Misreading Freud and Lacan

freud

Lacan

I have read vastly into Freud and Lacan who are all time popular psycho-analysts and whose theories are popular as jargon in the field of literary theory. It was when I started reading the Bible, I began to have second thoughts about them and I wanted reinterpret their theories with the light of Christian Apologetics.

First of all I would like to take the Freudian concepts of the ID, EGO and SUPEREGO. The ID according to Freud is the primary seat of passion and the stronghold of the libido. The EGO refers to the culture and language assimilated from the family. The SUPEREGO refers to the laws imposed by the society. What Freud has failed, is his efforts to integrate these concepts. It’s still a mystery to this day about how language is learnt by humans. The theories of language are rather vague and hazy. From a Freudian point of view we have to be an acrobat and tight-rope-walk on the ID, EGO and SUPEREEGO. Any loss of balance would be insanity and thus we have psychopaths and sociopaths who are not able to adjust these three states. From a Christian perspective, Christ made creation as a wholesome being. When sin entered the world through Adam and Eve our psychological states became fragmented. After the entry of Christ and his shedding of blood on the cross and his offering of salvation, we are made whole beings once again. Such a type of consciousness, I would like to define as a neologism: CHRISTANONSCIOUSNESS or Christ plus consciousness. The Freudian fragmentation of consciousness is considerably reduced and we become parts of Christ as his brides.

Next I would like to take the Freudian concept of the Libido. Libido for Freud is the sexual drive. Here Freud fails to consider that we are humans and not animals. Incest is rare in society. Again Freud has misinterpreted the Libido to arise from birth. The libido begins only at the state of puberty. Parental relationship like, touch, sharing of emotions and care develops not the sexual organs but the mind. Freud was madly focused on the genitals which I think has been a red-herring. Love, emotions and care, I would like to say are responsible for the growth of psycho-emotivity of the person. A bad childhood can create psychological problems later on. Lack of development of psycho-emotivity can make individuals into psychos and sociopaths. It’s very interesting to observe how Christ treated mentally deranged people. He treated them with love, empathy and respect and healed their afflictions totally. Notable is the man from Gadarene. Cure for Christ was not altering the function of neuro-transmitters but wholesome.

Next I would like to raise all hue and cry against the preposterous theory of Freud called the Oedipus complex. It’s ironic to note that Freud made it from Legend. According to the legend, the play of Sophocles, Rex the king marries his mother and kills the father. For Freud the Oedipus complex meant the transference of the child from the breast of the mother to desire the father. I would blatantly ask Freud whether any child in the world will have sexual desires for the mother at such an early phase of development. We are not born into sex and sex develops later on in life. At this stage of life we are in a process known as Christomasy, a word coined from Christ and Geomancy (reading the earth through divination). Development at this phase of life is emotional and psychological rather than sexual. I would also like to use another term for the process of weaning and that would be the circumcision complex. The circumcision complex refers to the weaning of the child from the mother. And the child after weaning has to come to terms with the partial independence of the body.

Next I would like to deal with Freud’s most baffling theory—the castration complex. Castration complex closely related to the Oedipus complex is the reaction of threats put by the father to taboo the sexual activities of the child. The child comes to confront the laws of the society—that is prohibition against incest and murder. Its true when sexual feelings are opened at puberty, there might be a tendency to masturbate. It’s a part of nature after the Adamite sin. Here the parents can guide the activities of the child to recreational pursuits. Again Freudian sexuality is chauvinistic. It does not address the nature of feminine sexuality. Freud does not say that the female child desires the father and wishes to kill the mother.

Next I would like to take up the Freudian conceptuality of the Oral Anal and Phallic Phases. The Oral phase is marked by desire of the Mother’s breast and pleasure in oral simulation. Does the child connote it sexually? The answer is definitely no. The next Freudian phase is the Anal when there is a fascination for defecation. Shitting is more biological than sexual. I would beg to disagree with Freud by saying that sodomy is not learnt at this stage. I am sure that the child will not have fantasy for sodomy. The next stage is the phallic. Here the phallus for the child is more a biological tool rather than a sexual one. The genitals attain a connotation of sexuality only at a later stage of development that is puberty.

Next I would like to take Lacan’s concept of the gaze. For Lacan the gaze is sexual also termed by him as scopophilia or the pleasure of looking. Again I take this to be very chauvinistic. I would like to ask the question why males are fond of looking. The feminine on the other hand is stimulated by love, touch and care. I would like to call this as maternality. The Bible is very clear about the gaze. Christ has repeatedly emphasized that it is not enough that you don’t do adultery but lust not with your eyes. If your eyes are cloudy pluck them out. In reality this Christian ideal is very difficult to put into practice. What we can do only is to ask God for forgiveness.

Next of all Lacan’s controversial concepts is the Mirror stage. It is the stage that occurs from 6 to 18 months when the child learns to recognize the self as an image. This is an atrocious blasphemy. The sense of the self develops through language and cognition. Yes, the emotive concepts of the self have to be guaranteed by the mother with loving gestures, tender care and emotional speech. Only then can the child develop into a wholesome being.

Again Lacan the notorious French psychoanalyst has fragmented the ego into the real, imaginary and the symbolic realms. The real for Lacan is an ideal state of being before the development of language. The self of the child is looked after by the parents. This was originally the state of Adam and Eve in paradise. The next stage is the symbolic order where the child enters into the realm of language. The child’s reality from plenitude is desire and lack. Is that a problem? Not at all! For a child who has been well looked after it is not emotional or sexual problem. Deviancy occurs due to a bad childhood. The next stage is imaginary a stage for the development of narcissism. The person at this stage will have fantasy for herself or himself and also for celebrities. From Christian viewpoint it is better to be rooted in Christ and accept Christ as our ideal. Christ is loving celebrity who has to be coated with worship, honor and respect. After all we are made to do the same. Social, intellectual and physical bonding will help to reduce the self prophesied narcissism of Lacan.

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Analysis of Jacques Lacan’s Psychoanalysis

Jacque Lacan is a controversial and notorious psychoanalyst, known for his rewriting of Freudian theory. Lacan’s theories are widely used in postmodern literature, film studies and also psychotherapy.
Prominent among his concepts is the mirror-stage. The mirror-stage is a stage when the child learns the concept of the self as being distinct from the body. Here I would like to contradict Lacan; the development of the self concept of the child is not psychological but emotional. The bonding of the mother with the child marks the growth of the development of self hood. For Lacan the growth to selfhood through the mirror-stage is not perfect. There is no perfectly developed self. With the development of the mirror-stage the child enters into the world of language and this world is marked by desires and lack.
The mirror stage has been used film studies. The spectator of a cinema is confined to gaze at the images that appear on the screen. Laura Mulvey has termed the gaze as scopophilia or a sexual one. The gaze is primarily a male sexual gaze. Laura Mulvey is of the opinion that cinemas should offer gay and feminine gazes.
With coming into fruition of the mirror stage, the child enters into the psychological realm of the ego and the super ego. The child learns to subordinate the ID and adhere to the norms of the ego and the super ego. The ego that is the result of formation of parental influences is a culturally produced phenomenon and not a natural one. The Super Ego too, the moral laws of the society is a product of the societies’ laws and regulations. An individual has to tight-rope-walk between the Id, Ego and the Super Ego. The psychotics defy the Ego and the Super Ego and follow the pleasure principle of the ID.
The most significant breakthrough achieved by Lacan is that he theorized that the unconscious is structured like language. Dreams are metaphors and metonymies. There are two types of dreams as enunciated by Freud and they are condensation and displacement. A dream of condensation is prolific with symbolic imagery. For example: I had a dream of a wild elephant who was very agitated and I soothed it and put it among a pack tame elephants. There it rested peacefully. As a condensed image, I interpret the wild elephant as my own anarchic libido and through the dream, I am taming it. Displacement in a dream refers to dreaming of situations where one wants to escape from reality. For example: I dreamed of winning a lottery. The dream reminded me that I am wasting a lot of money buying lottery tickets. Lacan has incorporated the work of the linguist Roman Jacobson. Metaphoric content of a dream rests on the syntagmatic axis and metonymies in a dream rest on the paradigmatic axis. For Lacan the unconscious acts according to the rules metaphors and metonymies.
Lacan has also borrowed terminology of the French structuralist Saussure. For him language was an assemblage of Signs and the sign is divided into the signifier, a visual, tangible thing and the signified, an idea. For example: if I say Rose is passion, rose is the signifier and passion the signified. Lacan gives primacy to the signifier and places the signified below it. A single signifier can have multiple signifieds.
For Lacan the Phallus is not an organ but a signifier. The phallus performs three functions, the imaginary, the symbolic and the real. I would like to question Lacan about how the phallus is a psychological signifier. The ID is the seat of passions, the ego the culture and training of the parents and the super ego the laws of the society. The idea of the self develops through these three states. I would also like to question Freud’s Oedipus complex. Oedipus complex is a misnomer. How can a child become sexually attracted to the mother or the father? Incest is a taboo and is very rare in a society. Who has given the conscience not to commit incest? Sexuality begins at puberty and we become attracted to the same (rare) or opposite members of the society. I would also like to question Freud’s castration complex. Girls do not have a penis and they suffer from a castration complex. They have the feelings of penis envy. Under normal circumstances we do not think of our genitals. Our selfhood is marked by emotional and psychological feelings of individuality. I would like to ask Lacan: how can the phallus be a privileged signifier. We are holistic individuals and not merely sexual objects seeking gratification.
Again Lacan goes on to say that the name of the father or the super ego is a symbolic phallus. That is most preposterous. The super ego contains the laws of the society and they are not found in the phallus. The laws of the society help to make life more meaningful. Deviants break the laws and get punished for it. The phallus is mere drivel and becomes an empty signifier. Again Lacan goes on to say that the internalization of the phallus constitutes the formation of the symbolic order or the super Ego. How can laws be phallic? Laws are civil and criminal and they are not formed from a phallus.
Lacan in his text makes a case study of Nazism. Nazism as a totalitarian ideology marked the hatred of the Jewish race was one of the repressed by the oedipal conflict. For looking at Nazism we have to analyze the mind of Hitler. Hitler’s father was Jewish and he was born out of an illicit relationship. Lack of care and acceptance by the father made Hitler into Jew hunting maniac.
One of the most confusing concepts of Lacan is that sexual difference is not biological but one of significations. There is masculine and feminine gender and their genitals are different. The ways of attaining pleasure and orgasm are different for both men and women. Generally women take more time to orgasm. Sex for the woman is not physical but emotional and psychological. Lacan has said that there is no perfect sexual relationship and that for some extent is true. Love and emotional bonding are more important than sex.

Gothic Sublime

Gothic literature is sublime and let’s ascertain the reasons for it being so. I would like to use the following paraphernalia for doing it. They are New Criticism, Existentialism, Psychoanalysis, Marxian Criticism, Deconstruction and Feminism.
New Criticism is the analysis of tropes or figures of speech used in literature. The tropes in Gothic Literature bear a semblance of illumination. They dissect the human psyche to portray the storm of inner angst. When we read into the tropes of Gothic Literature we are filled with awe, fixated to a neurotic delirium and we become fascinated with the flux of psychedelic mania. Gothic literature is fanciful, ornamental and hyperbolic. There is a tendency to portray the supernatural realm through the lens of being human. The pathetic dilemma of human condition is portrayed vividly through using neurotic and psychotic features.

Viewing it through the prism of existential literature, the first prominent feature that is highlighted is angst. Most characters undergo an extreme angst that transcends to a manifestation of neurosis or psychosis. Edgar Allan Poe is a master of portraying psychological torment. There is a tendency to overcome societal norms and showcase characters with violent criminal behavior. Using Sartre’s term, the characters exhibit a being- in- itself syndrome and project their ego to annihilate the other’s subjective postures. Thus characters encounter nothingness with reality and use their freedom to egotistical excess.

Psychoanalytically speaking we can use the famous term of Lacan: the gaze. The gaze is violent, pathetic, neurotic and psychotic. There is a romantic elevation of the psyche to dizzying levels of melancholia. All Gothic characters are lunatic psyches with a tendency to usurp the existing synthesis of being democratically tuned to a society’s ethos. The ID is elevated, the ego is defied and the superego is violated. There is a tendency to be in the reverse tangle of despondent romanticism. The characters are either psychotic or neurotic or both. Murder is justified with the luminal space of being egotistically sadistic.

A Marxian critic would look at the Gothic as being productive enterprise of the bourgeoisie. The sole aim of the Gothic is to produce a pleasurable catharsis. The reader is fantastically transmitted into the world of the sublime where it’s the aim of the bourgeoisie to keep the proletariat satisfied. The means of producing literature are gratified with the excess of capitalistic profit. For a Marxian critic, the Gothic is an out-of-place reality, a genre where the interests of the working class are negated.

Looking at it through the ideas of deconstruction, one would understand the binary divide of characters. For example, in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, the monstrous element becomes the grotesque, ugly and portrayed with pathos of being psychotically disturbed. This is a symptom of Binary Divide, an escape from the reality of being clinically sane. Democratic norms are subverted to justify the colonialism of the psyche. Tyranny of the mind reigns high and becomes the threshold of the DNA ladder of the Binary divide. The book becomes the centre of psychological gratification in one sense and in another, feasible appetizer for psychological gratification.

From a Feminist point of view, the archetypes are masculine, and having the qualities of being misogynists. There is no gaze of the feminine. The characters are psychological machos caught in the throes of violence and murder.