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The Other Side of The Symptom

The Letter, Issue 24, Spring 2002, Pages 38 - 47


Frédéric Declercq

Ever since the discovery of the unconscious, psychopathological symptoms have been explained on the basis of defence, in which repression plays a prominent role. However, after Freud it was more or less forgotten that repression in itself is a second moment within the causation of psychopathology:

If what is spoken of as 'repression' is examined more closely, we shall find reason to split the process up into three phases which are easily distinguishable from one another conceptually. The first phase consists in fixation, which is the precursor and necessary condition of every repression. The phase of the repression proper - the phase to which psychoanalysis is accustomed to give the most attention - in fact is already a second phase of repression. The third phase is the return of the repressed.[1]

In other words, we mustn't forget Freud's axiom that symptoms are not only a compromise formation between two contradictory tendencies, but also a locus of jouissance.[2]

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