is not

associated with any Other that might threaten the stability of the same, whereas

the performing hysteric would be associated with those "bodies" resistant to any

of these established forms of womanhood. The performing hysteric, the site of

scientific "miracles" in a context of hom(m)osexual pornographic, would thus

be associated with a potentially castrating form of "sexuality" or "bodiliness,"

the site of "impotence." But both forms of womanhood are used as boundaries

of proper womanhood in terms of sexual positioning, and both forms are subject

to the violence associated with the potential disruptions of "sexuality," and

particularly of the "sexuality" of "woman." Moreover, both forms of

womanhood can be theorized as integral parts of a hom(m)osexual pornographic

economy. Hysteria and the hysteric, like Foucault's "hysterization," should be

associated with the appropriation or totalization processes fueled by the

identitarian energetic of phallocracies-what Derrida calls "the drive of the

proper," which I discuss below-rather than with the Other and its otherwise

energetic, which would be "in but not of" identitarian energetic. Unlike

Foucault's "hysterization," however, hysteria and the hysteric should be

understood with respect to processes of repression and resistance, where these

and other identities are established via repression of/resistance to that which is



In 1977, Lacan mourned the loss of traditional hysterics: "Where have they

gone, the hysterics of the past, these marvelous women-the Anna O's, the Doras

..." (qtd. in Nas97 1). Juan-David Nasio, opening his book on Lacan and hysteria,

Hysteria: the Splendid Child of Psychoanalysis, with this quotation from Lacan

above, adds to it: "... all those women who provided the womb from which

psychoanalysis was born" (1). Is psychoanalysis the splendid child of hysteria?

Or is it a monstrous offspring of a diseased womb? Did psychoanalysis explain

and cure hysteria? Did it master hysteria? Supposedly psychoanalysis is the

child of a diseased womb that it cures through its conception and birth.

According to the orthodox origin myth, psychoanalysis itself is born through the

cure psychoanalysis provides for hysteria. But how can it be both provider of the

cure and born of the cure? Is this a form of self-posting? Freud's cure filled the

gaps he supposedly discovered in the personal narratives of the patients he

diagnosed as hysterics. At first this filler was theorized as the repressed memory

of the (father's) phallus, and then later as the repressed fantasy of possessing that

phallus: castration, penis-envy, and refusing to give up masculine sexuality.

Freud thus positions psychoanalysis and himself as the phallic father of the cure,

what restores health to the diseased womb: a "penis-child" (Freud) as

"anchoring point" (Lacan) for the wandering womb similar to the one described

by Plato in the Timaeus. Just as Freud identified with both his grandson and as

grandfather in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, psychoanalysis is both father and

child of this process: woman as hysteric disappears as "she" becomes a conduit

for this androcentric economy. With Freud's grandson, "fort" was associated

with the absent or bad mother (hysteric), and "da" was associated with the

present or good mother (cured hysteric). The origin myth of psychoanalysis can

therefore be read as a similar fort/da game where the hysteric (fort) is cured (da)

and baby and theorist (psychoanalysis and Freud) is master. Psychoanalysis

arrives at its destination-but it arrives, it returns, at the origin.

The logocentric repression of self-posting reveals the uncanny remains of

a ghostly inheritance due to the necessity of dispatching the self to the self in this

postal relay, and the necessary impropriety of this relay's proper, and its

(non)origin. These are the destabilizing, anti-identitarian (anti-self) remains of

the original repetition, essential division, and the logic of dissemination of what

Derrida calls iterability, a concept to which I will return in the concluding

chapter. This particular self-posting of the fort/da game with hysteria and the

origin myth of psychoanalysis is one of masculine positioning that both uses the

mother-woman-hysteric as simple other and denies her significance in the game

by establishing a father-son identity: an (op)positionality of mastery and

disavowal. Since self-posting "acts out" the impropriety of the proper-mise en

abyme where, according to Derrida, the "proper is not the proper, and if it

appropriates itself it is that it disappropriates itself-properly, improperly"

(Der87 357)-it is unstable and requires repetitive "acts of establishment"

(Barratt), an interminable play.

The self or identity establishing itself simultaneously (in a mode of

disavowal) against the (op)positions of "woman" in abject form (absent mother,

hysteric, fort!) and then in proper form (present mother, cured hysteric, da!) can

be seen as two of three acts in the "triple (self-)deception" of the "actual phallic

function." The "actual phallic function" is another way of theorizing Derrida's

conception of phallogocentrism and Freud's unconscious inasmuch as it is

phallogocentric: presence is established by reducing the Other to absence, binary

difference is effaced by erecting one term (the phallus) to identify difference, the

binary becomes a hierarchy, woman is abjected and disavowed, the One or

phallic presence is established and secured by transforming what is radically

other to the One into a "specific" absence, this specific absence is put at the

center of this Negative Concord (Kermode), and these processes are naturalized

via the repression of all repressions and of all that remains.

With respect to psychoanalysis proper, man/woman is in the form of

male/female sexuality and masculinity/femininity, and the magical term of

difference-into-identity is castration. Castration had not been established as the

oikos when Freud was transitioning from his more memory-based theories

focused on hysteria to his more fantasy-based psychoanalysis proper. The

trajectory of Freudian theory from this transition to his final work should be seen

as a movement away from the unstable self-posting of psychoanalysis/hysteria

to the more stable ground of "castration-truth" and its general theories of

subjectivity-masterplots of being, metapsychologies-rather than etiologies of

neurosis. One enigma of "hysteria studies" is the supposed disappearance of

hysteria during the beginning of the twentieth century. Regardless if this

disappearance should be theorized in terms of changing diagnostics and

nosology, or if it should be theorized in terms of a change in the patriarchal

orders' relations to women and madness, hysteria was no longer in the limelight

after The Interpretation of Dreams. Judging from his own writings, even Freud's

interest in the topic waned after 1897: Freud saw the Dora case more as an

extension of his "dream book" than as a proof of a new, psychoanalytic etiology

of hysteria. Freud's two psychoanalytic case studies of hysteria, Dora (1905) and

"Psychogenesis" (1920), were both fragments of case studies. Between the two

cases Freud wrote only sporadically about hysteria (see especially his works

form 1905, 1908, 1915, 1927, and 1933).

Freud's and the psychiatric community's waning interest in hysteria-that

is, the theorization and diagnosis of this supposed psychological illness-would

mean that the cure of hysteria could not provide a stable foundation for the

claims of psychoanalysis to being a revolutionary science. But this waning is not

the only reason hysteria was an unstable foundation for psychoanalysis.

Psychoanalysis/hysteria is also unstable because it lacks a magical term of

difference-into-identity and simply because it was based on curing the so-called

hysterics' symptoms. Much of what is groundbreaking about psychoanalysis

relates to the absence of this difference-into-identity term. During the early years

of psychoanalysis proper the primary process, the pleasure principle, and the

navel of the dream had yet to be reduced to a logic of the Same via phylogenetics

and castration. Though Freud showed leanings towards a Symbolic based on

castration during this time, he was also able to leave-he even insisted on

leaving-something fundamental as ambiguous, such as the navel of the dream.

Cure was always an unreliable proof for the efficacy of psychoanalysis

and therefore an unstable foundation. For example, the Wolf Man haunted

Freud: for all of Freud's life and well into the 1970s, the Wolf Man's symptoms

continued and at times got worse, and, for years after Freud published his case

study, the Wolf Man was easily found in Vienna: a ghostly remains during the

ascendancy of psychoanalysis to international stature. "Analysis Terminable and

Interminable," with its pessimism regarding the efficacy of the psychoanalytic

cure, can be read as Freud privileging the truth of his metapsychology over his

technique and separating this truth from cure. For Freud to make such an

argument, such a rhetorical move, Freud would have to once again flip-flop from

what I argue in chapter four is his flip-flopped position in Inhibitions, Symptoms

and Anxiety regarding the ego's relative strength in relation to the id: in "Analysis

Terminable and Interminable," cure cannot be counted on since the id is

recalcitrant, and its strength in relation to the ego is, once again, theorized as

being great.

The scientific status of psychoanalysis also depends on the efficacy of a

particular analysis: Freud's own self-analysis. Freud and psychoanalysis seem to

have a relationship to cure based on the logic of disavowal and fetishism: cure is

both crucial (origin myth) and insignificant (as argued in "Analysis Terminable

and Interminable"). Given that metaphorically cure is often theorized in terms of

filling gaps with phallocentric etiologies and/or fantasies-in terms of the

phallus both being and not being in its proper place-I see psychoanalysis as, if

not fetishistic, since the concept of fetish is phallocentric, then very much

dependent on the defense of disavowal. The phallus is not in its place (hysteria,

fort!), and yet it is (cure, da!). What is significant for us here is that, according to

psychoanalytic orthodox myth of origin, Freud cures himself of his own hysteria.

Charles Bernheimer writes in his introduction to In Dora's Case:


Freud invented psychoanalysis between 1895 and 1900 on the basis

of his clinical experience with hysterical patients, nearly all of them

women, and of the self-analysis he performed to cure his own

hysterical symptoms. Hysteria thus is implicated in psychoanalysis

in the sense that the science enfolds the disease within it and is

constituted simultaneously with this pathological interiority. Yet

psychoanalysis contests this originary implication, insisting on its

scientific authority and asserting mastery over hysteria as the

illness of the other, typically of the feminine other. (1)

Though Freud would consistently call his female patients with hysterical

symptoms "hysterics," he would not reduce himself to that category: he merely

had hysterical symptoms, but would never consider himself an hysteric. Did

Freud cure his own hysteria? What might this have been? What symptoms?

According to Derrida, Freud's self-analysis was "unterminated" (Der87 305). But

we do not need to appeal to Derrida's authority in order to problematize

Bemheimer's orthodox assumption. What might a cure or a terminated analysis

be? What would it have been in the last years of the nineteenth century, when

Freud was conducting his self-analysis? What might a self-analysis be? How

could it possibly work? Would there be transference and counter-transference?

More importantly, what might hysteria be for a male? If it does not necessarily

have to do with a diseased womb, why call it "hysteria"? Was Freud's diagnosis

of his neurosis as hysteria correct? According to which theory? Which etiology?

Given that Freud's final theory of hysteria in "Femininity" (1933) is female-

specific-the female's improper repression of her original masculinity and its

clitoridal sexuality-how might we with hindsight theorize Freud's diagnosis of

whatever symptoms there were and his supposedly cured hysteria? Does Freud

see his so-called hysteria as one of the two "themes" that "give the analyst an

unusual amount of trouble," as he writes in "Analysis Terminable and

Interminable"? He defines this theme as the male's "struggle against his passive

or feminine attitude toward another male" (XXIII 50), and again conflates, if not

hysteria, than neurosis and homosexuality. The other theme from this passage,

of course, is "envy for the penis" in the female. Given Freud's therapeutic

pessimism in this late essay and given that a self-analysis would certainly be less

reliable than a dyadic analysis, it seems that again the foundation of

psychoanalysis is unstable inasmuch as it is based on the efficacy of Freud's self-

analysis and his cure of his so-called hysteria.

A fuller version of the quotation of Derrida referred to above is worth

mentioning here: "... how can an autobiographical writing, in the abyss of an

unterminated self-analysis, give to a worldwide institution its birth?" (ibid.).

Freud's "auto-bio-graphy" (Der87 passim) seems to be the womb of

psychoanalysis for Derrida. As with any self-posting, auto-bio-graphy is abyssal,

but the womb of psychoanalysis is "doubly so" (if infinity could be doubled)

since it is also constituted by an impossible self-analysis. Among other problems

with Bemheimer's passage above,6 he seems to beg the question he raises about

hysteria's supposed exteriority to psychoanalysis when he assumes that Freud

cured himself through self-analysis: Freud as primal father whose genius (access

to Truth) sets him beyond transference and therefore beyond the effects of his

unconscious. Freud as the discoverer of the unconscious is assumed to be the

' I wonder why Freud's work before 1895 would not be considered part of the invention of
psychoanalysis, especially when much of his work with Breuer on hysterics was done then. The
year 1900 fits popular and orthodox conceptions of the end of Freud's invention phase, but the
Oedipus and castration complex were unformulated at that time, and the Dora case (among other
cases that were even later) still shows signs of the "seduction" theory, which the orthodox like to
believe had been "abandoned" to make way for psychoanalysis proper. Thus, "psychoanalysis,"
if your definition would be centered on the relationship of repression and sexuality, was forming
before 1895 (repression, defense) and was still largely unformed until 1908 (Oedipus and
castration complex). What seems tobe at stake here is (1) the notion that psychoanalysis has an
essence, and (2) an orthodox reading of the origin of psychoanalysis centered on 1897 and
Freud's supposed abandonment of the "seduction" theory.

exception to the very basis of his supposed discovery, the supposed

breakthrough-the relative weakness of the conscious ego in relation to the

unconscious-due to the assumed power of his ego and its genius. Here

"hysteria" becomes almost synonymous with "the unconscious" and/or

"sexuality," and Freud has basically cured himself of them: Wo Es war, soil Ich

werden. The "it" is associated with the unreason of the body, as is the traditional

hysteric. Below, especially in the section on Freud's "The 'Uncanny,'" I try to

connect this "it" with the figure of woman: what must be mastered by

psychoanalysis. Indeed, with Wo Es war, Soil Ich werden we can replace the Ich/Es

binary with any of the binaries of hysteria: mind/body, reason/unreason,

sanity/madness, and, especially, male/female:

Where body was, there shall mind be.

Where unreason was, there shall reason be.

Where female was, there shall male be.

For the orthodox keepers of the flame, Freud's "cure"-"cure" being

opposed to hysteria, "cure" as "I" unencumbered by "it"-is a crucial aspect of

the traditional origin myth to protect from criticism: the objective rationality of

the founder and, therefore, the scientific status of psychoanalysis depend on the

success of Freud's self-analysis and cure of his hysterical symptoms. These

symptoms are therefore an object, an "it," within Freud's subjectivity, and his

genius, therefore, constitutes some subjectivity untainted by hysteria, which

allows for the subject-object split necessary to keep this self-analysis out of the

abyss-to allow the subject, the "I," to become transcendent. The father of

psychoanalysis, once cured-of his body, his irrationality, and, mostly, his

femininity-is therefore the pure analyst-scientist cleansed of the irrationality

associated with hysteria and able to give birth to his science. He is like the

primal horde father: a father without a father, the analyst without an analyst.

Freud positions himself as both primal father and first-generation son, a

positioning Derrida plays with in "To Speculate-on 'Freud.'" This primal

father, beyond genealogy and an unconscious, is beyond a mother or woman in

general. "Psychic health, Freud discovered," Jonathan Lear argues in Love and Its

Place in Nature: A Philosophical Interpretation of Freudian Psychoanalysis, "depends

on abandoning the fantasy that one can be one's own child. This is as true within

the realm of thought as it is within the family" (3). But it does not seem to be

true for the founder.

Freud's mastery over hysteria, his own and others, is the basis for the

separation of psychoanalysis from hysteria: psychoanalysis (the subject of reason

and truth) is anterior to, separate from, the diseased, irrational, feminine, and

unscientific object of hysteria (the object of irrationality and deception). From

this separation and dominance, this abjection, psychoanalysis secures for itself a

position as a new and privileged way of knowing and understanding within the

fold of reason, able to reach beyond reason and the mind and master madness,

the body, and the feminine. With this origin myth the dualism of

psychoanalysis/hysteria is established, and many related traditional dualisms

are maintained: hysteria the disease, hysteria as feminine, bodily madness of the

"it"; psychoanalysis the science, a curative discourse of masculine reason and the

"I." Hysteria acts as the primary other to psychoanalysis, an extension and

condensation of philosophy's other of woman, theology's other of the flesh, and

psychiatry's other of madness. Neither psychoanalysis nor hysteria comes first:

they both arrive at the same time as psychoanalysis/hysteria. Psychoanalysis

established itself as (impossible) father-child of hysteria; it constructs hysteria as

the (impossible) feminine other that is simultaneously the mastered woman-

mother-hysteric that gives birth and security, but also does not matter or even

exist: fort/da. We should read the colon of Nasio's title, Hysteria: the Splendid Child

of Psychoanalysis, as both an "and" and an "as." With respect to origins,

psychoanalysis/hysteria is undecidable.

I interpret the loss Lacan is mourning above as the loss of the splendid or

magical present-absent other against which psychoanalysis began to establish

itself, the (op)positional other it first employed to reduce the effects of an

encounter with the Other to more of the Same. In other words, hysteria as

woman-body-irrationality is what psychoanalysis must create as an absence, a

gap to be filled by its specific, phallic presence: man-mind-reason. According to

this line of argument, Bernheimer does not acknowledge that, if hysteria is

implicated in psychoanalysis, psychoanalysis would also have to be implicated

in hysteria in order for both to be "constituted simultaneously." Psychoanalysis

constitutes its own hysteria as it constitutes itself. The proper must make the

improper that is necessary to it into a circular detour that leads back to itself:


The Lacanian Hysteric's Essential Question of Lack

Freud supposedly cures his own hysteria, what he and Lacan might later

call his "struggle against his passive or feminine attitude toward another

male"-but the later Freud also theorizes female hysteria as not accepting a

"passive or feminine attitude toward another male," not accepting one's lack of a

penis and instead envying the possession of one. Most Lacanians read Lacan's

return to Freud as a corrective or clarification here: hysteria is connected to

bisexuality, or, as Ragland-Sullivan puts it:

Lacan translates Freud's find, the hysteric's sexual oscillation

between women and men, into the quintessential question about

gender, divided artificially by the effects of identification and

language that constitute a sense of being in the form of totalized

gender concepts of male and female [see Lac 68]. The hysteric's

gender question-"Am I a woman or a man?-links sexuality to

identity: her discourse reveals the fundamental impossibility of

reducing identity to gender in the first place. For Lacan, there is no

signifier, symbol or archetype adequate to re-present the difference

between the sexes (Lacan, 1975, p. 74 [Lac98 80]). (Wri92 163)

But there is the lack of symbol adequate to transcendentally center the structure

of language and the unconscious, which therefore makes the hysteric's question

one of the essential lack. In Lacanian psychoanalysis, according to Derrida,

somethingig is missing from its place, but the lack is never missing from it"

(Der81 441): "manque 4 sa place," which Bass translates as "lack in its place,

missing from its place" (Der87 425). "Manque a sa place" is also a homophone of

"manque a sa place": "lack has its place." Contrary to leading to any

undecidability, indeterminacy, or division between sex and identity, "lack in its

place, missing from its place" is the very foundation of "castration-truth" and a

"destinational linguistics." According to Derrida, "lack does not have its place in

dissemination" (Der87 441).

Lacan's status as theorist-whether his work is poststructuralist or

postmodern (e.g., Cop94) or the products of a potentially reactionary

ontotheologist (e.g., Nan92)-is difficult to determine. According to Derrida,

In France, the "literary criticism" marked by psychoanalysis had

not asked the question of the text.... It is entirely otherwise in the

"Seminar on The Purloined Letter." Or so it appears. Although

Lacan has never directly and systematically been interested in the

so-called "literary" text, and although the problematic of Das

Unheimliche does not intervene in his discourse to my knowledge,

the general question of the text is at work unceasingly in his

writings, where the logic of the signifier disrupts naive

semanticism. And Lacan's "style" was constructed so as to check

almost permanently any access to an isolatable content, to an

unequivocal, determinable meaning beyond writing. (Der87 420)

Yet, following Derrida's reading of Lacan that follows this quotation, I will argue

that the Lacanian text is psychoanalytic and not literary- that is, it attempts to

ground itself in its own "castration-truth." Its "logic of the signifier" is a logic of

lack: a textuality of a "certain linguistics" (Der78 199). This logic may disrupt

"naive semanticism," but it does so by securing a transcendental phallic center

where the "failure" of language secures the center: the disruption is itself

construed as that lack which has its place. The absence of this "naive

semanticism," therefore, should not be read as an example of a postmodern

celebration of the indeterminacy of meaning and the decentering of Western

discursive structures. The question for me becomes: should Lacan's style be read

as an obfuscatory defense against any kind of critical assessment? Along these

lines, Barratt argues that

assessment of any "thesis" of Lacan's ... is notoriously difficult.

For, eschewing systematization, Lacan deftly, even roguishly,

defies systematic critique. Moreover, as is well known, his style

almost wholly obliterates considerations of the content of his

thought. For Lacan, style is everything, and the content of

whatever thesis he might happen to be presenting becomes quite

unnecessarily adumbrated. (Bar84 214)

Despite all the turnabouts and twists and contradictions, the orthodox feel of

Lacanian "psychoanalysis" comes from the way it consistently conceptualizes the

relation of the "subject" (in its most servile sense) to the Other, the ultimate

totality and patrocentrism of that Other, and the immutability and

oppositionality of the possible sexual identities determined by the Other.

Moreover, a cosmology based on Oedipal destiny (Der87 495) is created when

the "letter," the "odd" material substrate of the Other and its logic of the

signifier, "always arrives at its destination" (Lac88 53), and this destination is the

reproduction of the oedipal structure of sexual positionality and the actual

phallic function. Though Lacan claims to have subverted the notion of "anatomy

is destiny," he has erected a determinism immune even to what might be called

the vicissitudes of any "biology" or adestinational postal system and created a

sexual transcendentalism where the "male" is "whole" and the "female" is "not-

whole," as determined by the phallic function.

Despite what seems to be the consistent and radical determinism of

Lacanian "psychoanalysis," Joan Copjec, in her book Read My Desire: Lacan

against the Historicists-in particularly the section, "Sex and the Euthanasia of

Reason"-writes that deconstruction could learn about undecidability from

psychoanalysis (which she erroneously assumes is simply represented by its

Lacanian form). This claim stems from her analysis of Lacan's opening to

Television that "saying it all is literally impossible: words fail" (213), and of the

relationship of this "failure" to sexual difference, and therefore to hysteria's

essential question. The rest of this opening to his mass seminar is as follows:

I always speak the truth. Not the whole truth, because there's no

way, to say it all. Saying it all is literally impossible: words fail.

Yet it's through this very impossibility that the truth holds onto the

real. (3)

It may seem that Lacan, with his conception that "words fail," has backed away

from his previous belief in how "a letter always arrives at its destination," and

therefore embraced a less deterministic theory of language, but this is not

necessarily the case. "Words fail" to speak "the whole truth," but the letter of

each word, mysteriously connected to a part of truth, seems to still be

determined to "arrive" at the proper destination. We can read "failure" here as

"lack": words must fail, properly. They must take a detour in order to return; in

order for the "Real" to be held onto, mastered.

Truth for Lacan usually refers to the truth about desire; thus when he

claims to "always speak the truth," he seems to be saying that he has left his

imaginary behind, which purifies speech of the demands of the imaginary: Lacan

called this "full speech" (Lac77a 46), which might be equated to Freud's cure. To

"always speak the truth," it seems, would be to become one with the assumption

of one's desire, but not necessarily all of one's desire, especially when "desire"

occasionally overlaps with jouissance. Yet even Lacanians understand, as Dylan

Evans argues, that "it is impossible to give a univocal definition of the way Lacan

uses [truth] since it functions in multiple contexts simultaneously, in opposition

to a wide variety of terms" (Eva96 215-16)-and, I would add, at times in radical

contradiction to other uses. For example, Lacan also associates truth with

deception, lies, mistakes, and errors. His line could thus be read as "I am

deceiving you, therefore I am telling the truth." Moreover, truth is supposed to

refer to the truth about desire, and desire is supposedly a product of the

Symbolic, but Lacan associates it with the Real above, an order that is

supposedly a radical alterity to the Symbolic. It seems that "words fail" only

because they cannot say the whole truth about desire-jouissance, not because of

any inherent failure within words themselves, such as a necessarily arbitrary

relation between signifier and signifieds-which would only be a "failure" if

"success" meant some magical correspondence between signifier and signified.

Lacan seems to be saying that words fail to represent the whole truth, thus he

falls back into, if he ever got beyond, a correspondence theory of language,

which is antithetical to a differential or Saussurian theory of language.

Moreover, this "failure" suggests a failure of words to correspond to the specific

absence of lack: words must "fail" in order for "castration-truth" to be at the

center of the structure of language and the Lacanian unconscious.

Before I get ahead of myself, I should put Copjec's use of the quote above

into the context of her argument. Copjec argues that Lacan, in Seminar XX:


reiterates the position of psychoanalysis with regard to sexual

difference: our sexed being, he maintains, is not a biological

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