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Inside and Outside in the Case of President Schreber

The Letter, Issue 48, Autumn 2011, Pages 1 - 7


Charles Melman[1]

Are our thoughts and actions governed by innate ideas, as Plato would have it, or by the experience of reality mediated by our senses which is Aristotle’s position? This ancient question can be clarified through the psychoanalytic study of neurosis, phobia and mourning but it is especially well illustrated in the experience of psychotics and in particular that of President Schreber.

Keywords: Inside and outside, sexuality and trauma, the Moebius strip, the Schreber case.

The question that President Schreber gives rise to for us is to know from what position or what locus we are governed (commandés) and in that locus through whom and through what, by whom and by what are we governed? If I govern something or if I try to govern something, by whom am I authorised and at the same time who is governing me? This is an old question that dates from about two and a half thousand years ago and we still have not answered it. So we are going to see whether today we can begin, perhaps, to see what the answer might be.

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