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Foreclosure and Discordance: Is Schizophrenia Thinkable?

The Letter, Issue 40, Spring 2009, Pages 59 - 67


Foreclosure and Discordance: Is Schizophrenia Thinkable?[1]

Christian Fierens


This article argues that schizophrenia, as the illness of the psychical system in its generality, can only be approached by posing the preliminary question: ‘‘what is association?”. If one thinks in terms o f a logic of the “excluded third”, schizophrenia seems to be excluded from the field of psychoanalysis. But the author maintains that thinking in terms of a logic of the “included third” is not only coherent with psychoanalysis, but results in what is said schizophrenically supporting the discourse of the analyst.


Keywords: foreclosure; discordance; schizophrenia; topology; logic

In his major work Dementia Praecox or the Group of Schizophrenias (1911),[2] Eugen Bleuler replaces “dementia praecox” with the group of “schizophrenias”. The main characteristic of the illness in question would no longer be either dementia or precociousness, but a splitting of the mind or a disturbance of associations. The invention of the term “schizophrenia” does much more, however, than rename a specific mental illness, for Bleuler speaks about the “group” of “schizophrenias” in the plural. What is the principle of this regrouping? Firstly, most of the symptoms which attracted the attention of the psychiatrists before Bleuler, namely hallucinations and delusions etc., are only complications of the illness, or only accessory and secondary symptoms. Secondly, unless there is a complication, the principal classical functions of the psyche remain intact: no disturbance of sensibility, no disturbance of memory, no disturbance of consciousness, no disturbance of motor functions.[3] What remains then to characterize uncomplicated schizophrenia or simple schizophrenia? Could it be an illness without symptoms, an “un-triggered” illness?

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