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Sigmund Freud, C.G. Jung and Jacques Lacan have an important place in the field of modern psychology. Sigmund Freud’s most seminal contribution to modern psychology is the idea of the unconscious. He displayed through his clinical work that unconscious is an active and dynamic force which is alive in all human behavior. It influences all areas in which human desire operates. The unconscious is the sum total of all our suppressed, repressed, and forgotten desires. Freud believed that human beings are driven by two conflicting desires: one is the life drive which he calls Eros which represents survival, thirst and sexual desires. The other one is Thanatos which represents the death drive an urge to return to a state of calm, in other words, a death-in-life stage. The repressed desires he believed get embedded in the unconscious mind. When the repressed emotions find an outlet there is a conflict between the conscious and the unconscious psyche. This conflict and its fall outs have been aptly portrayed in the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Freud eventually sets up a triadic structure of the mind the id, the ego, the super ego. Id is purely biological. It is a reservoir of libido, a primary source of all psychic energy. It is the sum total of all desires and aggressions. Ego operates on reality principal by the laws of reasoning and thinking. Superego is a regulating agency which functions to protect the society. It locks the impulses towards pleasure that society regards an unacceptable such as sexual passion, oedipal instincts. The workings of the unconscious are available to us in the four major ways:

symptoms, slips in every day life, jokes and dreams. Freud revolutionized the world of psychiatry with his seminal work The Interpretation of Dreams. Dreams, according to Freud, are the messages sent from the unconscious for the consumption of ego. Freud’s theory was that the conscious mind acts as a guard on the unconscious, preventing certain repressed feelings from coming to the surface. During sleep, however, this conscious mind is free to run wild and express its most hidden desires. Dreams are the guardians of sleep and do not intend to disturb it. For this purpose, the unconscious material changes form and gets distorted in dream images. Freud calls


this process dream censorship. There are four mechanisms operating in a dream which Freud calls dream work. These mechanism of dream work operate the same way in any work of art also: condensation, displacement, symbolization or conditions of representations and secondary revision or substitution. The dream displays its message through censorship and symbols as it is a protector of sleep. Freud holds that this dream distortion changes the narrative in such a way that it becomes acceptable. A similar process takes place in literature also. In simple language, art and dream have something disturbing and subversive to convey


us. But it is conveyed in such a way through literary technique or dream work that


does not unduly disturb the dreamer or the reader. So it is something subversive

conveyed in an affirmative form. Dreams are constituted at two levels: Dream as a manifest content which is the surface story of dreams and dream as a latent content which is the hidden meaning meaning between the lines. The latent content is bigger than the manifest content. It has to be interpreted and only thus mysteries can be solved. For this purpose, Freud used the technique of free associations and secondary elaborations. Reading a dream becomes an activity for him which parallels the activity of reading the ambiguities in the works of literature. The work which transforms the latent dream into manifest one is called dream work and the work

which endeavors to arrive at the latent dream from the manifest one is called the work

of interpretation.

The first achievement of dream work is condensation. Condensation means that the manifest dream has a smaller content than the latent one and is thus an

abbreviated translation of it. Condensation is brought about by total omission of certain latent elements; by only a fragment of some complexes in the latent dream passing over into the manifest dream and by latent elements which have something in single unity in the manifest dream. Just like a dream is condensed by many elements,

a literary text is also condensed with many elements. Freud calls it over

determination. There are composite figures, structures, meanings which have been

condensed together. Freud says that condensation produces metaphors and displacement produces metonymy and together they are at the core of the construction

of meanings in the dream or the literary text.


Displacement is another powerful instrument of dream censorship. It is an important device of creating literature also. Displacement manifests itself in two ways: the latent element is replaced by not a component part of itself but by something more remote one i.e by an allusion and secondly the psychical accent is shifted from an important element to an unimportant element. Condensation and displacement both are inextricable according to Freud. The core idea of Freud is that unconscious dynamically influences the working of human mind, language and culture. It leaves its imprints on all human behavior e.g. the secondary revision does not take place only in the act of reading, it first takes place in the unconscious of the author himself i.e. the author’s unconscious directly interferes with the writing of the text. The mechanisms of unconscious affect all aspects of the construction of human subject and creation of meaning. The unconscious affects all the three main links in the literary interphase i.e. author, text and reader. It operates all the time whether it is in our dream or literature or jokes or even everyday life. To sum up Freud’s ideas, human beings are tragic figures and in spite of being tragic, man is for love and love can overtake all difficulties. That is why psychoanalysis is a cure through love. C.G. Jung was nineteen years junior to Freud and Freud groomed Jung as an heir to the psychoanalytical movement. But Jung’s research took him to a new direction and there came a break up between the two. Jung departs from Freud about the concept of the unconscious. Jung postulated the idea of collective unconscious. He joined Freud’s preconscious and unconscious into one unit which he called personal unconscious. Collective unconscious is universal in contrast with personal unconscious. It is as if all the cultural history of past lies in the deeper layer of unconscious. “The contents of collective unconscious are known as archetypes i.e. pre – existent forms or original forms.” (Jung The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious 3) Jung saw unconscious like a three layered onion. At the centre lies the self. Within the inner of the three circles is collective unconscious, composed of archetypes. The outer circle represents consciousness, with its focal ego orbiting the system like a planet. Intermediate between the conscious and the collective


unconscious is the personal unconscious made up of complexes which is linked to an archetype for complexes are personification of archetypes. In the words of Jung, the unconscious structure of the psyche is “an inborn apriori element.” (Jung The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious 5) He explains it with the example of a new born baby. Just as a new born baby resembles others in constitution, but at the same time has an individual entity, similarly, the contents of the collective unconscious are universal but they are experienced personally. He extends the scope of the unconscious and adds a new dimension to its exclusively personal nature by including archaic and primordial affirmations into its scope. According to Jung, there is an innate drive in all human beings to see the full potential of their personality. This is universal and archetypal desire for psychic growth. Jung calls this individuation process. Individuation is a psychological growing up, the process of discovering those aspects of one’s self that makes an individual different from other members of the species. It is a process of self recognition and is absolutely essential if one is to become a wellbalanced individual. This individuation process has a definite pattern and proceeds through identifiable stages.

The archetypes have an abode in the unconscious and come to the fore at unpredictable intervals. The archetypes we confront are: persona, shadow, anima or animus, wise old man and the self i.e. complete and wholesome personality when all stages are achieved and the psychic journey is complete. When a child is born, he knows nothing, he gradually starts realizing that he is different from others. Ego works towards and exercises control over his sense of identity. Ego is a monolithic entity which is multi-layered comprising of id, ego, superego and present at conscious and unconscious levels. Ego is the ability to choose between good and bad. The ego is the centre of consciousness. Persona is an archetype of social adaptability. There is always some kind of pretence in persona. The persona begins to form early in childhood out of a need to conform to the wishes and expectations of parents and teachers. Persona should be flexible. As Jung says:

Society expects and indeed must expect, every individual to play the part assigned to him as perfectly


as possible, so that a man who is a person

play the role of parson in a flawless manner.

Society demands this as a kind of surety: each must stand at this post, here a cobbler, there a poet. No man

that would be ‘odd.’ In the

is expected to be both

must at all


academic world he would be a dilettante, in politics an ‘unpredictable’ quantity, in religion a free-thinker in short, he would always be suspected of unreliability and incompetence, because society is persuaded that only the cobbler who is not a poet can supply workmanlike shoes. (Jung Two Essays on Analytical Psychology 305) The persona, however, is a necessity; through it we relate to our world. It simplifies our contacts by indicating what we may expect from other people and on the whole makes them pleasanter, as good clothes improve ugly bodies.

Jung calls the other side of ourselves, which is to be found in the personal unconscious, the shadow. Shadow is one’s anti self, the dark sister. All that one represses to build a persona goes into the shadow. This is close to Freud’s concept of id. But shadow is bigger than id. It may have positive connotations. Jung regards shadow as a tight passage, a narrow door. As Jung states:

The shadow is tight passage, a narrow door, whose painful constriction no man is spared who goes down to

the deep well

For what comes after the door is

surprisingly enough, a boundless expanse full of unprecedented uncertainty, with apparently no inside and no outside, no above and no below, no here and there, no mine and no thine. (Jung The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious 3) The shadow is something more than the personal unconscious it is personal in so far as our own weaknesses and failings are concerned, but since it is common to humanity it can also be said to be a collective phenomenon. The collective aspect of shadow is expressed as a devil, a witch, or something similar.


In choosing the word shadow to describe the aspects of the unconscious, Jung has more in mind than merely to suggest something dark and vague in outline. There is, as he points out, no shadow without the sun, and no shadow without the light of consciousness. It is in fact in the nature of things that there should be light and dark, sun and shade. The shadow is unavoidable and man is incomplete without it. The danger of repressing the shadow is that in the unconscious it seems to acquire strength and grow in vigour, so that when the moment comes and when it must appear, it is more dangerous and more likely to overwhelm the rest of the personality, which otherwise could have acted as a wholesome check. This is particularly true of those collective aspects of the shadow which are displayed when a mob riots and apparently harmless people behave in the most savage and destructive manner. In the realm of the archetype of shadow, everything is unconditional and events take an unsuspecting trend. The archetype of shadow also represents evil latent in man. It comprises not first those undesirable traits which are repressed into the personal unconscious, but the whole ugly burden of the evil world. “The shadow, says Jung, is a moral problem which challenges the whole ego personality; it is moreover a social problem of immense importance which should not be underestimated. No one is able to realize the shadow without considerable moral resolution and some reorientation of his standards and ideas. No redemption is possible without tolerance and love-attitudes that have proved fruitful in dealing with the social renegade, but that we do not usually think of applying in any constructive way to ourselves.(Fordham 52) The basic idea of our life is to consolidate the conscious and the unconscious in us to form a balanced personality. It is assumed that the psychology of man and woman is identical. Jung has recognized and illustrated the distinctive features in the masculine and feminine unconscious. In the unconscious of man, there is definitely a feminine element, personified by a male figure. Jung calls it the anima or the soul. Jung says:

An inherited collected image of woman exists in a man’s unconscious. With the help of it he apprehends


the nature of woman. (Jung Two Essays on Analytical Psychology 301) But it is only woman as a general phenomenon that man apprehends in this way, for the image is an archetype, a representation of the age-old experience of man with woman, and though many women will conform, at least outwardly, to this image, it in no way represents the real character of an individual woman. The image becomes conscious and tangible through the actual contacts with woman that a man makes during the course of his life. The first and most important experience of a woman comes to him through his mother and is most powerful in shaping and influencing him: there are men who never succeed in freeing themselves from her fascinating power. But the child’s experience has a marked subjective character; it is not how the mother behaves, but how he feels she behaves that is significant. The image of his mother that occurs in each child is not an accurate picture of her, but is formed and coloured by the innate capacity to produce an image of woman the anima. The compelling power of the anima is due to her image being an archetype of the collective unconscious, which is projected on to any woman who offers the slightest hook on which her picture may be hung. Jung considers her to be the soul of man, not soul in the Christian sense, as the essence of the personality and with the attribute of immortality, but ‘soul’ as primitives conceive it to be – namely, a part of the personality. To avoid confusion, therefore, Jung uses the word anima instead of soul; psychologically it implies the ‘recognition of the existence of a semiconscious psychic complex, having partial autonomy of function.’ (Jung Two Essays on Analytical Psychology 302) The anima is expressed in a man’s life not only in projection upon the woman and in creative activity, but in fantasies, moods, presentiments and emotional outbursts. An old Chinese text says that when a man wakens in the morning heavy or in bad mood, that is his feminine soul, his anima. She disturbs the attempt to concentrate by whispering absurd notions in his ears, spoils the day by creating the vague, unpleasant sensation that there is something physically wrong with him or


haunts his sleep with seductive visions; and a man possessed by his anima is a prey to uncontrollable emotion. (Fordham 55) Its counterpart in woman is the animus, personified by a man. He seems to be (like the anima) derived from three roots: the collective image of man which a woman inherits; her own experience of masculinity coming through the contacts she makes with men in her life; and the latent masculine principle in herself. The masculine principle that is, the masculine element in women found very positive expression in women’s activities during the war years, when it was made clear that they could fill adequately most positions previously reserved for men. But only an abnormal situation brings out such manifestations; there is a contemporary movement towards a wider range of activity for women, but generally this activity is better expressed in a domestic milieu, or in one that bears some relationship to it, e.g. teaching, nursing and social work:

Personal relations are as a rule more important and interesting to her than objective facts and their interconnections. The wide fields of commerce, politics, technology and science, the whole realm of the applied masculine mind, she relegates to the penumbra of consciousness; while on the other hand, she develops a minute consciousness of personal relationships, the infinite nuances of which usually escape the man entirely. (Jung Two Essays on Analytical Psychology


In other words, it is usually (though not always) the case that a woman’s thinking and a man’s feelings and emotions belong to the realm of the unconscious. The anima produces moods, the animus produces opinions, resting on unconscious assumptions instead of really conscious and directed thought. As the mother is the first carrier of the anima image for the boy, so the father embodies the animus image for the girl and this combination seems to exercise a profound and lasting fascination over her mind, so that instead of thinking and acting


for herself she continually quotes father and does things in father’s way, even late into life.

The animus is a natural archetype in woman and is projected upon man. The woman has no option in having the animus. It is a part of her natural endowment. The father is the first man the woman meets in her and involuntarily he becomes the standard by which she assesses other man. The girl’s experience of her father becomes an all important image in her mind. Her later experiences in life do not displace the image of her father. There is also the inherited image of man in woman’s unconscious, derived from her past experiences of man. For this masculine element in woman, Jung has employed the term animus. The masculine element in her personality is harmoniously blended enabling her to understand and apprehend the nature of man. Unharmonious blending of animus in her personality causes maladjustment in the woman and also brings about the failure of her marriage. The animus has a positive function, however; there are times when a woman needs the courage and aggressiveness he represents and he is useful if she can prevent him running away with her; the opinions produced by him are too generalized and therefore inapplicable to understand them critically she may find something of value in them. The animus can in fact stir her to search for knowledge and truth and lead her into purposeful activity, if she can learn to know him and delineate his sphere of activity. Both the animus and the anima are mediators between the conscious and the unconscious mind, and when they become personified in fantasies, dreams, or visions they present an opportunity to understand something of what has hitherto been unconscious. Jung takes dreams seriously. They are ‘the voice of nature,’ and not only a voice, they also have an effect on us. The most curious and apparently meaningless dreams can usually be understood if given the right kind of thought and considerations, while some present such a clear picture that there is little difficulty in grasping something of their meaning if one is prepared to try. If one studies visionary or dream figures closely and notes any correspondence with people already known, or with figures of myth and poetry, or characters from books or plays, one may gather


some idea of the significance of the dream figure for oneself, and a hint of its unconscious influence. After anima or animus the two archetypes which become influential in a person’s life are those of the old wise man and the great mother. Jung sometimes calls the old wise man the archetype of meaning, but since he appears in various other forms for instance as a king or hero, medicine man or saviour one must clearly take the word ‘meaning’ in its wide sense. Jung believes that the emergence of this figure is due to a certain kind of positive father complex and embodies a spiritual character. In dreams, it is always the father figure from whom the wise counsel and decisive convictions emanate. The dream of white and black magician is a glaring example of this genre. The figure appears in the guise of a magician, priest, doctor or any other person possessing authority. The old man appears when hero is a desperate and hopeless situation from which only profound reflection can extricate him. The mariner in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” turns to the Hermit with a desperate appeal for absolution. He pleads: “O shrieve me, shrieve me , holy Man.” (574) Like any other archetype, the mother archetype can appear in multifarious forms. It comes to the fore due to the influence of the mother, grandmother, mother- in-law or any other woman with whom a relationship has been formed. It can be a governess, a nurse, an actress etc. The mother in the figurative sense can be mother of God-the Virgin and Sophia. In “Christabel,” Christabel leads Geraldine to her chamber, where ‘moon shines dim in the open air” (75) but “not a moon beam enters here” (76). The moon is a dominant symbol of the mother archetype. The moon brightens the dark woods but it is partially covered by a grey cloud that signifies the struggle between good and evil. Christabel offers her: “drink this cordial wine: / it is a wine is virtuous powers; / My mother made it of wild flowers” (91-93). It lays the foundation of the so-called mother complex. Like any other archetype, it appears under infinite variety of aspects. Excessive affection from mother is harmful and has dangerous consequences. It leads to both the negative and positive influences. As compared with the son, the daughter experiences the mother complex in a clear and uncomplicated way. The reason for this is that in man, the mother complex is never pure, for it is always mixed with the anima archetype.


Archetypes sometimes have positive and favorable influence and sometimes they have negative and evil influence. The qualities associated with positive side are maternal solicitude, the magical authority, wisdom and spiritual exaltation. On the negative side, the archetype may connote anything secret, hidden, abysmal i.e., anything that devours or seduces by the symbols of evil influence which are the witch, the dragon and the serpent etc. Another very important centre of personality is ‘the self.’ The ego, Jung says, can be regarded as the centre of the conscious and if it tries to add unconscious contents to itself (i.e. collective contents, not the personal unconscious or shadow which does belong to the ego) it is in danger of destruction, like an overloaded vessel which sinks under the strain. The self, however, can include both the conscious and the unconscious. The term ‘self’ is not used by Jung as in everyday speech, but in the Eastern manner, where as Atman, Purusha, Brahman, it has been a familiar philosophical concept from time immemorial. In Hindu thought the self is the supreme principle, the oneness of being. For the Indian “everything, highest and lowest, is in the (transcendental) ‘Subject’ i.e. the Self. In Chinese thought, the concept of Tao is also all-inclusive and the development of the Golden Flower or Immortal Spirit body (the highest aim of Chinese Yoga), depends on the equal interplay of both the light forces (Yang) and the dark forces (Yin).” (Wilhelm 11-12) It was contact with the Eastern mind that illuminated for Jung many of the secrets of the unconscious and led him to formulate in The Secret of the Golden Flower the concept of the self. Jung makes it clear that his concept of the self is not

that of a kind of universal consciousness, which is really only another name for the unconscious. It consists rather in the awareness, on the one hand, of our unique natures, and on the other of our intimate relationship with all life, not only human, but animal and plant, and even that of inorganic matter and the cosmos itself. It brings a feeling of ‘oneness,’ and of reconciliation with life, which can now be accepted as it is, not as it ought to be. Jung says:

It is as if the guidance of life had passed over to an

invisible centre

[and there is a] release from compulsion


and impossible responsibility that are the inevitable results of participation mystique. (Wilhelm 77) The experience of self is archetypal and is portrayed in dreams and visions by many and varied images, all of which may be called archetypes of the self. To those unfamiliar with the language of dreams this wide variety of images may seem confusing, but one must remember that the unconscious is never precise in the way that consciousness needs to be. If [it speaks] of the sun and identifies with it the lion, the king, the hoard of gold guarded by the dragon, or the power that makes for the life and health of man, it is neither the one thing nor the other, but the unknown third thing that finds more or less adequate expression in all these similes, yet to the perpetual vexation of the intellect remains unknown and not be fitted into a formula. (Jung Psychology and Alchemy 267) Thus according to Jung all these archetypes anima, animus, shadow and wise old man originate from the collective unconscious. The main role of archetype in our life is to make us realize our own self and rise high in life. A capital S is used to distinguish between the “self” of everyday usage and Jung’s “self” which transcends ego. The self seeks fulfillment in the spiritual achievement of religion and inner life of soul. Hence we can experience it as God within us. In the history of psychoanalysis, Jacques Lacan stands out like a Moby Dick in a duck pond. (Lacan 25) His contribution to current literary theory is prolific and multifarious. His theory is elemented on Sigmund Freud’s ideas, but he revitalizes Freudian theory, making radical changes in it. To follow his mission, Lacan tried to dig up Freud’s ideas from the litter of banalising glosses and explanations that later writers have heaped upon them.” (Bowie 101) Most later psychoanalysts misinterpreted Freud. His ideas lost all sense and innovative power and became a barrier for the scientific research of mental processes. Lacan re-examined those ideas and revitalizes the complexity and power that they possess as they were first formulated by Freud. In this mission he goes far and revises


many of Freud’s ideas. But he is still a Freudian and can be understood with the help of the basic ideas of Freud. “Where Freud eventually set up a triadic structure of the mind the id, the ego, the superego Lacan creates the trilogy of the imaginary, the symbolic and sometimes the real.”(Osborne 161) Lacan talks about the unconscious – the idea that is placed at the centre of Freud’s thinking. Unconscious is defined as:

“The realm of insatiable instinctual energy and knows no stability, or containment or closure.” (Bowie 103) Lacan modernized Freud through language. He postulates that the unconscious is structured like language. Language gives birth to unconscious. Before language, there is no unconscious. Freud was interested in biology as he analyzed the inter- relationship between biology and mind. But Lacan is interested in language and he looks at the relationship between culture, language and the mental structures. He writes “So psychoanalysis is carried out exclusively with words, with language. So psychoanalysis, argues Lacan, must have a theory of language and meaning. (Hill 25) Lacan reorganized Freud’s account of the unconscious and its relations with the preconscious system around linguistic concepts and made it more convincing. His debt to linguistics is clear from his pronouncement, “unconscious is structured like language.” (Bowie 108) We can look at the relationship between language and the unconscious in two ways. First, unconscious’s contribution to the formation of human language and secondly, language’s contribution to the formation of unconscious. To support the first way:

It is clearly possible that the intra-psychical tensions and conflicts could have played their part in determining the structure of human language in the first place: the idea that language was created in the partial image of an already existing unconscious offers at the very least an appealing poetic explanation for that sense of a ‘natural’ interlocking between the two systems. (Bowie 108)


We all represent ourselves through language. We communicate with each other with the help of language. So according to the second way:

Language is the sole medium of psychoanalysis: for the patient as he speaks his dreams and phantasies, and for the analysts as he punctuates the patient’s discourse and places constructions upon it, the unconscious is available only in a linguistically mediated form. (Bowie 109) Lacan emphasizes the idea that language creates the unconscious. To support his idea, he describes the elementary structural components of both language and unconscious. Human beings represent themselves with language, with signifiers. Lacan says that the signifier represents the subject for another signifier. Subject is the person and signifier is the word which represents the subject. According to Lacan a word’s meaning comes when it is contrasted with other words, e.g., ‘true’ with ‘false,’ ‘good’ with ‘bad.’ These pairs of words are called ‘binary opposites.’ Subject and signifier also make an important pair of ‘binary opposites’ or ‘logical equivalence.’ He used special term for the subject. The abbreviation he used for the subject is an S with a bar through it, i.e., this bar is put to show the alienated subject. It clears the fact that there is always some kind of slippage or something missing that it desires. The subject is split or divided by language. The bar is:

The pictorial enactment of a necessary and irremovable cleavage between signifier and subject. (Bowie 110) The subject is overpowered by language which is not fixed but always remains in flux. It is culturally constructed and liable to change. In Lacan’s view:

“The use of a word and its meaning always depends on the user’s history and on the use of the word in their life and community. So meaning depends on use, and as use varies, so meaning varies.” (Hill 28)


Lacan draws upon Roman Jakobson’s two poles of verbal organization: ‘the metaphor’ and ‘the metonymy’ which correspond to Freud’s terms ‘condensation’ and ‘displacement.’ Jakobson’s terms create an additional pair of crosswise relationship:

The psychical mechanism by which neurotic symptoms are produced involves the pairing of two signifiers- unconscious sexual trauma and changes within, or actions by, the body and is thus metaphorical; where as unconscious desire, indestructible and insatiable as it is, involves a constant displacement of energy from object to object and is thus metonymic. (Bowie 113) Metaphor is the substitution of one word for another. One signifier takes the place of the other in the signifying chain. Metonymy is based on the word to word connection. The place of signifier is confused with the place of the subject. Lacan believes that a subject can not be whole or complete. There is always something missing in that subjectivity. This something is the object, i.e.:

The subject is made up of absent objects, of things missing and lost, and often imagined by the subject to reside in others, in other people. (Hill 78) To give an example, a man’s object resides in a woman and a woman’s object resides in a man. It is because every subject is separated by language. Our separation or identifications are signified through images or signifiers. A subject is represented by the signifier for another signifier that is for the subject. As the object is missing thing, it becomes the cause of desire for the subject. Lacan’s theory revolves around the paradox of desire and lack. He distinguishes desire from need and demand. Need is physiological in nature, for example, a child’s need for food. It can be completely satisfied. State of infancy is a state of need. The mother fulfills infant’s needs. In this state infant is totally dependent on mother. When the infant gets older, mother does not spend much time with it and increases the gap between its feeds. At this stage the child starts learning language because the mother feeds it words or signifiers. For the infant, it is a complicated stage. It gets confronted with symbolic father whom the mother desires.


The problem of the real and of the impossible comes to the forefront. It is a kind of progression from need to demand. Demand is for an object that can not be given because it does not exist. Need and demand can be contrasted: The object of need can be supplied but the object of demand can not be supplied. The child keeps on demanding but does not get proper response from the mother because the mother can not fulfill its impossible demands. It becomes frustrated for it does not get pleasure from the words with which mother feeds it. It is a state of progress from demand to desire. The child’s frustrated demand gives birth to desire. Demand and desire are contrasted as:

Demand is always presented as impossibility for some one else, as something that the other is not doing for the subject. Desire is a possibility for the subject, something that the subject might achieve. (Hill 67) One desires what one lacks. Desire per se is always for ‘the other’. Meaning of an individual’s desire can be found in other’s desire because it is a game of signifiers. Signifiers are the property of language. Language is not an individual’s property but it belongs to all who use it. That’s why an individual’s desire is related with what others desire. Desire expresses itself through signifiers. Hidden desires speak in slips of tongue, in a dream, jokes or as a symptom. Lacan says:

Desire is an effect in the subject of that condition which is imposed upon him by the existence of the discourse to cause his need to pass through the defiles of the signifier. (Jafferson 153) One can know one’s desire, after having the experience of one’s unfulfilled demands. Otherwise one can not recognize ones desire and can not follow it. For Lacan:

Desire is that which is manifested in the interval that demand hollows within itself, in as much the subject, in articulating the signifying chain, brings to light the want-to-be together with the appeal to receive the complement from the other, if the other, the locus of


speech, is also the locus of this want, or lack. (Lacan


If a child is to use language he/she has to be separated from its mother. What separates the child from the mother is the symbolic father. Symbolic father can be the biological father, step father, sibling or mother’s work that creates separation. The separation is regarded by the child as the mother’s desire for someone else, for someone other than the child. (Hill 60) Some aspects of the symbolic father remain in flux and some aspects get fixed in child’s mind as proper names. These proper names help the child to speak and understand language. Proper names are fixed and other bits of language are always in flux. Both are interdependent. The aspects which are fixed, Lacan terms those as ‘Names-of-the-Father.’ Lacan has taken the linguistic terms from Saussure’s theory of language. Signifier is the technical term for word in Lacan’s theory of subject. Subject represents itself through signifiers or language. What we speak or write are the signifiers which help us in defining ourselves. Language separates the subject from the object and becomes a signifying system to represent the subject. Subject is a person who is made up by language which defines a subject in terms of words or signifiers. Signifiers are the special objects and the only way through which we can represent ourselves for another signifier. For example, every member of a family represents his/her family for another family. In a community one member represents the whole family. Otherwise all members differ from each other in their views or interests. That is why Lacan says:

We are separated and joined by language. It alienates each one of us and yet makes a community of us: a community of alienated and alienating subjects. (Hill 32) Another important concept is ‘the phallus’ which represents power. The phallus and castration are a pair of binary opposites. Castration represents loss of power. Lacan describes the phallus as:


The phallus is something that has the power to move or change, apparently by itself. Examples of the phallus are motorbikes, a business that expands and contracts, women making babies, workman building a house, a plough cutting a furrow. (Hill 103) Lacan further postulates his idea that the unconscious of the subject is constructed by language. According to him before language there is no unconscious. When an infant enters into the realm of language, it becomes a human subject, its unconscious takes birth and its identity is constructed in language. He describes the transition from infancy to childhood in different stages imaginary, the symbolic and the real. The pre oedipal infant lives in imaginary state. In this state, the child has no access to language. It can not speak and is not aware of its limitations and boundaries. There is no split between self and other. It has no sense of difference between itself and the m (other). For the child its body is the world. It sees itself reflected in its surroundings. Its reality is imaginary. Through mirror phase the child enters the symbolic stage. The imaginary grows from the infant’s experience of his ‘specular ego’ but extends far into the adult individual’s experience of others and of the external world where false identification is to be found within the subject, or between subject and thing-there the imaginary holds away. (Bowie 115) In mirror phase, the child is confronted with an image that the world gives back to it. It discovers itself as an identity, as whole, coherent being. But this image is like the image that is seen in an actual mirror which is a distortion of the real. The child experiences in play the relation between the movements assumed in the image and the reflected environment, and between this virtual complex and the reality it reduplicates the child’s own body, and the persons and things, around him. (Lacan 1) It is false recognition or identity. The world is the mirror which gives us this imaginary sense of ourselves. Our identity is constructed in interaction with others,


i.e. what is outside of us. This identity is subject to change. It can never be fixed or stable or coherent. Because the world (social or personal) which constructs our identity is a process in which changes are inevitable and it never leads to completion, so is our identity. Our identity is constructed under the ‘gaze’ of the ‘other.’ We realize that we are different from others, though we resemble them also. Thus our identity is relational which allows for difference. When the child enters the world of language, its identity is constructed in language. The mirror image is signified and the child is signifier. Identity can be said to be a linguistic and cultural construct. Pre-verbal fantasies and drives are left behind, hence unconscious is constructed which becomes the realm of these fantasies and drives. Unconscious is structured like language as it works through signs and metaphors. But it is beyond language. The world of language is “in which the Real- the real world which we can never know is symbolized and represented by the way of language and other representational systems that operate like language.” (Bertens 160) Real is not accessible to the subject. It is ‘the impossible’ or ‘the ineffable’ which can not be named. It always returns to the same place:

It then becomes that before which the imaginary faltered, that over which the symbolic, that which is refractory resistant. (Lacan 10) It is ‘outside’ of language. The child accepts the language and the social and cultural systems which operate in the child’s environment. It acquires its identity through language within the symbolic order, it can be either male or female. Its identity is relational. The child is reduced to a subject within a relation system (male/female, father/mother, son/daughter). (Krishnaswamy 52) The relational system allows for difference. Biological difference of male and female gives birth to desire for the other. The male desires the female and female desires the male. According to Lacan:

The massive configuration of authority that works through language is the nom du pere, the name of the


father, in recognition of the patriarchal character of our social arrangements and the phallus is the signifier that patriarchal character. (Bertens 161) When the subject enters the symbolic stage, it has to accept language and the feeling of wholeness and coherent or undifferentiated being is lost. Feeling of oneness with the world is lost because there is no access to the preverbal self. Human subject lives ever after with the feeling of lacking something. This loss of preverbal self results in desire. The desire that can not be completely fulfilled but can only be substituted temporarily with symbolic means. The child feels alienated from his ‘Real’ self. ‘Real’ returns again and again but it can not be grasped or conceptualized. It is:

That which is lacking in the symbolic order, the in eliminable residue of all articulation, the foreclosed element, which may be approached, but never grasped:

the umbilical cord of the symbolic. (Lacan 10) ‘Real’ is the impossible to say. Language is unable to represent it as words are unable to grasp it. Thus language isolates the child from its own reality. Language is a world of sign, and signifiers which have no stability. To further explain it:

The ‘Real’ turns up in man’s relation to desired objects. It makes its appearance because the signifying system is revealed as inadequate: the desired object is never what one thinks one desires. What one imagines is always the primordial lost object, the union with the mother. (Jafferson 153) We try to conceptualize it but it always fails. Language or words create a void which can not be filled completely as Lacan’s subject is divided by language. He describes four ways of being with language. These four ways are termed as four discourses which are: The Slave – master Discourse; The Hysteric’s Discourse; The University or Academic Discourse; The discourse of the Analyst. The slave master discourse is the basic and universal discourse. The other three are its extended forms. The slaves think that their masters possess knowledge, power, all the fun and pleasure and have the solution to their problems. The distinction between slave and master is


not possible because every slave is a master to his own slavery and every master is a slave to his own mastery. Social system has complete hold over masters and slaves. It allows and forbids the expression of their desires and their symptoms. What it forbids, takes refuge in the unconscious. Thus, repression gives birth to the unconscious. For Lacan, repression is “the direct effect of entry into the symbolic order.” (Jafferson 153) Masters and slaves both follow the social order or their slave-master culture, being loyal to it. Hence revolutions are always partial as the slaves cherish their inertia. Every relationship is based on the slave-master culture. For example, parent-child, husband-wife, employer-employee, warden-prisoner, lover-beloved, teacher-student relationship etc. Hysteric’s discourse is the overestimation of the other and underestimation of the self. When a lover says, “Without you, I am nothing,” he over evaluates his beloved and de-evaluates himself. He is taking himself for a slave and his beloved for a master. In Hysteric’s discourse, in the University or academic discourse, slave – master discourse is at the root. Teacher-student relationship comes in this category. One is the knowing subject and the other is the unknowing subject. Hence the knowing subject, the teacher, is the master and the unknowing subject, the student, is the slave. In a court, a lawyer is the knowing subject and a client is the unknowing subject. In this relationship of lawyer and client, lawyer is the master and the client is the slave though they are interdependent. In the discourse of the analyst, analyst just listens to his patient and with logical questioning helps him to find some truth or solution to his problems. The patient supposes that the analyst possesses knowledge and solution of his problems. In this way, the patient places the analyst at master’s position and himself at the slave’s position. Being a linguist, Lacan has described four types of discourses or four ways of being with the language. But as a structuralist, he also takes interest in structures. He tries to establish a relation between language and mental structures. He has given four psychic structures which are: Hysteria, Obsessional neurosis, Perversion, Psychosis. Every human being’s psyche is dominated by one of these psychic structures. Conflict is the basic state of life as it is full of desires. We have to live with our conflicts or desires. These conflicts or desires determine our psychic structure. We


can be hysteric, neurotic, pervert or psychosis. In every case there is some kind of conflict or desire. In case of hysteria, one does not recognize the desire which is hidden as his or her own. A hysteric person gives importance to other’s desires and undermines its own desire. It can not speak its desires but its desire can speak through the symptoms and demands to be interpreted or addressed by the other. Its symptoms can be headache or blindness or some other bodily pain. So hysteric feels discomfort and pain and makes its suffering obvious.

For an obsessional, there are two desires which are mutually exclusive or incompatible for him. He believes that if he will act on the one, the other desire will be ruled out. He is unable to decide what he should do. He is in a state of dilemma. He wants to fulfill both the desires but it seems to him impossible. His mind moves from one desire to the other:

Children usually go through obsessional games, rituals

and phases

Adult obsessionals exhaust themselves

with similar activities as well as compiling endless lists, having a lot of trouble finishing anything and amassing huge collections, which are also usually unfinished, with one or two stamps or match boxes that remain missing. (Hill 99) Impossibility is the key word in the case of obsessional. He struggles with his impossibility, i.e. the real. Third psychic structure is perversion. Lacan used the word ‘pere-version.’ ‘Pere’ means ‘father’ in French. He links it with symbolic father who separates the child from the mother and symbolizes rules and taboos regarding sexual enjoyment. For example, the rules against incest which disallow incestuous relations. Perverts enjoy their symptoms. They take ‘jouissance’ from their symptoms. ‘Jouissance’ is a kind of sexual satisfaction which differs from pleasure. “Jouissance is always transgressive, somehow against as a rule, as an illicit variation.” (Hill 107) Narcissists and homosexuals come in the category of perverts.


Psychosis is more complex than other psychic structures. Psychotics have a different relation with language. Their relation with language differs from neurotics and perverts as they are not properly separated from their mother. For them meaning and rules of language are not that much fixed as they are for neurotics and perverts. The rules of language can not be always proved, there exists some kind of inconsistency and incompleteness. Neurotics and perverts believe that rules are incomplete but for psychotics, they are inconsistent. There are some contradictions or conflicts in these fixed rules. Psychotics are not properly separated from the mother by the fixed aspects of language, i.e., proper names or the Names-of-the-Father. So language functions in a different way for them and their psychic structure differs radically from others. They can not repress the Names-of-the-Father in their unconscious like neurotics. They lack repression, which further gives birth to new repressions, which can work for them like the Names-of-the-Father and allow them to use language. Psychotics do not find anyone else whom the mother desires i.e., the symbolic father. This problem introduces their terrible symptoms like paranoia, grandiosity and ideas of being persecuted. They talk about changing gender and their nationality. They have hallucinations of being controlled by aliens or having sex with them. Hill explains Lacanian psychotics as follows:

Psychotics caricature the popular idea of ‘the mad person’ and are often unable to follow a career or initiate long term relationships for some or for all of their lives. (Hill 109) Their symptoms serve as a solution to their problem. Their fantasies of third persons separate them from the mother and prevent ruining breakdown. Psychotics are often rebels, geniuses or creative persons. They do not take things for granted. They question in a radical manner. Some psychotics lead their lives as neurotics. Actually they have a neurotic layer over their psychotic structure. Psychotic symptoms may appear for a period in their lives or it is also possible that these symptoms may not appear at all.


Thus Lacan has modernized Freudian concept of unconscious connecting it with language and establishing a relationship between culture, language and mental structures. His work, like Freud’s becomes a source of instruction not only for psychologists but also for literary scholars to examine a literary text. Thus with the help of Freud, Jung and Lacan’s psychological ideas, the recurrent motifs in the poetry of Coleridge can be explored under the changing vision of the poet.



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