Hurly-Burly – Commentary on Six Selected Papers from the most recent issue

Hurly-Burly – Commentary on Six Selected Papers from the most recent issue



Hurly Burly is available at
from the NLS-Messager


The Contumax Child , by Francois Leguil

“[…] Lacan enters the debate opened by the first page of the Antimemoirs as someone who is very well informed. Although we shall have to come back to the invigorating nature of Lacan ’s critique, we may note that there is an indisputable moral integrity when, “hystericising” his own stance, Malraux asks, exhausted by his uncommon ordeals: “What is a man?”, because he doesn’t content himself with simply saying that it’s not the same thing as a grown-up. By default, Malraux deserves credit for not proposing that a man is a father and that being a father means having children.

            Since being a father is not a matter of knowing how to have children, does it mean knowing how to face up to the idea of losing them? This is not a way of getting out of this serious issue by some intellectual pirouette. Rather it takes us back to a long tradition that stretches from Golgotha to the nation’s sacrifice of its sons as inscribed on the monuments to the fallen. Recall if you will, although developing it here would lead us too far off track, that what Lacan had already been diagnosing before the war as the “decline of the father”[1] does not sit in the same line as this tradition which ultimately does no more than pass the consequences of the paternal metaphor onto the child, and does so because the Name-of-the-Father is a dead father. Lacan’s commentary in his Seminar on the famous Freudian dream, “Father, can’t you see that I’m burning?”, does not go in the direction of an exploitation of pathos, but rather turns towards the enigma of the desire of the Other.[2]

Francois Leguil raises questions about what constitutes a grown up, a child, a man and a father. These concepts, that are etymologically simple, are semantically charged and complicated. From Freud to Lacan, from religion to psychoanalysis, the author of the text attempts to answer some crucial existential questions “of being”.

Stella Steletari


[1] Cf. Lacan, J., “Les Complexes familiaux dans la formation de l’individu”, in Autres écrits, Seuil, Paris, 2001, p. 60: “a social decline of the paternal imago”.

[2] Lacan, J., The Seminar, Book XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, transl. by A. Sheridan, Penguin, 1994, pp. 57-60.

< >   < >   < >   < >   < >   < >   < >   < >   < >   < >   < >   < >   < >   < >   < >   < >   On Dominique Holvoet’s ‘The Pleasure of the Symptom’


“Psychoanalysis specifies itself by renouncing the attempt to resolve discontent [malaise] by eradicating the symptom”.

“Mr B turned to psychoanalysis because of a somatic symptom that medicine had been unable to treat – a hypertension that, by this point, had become so crippling that, when he came to see me ten years ago, he had not been able to work for a year. He was, he said, constantly tense, stressed, and deeply angry. This anger is a sort of stifled rage”.

In this clinical case Dominique Holvoet gradually unfolds the scenes and the crucial encounters which established the structure of the subject, as well as the formula of the fantasy. This case is about a subject that responds as a wounded man each time the Other of demand appears: “if you want me to fall, there you are!”.  Thus, he was captivated by an obsessional desire, the desire to kill desire – a death wish.

In the analytic experience “the symptom passes from its repetitive necessity … to the possibility of contingency, in other words the possibility of acknowledging the irreducible real of the symptom, offering a new trajectory for jouissance. The new status of the symptom, severed from meaning, the reconciliation with the real, opens to contingency. From this, a new responsibility is deduced for the analysand”.

The orientation of psychoanalysis is “… not to let oneself go on the side of meaning, but instead seek to make the well of meaning run dry in order get to the bone, which is the drive [pulsionnel]”.

Through this particular case, Dominique Holvoet designates the new status of the symptom, the symptomatic remainder after the revelation of the fantasy.


Despina Karagianni

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 On Jean-Pierre Deffieux’s “On reasoning madmen” 

Jean-Pierre Deffieux’s “On reasoning madmen” analyses the seminal work of Paul Sérieux and Joseph Capgras for an English-speaking audience. Sérieux and Capgras were two major figures in French psychiatry whose 1909 publication,Les folies raisonnantes, which was considered a “masterly” work by Lacan, provides significant background to some important points in Lacan’s own understanding of psychosis.[i] Their analysis of “delusions of interpretation”, a concept that has since become famous in France but less well-accepted to psychiatry in the English-speaking world, emphasises what they call the “interpretative side” of psychosis over the paranoid or persecutory aspect.

With fine clinical observation, they focus on the role of interpretation in paranoia and conclude that the real kernel of paranoia is not ideas of persecution but an interpretative delusion. An interpretative delusion can be characterised in these terms. It begins with a dominant idea such as one of grandeur or persecution, or perhaps a mystical, erotic or jealous idea. There then ensues a reasoning and systematising process that successively crystallises a series of interpretations out of the phenomenon. Their analysis thus emphasises the role of the signifier itself, rather than the role of the signified or the content of the persecutory delusion.

Sérieux and Capgras contrast interpretative delusions (as the kernel of paranoia) with litigious delusions, taking the latter to be a distinct entity. Litigious delusions are linked to a precise external cause that the subject regards as prejudicial, and the subject is characterised by an idée fixe and by a manic commitment to working for “the cause”, as he understands it.

The task of separating out and refining these significant clinical entities was clearly an arduous business. The absence of hallucinations, mood disturbance, or signs of schizophrenia worried the authors to the point where they even wondered whether what they were describing really was a mental illness. And the precise identification of the interpretative delusion was difficult to make.

The article is accompanied by a valuable discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of Sérieux and Capgras’s contribution with Jacques-Alain Miller and other members of the École de la Cause freudienne.

Russell Grigg

[i] John Cutting and Michael Shepherd published a long excerpt from Les folies raisonnantes (pp. 5-43) in their excellent edited volume, The clinical roots of the schizophrenia concept (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1987), along with other seminal works from French and German psychiatrists.
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 On Jacques-Alain Miller’s “Psychotic Invention” 
With his customary clarity, Jacques-Alain Miller speaks here of the place of “invention” for the speaking-being, especially the psychotic. Miller draws our attention here not to the early Lacan, the Lacan for whom language is the death of the thing, the mortification of the body, with various symptomatic residues remaining in the neurotic symptom, but rather to a relationship of the speaking being and the body that is more prevalent now, today, in the 21st century.
At this moment of the decline of the Father, of Oedipus, speaking beings are less able to draw upon the “established discourses” to resolve problems faced in the encounter with a body, with language, with society, with the relationship to the Other. Indeed, in this moment where the Other does not exist, we are able to not only retroactively see that the Other of the past was only a semblant, but we are also in a situation where to relate to one’s body, to society, involves this very concept of “invention” that Miller highlights.
The paradigmatic example Miller weaves his talk around is the schizophrenic, the speaking being faced with a body that is no longer organized (as the psychiatrists say) by the established discourses, but that is instead an enigma, which the schizophrenic may respond to with an invention–this organ, or body part, is for this; this other organ for that; and so forth. In such a way, the organs–those parts of the body enigmatically present as “out of the body”–can be made use of by the schizophrenic. This is true too for the ultimate “out of body” organ, language itself. For here too, unable to “organize” language through the established discourse, the schizophrenic may too invent a way in which to make use of language.
Starting from this hypothesis, Miller touches on paranoia as the case of invention of a bond with the Other and melancholia as type of negative invention, or, what we may call the clinic of non-invention: the melancholic as the speaking being who has failed to make or sustain an invention. Miller develops the concept further with regard to a different failure of invention, in cases in which the speaking being cannot transcend the trauma of language with an invention.
All of this is illustrated by Miller with clinical vignettes and literary references. Adrian Price’s translation includes notes that direct the reader to the various references in Lacan and elsewhere that Miller makes in the talk and also will assist the English reader with the translation of difficult concepts from Lacan.

Tom Svolos

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 Guy Briole on Kraepelin – The Fragility of a Colossal Oeuvre

The era of the Other that does not exist and the rise of the ordinary psychoses has marked for us a clinical and epistemological threshold.  It is this perspective that underlies the interest of the collection of texts to be found in the latest issue of Hurly-Burly under the title of ‘The Malicious Other”- an Other, we could say, that has managed to evade or to shake off its bar.  For it now becomes possible to read what we could call the era of the Other as the product of a grand and systematic, even if somewhat outdated, delusion.

In the first of these papers taken from a 2008-9 lecture series at the ECF, Guy Briole demonstrates the interest of returning to the work of Emile Kraepelin, the founding father of classical psychiatry whose name is associated above all with the clinical concept of Dementia Praecox.  This association has perhaps served somewhat to mask Kraepelin’s influence in isolating and formalising the clinical concept of paranoia.
Briole’s reading of Kraepelin’s work is stimulating and instructive on many counts. The title of his paper – The Fragility of a Colossal Oeuvre – refers to the articulation he traces between Kraepelin’s life and work, based on a reading of Kraepelin’s autobiography, only released in 1976 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of his death.  Picking up on indications of Kraepelin’s own structure, Briole helps us to locate the subjective stake in constructing an ever more elaborate psychiatric taxonomy in an attempt to complete what he encountered as lacking in his initial entry into this field.
The various editions of Kraepelin’s Textbook on Psychiatry came to dominate the field of psychiatry much as the DSM does today.  Briole demonstrates the interest of following out the changing formulations and classifications of mental illness in the successive editions.  Perhaps even more intriguing, as Briole’s careful reading brings out, is the articulation between evolution and classification internal to the clinical concept of Dementia Praecox itself.
Following the successive editions, Briole shows how evolutionary criteria came to the fore in Kraepelin’s work, hence modifying the conceptual organisation of the diagnostic signs that made up the clinical picture of the illness.  It is now the question of the evolution of the illness, its conditions of onset and above all of outcome, that become the distinguishing characteristic.  Here Briole demonstrates clearly the ‘entirely original place’ assigned to paranoia in this conception, precisely as a kind of exception to the degenerative conception of schizophrenia.
Kraepelin’s extraction of the concept of paranoia from the field of the schizophrenias constitutes one of the fundamental roots of the construction of the Other at the heart of the classificatory endeavour of modern psychiatry.  It is here that we find his classical formulation of the concept of paranoia, foregrounding the purely psychogenetic origin of the illness around an initial delusional interpretation.  It is this definition of paranoia that Lacan will take as his point of reference at the beginning of his Seminar III on the psychoses.
Need I say anything more to indicate something of the interest of this text?  I urge you to follow Briole’s meticulous and informed tracing out of some of the questions at stake around this point.  I recommend above all the engaging discussion at the end of the paper by Jacques-Alain Miller and other members of the ECF that provides the link with the other texts brought together in careful translation under the title of The Malicious Other in yet another vital issue of Hurly-Burly.
Roger Litten
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Reading Clérambault- An Anatomy of Passions by Carole Dewambrechies-La Sagna


In this fascinating account of the intriguing life and meticulous work of Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault, the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carole Dewambrechies-La Sagna, gives us the opportunity to become further acquainted with the man Lacan referred to as his ‘only master in psychiatry.’ This text provides us with a detailed and insightful description of de Clérambault’s groundbreaking contributions to psychiatry on erotomania and mental automatism, emphasising the precision and perspicuity with which he differentiated the manifest phenomena from psychosis itself.


It seems that there is much more to what made de Clérambault the man that influenced Lacan more than any other in the field of psychiatry. He was an attentive and skillful interviewer of psychiatric patients and was the psychiatrist at the Special Infirmary of the Paris Prefecture of Police. During the twenty years he worked there, he issued more than twelve thousand certificates and it was he who had to decide on whether the prosecuted, who had often committed a passage à l’acte, would be hospitalized. He was also quite resented and targetted by the surrealists. This bachelor, de Clérambault, eventually committed suicide by shooting himself in front of his bedroom mirror. Certain aspects of his life will always remain unknown.


De Clérambault’s fascination with Arabic draping, of which he took thousands of photographs whilst in north Africa, seems to have been more than a mere artistic interest. His lecturing at the School of Fine Arts in Paris on drapery and the way fabrics fold depending on what is underneath is not simply a peculiar side of de Clérambault’s endeavours. His interest in movement, reflected in his fascination with drapery, is evident also in his meticulous study of psychotic phenomena, of their differentiation and the search for what underlies them, such as the role of mental automatism in delusional phenomena.


Reading Carole Dewambrechies-La Sagna on de Clérambault can only make one want to learn more about this mysterious figure and the immense contributions he made to psychiatry and, through Lacan, to psychoanalysis. Undoubtedly, de Clérambault can be counted among those, like Lacan, whose praxis left nothing the same in the field they dealt with. It seems that psychoanalysis owes him much more than meets the eye.
Iannis Grammatopoulos
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