Francois Sauvagnat: On Three Kinds of Irrepresentability in Psychoanalysis

Fra: François SAUVAGNAT <>

Dato: 23 Nov 2013 16:47:53 GMT+1

Til: reneras <>

Emne: Proposal for the Conference on The irrepresentable

Svar til: François SAUVAGNAT <>

On Three Kinds of Irrepresentability in Psychoanalysis

Prof François Sauvagnat University of Rennes 2

World Association of Psychoanalysis

We will argue that whereas irrepresentability in psychoanalysis is usually termed in the singular, the problem is at least threewofold, each of them being implied in different debates and clinical issues. We will attempt to present as brief mapping of these three kinds of irrepresentability.

1)Irrepresentability of sexual drives:

This is perhaps the most notorious issue that comes to mind when discussion the irrepresentability issue: in the Victorian tradition, which was largely dominant at he turn of the XIX-XXth centuries, sexual drives were treated as tabu,and Freud, supported by some social movements like the sexologists ( Moll, H. Ellis, etc), the Wandervogel (G. Winneken, H. Blüher), H. Stöker’s bourgeois feminist “Sexualreform Bewegung”, the Humanitarian Committee, etc.   attempted to give some explanations of a) the import of sex-drives in the constitution of the body and b)in the determination of neuropsychoses, and c)a few propositions for therapy and social reformation measures. Another point has to do with what Freud called the “silence of drives”, a specific quality of the death-drives.

2) Feminine irrepresentability:

This has been a constant issue in psychoanalysis, as the rise of this domain is contemporanean with a variety of feminine movements; this notion seems to have first appeared as the “irrepresentability of the mother”, but it rapidly expanded around the issues of the ultimate essence of feminine desire and feminine superego (H.Sachs; K. Horney; H. Deutsch; J. Riviere, etc.); it has been a crucial issue in Lacanian psychoanalysis with debates on the “mother’s desire”, hysterical desire, and finally the “not-all” or “mystic” feminine position.

2) Irrepresentability of the father-function:

Even if this issue is present in Freud, for instance in the issue of the irrepresentable in dreams, it was mainly represented in his writings  by various paradoxes around the “dead father” fantasies. J. Lacan clearly systematized this issue as  a “preliminary” to the treatment of psychoses, a precondition of desire, a primary nomination (drawing on numerous theological and philosophical debates) and finally a function that could be disguised under such unexpected phenomena as symptoms.