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Schreber’s Lack of Lack

The Letter, Issue 40, Spring 2009, Pages 83 - 91


Schreber’s Lack of Lack[1]

Charles Melman

This paper deals with the problematic relation in psychosis to what Lacan calls “the big Other”. Referring to contemporary clinical examples, it argues that the world’s loss of meaning in Schreber was due to a lack of the lack that causes desire and that this was precipitated when he had no Name- of-the-Father to which to refer himself and he lost his subjective domicile in the locus of that lack, the big Other.

Keywords: psychosis; Name-of the-Father; lack; Other; Schreber

Thank you for your invitation. I would like to compliment Jane, Helen and Barry for their very interesting remarks, and I will try to add a few elements.

I think first of all that the Irish know in their very bones what the Name- of-the-Father is - the father is above all a name, a signifier. It is Irish (sic). The Irish know how the lack of this signifier did not allow them to be recognised in the field of reality, put men in the position of being emasculated and women of not being honoured, and how they were obliged to repress their original tongue.

The Name-of-the-Father, as we shall see presently, always has essential consequences, and in particular in this precise case to people or fill the unconscious with a whole language, a whole tongue, not of repressed elements, but a positive language that has been given to us. And that situation has many consequences because, at the same time, the place of the Other is no longer Other, but is inhabited by our ancestors and, as we know, it is from that place that we receive our own message. So then if the Other is not a foreign language or an original tongue, what is it? We encounter the dimension of the Other every time we lie on a couch and begin to speak.

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