An inspired resurrection of freudian drive theory: but does nick totton's reichian 'bodymind' concept supersede cartesian dualism?
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PSYCHOTHERAPHY, VOL. 5, NO. 2, 2000
An inspired resurrection of Freudian drive
theory: but does Nick Totton’s Reichian
`bodymind’ concept supersede Cartesian
Review article on Nick Totton’s The Water in the Glass: body and mind in psychoanalysis
London: Rebus Press, 1998, 266 pp., ISBN: L 900877 L2 0
Minster Centre/Scarborough Psychotherapy Training Institute
This review article looks at Nick Totton’s book The Water in the Glass as an
exceptionally clear and important expression of a Reichian view of Freud and his legacy, which laysserious claim to offer a view of `bodymind’ that overcomes Cartesian dualism. It also validates aspsychoanalytic work with the body and touch, which was embargoed in orthodox psychoanalysis afterReich’ s expulsion. Totton draws out Reich’s linkage to the hidden (unpublished until 1950) visionaryFreud of the `Project for a scienti® c psychology’ of 1895 (Freud, 1950), and offers a renewal of thevision of the `Project’, but one in which neurological forms of self-representation are replaced byembodied-physiological forms. These, however, serve in the same way as symbolic media forrepresentations of the self in awareness. The review article argues that, despite the breakthroughquality of this, it yet misses another pathway from Freud’s `Project’ , that of meaning instead ofenergy, represented by Derrida. This polarisation between energy and meaning is only resolved whenthe dimension of support (or relation, e.g. attachment theory) and social identi® cation is acknowl-edged as the vehicle of meaning. This is Freud’s thirdÐ not fully explicitÐ
becomes simultaneously incurably social and yet shot through with all-pervasive and self-transformingmeaning at every level. This is not incompatible with Totton’ s body-based vision, but transcends itssole limits. Yet Totton’s is a magni® cently clear Freudian statement that forces us all to clarify ourown positions.
This review paper explores some of the issues raised by Nick Totton’ s very important recentbook on Freud and the body (The Water in the Glass: body and mind in psychoanalysis
, 1998),which challenges psychoanalytic dogmas, from a Reichian perspective, about the use of touchin particular, and about the de® nition of the boundaries of the psychoanalytic in general, butwhose implication is much wider than just those. Here I can only touch on one or two keypoints of this very rich bookÐ a ® ne and very clear, truly Freudian, book, which invites andchallenges dialogue, and likewise forces one to clarify one’s own
perspectives on Freud, if
oneis to dialogue with it.
It is, sadly, not likely to be widely read in psychoanalytic circles. It is, in passing, my aim
in this article to touch on why this is so. It is not just
because of the silencing of the Reichian
ISSN 1356± 9082 (print) ISSN 1469-8498 (online)/00/020153± 14 Ó
2000 European Association for Psychotherapy
legacy, though, as Totton argues (pp. 17± 19), this is indeed both a crucial, and a disgraceful,element.
Approaching the heart of Totton’s vision: bodymind
I am going to plunge straight into the middle, into the heart of the issues Totton’s bookraises. The core theses of the book will emerge in this way. (I have not space additionally tosummarise the whole book.) By page 151 of the book we are in the thick of the chapterTotton regards as the heart of the bookÐ his Reichian account (through which he emphati-cally successfully vindicates Reich as a serious contributorÐ something bodyworkers andhumanistic psychotherapists know but which psychoanalysis has mostly nulli® ed) of what hecalls `bodymind’. This is an account which combines modern neuroscience with a body-based (psyche/soma) account, of mentality and its expressive realisation of body energy. Itdraws from, for instance, Winnicott, Kristeva, and Daniel Stern. We have by this pointalready moved through his accounts, and claims, of how Ferenzci, Reich, and Groddeck tookforward, and more fully honoured, the essential impulse and innovation of the early FreudÐwhose seeming involutions regarding the relation of body and mind, and mental± conceptualrepresentation of the body
, have also been wrestled with (in Chapters 2 and 3). The theme ofconceptual
self-representation lies central to his claim that Freud, and most of his followers,are caught in Cartesian dualism, and that, from Reich, we can obtain a way in which to fullydissolve it, through the representing function of the body itself.
By this point in the argumentÐ despite the complex analysis of FreudÐ it is just beginning
to seem to one all too clear that Totton is upholding a utopian
vision of the essential visionof the early Freud, and we are beginning to wonder if this is not going to be oversimplifying.
For he has previously referred (p. 70) to Freud’ s assumption that `something organic playsa part in repression’ Ð but this is not, as Freud thought, chemistry
, but, in Reich’ s terms,physiology
! And then he has referred (p. 74) to the future `organotherapy’ feared by Freud (inwhat Reich called `a genuine Freudian intuition’ , expressed at an inner circle meeting) butwelcomed by Reich (p. 74) as `the ful® lment of the deepest goals of analytic therapy andtheory’ (!).
Now, suddenly (Chapter 7, p. 142) he embarks upon a survey of information-theory
accounts, of psychic/somatic regulation and environmental (mind is here viewed as interactive
between brain, body, and environment) feedback-based regulatory decisions, by authors likeGregory Bateson, and he remarks:
It should be possible on this basis to conceptualise the ego as a runaway feedbackphenomenon which pits muscular energy against itself
Ð using muscular tension toinhibit muscular impulse. Perhaps the ego is `designed’ evolutionarily as a homeo-static governing device, a means of stabilising the ¯ ow of energy (drive) in thehuman system. Given paradoxical information, which resets its threshold, it goesinto negative escalation and shuts down energy ¯ ow below the organismicallyhealthy point. (Totton, 1998, p. 145)
The relation to Freud’s `Project for a scienti® c psychology’
My experience here was that, at this very moment one is about to exclaim, `But, come on!This is just
where Freud began it all in the `Project’!
But then, at this very point, Totton immediately goes on with:
This sort of idea would take us right back to the Project
, to Freud’s representationof the conscious mind as a neural monitoring system, a re¯ exive device for `keeping
off quantity’ (Freud, 1950: 309), for minimising internal and external stimulus.
So, if one major sign of being in touch with the depths of Freud is that one stay in touch withthe `Project for a scienti® c psychology’ , Totton has been in touch with the Freudian insightall along
; one is reminded, don’ t jump to conclusions so fast! We turns back to p. 140, wherehe has said (of a pessimistic yet percipient and quite `Reichian’ Lacanian):
Boothby puts the project of the Project
Ð what I have called `the human psychicapparatus as a representation
of the human somatic apparatus’Ð at the centre ofhuman existence, yet maintains that it is unachievable. (Totton, 1998, p. 140,second italics mine)
(And, once again, we notice the key issue of `representation’.)
Coming back, following an appeal to Damasio’s theory of neural representation of external
situations in terms of modi® cations of the body
, he adds:
As we consider information theory, it becomes apparent that this is what Freud isdescribing
in the Project
. His imaginary neurology, although based on what nowseems utterly insuf® cient information, in fact goes straight to the heart of the matter.
From his `paths’, `contact-barriers’ and excitations he constructs what Bateson calls`circuits of causation’ , or what are now generally known as `logic circuits’. (Totton,1998 p. 151, my italics)
The reformulation of the project of the `Project’
It is suddenly clear Totton is indeed moving towards a comprehensive reformulation of theproject of the `Project’ but in terms of the experienced body rather than neurology
Earlier, he has remarked about one of Reich’s con® dent formulations concerning the
`functional unity’ of the `ego’ and `id’ systems:
Reich believes that he hasÐ in very Freudian styleÐ seen through
, pierced throughfaulty representations to the bodily heart of the matter. There is an uncomfortabletriumphalism in all of this, reminiscent of Freud’s and Breuer’s `PreliminaryCommunication’; perhaps it always seems so simple at the start! But Reich’ sinvolvement with the body-as-psyche is not simple-mindedÐ despite his single
-minded approach. (Totton, 1998, p. 96)
But, at the point we have now reached, in Totton’ s enquiry, it dawns upon one that, if thisis triumphalist
, he too is `triumphalist’ . But nor is Totton simple-minded. This very clear bookhas hidden depths which open up to us the deeper we explore itÐ open up in the way Freud’sown depth yields more and yet more, inexhaustibly. For it is clear that, under the guidanceof Reich, but amplifying and `® lling in the gaps’ with the work of later theorists, Totton hasindeed revived the project of the `Project’ in transposed form, moving it from neurology tothe whole body (including the brain) conceived as a psycho-physical± environmental whole.
In effecting this he makes play with the relative non-location of the correlates of psychicphenomena, as broadly supported by modern neurology.
The argument up to this point is Reichian± energetic
We shall ask later, however, whether Totton, or Damasio, has given a hostage, in terms of theanti-dualistic project, in the appeal to the body as that to which re¯ exive reference back
can bemade, in order to make possible representation. It is an argument reminiscent of Freud’ s in
`On narcissism’ (Freud, 1984b), which precisely begins `the turn to object relations’ , and the`internal world’.
Messianic triumphalism derivable from Freud and its liability to marginalisation
An aside on `triumphalism’ and the scope of the Freudian vision. This `triumphalism’ Ð ifsuch it beÐ is characteristic of what I shall call (modifying Bion, 1970) a messianic
as opposedto a scholastic
(see MacIntyre, 1990, pp. 154± 155) recovery of Freud. It is a signi® cant truthabout Freud, to which we shall return, that he is repeatedly and inexhaustibly amenable
to amessianic recovery of aspects of his insight by followers of genius. This inexhaustibility is aprime datum, of which we are exploring examples here.
Now, orthodox scholastic psychoanalysis is suspicious enough of messianic recoverers of
Freud, even if they are International Psychoanalytic Association quali® ed analysts; it isnormally a generation before they are assimilated to the `orthodox mainstream’, and then notfully, thus, for instance, Klein, Bion, Langs, Fairbairn, Lacan, Bowlby, Grotstein. If theinnovator has been expelled
from the International Psychoanalytic AssociationÐ which hereforms the Church
, which (Bion, 1970) is the normal base for the messianic innovator (asHeinlein illustrates in most unexpected fashion in Stranger in a Strange Land
, 1992)Ð or hasexcluded
themselves, or has simply never belonged
, then they will be disregarded by the bulkof scholastic followers and commentatorsÐ the congregation of the faithful. (It is not thatboth `scholasticisms’, and `congregations of the faithful’ are not necessary and valid in anybelieving/enquiring community, including that of orthodox scienceÐ and, in any case, theyare sheer anthropological realities. But so are their consequences for the marginalised
.) Jung,Adler, Reich, RankÐ probably Bowlby and Lacan as wellÐ would be illustrations. Perls,Berne, Groddeck, Horney might illustrate transitional positions.
Those in this position will simply become prey to what Pirsig (1991) calls the `culture-im-
mune’ systemÐ they will simply not be seen
. This is certainly allied to, and perhaps includes,the phenomenon Totton evokes (p. 19) of Todschweigen
(`Deathly Silence’), but it is a widerphenomenon, not just related in a simple way to repression and chronic shock, as Tottonperhaps argues (p. 19), and not warranting or validating a purely `paranoid’ response. Butthis is why it is unlikely Totton will be read by most psychoanalysts.
The statement of the core thesis
I come now to Totton’s key statement and core thesis, which is as follows:
I propose to give (relatively) rigorous form to the popular notion of the `bodymind’ ,through a model (based on Bateson’ s and Damasio’ s work and that of otherresearchers in the ® elds of development and perception) of mind as necessarilymanifest in and through body
, and to suggest that the concept and experience of mindas disembodied, actually or potentially, is in fact dysfunctional. What follows fromthe inherent embodiment of mind is a correspondingly inherent `mentalisation’ ofthe body. Psychic processes are in fact widely distributed
through the bodybrainsystem, because of the very nature of neurological activity. Among other things, thebody remembers
; in particular it remembers trauma. What also follows from this isthat subjectivity is a bodily function
, not primarily a linguistic one. Subjectivity is alsoa relational function, but relating occurs ® rst of all through the body. (Totton, 1998,pp. 151± 152).
We take this in conjunction with the earlier:
Information theory, particularly in Bateson’s hands, offers a materialist
account ofwhy this is so [why there is no cerebral localisation]Ð and thus renders unnecessaryFreud’s invention of a speci® cally non
-material topography of the psyche. `Mind’ isa phenomenon consisting of differences
manifest (in the case of human beings) in theinteraction
of brain, body, and environment. Reich’ s work, properly viewed, makesa crucial contribution towards understanding this interactive system, the energy ofwhich is provided in large part by the musculature
. (Totton 1998, p. 144)
Information, on the Bateson model, is incarnate in energetic systems
And that incarnation is not a passive but an active process, an `interaction betweenparts’, as Bateson puts it. Freud realised that energy is part of mind, but he did notfully see why: because we need our bodies to think with
This is, then, I believe, the solution to the question of `psychic energy’ which hastaken up so many pages of analytic theory. Psychic energy is quite simply bodily
,metabolic energy, as that energy involves itself in psychological processes. And`drive’ is that energy as perceived by, represented in, an alienated psyche. If Bodyis part of Mind, as Bateson shows, then the drives are the marks of that partaking
(Totton, 1998, p. 145, second italics mine)
A dramatic Reichian inversion of the Lacanian take on `drives’ as signi® ers, indeedÐ whichTotton has further elaborated in Chapter 6! And it is but a stepÐ if it is a step, and Tottonwould hold it is not (c.f., for this, pp. 178± 184, on character analysis, which leads naturallyon to the political implications
of Reich, since this is the point of entry of environmental demandsand prohibitions
, which we can only note in passing here)Ð
Gestalt’ s, that the active patterns
, forms, gestalten, of our engagements at the contactboundary, and our learnt interruptions to them, are both historically and ongoingly embodied
in our bodyÐ energetic con® gurations. To allow and enable the gestalt to unfold is to reenactthe history of that ongoing embodiment in the present. This is the Reichian and Gestalt viewof transference.
Wide implications of the bodymind view
Energy, and drives, rehabilitated; mind and difference grounded in our phenomenologicalbeing-in-the-world; language made secondary to embodiment; the unconscious (and trans-ferential process) construed in terms of repression as a function of the body and themusculature; and embodiment as the means of re¯ exive self-reference
, as the feedback process,which constitutes the process of thought and mind-in-relation; this is an inclusive uni® cationindeed, and one truly regains from it a sense of how compelling, and also how genuinelypsychoanalytic, in its own way, the Reichian vision is. But such inclusive uni® cation has itsprototype in Freud himself
; though Reich and many others would not have known this, the® nding of messianic implications in Freud repeats an essential Freudian movement. Theproof came in 1950 in the letters to Fliess (Freud, 1950). In the light of these developmentsTotton is both more Freudian, and less Freudian, than he allows.
Freud’s own instant of uni® ed vision
At one moment, then, in his development Freud experienced a sense of this sort ofinclusiveness, in a passage which Totton, as well as Derrida (in a crucial paperÐ 1978),quotes. In his letter to Fliess of 20 October 1895 (Freud, 1950), shortly after he had sentFliess the draft `Project for a scienti® c psychology’ (Freud, 1950), we witness Freud’s own
brief `instant’ of `triumphalist’ con® dence in the total neuropsychic uni® cation he momentar-ily believed himself to have effected. Freud wrote
One strenuous night last week, when I was in the stage of painful discomfort inwhich my brain works best, the barriers suddenly lifted, the veils dropped, and itwas possible to see from the details of neurosis all the way to the very conditioningof consciousness. Everything fell into place, the cogs meshed, the thing reallyseemed to be a machine which in a moment would run of itself. The three systemsof neurones, the `free’ and `bound’ states of quantity, the primary and secondaryprocesses, the main trend and the compromise trend of the nervous system, the twobiological rules of attention and defence, the sexual determination of repression, and® nally the factors determining consciousness as a perceptual functionÐ the wholething held together, and still does. I can hardly contain myself with delight. If I hadonly waited a fortnight before setting it all down for you. (Freud, 1950, p. 129)
Derrida: a different kind of apotheosis of the `Project’Ð
difference as deferral
Derrida comments tersely (referring to `A note on the mystic writing pad’ , Freud, 1984d): `Ina moment: in thirty years. By itself: almost’ (Derrida, 1978, p. 206).
If we now turn to Derrida this is because, drawing upon the same vein of insight, he
represents a radically different possible derivation from Freud, from which we can clarifywhat is missing from Totton’s version of the derivationÐ though this does not invalidate whatis there
. Derrida turns that 30-year delay into an apotheosis of his own
kind of `triumphalism’ .
He too succumbs in his own wayÐ as perhaps must anyone who has been gripped by thepower of `Project for a scienti® c psychology’ (Freud, 1950), which the great neurologist, KarlPribram (Pribram & Gill, 1976Ð incidentally, the reference in Totton’ s book is omitted fromthe bibliography, one of a number of slapdash pieces of proof-reading and indexing) hascalled `a psychobiological Rosetta Stone’Ð to this `triumphalist’ spell of the `Project’. In the30-year arc, from the `Project’ to `A note on the mystic writing pad’ (Freud, 1984d), Derrida
(1978) sees enacted
by Freud, in an archetypal form, and as a participant in the Western
primal history of `writing’ , his concept of primary writing
In the passages I shall quote, Derrida is, in effect, saying that meaning is neither reducible
to anything that is not meaning, nor does the reference of any of our meanings have a ® nitescope; they reverberate and cross-connect in® nitely and openendedly, so that no frame ofreference has any primacy except in context. Among other things this means that bodies areinteractively meaningful within social sign systems, and so more `linguistic’ than Totton allows
(asquoted above, Totton, 1998):
What also follows from this is that subjectivity is a bodily function
, not primarily alinguistic one. Subjectivity is also a relational function, but relating occurs ® rst of allthrough the body (p. 152).
Derrida calls all this `writing’ because writing isÐ much more clearly than speechÐ uprootedfrom its referential context, and becomes `free ¯ oating’, and reduplicable inde® nitely. Incontrast to the body, which is an actual individual identity in its being, `writing’ is not anindividualÐ it is pure open-ended meaning within a network of meaning. In so far as the bodyis part of this it is not purely an individual either
Thus Freud performs for us the scene of writing. Like all those who write. And likeall who know how to write, he lets the scene duplicate, repeat, and betray itselfwithin the scene. It is Freud then whom we will allow to say what scene he has
played for us. And from him that we shall borrow the hidden epigraph which hassilently governed our reading. (Derrida, 1978, p. 229)
He then refers to those passages where Freud construes any kind of complex machinery inprimary process thinking/expression as a representation of the genital apparatus. However,this inverts itself because previously
the Freudian schema (including representations ofsexuality) has been framed in terms of (the machinery of) the Mystic Pad. The `hiddenepigraph’ , then, isÐ as we should precisely expect from DerridaÐ a further
`duplication’ andinversion, an ironic subversion of the standard `sexual interpretation’ Freudian framework!
How different, then, from the Reichian certainty of the body is Derrida’ s inverted certainty
of pure enacted deferral, postponement, and breaching/rupturing, displacementÐ (inversionof inversion, displacement of displacement!)Ð all which Derrida places at the heart of theFreudian discovery! Derrida too invokes `difference’ (c.f., above, p. 8)Ð but how differently!It is almost the absolute inversion
of the `pure presence’ in the individual body, of theReichean conception.
It is thus the difference between breaches which is the true origin of memory, andthus of the psyche. Only this difference `enables a pathway to be preferred (Wegbev-orzugung
)’ : `Memory is represented (dargestellt
) by the differences in the facilitationsin the Y-neurones’. We then must not say that breaching without difference isinsuf® cient for memory; it must be stipulated that there is no pure breachingwithout difference. Trace as memory is not a pure breaching that might bereappropriated at any time as simple presence; it is rather the ungraspable andinvisible difference between breaches. We thus already know that psychic life is neitherthe transparency of meaning nor the opacity of force but the difference within the exertionof forces
. (Derrida, 1978, p. 201, my italics)
Yet in the last sentenceÐ from the meaning/information end of the spectrum, rather than theReichian energy endÐ a similar conception to Bateson’ s feedback system model is invoked,but inverted. Here there is no unity of presence, as in the Reichian conception of what is atthe heart of the `Project’ ; what there is is pure refusal of presence
, of any primal unity.
Reduplication without an original is all there isÐ recapitulation without an opening state-ment. Yet primal difference, in its own way, is as absolute a conceptionÐ and as Freudian inthe sense of the `Project’Ð as primal unity. It is yet another
one-sided ® nding, within thealmost absolute irresolvable tension of the Freudian writings, of a single modelÐ howeverall-embracing, and endlessly deferred and duplicated, a one. In that endless deferral, andinde® nite refusal of any unitary meaningÐ deferral of meaning which is itself the meaning
Ð themany Derridean texts returning to Freud still hover.
It is still
deferred, into an inherent and unresolvable multiplicity of centres of signi® cance,
in `A note on the mystic writing pad’ (Freud, 1984d), Freud’ s evocation, (30 years after the`Project’ ), in the context of his theory of the psyche, of the magic pad, from which one canerase what one has written, and then write it again, inde® nitely, whilst it leaves permanenttraces at another level, in which Derrida ® nds the culmination of Freud’ s searchings in allthese matters:
Writing is unthinkable without repression. The condition for writing is that there beneither permanent contact nor an absolute break between strata; [both] the vigi-lance and failure of censorship.Ð If there were only perception, pure permeability tobreaching, there would be no breaches.Ð pure perception does not exist: we arewritten only as we write, by the agency within us which always already keeps watchover perception, be it internal or external. The `subject’ of writing does not exist, ifwe mean by that some sovereign solitude of the author. The subject of writing is a
of relations between strata: the Mystic Pad, the psyche, society, the world.
Within that scene, on that stage, the punctual simplicity of the classical subject isnot to be found. (Derrida, 1978, pp. 226± 227)
That is, the whole is an open-ended referential system, without a ® nal individual
reference,reference to an individual
The subject of writing is a system
of relations between strata: the Mystic Pad, thepsyche, society, the world.
there is a striking similarity to the Bateson± Damasio conception invoked by Totton. So, whohas it right? Where does the systemic conception really take us? At any rate we can vividly seethat the Freudian systemÐ which had its (oh so brief!) moment of triumphalism of its own,its imagined `impossible moment’ of achieved totality, as if to tantalise all aftercomers by itsvery momentariness and impossibility!Ð can generate messianic unities of vision
Ð inde® nitely.
Derrida’s model as paradigm of meaning
This is complicated already, but let us be bold and take the risk of complicating mattersfurther! In Derrida the accent is on meaning
/information; in Totton/Bateson the accent is onenergy
(Ekeland, 1997, makes the same fundamental linkage), whilst Totton hardly mentionsthe paradigm of the meaning
problematic in Freud, even the primary process/secondaryprocess contrast, as understood in `Interpretation of dreams’ (Freud, 1999).
Three, not two, domains of process
But along with energy, and meaning, in Freud there is a third
domain of processÐ that ofsupport and identi® cation
(attachment theory, and Rogerian person-centred work, would beillustrations), to which Freud, not accidentally, has recourse in his third major phase, fromthe paper `On narcissism’ (Freud, 1984b) onwards. And this gives us the shape
of the 30-yeararc already mentioned. It contains a restlessness and tension Freud never resolves, and whichenacts the tension of how to de® ne the repression/repressed
dualism (which translates back intomeaning/energy
) which is undoubtedly central from the `Project’ onwards. In this light Freudenacts the following circling, for all to see. (It coincides with his movement fromÐ rela-tivelyÐ open scienti® c enquiry, to the invocation of the theological principle of authority in1914, against Jung. Paradoxically, he deals with the `religious’ challenge of Jung by adoptinga time-honoured theological± dogmatic stance. Yet, the ground of his core
uni® cation, whichis the catalyst for the messianic uni® ers who follow, is a secular vision in which science andreligion are not at odds
I assume, then, three parallel (or horizontal) forms or realms of process: (1) energy
, and (3) meaning
; in Freudian theory these turn into (1) drives
, (2) trauma andidenti® cations
(trauma is most fully located here), and (3) signi® cance
. The Freudian circle isactually completed (over many years): i.e. energy to meaning, energy to support
, and support tomeaning
. But this cannot be acknowledged overtly, as his system is not developed enough toaccomodate it.
Linkage between energy (theory of drives) and meaning (theory of signi® cance)
The link between these is fundamentally in terms of repression
. The basic argument, devel-
oped in terms of the re¯ ex arc model, is already there in the `Project’ (Freud, 1950). Theschematic form of it runs as follows:
An impulse seeking discharge encounters an obstacle (`trauma’). It becomes diverted, i.e.
, and seeks an alternative expression on the basis of a `recognised’ analogy betweenoutlets
The appeal to analogy is where meaning
enters in on this model, and is vastly extended
later. In `The interpretation of dreams’ (Freud, 1999) the two correlated concepts ofdisplacement
(alternative pathway, in the original model) and condensation
(linkage by analogy,in the original model) become absolutely centralÐ the forms of signi® cance
. The `primaryprocess’/`secondary process’ model is there fully developed as forms of thinking
But in terms of the Reichian development, here Freud is still trying to map meaning onto
Ð only he no longer has them.
Linkage between energy (theory of drives) and support (theory of identi® cations)
By 1914, in response to the psychotic threat of Jung’ s af® rmation, as it were, of pure primaryprocess thinking
(in Jung’ s theories of symbolic archetypal transformations in the psychotic orquasi-psychotic process), and because he feels he must locate or ground the meaning systemof psychosis in a reference to an individual
, Freud has assimilated the whole question (but notthe answer) of how someone learns to be in relation to another
, into his theoretical schema,thus: when a person encounters a rebuff at the hands of the other
, the libidinal energy turnsback upon themself, and they take themselves
as their own love object.
This then becomes the foundation, through identi® cation, of the whole later metapsychol-
ogy in `Mourning and melancholia’ and `The ego and the id’, and the other metapsycholog-ical papers and books (Freud, 1984a± d). The parallel to the earlier thinking aboutdisplacement is obvious.
But it is now a whole object relation
(total situation) which is displaced
Freud’ s demand, against Jung, for a real
correlate for psychotic regression is assumed by
him to require a real existing object
(person), whereas all that is needed is a real sensorily-basedlinguistic ground of the development of signi® cance
. (One wonders, in the light of Derrida’ s`in® nitisation’ of the individual reference, would not FreudÐ and following him Lacan!Ð ® ndDerrida as `psychotic’ as Jung?) Thus, Jaynes (1990) argues, in ways reminiscent of Wittgen-stein (1967), that the very possibility of certain experiences is re¯ exive upon the developmentof language to a certain pointÐ e.g. the invention of nouns
, and then names
, are needed toenable us to have the concept of death, bereavement, ancestors, and gods.
In terms of the Reichian development, here Freud is trying to map energy onto the body
through identi® cation/support
In terms of our schema Totton’s argument (p. 8, above) that:
Freud realised that energy is part of mind, but he did not fully see why: because weneed our bodies to think with
. (Totton, 1998, p. 145)
is in one sense incorrect, for Freud (at around the time of the theory of narcissism, though,as so often, this develops something already expressed as far back as the `Project’ , Freud,1950, pp. 423± 424, where the motor
element in imitated speech is emphasised) in the paperon `The unconscious’ (1984a) recognises that we need our bodies to form the sounds of words
as the bodily intermediary through which concepts are represented.
The system Ucs.
contains the thing-cathexes of the objects’ the ® rst and true objectcathexes; the system Pcs.
comes about by this thing-presentation being hyper-
cathected through being linked with the word-presentations corresponding to it. Itis these hypercathexes, we may suppose, that bring about a higher psychicalorganisation and make it possible for the primary process to be succeeded by thesecondary process which is dominant in the Pcs.
Ð word-presentations, for their parttoo, are derived from sense-perceptions, in the same way as thing-presentations are¼
To be sure, here this is sensory
Ð but not, as mentioned, in the `Project’ . But thelogic of the argument is the same, and therefore the Reich/Damasio/Totton argument aboutthe body as intermediary is a Freudian argument
In one sense certainly Totton is right as against Freud; in the sense of `body’ where we
mean the psychophysical energetic whole, for Freud is not concerned with the reality of this.
The truth is that the two arguments are fused together; but the epistemological argumentabout the necessity of the body as intermediary, for thinking and self-reference, is already inFreud. This argument goes back to Kant and is also in Wittgenstein (1967). What it amountsto is that mentality has to be mediated through located entities
, though not as
individuals, butas signs
, which give it `reference’, functioning implicitly as sign systems. This gives us a social
concept of mind, which can apply at any level of micro or macro functioning, whetherneurone systems as in the `Project’ , or the body as a social entity, or trans-individualcollective signing systems, such as traf® c signalling systems (Heidegger, 1961) or the 6000individually activated pixels (one person/one pixel) controlling a giant screen, which jointlyenacted an airliner landing or a ping-pong match at a large computer conference (Wilson,1997). None of these has any special priority. In general they go with a Wittgensteinianconcept of mind as socialÐ but this `social’ includes our `internal worlds’, also. The locationin the individual person and their individual body has no special priority
in this argument.
To return in the light of this to Freud’s demand, not only is this, Freud’s demand, against
Jung, for a real
individual correlate for psychotic regression, not necessary
for his purposes; itis not suf® cient
either, since it still does not, by itself, without further linkages being made,account for the nature of language as sensory sign
, for representation and reference and thepresence of meaning as suchÐ the Derridean recognition. However, Freud at the same perioddid
attain this in the related (though very terse) formulations which we have touched upon.
It is arguable, then, that, as Fairbairn (1952) perhaps implies, Freud has accounted fordepression
here in the `Narcissism’ papers, but not schizophrenia
; however, the formulations in`The unconscious’ are the most valuable things he ever wrote on schizophrenia.
Thus, if the body is so central we are beginning to glimpse that the body, as a source of
re¯ exive reference, may here be meant in more than one sense
experience as `socially’ referential/symbolic as opposed to its `direct’ (non-symbolic) func-tioning, and identity, as this individual
body. And perhaps, crucially, Totton’ s argument, andsimilar arguments, plays on this ambiguity. Thus, in the sentences from above, in the coreargument:
What also follows from this is that subjectivity is a bodily function
, not primarily alinguistic one. Subjectivity is also a relational function, but relating occurs ® rst of allthrough the body. (Totton, 1998, p. 152)
Here, at the heart of his argument, the reference to `linguistic’ slides over the issue of whetherthe body `refers’, or `means’, in the sense of signifying
. And, is being `relational’ referential
, ornot? Thus, Daniel Stern’s `intersubjective self’ (Stern, 1985) is not linguistic
, but it isintentional
, and embeds a concept or reference to the other’s subjectivity
. Totton shows uneasi-ness on this type of issue in a number of ways, of which the following is only one:
However, the bodily phenomena with which Reich is concerned here are not
signi® ers; they have no communicative purpose
at all. They lack the arbitrary qualitywhich is essential to the Saussurian notion of signi® cationÐ they are still essentiallydischarge phenomena. (Totton, 1998 p. 127)
This misses the whole dimension of psychic writing
Ð of what Stern is concerned with when hetalks of `proto-narrative envelopes of temporal experience’ (Stern, 1995). If Reich is right insaying the body’s expression cannot lie (c.f. Totton, 1998, p. 171), then Wittgenstein wouldask whether, in that case, it can tell the truth either (Wittgenstein, 1967, p. 90e). AndTotton’s fascinating recounting of Reich’ s case history of the man who identi® ed successivelywith the ® sh and then the ape (pp. 107± 112) clearly indicates (pp. 160± 163) (certainly alongwith
the body realisations, and with Kristeva’ s semiotic chora
, i.e. her concept of what istransitional to the sign) a dimension of embodied historical narrative
, unfolding through the communicative process of the work, in a way which isfundamentally not different, apart from the lack of the body dimension, from the unfoldingreconstructed narratives, and proto-narratives, of classical psychoanalysis and their human-istic equivalents.
To clarify all of this we must turn to the question of the identi® catory processes involved
in the `turn to object relations’, and their relation to meaning systems
Linkage between support (theory of identi® cations) and meaning (theory of signi® cance)
Gradually, via this development of the notion of libido turned back upon the self, Freudimplicitly
the implicit proof is in the endless re¯ exive biographical± historical involu-
tions and duplications of `Beyond the pleasure principle’ (Freud, 1984c), analysed byDerrida (1987)Ð that meaning is re¯ exively mapped into the process of interacting identities itself
That is, the transference and transference process
now becomes `the royal road’ to the uncon-scious meaning. Dreams are enacted in the session
, or in children’ s play, as well as psychoticor quasi-psychotic phantasy. The psyche, in its social relations, becomes the scene of multipleinscriptions (Derrida, 1978)Ð inscriptions upon lower level inscriptionsÐ all re¯ exively
en-acted in complex totality in the transferential process. It all becomes an enacted Lebenswelt
,lifeworld, in the mode of existential phenomenology.
In the light of our earlier comments, the open-endedness of transference inherently
transcends speci® c situational reference; it is inherently partly `general’, and this is the sourceof its `feeling of unreality’. The now completely open-ended re¯ exivity may be one
motivationfor the mysteriousness of the movements of drive theoryÐ the last ditch attempt to put all theeggs in the basket of `drives’Ð in `Beyond the pleasure principle’ (Freud, 1984c; see Derrida,1987).
At this point we have reached, now, in terms of the Reichean development, there is only
an inde® nite situational re¯ exivity: the total relational situation.
This is not con® ned to actuality, and actuality’ s reduplicated patterned inscription in
multitudinous forms (including
all the enactments in the body, which is one reason whyclassical analysis is grossly over-circumscribed in its conceptions of transference/countertrans-ference), but is also caught or inscribed in an inde® nite and endless network of signi® cances
Thus the Freudian circle is actually completed: i.e. energy to meaning, energy to support
support to meaning
. But the residual Freudian (and Reichian) formulations are still primarilyin terms of energy
, a formulation which is dashed repeatedly on the shores of the furtherreaches of meaning in `Beyond the pleasure principle’, and which can no longer remotely dojustice to the relational± existential
signi® canceÐ which, in turn, is the reason why, however, in
their reality never made explicit reality, the conceptions of this last period of his work remainso compelling.
No `project’-type model of relational± existential signi® cances
Unless Derrida’s mentioned commentary on `Beyond the pleasure principle’ in The Postcard
(1987) is it, there is, as far as I at present know, no `triumphal model’ derived from the
`Project’ in this third form
Ð that of signi® cances mapped on to relational/transferentialtransformations as such. If the vast exploration of projective identi® cation in Searles’s (1978,1993) work had been mapped with the relational precision of a Fairbairn (1952) that mightbe itÐ unless Matte-Blanco, whom I have only just begun to study, has done just this
(Matte-Blanco, 1998); but I am beginning to think he may not have made the step to socially
embedded relational meaning, despite the extraordinary insight of his work into the nature ofthe re¯ exively generalising
aspect of psychoanalytic insightÐ yet another one-sided messianicextrapolation of genius from Freud! There certainly, however, could
be a model in this thirdmode. Our conclusion is that the body is incurably socialÐ and that means incurablypervaded and laden with signi® cances.
There is no reason why Reich’ s embodied energy should not be included in this. But this
cannot be exhaustively
understood in terms of embodied energy.
Meaning, the symbolic, and intentionality, as intrinsic
, open-ended, categories, come back
in. And, if intentionality
comes back in we are faced with the problem of the possible purere¯ exivity
the Cartesian or Husserlian epochÂe
, the epistemicological suspen-
sion of (belief in) the reality of the physical world. I am not saying there is no answer toDescartes here; but there is no simple
knock-out. In this sense there is, in fact, a classiccrypto-Cartesian ® shiness about the `mutual brain± body interactions’ that Totton quotesfrom as referred to by Damasio (1996, p. 147) in his anti-Cartesian book!
a normal mind will happen only if those circuits [developed by evolution] containbasic representations of the organism
. (Damasio, 1996, quoted by Totton, 1998, p.
147, my italics)
For once there is an autonomous realm of representations, however deeply derived fromembodied experience, all the Cartesian problems and challenges return.
In illustration, in Totton’ s two key paragraphs on pp. 151± 152 he slides from the physical
to the phenomenological body, as follows:
Psychic processes are in fact widely distributed
through the body± brain system,because of the very nature of neurological activity. [My comment: so this is thephysical
body± brain systemÐ the neurological
system as a whole.] Among otherthings, the body remembers
; in particular it remembers trauma. [Comment: here,suddenly we switch to the phenomenological
body.] (Totton, 1998, p. 152)
The movement mapped here is: energy is transformed into represented meaning located inthe individual body; but this requires the in® nitisation, and de-individualisation, of theembodied meaning and its re¯ exive potential; which in turn requires its incurable andirreducible sociality. The last two steps are at best assumed to be present in the ® rst inTotton, and are not unpacked.
However, Nick Totton does evoke Reich’ s rehabilitation, through embodiment, of Freud’s
drive theory, magni® cently. And, like so many messianic reclaimings of Freud, it remains amagni® cent part-truth. How tragic that it will probably not be read by the orthodox, and thatthey will miss, yet again, what a tribute it is to the genius of Freud to be so fertile ofmagni® cent part-truth reconstructions! Nick Totton has given us, both in what we disagreewith and in what we agree with, a marvelous reminder of that fertility. This is a greatFreudian book.
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Cet article passe en revue le livre de Nick Totton `The water in the Glass’ qui repreÂsente
une expression particuliÁerement claire et importante d’ une perspective Reichienne de l’oeuvre de Freudet de son heÂritage, et propose une alternative seÂrieuse a
Á la dichotomie corps/raison qui transcende le
dualisme CarteÂsien. Cette interpretation deÂmontre aussi la validiteÂ d’ un travail psychanalytique avecle corps et du contact physique, sur lequel la psychanalyse classique avait mis un embargo apreÂsl’expulsion de Reich. Totton met en eÂvidence ce qui relie Reich au travail visionaire de Freud `Projectfor a scienti® c psychology’ qui date de 1895 mais a seulement eÂteÂ publieÂ en 1950! et offre unrenouveau de la vision du `Project’, dans lequel les formes neurologiques de repreÂsentation du Moi sontremplaceÂes par des formes physiologiques incarneÂes. Celles ci servent de la meÃme facËon comme moyensde repreÂsentations symboliques du Moi conscient. Cette revue deÂmontre que malgreÂ la qualiteÂ de cettedeÂcouverte, l’ article ignore cependant une autre direction amorceÂe par Freud dans le `Project’ , et quimettait l’accent sur la signi® cation au lieu de l’eÂnergie, ainsi que repreÂsenteÂe dans le travail deDerrida. Cette polarisation entre eÂnergie et signi® cation est seulement reÂsolue quand la dimension du
support (ou relation, par ex. theÂorie d’ attachement) et l’identi® cation sociale est reconnue commeeÂtant le vehicule de la signi® cation. Ceci repreÂsente la troisiÁeme phase de FreudÐ
Á sa vision devient simultaneÂment incurablement sociale tout en eÂtant cependant aussi une
explosion imbueÂe de signi® cation transformante du Moi aÁ tous les niveaux! Ceci n’ est pas incompat-ible avec la vision incarneÂe de Totton, mais transcende ses limites. Totton est une profession de foiFreudienne magni® quement claire et qui nous force tous aÁ clari® er nos positions.
Dieser Artikel bespricht Nick Tottons Buch `The Water in the Glass’ (Das
Wasser im Glas) als eine auû erordentlich klare und wichtige Darstellung der Reich`schen SichtFreuds und seines Erbes, das ernsthaften Anspruch darauf erhebt, eine Sicht von KoÈrpergeist’anzubieten die Cartesianischen Dualismus uÈberwindet. Es ist auch guÈltig als psychoanalytischeArbeit mit KoÈrper und BeruÈhrung, uÈber die in der orthodoxen Psychoanalyse ein Embargo verhaÈngtwurde seit Reichs Verweisung. Totton zeigt Reichs Verbindung zu dem verborgenen (nicht publiziertbis 1950) visionaÈren Freud des Projekt fuÈr eine wissenschaftliche Psychologie von 1895 (Freud 1950)und bietet eine Erneuerung des Projekts, aber eine in welcher neurologische Formen von SelbstpraÈsen-tation durch verkoÈrpert-psychologische Formen ersetzt werden. Diese dienen jedoch gleichermaû en alssymbolische Medien fuÈr die RepraÈsentation des Selbst im Bewuû tsein. Der Artikel argumentiertweiter, daû trotz der bahnbrechenden QualitaÈt dessen immer noch ein Pfad von Freuds `Projekt’fehlt, naÈmlich der von Bedeutung anstelle von Energie, dargestellt durch Derrida. Diese Polarisationzwischen Energie und Bedeutung wird nur geloÈst, wenn die Dimension von UnterstuÈtzung (oderRelation, z.b. Fixierungstheorie) und sozialer Identi® kation als ein Mittel der Bedeutung anerkanntwird. Dies ist Freuds dritte, nicht ganz deutliche Phase, in der die Vision gleichzeitig unheilbar sozialund doch auf jeder Ebene mit alles durchdringender und selbst-umformender Bedeutung durchzogenist. Dies ist nicht unvergleichbar mit Tottons koÈrperbasierender Vision, uÈbersteigt aber seine Grenzen.
Tottons ist jedoch eine einzigartig klare Freudsche Aussage, die uns alle dazu zwingt, unserePositionen zu klaÈren.
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