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Latent Freudian Thoughts Towards a Theory of Neurotic Depression: Part Two

The Letter, Issue 13, Summer 1998, Pages 26 - 38


Lieven Jonckheere

Part Two A Purely Hysterical Depression?*

A purely hysterical depression without obsessional mechanism

Previously, I explained that sexual depression of the anxiety-neurosis type does not have a psychic or symbolic etiology, (related to Oedipus, castration and so on) - but that it corresponds to a psychic lack or a lack in the signifier, with a direct transformation of the real of sexual jouissance. I also pointed out that 'melancholic' depression at the end of the analytic experience of the neurosis has another kind of real etiology, the identification with the real of the object (a).

But of course not all of the neurotic depressions are of a purely real type, - in some there is also an important symbolic contribution to their etiology. I mentioned for instance that psychoanalysis after Freud has tended to reduce almost all of these symbolic depressions to the obsessional type, that is, the result of oedipal ambivalence towards le Nom-du-Pere, the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father or the dead father. In the obsessional depression the death-wish against the loved father is turned against the subject itself. In contrast to the anxiety-neurotic depressive mood, these obsessional depressions do not constitute a real limit or nucleus, structurally inherent to the hysterical discourse. Obsessional depressions are only a kind of symbolic or even imaginary dialect: the dialect of hate, grafted onto the underlying structure of an hysterical discourse. Now we must ask ourselves if something like a 'purely hysterical' depression exists. By this is meant a neurotic depression with a psycho-symbolic or oedipal etiology which is not that of a classical obsessional etiology.

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