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Theparanoiacmachine

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I never quite understood what Lacan was talking about when he wrote the Real, the Symbolic, and the Imaginary.

 

I know that the Symbolic is literal things, but how would a psychoanalyst explain it? 

I know that the Real is something that is inaccessible to us, since we've gone through the mirror stage of self-identification, but, again, how would a psychoanalyst explain it?

I have no idea what the Imaginary is at all; Lacan said that it's like the Symbolic other than that I have no clue.

 

How do these theories work? Are they like the Marxist autonomous spheres of production and consumption (not in the Marxist sense of course, but in the sense that they work independently of one another) are they connected between each other (which means that neither presupposes each other, rather they all work in unison)?

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Basically imaginary equals perceptions, symbolic is language, and the real is something external to those two things that Zizek describes kind of a like a gray fog outside of typical perceptions that I'm totally blanking on how to describe (I was actually working on a Intro to Lacan paper for funsies earlier this month which is the really bad part).

 

These all function in a relationship with the subject. For instance, the psychotic never has the symbolic overcode the imaginary drives through castration. Basically there's a heitarchization of different drives.

 

We don't all go through the mirror stage (it's supposed to be a normal thing but the idea behind mental illness as we concieve them result from a failure of certain processes like the mirror stage or castration) , and something else is that the symbolic really comes into play in a person, not so much with the mirror stage, but with the Law of the Father. I'll explain better when I can get my laptop.

Edited by SnarkosaurusRex
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Desire and the Lack

 

Desire springs from lack. If one were given everything one asked for, would

one want anything anymore? A spoiled child, who is always given whatever

it requests, typically complains of boredom. In the words of the old song

Marilyn Monroe used to sing, "After you get what you want, you don't want

it." Satisfaction buries desire.6 (Fink)

 

 

Real

http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/psychoanalysis/definitions/real.html

 

Imaginary

 

Imaginary: “The imaginary register—that of visual images, auditory, olfactory, and other sense perceptions of all kinds, and fantasy…” (Fink 88)

 

 

Symbolic

 

Symbolic Relations:

 

What are symbolic relations? One simple way of viewing them is as one's

relation to the Law, to the law laid down by one's parents, one's teachers, one's

 religion, one's country. Symbolic relations can also be thought of as the way

people deal with ideals that have been inculcated in them by their parents,

schools, media, language, and society at large, embodied in grades, diplomas,

status symbols, and soon.(Fink)

 

 

How the symbolic functions through the Nom du Pere (Name of the Father):

 

The name of the father is associated with the law, constituted in the symbolic realm: “It is in the name of the father that we must recognize the basis of the symbolic function which, since the dawn of historical time, has identified his person with the figure of the law. (Écrits 230) [snipped from what I wrote]

 

Castration and the Symbolic

Some more from what I've written

 

 

Returning to the idea of a set of Imaginary relations being overwritten by the Symbolic, Fink writes:

“The overwriting of the imaginary by the symbolic (the "normal" or "ordinary neurotic" path) leads to the suppression or at least the subordination of imaginary relations characterized by rivalry and aggressivity…to symbolic relations dominated by concerns with ideals, authority figures, the law, performance, achievement, guilt, and so on.”

This suppression is analogous to the castration by the Father; desires are forced to be ‘socialized,’ and are subordinated to the Law (Nom du Pére). Sharpe offers additional insight into the relation between the imaginary and the symbolic during castration, writing:

“If the castration complex is to normalize the child, Lacan argues, what the child must be made to perceive is that what satisfies or orders the desire of the mother is not any visible (imaginary) feature of the father…he does so…as the delegate and spokesperson of a body of social Law and convention that is also recognised by the mother, as a socialised being…”

 

 

 

 

 

It's really not much here, just very short excerpts from a paper outline, but don't take stuff that's not directly quoting someone else (Fink, Lacan, or Sharpe) for use in something else anyone, please.

 

Edited by SnarkosaurusRex
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Thank you so much! You have been a huge help!

 

Question: How does the Oedipus Complex play a role in desire? It's a basic psychoanalysis question but I never quite understood it - what does the mother represent, what does the father represent, and what does the me represent within the Oedipus Complex? What exactly is castration and how does the father use it on the "me"?

 

The psychotic never has the symbolic overcode the imaginary...what does that mean? How is the imaginary produced and how does the symbolic overcode it? If they do not undergo the normal processes of castration and mirror stage, what do they go through instead?

 

What does it mean when you say that the symbolic develops not through the mirror stage (tbh I read Ecrits for a bit and that bit i read was an explanation of the mirror stage so I use it whenever I talk about psychoanalytic theory lol), rather through the Law of the Father? I think you already answered this when you said that the Castration of the subject forces the subject into symbolic relations, but I don't know if I'm correct to assume that?

Edited by Theparanoiacmachine

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Thank you so much! You have been a huge help!

 

Question: How does the Oedipus Complex play a role in desire? It's a basic psychoanalysis question but I never quite understood it - what does the mother represent, what does the father represent, and what does the me represent within the Oedipus Complex? What exactly is castration and how does the father use it on the "me"?

So before Castration desire is basically controlled by the imaginary, and not by the symbolic (since the symbolic is both law and society, for simplicities sake just think about it like you want to be with your mOther, but society says that's bad, so what the Father does is 'lay down the law,' which you are supposed to then back off and repress your drives (the symbolic overcoding.) Castration is the process of 'laying down the law,' basically a NO imbued with the Father's authority. You don't actually have to be a guy for this to play out either btw, it's more about roles, and the mother can also invoke the name of the father in other things ("Your father wouldn't want you to take the car off a cliff and parachute out.") Me represents the subject, the analysand in the case of therapy.

 

The psychotic never has the symbolic overcode the imaginary...what does that mean? How is the imaginary produced and how does the symbolic overcode it? If they do not undergo the normal processes of castration and mirror stage, what do they go through instead?

It's about the heirarchization of drives (which is part of why DnG call psycoanalysis [french word for rich people I can't spell] repression. Basically the imaginary is the realm of perceptions and stuff like that, and at least the way Fink posits it in Castration it's where that desire for the mother before you learn that society thinks that's nasty comes from. The imaginary isn't really 'produced' like production of something, it's just there, one aspect of the subject. The symbolic overcodes it because the Name of the Father (both a NO, and the law) say nuh-uh to your desire for your mOther (and her desire for you too, in some cases), this isn't right, she's my women (actually this is another part of psychosis if it's expressed in that way, which I can elaborate on a little if you're curious), so in a regular subject they're like alright Dad, I won't do that anymore, so law/society (the symbolic) code over your imaginary drives. 

There's a couple different things that can happen and what specifically happens (or doesn't happen) determines whether you end up Psychotic, Neurotic, or Perverted (or some sub category of those). I don't know how someone could feasibly escape the mirror stage really (like from a practical point of view) but it should be possible, at least theoretically, but to my knowledge Fink never addresses this (and I don't know if Lacan does either, I haven't read much of Ecrits because other texts were more relevant to debate, Ecrits is more for if you were actually going to be like a therapist because psychoanalysis' application in debate is so reductionist and oversimplified that it doesn't really matter unless you're going hardcore as your A strat). Anyways, like if the Castration complex is improperly resolved through, say, the Name of the Father being expressed as 'She's my woman, you get your own' it creates a problem with the subjects relation to the mother and the father and IIRC posits the father in an unusually antagonistic role. If you want me to be more explicit I can be, but I'd need to refresh my memory and I've never seen the categories or their results actually applied to debate.

 

What does it mean when you say that the symbolic develops not through the mirror stage (tbh I read Ecrits for a bit and that bit i read was an explanation of the mirror stage so I use it whenever I talk about psychoanalytic theory lol), rather through the Law of the Father? I think you already answered this when you said that the Castration of the subject forces the subject into symbolic relations, but I don't know if I'm correct to assume that?

The Mirror Stage isn't really where the subject is introduced to the primacy of the Symbolic realm in our everyday lives, so like how society governs our actions. What it does is make the subject aware of itself as a whole, rather than like a thumb and a mouth and stuff. It's key to the other stuff, and I won't say the Symbolic doesn't play a part (because I've never actually read the primary source mirror stage essay yet (Just kidding, I have, I just forgot), like I mentioned, most of my reading is third party) but it's not the biggie in developing that idea of the symbolic overcoding the imaginary.

Edited by SnarkosaurusRex
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Huh, turns out I did read the mirror stage, darn section is so short I forgot I had. But yeah, I don't see much relating to the symbolic here.

I know lol but it's literally the only section I read from Ecrits so I use it whenever I'm talking to my "well-read" psychoanalysts-in-the-making friends; they usually don't know what I'm talking about so I just bash at them for not knowing the foundations (I'm still in High School by the way)

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I know lol but it's literally the only section I read from Ecrits so I use it whenever I'm talking to my "well-read" psychoanalysts-in-the-making friends; they usually don't know what I'm talking about so I just bash at them for not knowing the foundations (I'm still in High School by the way)

Well the real problem is that there's no stable conceptualization of a lot of these concepts, in part because Lacan revised so much of his own stuff.

For instance, I was reading the U of Chicago's glossary of terms for Psychoanalysis and they have a separate idea of what the imaginary is from Fink. They argue it's the difference between the ego ideal (what the subject sees in the mirror during the mirror stage) and their perception of themselves, while Fink sees it more as the realm of perceptions, for instance when he refers to the idea that for a successful castration the Child must realize the mother doesn't 'prefer' the father for some 'imaginary' reason (imaginary like the imaginary realm, he uses physical development as an example) but that the prohibition results from the symbolic realm. These two conceptualization of the imaginary are related but not the same thing and its a PITA to sort out.

 

Edit: To demonstrate:

1) Imaginary: “The imaginary register—that of visual images, auditory, olfactory, and other sense perceptions of all kinds, and fantasy…” (Fink 88)

2) “The Imaginary: the imaginary becomes the internalized image of this ideal, whole, self and is situated around the notion of coherence rather than fragmentation… It becomes, in Lacan, the space in which the relation "between the ego and its images" (Miller, 280) is developed.” (Loos)

Edited by SnarkosaurusRex
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Well the real problem is that there's no stable conceptualization of a lot of these concepts, in part because Lacan revised so much of his own stuff.

For instance, I was reading the U of Chicago's glossary of terms for Psychoanalysis and they have a separate idea of what the imaginary is from Fink. They argue it's the difference between the ego ideal (what the subject sees in the mirror during the mirror stage) and their perception of themselves, while Fink sees it more as the realm of perceptions, for instance when he refers to the idea that for a successful castration the Child must realize the mother doesn't 'prefer' the father for some 'imaginary' reason (imaginary like the imaginary realm, he uses physical development as an example) but that the prohibition results from the symbolic realm. These two conceptualization of the imaginary are related but not the same thing and its a PITA to sort out.

 

Edit: To demonstrate:

1) Imaginary: “The imaginary register—that of visual images, auditory, olfactory, and other sense perceptions of all kinds, and fantasy…” (Fink 88)

2) “The Imaginary: the imaginary becomes the internalized image of this ideal, whole, self and is situated around the notion of coherence rather than fragmentation… It becomes, in Lacan, the space in which the relation "between the ego and its images" (Miller, 280) is developed.” (Loos)

I know, that's why I came here looking for help, a google search of "What is the psychoanalytic Imaginary" yields multiple interpretations of what it is for different authors, which seriously confused me. 

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I know, that's why I came here looking for help, a google search of "What is the psychoanalytic Imaginary" yields multiple interpretations of what it is for different authors, which seriously confused me. 

Well, not as disparate as DnG and definitions at least.

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Those are great explanations. Seriously you put some time in. I'm not denigrating you. I just hate Freud's cocaine addled brain and the massive pile of subjective bullshit truth claims he spawned that is now used to justify violence and incarceration.

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Those are great explanations. Seriously you put some time in. I'm not denigrating you. I just hate Freud's cocaine addled brain and the massive pile of subjective bullshit truth claims he spawned that is now used to justify violence and incarceration.

Oh it wasn't that, I didn't take any offense, it was just I wasn't sure what the warrant was I guess.

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Those are great explanations. Seriously you put some time in. I'm not denigrating you. I just hate Freud's cocaine addled brain and the massive pile of subjective bullshit truth claims he spawned that is now used to justify violence and incarceration.

Hate to bump this thread but

 

 

You mean this in the sense that Freud literally came up with the theories (out of his ass), correct? (I have no warrants for this, I merely heard it somewhere)

Edited by Theparanoiacmachine

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