Psychosis and Metaphor

By Filippo Dellanoce, Houria Abdelouahed

In Seminar III devoted to the study of psychoses, Lacan says of Schreber that he is certainly a writer, but not a poet. Schreber’s delusion and, by extension, psychosis, are essentially characterized by a lack of metaphor. In our contribution, we will first examine the psychoanalytical and psychiatric literature regarding the diagnosis of Schreber’s psychosis, and we then analyze the thesis of the forclusion of the signifier Name-of-the-Father as the cause of psychosis. To understand the metaphorical function of the signifier, we then examine the linguistic nature of metaphor, based on the theories of Aristotle and U. Eco. Metaphor is an instrument of cognitive and additive knowledge: through metaphor, we attain new knowledge, and metaphor brings knowledge by drawing through language a new feature of the functioning of reality. Once the first metaphor, the paternal one, is absent, it’s the metaphorical as a function of additive knowledge that is missing. Consequently, no other metaphor will be possible, since the subject has not encountered the possibility for a new meaning, brought by the work of the metaphorical, to appear. We finally submit some conclusive considerations on psychotic language, as well as a new articulation between metaphor, doubt and delusional certainty.

  • psychosis
  • metaphor
  • D. P. Schreber
  • J. Lacan
  • U. Eco
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