A Criticism of TLP's tone as a symptom of a lingering ego psychology. (X-Post from r/zizek)

No, I’m not saying that, but you are right that I am drawing attention to the structure of it. Hegel suggested first that self-consciousness itself, in order to ‘become’, has to base itself on something else, a kind of madness in that it ‘posits its own being’ (pulls itself into existence) from observing the existence of other things. To do that, it must (and this is the madness part) first, posit its own existence (i.e. “I think therefor I am” – Descartes). But, in fact, this is done after the positing of object/s in the world and then the Subject that sees the Object is reflected back as always having been there already. The mind is at sea, lost in the dark, a gaze without a gazer as it were, unless it can grab something to get hold of and say ‘this is it!’ so it can then posit itself as having been ‘always already’ there seeing it. It mistakes the identification of another ‘thing’ in the world for its own existence prior to it, its essence. Hence the emergence of ‘ego’, for Lacan (mirror stage of child development), as a misrecognition of ‘who I really am’. This was his most fundamental criticism of Freudian ego psychology.

Neurotics know there is something wrong with this unconscious structure (which is the result of division by the mind and of the mind, through the processing of images through signification – language if you like) but can more or less successfully ‘disavow’ this ‘void’ by saying ‘this is who I am’ – and yet they kind of sense it never really fully works, but deny it more or less successfully. This is the excess of Drive and The Real for Lacan, (too much to go into here, but a brief look at your own posts suggest you are probably familiar with the term) and is what made him ultimately move on from pure structuralism. This ‘more or less’ is the equivocation of neurosis. For psychotics, their orientation towards this contradiction at the basis of their being is at a greater angle if you like (or never successfully hidden) and they are crushed by it, have to fight for it all the time, hence the danger of too much eye contact being oppressive, because it invites ‘the psychotic’ to expose that they have no real self. In a sense, this is all that happens in what we call a ‘mental breakdown’ and people usually get over it and return to a neurotic state of ‘more or less’. Those who get stuck in psychotic structures, psychotics ‘proper’, rely on extreme fantasies to make up for this gap in being – Tony Montana sees himself as the only authentic person in the world and the one true King/Gangster, it is his right to rule. Likewise for Lacan, the King who really believes he is the King (given that position by divine right rather than by mere history and social structure) is as mad as the psychotic who believes he really is the reincarnation of Elvis, or a reincarnation of Napoleon in times past.

However, it’s not that simple. Lacan says that at some level, we all must use fantasies as Master Signifiers (God, ‘Mother Nature’, science, democracy) to cover over the gaps. How broadly then do you cast the net of psychosis? Anyone who believes in a supernatural being? Anyone who believes in a fundamental ‘organising principle’ – the scientist who is convinced, has total faith in a General Theory of Everything? All of us basically need a belief in some primary principle, either avowed or disavowed, but we use what’s called clinical psychosis to ‘label (manage) those who have left ‘common shared reality’. This is the beauty of telos for the Greeks, culminating in, I would say, the principle of ‘the Good’ in Plato.

So the diagnosis of clinical psychosis is of course relative, – hence political (think of the classification of dissidents as mentally ill in the old soviet union). Psychosis, like neurosis is a structural effect that we can all be exposed to at times. What I am saying is that cyberspace allows some people to free themselves from the guilt of their psychotic structures, the guilt that normally modifies their behaviour in ‘real life’, by seeing others approving of it in cyberspace, it’s funny to them and they enjoy it because they can tell themselves it’s really harmless. It may ‘offend’ some people, but they ‘got what they deserved’. But the truth is that it hurts those expressing these structures the most, and it’s ‘victims’ are invited, ‘poked’ and ‘prodded’ into collapsing their normal abilities to reject personal criticism and collapse their neurotic structures into psychotic ones and ‘break down’. This is the fantasy of the clinical psychopath, to ‘get to’ the very core of the other through torture, so they can see the ‘origin’ (expose the God in themselves by killing him in others) in the moment of death of their victims. Ultimately it’s all a matter of degree until one structure ‘flips’ into another.

Psychotic structures expressed on the internet do it more symbolically, with words as weapons, attempts to hurt others (and thus expose themselves as God). It never, ever works of course, and they know it, but as Žižek would say, they don’t know that they know it. Instead therefor, they have to come back for more and more enjoyment as the motivation for the disavowed Drive to find ‘The Thing’, desire by any other name. You’re right, I write long posts. Hope that response works for you though.

/r/thelastpsychiatrist Thread Parent