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Body-Rejection-Compliance in Psychosis

In his text “The Entanglements of the Body”,[i] J.-A. Miller gives us a clinical indication that mentions cases that “… take the body as a real, as if it does not allow itself to be dominated, which constitutes a neighbourhood between cases of psychosis and hysteria. Lacan’s expression “the rejection of the body, discussed in certain texts, expresses the impotence of the signifier to dominate it. The imaginary body can also appear as a real: the broken image of the body, the imaginary fragmentation, has the same value as the real insofar as it resists the signifier.”[ii]

He suggests that we consider “the status of S1 that commands, or fails to command, the body”,[iii] in order to establish not only the path of rejection, but also that of a certain docility to the signifier that often appears under the emergence of a phenomenon of the body as a response in the real lack of a symbolic inscription.

He says… “it is too vague to say that the body escapes the symbolic, since from another perspective, there is a delusional compliance”.[iv]

There is a delusional compliance where, instead of the somatic compliance, typical of Hysteria (whose position of ‘belle indifference”, expresses other modalities of rejection in the body, where the symptom and fantasy play out their match), the weight of words on the body is inscribed at the level of a phenomenon that “repeats in a present without a past or a future”.

Thus, while we were accustomed to make the division between somatic compliance with Freud and rejection of the body with Lacan, J-A-Miller invites us to also consider compliance on the side of the phenomenon of the body that happen in psychosis, to make us stop in a certain “neighbourhood” between the phenomena of the body in hysteria and in psychosis.

Without being alerted as to this subtlety, these signs could go unnoticed. It will be under transference that we will have to be very alert to the interpretation that a subject can make in relation to what happens in his/her body.

Hence the case of a man whose ear had been parasitized since childhood by a small, undefined noise, that was painful at the same time, and which went on, in singular circumstances, to become, later in his life, a persecutory imputation attributed to a relative who called him “disabled”. Let’s add, that it happened in a very fertile moment and to limit an excessive jouissance that pushed him to exhibitionism, the solution he found was to cut off one of his fingers.

We can see how the sliding could have been towards a punitive causality, in cases involving a delusional solution.

Body- rejection-compliance in psychosis is a path that is open to investigation.


(Translation: Philip Dravers)

[i] Miller J.-A. et altri, «Conversation sur les embrouilles du corps», De Jacques Lacan à Lewis Caroll, Ornicar? n° 50, Revue du Champ freudien, Paris, 2002. p. 227-291.

[ii] Ibid., p. 228

[iii] Ibid., p. 237.

[iv] Ibid., p. 237.