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Terms and Conditions: ‘Psychosis’ and Psychoanalytic Treatment

The Letter, Issue 55/56, Spring/Summer 2014, Pages 27 - 39


Barry O’Donnell[1]

Psychoanalysis is a practice launched by a neurologist, Sigmund Freud[2], based on the interpretation of dreams, products of every mental life which signify so madly that the normal and the pathological become indistinguishable. With the work of the psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, Jacques Lacan, psychoanalysis recognizes the human subject as a subject of the effects of the functioning of language. This requires that the practitioner in the field of the mental attend to the speech and language of a patient – one who is suffering a disturbance in their symbolization of their world. This requires a listening which refuses submission to the expectation to quickly fix a diagnosis with seeming certainty, a listening which resists the pressure to form an opinion on the basis of unreliable outward signs. This paper raises a number of points which support this contention, in in order to promote serious consideration of the consequences for practice for the position that psychosis is a disorder of the subject in language.

Keywords: etymology; psychosis; paranoia; grammar and logic of language; subjective speech; delusion as solution; mental life; neurotic relation to treatment

‘Je te demande de refuser ce que t’offre parce que ce n’est pas ça.’

Jacques Lacan, ...ou pire: 9th February 1972; passim.[3]

‘It is in starting from the psychotic Schreber that Freud first articulated repression. And it is starting from the same Schreber that Lacan articulates the subject.’

Christian Fierens, The Psychoanalytic Discourse.[4]

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Issue 55/56: Editorial

This double issue of The Letter sees the publication of the proceedings of the conference Treatment Challenges in Psychosis: Voices of


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