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The Psychoanalytic Discourse Allows a Different Kind of Therapeutic Engagement in Psychosis

The Letter, Issue 55/56, Spring/Summer 2014, Pages 103 - 118




Patricia McCarthy[1]

For the psychiatrist, negative symptoms are viewed as a sign of mental illness marked by a symbolic deficit. Symbolic deficit flags the imperative of the Real and as such is viewed in an utterly different way by the psychoanalyst who views all meaning-making – whether the phantasy of the neurotic or the positive symptom, the delusion of the psychotic - as a means of compensation, a means of constructing a symbolic solution in the face of the Real. Ab-sens, understood as absence or absence of sense, directly indicates the Real. While at the core of the negative symptom, ab-sens allows the question of the subject to be posed. This unique pivot between ab-sens and the subject to come requires an introduction to the terms meaning, sense and ab-sens, in the hope of prompting a reappraisal by the non-analyst, of psychoanalysis as a therapeutic engagement that differs from any other narrative approach.

Keywords: negative symptoms; psychoanalytic discourse; Fierens; subject; meaning; sense/ab-sens; differance; a clinic of failure

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