Prof. Bernard Burgoyne
Prof. Maire Jaanus:
Dr Richard Rushton
‘On the Physiology of Jouissance’
A “neuropsychoanalytic” hypothesis for the physiology of jouissance is proposed (Bazan & Detandt, 2013). Jouissance is a Lacanian concept, famous for being impervious to understanding and which expresses the paradoxical satisfaction that a subject may derive from his symptom. On the basis of Freud’s “experience of satisfaction” we have proposed a first definition of jouissance as the motor tension underlying the action which was [once] adequate in bringing relief to the drive and, on the basis of their striking reciprocal resonances, we have put forward the idea that central dopaminergic systems could embody the physiological architecture of Freud’s concept of the drive. This hypothesis has actually worked out quite well for the other dimensions of jouissance, namely the intrinsic drive satisfaction, the bodily tension on the verge of anxiety and pain and the historical inscription of a trait – which are all subserved by this central dopaminergic system. Moreover, it now appears that what has caused the dopaminergic surge in the case of an adequate action, might be more related to the sudden bodily shake rather than to the adequacy per se, as other sudden changes (or interruptions) of the state of the body, in the cases of intrusion or trauma, also induce this dopamine release. This further corroborates the model, as trauma per excellence is known in a psychoanalytic framework to induce a compulsive repetition of actions, which never were adequate to start with. We thereby redefine jouissance as the bodily tension typically arising with unpredicted intrusive changes of bodily states and of which part is invested in motor movement with a determined form: independent of these actions having any adequacy towards the initial event causing the change of state, their ability to discharge tension is a benefit as compared to stunning, and will cause them to be repeated.
‘The Promising Failures of Neuroscience: Psychoanalysis at the Horizon’
‘Subject and self in neuroscience and psychoanalysis: the history of two cases of mirror self-misrecognition’
The ‘subject’ of psychology demands setting aside individual specificity in favour of the ‘subject’ as anonymous representative of a population under study; the psychoanalytic ‘subject’ implicates instead precisely the unique history that sets an individual apart. Recently, although cognitive neuroscience has turned towards study of the ‘self’ and the neuroanatomy of ‘self’-awareness, the ‘self’ of neuroscience remains a unitary entity in contrast to the complex and, above all, fundamentally split subject of psychoanalysis. These oppositions are reflected in the history of the study of two patients each of whom, in becoming demented, lost the capacity for mirror self-recognition. Each believed a stranger had taken up residence in his home and life, a belief provoked by repeatedly seeing his own, unrecognized reflection over many months in each case. Initially, using the information-processing approach of cognitive neuropsychology, our principal interest was exploration of the cognitive deficits underlying delusions of misidentification, of which we took theirs to be an instance. We identified three components that seemed relevant: defective perception; anomalous affective responses to incoming, and especially facial, stimuli; and deficient reasoning which, we proposed, acting together, might produce the delusion. That view has devolved, by some early collaborators, into a highly cognitivist ‘two-factor theory’ of delusions. My approach to the material has been rather to take a psychoanalytic perspective: to consider the phenomenology in terms of the dissolution of the perceptual, cognitive and especially psychic accomplishment of Lacan’s mirror-stage. This re-reading focuses less on the delusion as exemplar and more on what the failure of self-recognition means for identity and the coherence – or fragmentation – of lived subjective experience. This paper will address the question of whether these approaches can be brought into dialogue, or whether the differences are such that each must necessarily remain deaf to what the other has to say.
‘Psychoanalysis, Neuroscience, and Our Liberation’
Freud started his professional life as a medical neurobiologist, and the brain’s materiality was crucial for his thinking about mental life. However, as he developed psychoanalysis into a science distinct from neurobiology, he began to see the brain as a material substrate distinct from the psychical apparatus. Now, of course, many theorists are seeking to bridge that mental/neuronal gap, for the sake of enriching neuroscience, and for the sake of making psychoanalysis relevant again after its significant defeats in the “Freud Wars” of the late twentieth century.
The point of departure for my presentation is Catherine Malabou’s reassessment of psychoanalysis in her books What Should We Do With Our Brain? and The New Wounded. Malabou discusses the brain’s auto-regulative functioning in terms of its representational activity. “[t]here is no [neurological] regulation without representation,” she writes in The New Wounded. “This double economy precisely defines cerebral identity as a constant synthesis of different states of relation between the body and the psyche” (82). Psychoanalysis, she insists, must learn to recognize the fundamentally symbolic and representational functioning of the neurological itself.
Malabou is surely not the first theorist to make such a claim. Indeed, at a much earlier point in the history of the modern conflict between psychoanalysis and neuroscience, Sebastiano Timpanaro described psychoanalysis in The Freudian Slip as caught between the social and the biological, in a thoroughly unproductive state of limbo. He argued that both academic theorists and practitioners had “to extend the limits of psychoanalysis in a two-fold direction, towards the politico-social and the biological, thereby transforming it from an agent of ‘consolation’ into one of liberation . . .” (13). My aim for this presentation is to read Malabou and Timpanaro in light of one another, as casting light on one another from the distant shores of before and after the Freud Wars. What I am especially interested in is their shared use of the discourse of social and political liberation for the sake of articulating what is at stake. How does this liberation signify in both similar and different ways? How are these similarities and differences conditioned by their respective cultural and historical contexts?
‘Subjectivity and the Legacy of Early Modern Moralists’
The classical question of the mind-body problem is still debated in natural and social sciences as well as in the humanities today. Usually this division is derived from Descartes’ distinction of a human body (res extensa) on the one side and human soul (res cogitans) on the other. Nevertheless, during this classical period of time this distinction was also contradicted in ways that foreshadow more actual conceptions of subjectivity, not at least the psychoanalytic theory of the subject.
By returning to some crucial discussions regarding the passions during the French 17th century I want to discuss how early modern configurations of love and desire, as forces that transgress the subject’s conscious control, anticipate Freud and psychoanalysis as a “science of desire”. Through an abbreviated survey of early modern debates concerning human passions, the polyvalence of the moralist discourse will be assessed.
Refuting every system, preferring to transgress the disciplines of literature, philosophy and theology, the French moralists excelled in genres such as occasional poetry, maxims and correspondences, intimately related to the Parisians salon culture. By examples taken from maximes by La Rochefoucauld, Madame de Sablé and Madame de la Sablière, fables and tales by La Fontaine, and letters by Saint-Évremond and Ninon de Lenclos, I demonstrate how the moralist discourse functioned in dialogue with Catholicism as well as with Descartes’ rational conception of the passions. But I also want to reveal the central place of materialism in this dialogue. In the paper, the intersections between Augustinian, rational and libertine configurations of desire are discussed as various attempts to come to terms with the formation of premodern subjectivity. The purpose is to reveal this premodern discourse as a more or less overlooked element in modern theories of the subject.
‘Psychosomatic Medicine and the Kleinian Maternal Body’
‘Imagination: A Philosophical Examination of Visual Thought in Freud’
“We close our eyes and hallucinate, then we open them and think in words” – Freud, 1895.
This paper will look at how Freud’s theories of visual thinking can be usefully integrated into philosophical and neuroscientific understanding of imagistic cognition. Throughout his writings, Freud continues to emphasise the visual and associative nature of primary process thought, often limiting linguistic thought to conscious, reality-oriented cognition. Yet imagistic cognition forms a large part of conscious mental life: Freud followed Charcot in arguing that the degree to which an individual thinks visually is simply a matter of disposition (even lamenting in “The Interpretation of Dreams” that his own dreams are not as heavily visual as other’s). If it impossible to banish visual thought to the system unconscious, what role does it play in a psychoanalytic theory of mind?
Psychoanalysis, it has been argued, differs from other accounts of the mind in that it gives an account of motivated irrationality: a set of reasons why we would intentionally misrepresent ourselves, the world, or the relationship between the two. Psychoanalysis can inform the philosophical debate on imagistic cognition by providing an account of the link between mental representation and irrationality, which is lying implicit in Freud’s models. This paper will encourage readers of Freud to see him as presenting a picture of the mind in which we represent ideas in one mode in order not to represent them in another. It is through representing the world in thought structures than are primarily visual and associative in nature that an idea can be represented (a physical drive “bound”) without it reaching a level of organisation in which it can be thought in a way that it must be properly known by, say, being fully integrated into the subjects network of propositional attitudes.
‘The Public Life of Manick G.’
I would like to present my 10 minute experimental short – The Public Life of Manick G. – which was made exclusively from the social media of one man.
‘Addressing the Fantasy of Incompleteness and the Primal Wound: Adopted Women’s Experiences of Finding their Biological Fathers in Adulthood’
My research offers an inquiry into adoptive women’s experiences of meeting their biological fathers in adulthood, and reflects on the stories of 15 interview participants as well as my own personal narratives. I ask three interrelated questions:
1 – What discourses have shaped the ways in which adopted women have been defined?
2 – How have adopted women who have met their biological fathers in adulthood constituted themselves as subjects?
3 – What are the psychosocial implications of these issues?
I argue that there exists a metanarrative which defines adopted subjects in terms of an irreversible ‘primal wound’ suffered as a result of the separation from their biological mother. From this perspective, the adoptee’s private and social, internal and external worlds are intertwined with trauma, supported by powerful social discourses about the importance of blood relations and growing up with one’s biological mother. Whilst adoptee subjectivities are constituted as being submerged in the loss and subsequent fantasy of the biological mother, the biological father hardly features at all. To imagine the function of the biological father is to pave the way for a discussion about this under-researched subject.
The research problematizes the notion of the ‘primal wound’ on several grounds. By analysing the systems of regulation which have constructed adoptive subjects, it challenges the notion that there is an essential self to be recovered by healing from this primal wound. It sets up a trans-disciplinary discussion about how we might critique the discourses which exclude the ‘shadowy’ biological father and bring him into focus through interviews and personal stories. And, in privileging the father’s position, it subverts the culturally normative unifying system of the mother-child bond, asking who the biological father is; what he represents, and how his role in adoption may be understood. In exceeding the bounds of the mother-child dyadic synchrony, the narratives cut through foundational representations, asking why the biological father’s position has so widely been neglected, and the influence he might have on shaping adoptive women’s subjectivities. Thinking together these different threads, this project embodies an anti-essentialist position, opening out new debates and possibilities.
‘Hysteric vs. Knowledge on Film’
In his Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), Freud appealed to philosophy and biology hoping they would provide answers to his questions. His faith in natural sciences was steadfast, which is all the more suprising since only when Freud, the neurologist, had made way for Freud, the psychoanalyst, did psychoanalysis come to existence; he abandoned medicine in favour of listening. Indeed, it was one of his hysteric patients, Anna O., that labelled the remedy for her infliction using parlance closer to arts than sciences – talking cure. Future of psychoanalysis is inseparabe from the future of humanities, as Foucault stated in his essay What is an author? (1969), alluding to Althusser and Lacan: “A study of Galileo’s works could alter our knowledge of the history, but not the science, of mechanics; whereas a re-examination of the books by Freud or Marx can transforn our understanding of psychoanalysis or Marxism.“ From Lacan’s point of view, science and university are similar to paranoiac in that they are driven by a relentless pursuit of truth and knowledge with a strong belief the latter is attainable, it is “out there“, much like the Prefect of the police from Lacan’s Seminar Book II.
I argue that in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, a film with a plot bearing resemblance to psychoanalytic treatment, Joe and Seligman embody hysteric and scientific stance towards knowledge respectively, i.e. that the film stages truth as intersubjective. Seligman tries to produce a schism in Joe between her past and present self, much like a psychoanalyst, and he compares Joe’s self-narrative with examples from arts and sciences. Joe is a hysteric who challenges his encyclopeadic knowledge, opposes his understanding of her past transgressions and exposes to ridicule his vain attempts at interpretation…
‘Psychoanalysis and Science’
Defining terms is particularly crucial in any debate about psychoanalysis and even more so when it is coupled with the concept of Science. Prima facie, the two would appear to be opposites since Science, almost by definition, is about objective study and understanding of the world. Psychoanalysis, however practised, centres around the relationship between patient and analyst which similarly, almost by definition, must entail a high degree of subjectivity.
If we look more closely, however, things are far less easy to differentiate. As the causal , Newtonian concept of science of has given way to Quantum Physics, objectivity itself has had to be qualified if not redefined. Jung’s concept of synchronicity as “ an acausal connecting principle” is strikingly reminiscent of Sheldrake’s “Morphic Resonance” Field Theory approach is as applicable to human relationships as to physics.
At the heart of it all is the fundamental question of Knowledge and the different kinds of Knowing. Understanding relationships and understanding the world depends on the capacity to perceive pattern and familiarity in experience which is always, by definition, changing. It is impossible to step into the same river twice, yet it is possible, nevertheless, to know and identify the river. Quantum physics, neuropsychology, philosophy and even theology have a part to play in this central problem. What informs the objectivity of the quest of psychoanalysis and how does this differ from that of Science? Can the results of brain scans – particularly when applied to a deeper understanding of how the left and right hemispheres of the brain work together – contribute to psychoanalytical practice? Are there ways in which psychoanalysis can guide the neurologists in how and what to research?
Park Je Cheol
‘Destructive Plasticity between Perversion and Shame: The Act of Killing’
Catherine Malabou’s philosophical reading of neuroscience has greatly contributed to the critical, if not favorable, reception of this scientific discourse in the humanities in general and critical cinema and media theories in particular. As Pasi Väliaho notes in his Biopolitical Screens, Malabou’s re-reading of neuroscience through the concept plasticity not only exposes how this science serves to endorse biopolitical apparatuses that support neoliberal power but she also radicalizes it using the concept destructive plasticity such that it can break with those power mechanisms. Despite her emphasis on the creative potential of this type of plasticity, however, the latter concept is not clearly defined in relation to the neoliberal world order. Does destructive plasticity or the disaffected subject formed by it have potential to disrupt the order or simply exist as an exception to the order? Scrutinizing Malabou’s concept through Lacan’s theory of discourses, I would argue that her concept wavers between the pervert’s fantasy (a ◊ $), which serves to sustain neoliberal power through the logic of exception, and the pure sign of shame (S1), which allows for new affective social encounters that cut across the neoliberal order. Through this rearticulation of destructive plasticity, this paper also rethinks the political and ethical implications of post-traumatic cinema in this era of excessive media exposure. As a case study, I examine Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary The Act of Killing (2012). At first glance, like recent exploitative films, such as Asian Extreme, the film is likely to promote the fixation on the pervert’s fantasy by allowing the perpetrators to boastfully re-enact their heinous crimes. But by choosing to show the process of making their film rather than their completed film itself, The Act of Killing circumvents their tendency to perversion and produces, despite themselves, some signs of their feeling of shame as by-products.
Ants Parktal and Jane Meimer-Parktal
‘Psychoanalysis in Estonia’
‘Making sense of being local’
In the proposal “Making sense of being local,” I want to explore my conception of the local and to the local through probing into the gap between being inside or outside a local context. The plan is to use physical strategies to test out this gap and identify some challenges involved.
Panel: ‘Back to the Future of Psychoanalysis: From Neurology and Neuropathology – to Psychoanalysis – and Back to Neuroscience’
Back to the Future of Psychoanalysis: From Neurology and Neuropathology – to Psychoanalysis – and Back to Neuroscience
Life cycle of psychoanalysis originated from neurosciences, but then, they took very different paths. In our times of the multi-inter-disciplinary approach and of the evidence-based practice, their paths are crossing again.
Objectives of this presentation are the neuroscientific phenomena important in sustaining the psychoanalytic practice (neuroplasticity and neurointegration, and others).
“You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased it: ‘You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.’” (Crick, 1994)
Although the founder and the visionary of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, was a neurologist and a neuropathologist, and although his ideas about the structure of the mind came from observing and making preparations of fish brains and spinal cords, until recently, psychoanalysis and neuroscience were walking the very different paths and were (at best) unconcerned about each other. Then, evolution of psychoanalysis and neurosciences and increased awareness of discoveries in each of them brought us, 21st century practitioners of various clinical and humanitarian disciplines, to understanding that we live in the age of the brain-mind revolution (or brain-mind paradigm shift). One main feature of this paradigm shift is the realization of ineffectiveness (and unsustainability) of one’s operation in a secluded sphere of one particular discipline anymore, and that cross-pollination of the ideas and the research is not just “suggested,” but “mandatory.”
The objectives of this presentation (or the panel) would be to outline those neuroscience findings that are significant in sustaining the psychoanalytic practice (e.g., neuroplasticity and neurointegration), as well as how each psychoanalytic case represents unprecedented source of support for brain-mind science. Application of some emerging multi-inter-disciplinary practices (like mindful therapy and integrated mindsight) will be discussed. We also will discuss the view of many inter-disciplinarians about psychoanalysts/ psychotherapists/ educators being the innate neuroscientists – as Thornton Wilder said once, “. . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it.”
‘Echo and Narcissus: Two Different Disorders of Narcissism’
Greek myth “Echo and Narcissus” is best known through the Latin poet Ovid text “Metamorphosis”. In it is given short developmental story of both heroes. (Albeit Nymph or son of the River God, we can look on them as ordinary people who have got their epithets in order to satisfy needs of the myth.) Narcissus was born from the rape. His mother, Liriope, asks prophet Tiresias if her son will live to old age. Tiresias answers, “Yes, if he never knows himself.” Because of rape his relationship with mother was destroyed. Later he becomes an active youth who loved others and who actually was not able to tolerate “Otherness”. Like other narcissists he was not able to see others point of view and he loved only himself. At the end he got to “know himself”, become catatonic and lived in his own internal world.
About Echo Ovid tells the story of a “talkative nymph” who tricks Zeus’s jealous wife, Hera. And Hera curses Echo by making her only able to repeat the last words said. “Your tongue, so freely wagged at my expense,
shall be of little use; your endless voice,
much shorter than your tongue.”
Echo behaves like a girl who is full of shame, who hides herself and speaks only when she is spoken to. She loves only Other, there is no love for herself, all the good qualities are projected outside and loved there. In the end she becomes anorexic.
One is shameless, other is full of shame. One pleases himself in all aspects and gets narcissistic satisfaction from himself, other gets no narcissistic satisfaction from herself. They complete and mirror each other and in everyone of us there should be Echo and Narcissus who give us narcissistic balance.
‘Neither/Nor: Psychoanalysis between Science and Philosophy’
This paper will examine the development of Freud’s metapsychology in order to argue for the vital importance of the theory of the drive to the phenomenon of contemporary psychoanalysis. Following Freud’s own division of his thought here into three stages – corresponding roughly to the Three Essays on Sexuality, the Papers on Metapsychology, and Beyond the Pleasure Principle – this paper will focus on the “third stage” of drive theory (which marks both return to pre-psychoanalytic origins in the Project for a Scientific Psychology as well as expansion into the cosmic forces of Civilisation and Its Discontents) to suggest that Freud’s struggles with the uncertainties and complexities of der Trieb are vital to any consideration of the epistemology of psychoanalysis: if, as Adrian Johnston suggests vis-à-vis the mind-body question, the drive is a “neither/nor” concept, then so too – I contend – is psychoanalysis. More specifically, by considering Freud’s engagement with both contemporary biology and the metaphysics of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, I argue that the concept of the drive (and the death drive in particular) can be taken to represent the specificity of psychoanalytic thought itself, as being situated between science and philosophy but reducible to neither.