Manual Sublimation (Ideas in Psychoanalysis)

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Also by Nicola Abel-Hirsch

Articulating such ideas to the role of sublimation in the clinic the author emphasizes:. In this regard, the participation of sublimation in the clinic. Definitely the process of sublimation understood in this way does not presuppose more as in the early Freudian articulations about the subject a desexualization of the drives and the correlated symbolic impoverishment of subjectivity.

On the contrary, now in this new perspective opened by Freud's latest writings, the process of sublimation is evidenced as a possible construction from the rest of the psychic that resists symbolization, the theoretical signaling of the importance of the management of helplessness in the face of the lack of the ultimate possibility of knowledge, where the transformation of death into life necessarily crosses invention and creation. Sublimating, according to Lacan, is to elevate an object to the dignity of the Thing.

The author then rescues Freud's notion of " lost object" from reflections on the issues concerning the relations between subject and object.


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As we know, the search for the reunion with the lost object das Ding leads the subject to find other objects different from the original one, and according to Freud the lost object is lost forever: the result is that this reunion happens through an encounter with another object distinct from the primary one.

According to Lacan, the fact is that even though the originating object has never been lost, yet the sense of reunion retroactively indicates by the refound 1 happening that something then may have been lost in a moment before the originating repression:. Such is the fundamental definition of the object, for Freud, in his directive function, which paradox has already been shown, because this object is not said to be really lost.

What is sublimated in sublimation?

The object is, by its nature, a refound object. That it has been lost is the consequence of that - but just afterwards. And therefore it is refound, and the only way to know that it has been lost is through these reunions, through these refounds. We have refound here a fundamental structure, which allows us to articulate that the Thing in question is susceptible, in its structure, of being represented by what we have been calling for a long time, in respect to the discourse of boredom and prayer, of the Other thing.

The Other thing, is essentially, the Thing. From this understanding we can only seize what the Thing is this supposed object lost since ever because of its character of absence. And although at the same time some reunions give it a status of real 2 , we can only define it as being the emptiness itself a feature of the psyche. In the most radical aspect of its psychic substantiality the Thing is the emptiness around which the psyche itself will be constituted.

That's why the reunion with the Thing evidences, at best, a 'new' encounter with an Other given the impossibility of the symbolic grasp on its record the essence of the drive real.

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This other object, different from the original thing, will feature an object a to the subject, an object which is the cause of desire as the symbolic and imaginary support of its fantasy. We are then taken to visualize that the very principle of pleasure is regulated by one further that pervades him and determines the last purpose of all drive requirement, that is, to reach the Thing , the full jouissance, the death. Life , as a bias drive is organized through the signifiers representations structured in symbolic and imaginary records, records of psychic representations where all forms of knowledge about the subject are organized.

Death, in turn, substantiated by the partiality of the drive that resists symbolization, agitates the structured set of life, being itself something of the order of time, of the passage, of the future and of the movement, what breaks up with the symbolic organization given its character of far-beyond , of a stranger in the realm of the subject. The Thing itself represents death, and it is that something around which the subject will be constituted.

Finally, we can consider that the death drive destabilizes the characteristic order of the set organized by the tendency of the life drive, while its character of rupture with the pre-established, demands of the subject new implications in order to manage its most fundamental truth: the desire and the consequent lack of the object that could definitely cease incompleteness.

The drive is of death, because it is interfering with the organization established in life. It interferes in maintaining the homeostatic level of tension that guarantees the vital organization and increases this voltage. The elevation of tension will allow the inclusion, in the field of knowledge, of a new truth from the drive.


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If the drive comes to deal with this knowledge that is life, it must then be the death drive. This is the cause of intervention S1 makes in S2 and that results in the emergence of the subject. S1 will require S2 to a new organization of knowledge to include the new master signifier that represents the subject. WINE, , p. It becomes clear to us here the understanding that the advent of the psychic subject refers to a movement of subjectivity, which implies creation and that features, by a unique destination particular , the process of sublimation itself.

And it is through this bias that Wine understands the process of sublimation as being particularly responsible for the advent of the psychic subject par excellence. Retaking then Lacan's phrase, an object elevated to the dignity of the Thing is an object that can be an object, but never any object, so for this object to be elevated to that dignity, the emptiness around which the signifiers their symbolic constitution surround will be the core revealed covertly, only possible from a transcendence with respect to the characteristics of the used object itself, to the extent that this reveals an Other thing when trying to represent the Thing itself.

So, the Lacanian understanding about sublimation allows us to characterize this process as the possibility of the advent of the subject since it outlines for destinations other than the ego defense mechanisms fundamentally from the creative processes, to the extent that something is created from nothing, from the emptiness of the Thing :. As a characteristic fact of all sublimation, the created object watches over the Thing in so far as it constitutes a possible representation of this emptiness, however, it ends up also for revealing the mark of das Ding to the extent that this emptiness is impossible to cover completely.

So, with this in mind, we will understand that every form of art, as well as other human productions, will be characterized by its creator aspect, in the creative sense that will shape and give life to what doesn't have a pre-determined definition. From the point of view of the psyche structure, we can then determine that such creative processes will reposition the subject in relation to what eludes him, so that the process of creating ends up by featuring a moment of special subjectivation if compared to the advent of the subject of the unconscious.

So, in addition to the material object, the produced artifact itself and its particular substantiality, the fact is that to the creator subject internal transformations will occur since such creation happens through a sublimating way:. In short, we are referring here to a restructuring of the symbolic field triggered by the search for satisfaction that the beyond the pleasure principle imposes on the psyche.

So, elevating an object to the dignity of the Thing corresponds to transcending in a certain sense the characteristics that define any object a priori, any mundane substantiality, lifting it to a status of signified which is able to represent an Other thing:. When you elevate an existing object to the dignity of the Thing that does not exist, the psychic energy does not discharge in the object.

Retained in the apparatus, it structures and enlarges its networks. The more the subject is free of the chains and of the signified that are already there on his network, the more differentiated is his production. He will produce in the place in which repetition appears as a difference, where the reunion with the Thing is in fact a reunion with something, an emptiness.

The subject designates, then, another object that, when deployed, is revealed to be the progress of this subject who advances, failure after failure, in an attempt to achieve the Thing. That is, although the process of sublimation is characterized, eventually, as a symbolic-imaginary production, with different failures in what concerns the surroundings from the emptiness that could ensure it full representation, the fact is that the creative process provides a magnification of the psyche itself in so far as it expands its network of articulated representations.

In short, it's for the vicissitude of the path of sublimation that the psyche expands and produces possible ways of jouissance. At this point, as Wine highlights in the above passage, it is prudent to also emphasize the peculiarities of the question on drive satisfaction which is present in sublimation.

As well highlighted, the psychic energy does not end on the produced object, so that if that were the case we could understand the process of sublimation as fundamentally cathartic. It is true that there will be productions in which there is also the phenomenon of catharsis, no doubt, but the essential question concerning sublimating satisfaction revolves around the production while signified.

So, the partial satisfaction obtained through a sublimating way, concerns a jouissance coming from the production of a new psychic representation, to the extent that "the signified is the cause of jouissance" WINE, , p. We can then consider that with a production through the way of sublimation, the subject goes round the emptiness of the Thing, producing something from this, from where he will constitute a possible destination possible to the drive, which will cause him a partial satisfaction, sometimes also a catharsis, but primarily a movement of subjectivation that extends the symbolic richness of his own psychic structure.

The subject caused and put in motion by the excess of the drive turns out to not reaching the Thing das Ding , however, from its outline in relation to emptiness there lies the subjective effectiveness of the sublimating course:. Finally, up to this point of our reflection, we can understand sublimation as a psychic process inextricably coupled to creative potentiality, and because of this, it characterizes modes of subjectivation which are unique to each subject, ultimately implying other possibilities for the conditions of psychic "discontent" return of the repressed.

In what concerns the consequences of an analytical process, considering the limits postulated by Freud, especially the " repetition compulsion ", we would question: would the psychoanalytic interpretation be presented as a reductionist method of grasping subjectivity from a specific moment in the course of an analysis? And, considering an analytical process as a whole, will the interpretive method, in any moment, be characterized as a narrowing of the drive field to the extent that it produces the 'endless' chain of meanings to other meanings? The differential repetition concerns the essence of the very act of repeating, which ultimately implies in understanding the real of this repetition as something that appears as a precondition to constitute pure possibility something else of the order of the new creative processes.

According to Torezan , p. On the contrary, it is a movement in the direction of the impossible search of das Ding , a fact that refers to the concept of sublimation as a producer of the elevation of the object to the Thing ". We could think that a psychoanalytic clinic that steps for analytical courses that emphasize creations by the subject is directly complementary to a clinic of the interpretation, the elaboration of meanings. We intend to, with respect to psychoanalytic praxis, to point out the following: within the limits of an analysis where the meaning is missing, in short, not because of the work of repression, but because of the structural impossibility of access to the full Truth, there must be another way of constructing the meaning to the subject.

This form of subjectivation, for beyond the insights arising from psychic elaboration in its contact with what repressed that chose not to know would point to another possible way of knowing about yourself. IX, p. XI, p. XIV, p. XVIII, p. XIX, p. XXI, p.

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XXII, p. XXIII, p. WINE, N. The real represents the drive field itself, the dispersive field disconnected from the symbolic and imaginary records, that which resists symbolization. The effect that lasts and registers the emergence of the subject is his production, inscription of a new signified". Leandro Anselmo Todesqui Tavares.

Francisco Hashimoto. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. Services on Demand Journal. ABSTRACT: The present study aims at understanding sublimation as a psychic event inextricably linked to the advent of the subject, being then characterized as a singular and paradigmatic subjectivation process in what regards the psychic constitution. About this feature Freud says: They are distinguished for having in wide measure the ability to act vicariously after each other, and for being able to move objects promptly.

Sublimation and death drive The text that definitively marks Freud's turning point featuring perhaps the greatest conceptual disruption of the whole evolution of Freud's work is the well-known " Beyond the pleasure principle " of