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UBC Theses and Dissertations

It cuts both ways : Freud, Lacan and the fragmented body Soros, Erin


"It Cuts Both Ways: Freud, Lacan and the Fragmented Body" is a thesis written in pieces. Four sections give a reading of corporeal fragmentation, each layered with yet challenging the other, forming a work that comes together as it falls apart. The first section explores Jacques Lacan's Ethics of Psychoanalysis, specifically the concepts of sublimation, das Ding, and the death drive, in order to analyse how it is that an object can so increase in value—can promise such dangerous, impossible pleasure—that one would risk one's death simply to tear it up. This section is followed by a reading of Sigmund Freud's The Ego and the Id, an explication of some of this text's most productive contradictions. Freud asserts that a child identifies with a parent as a compensation against the loss of an object-cathexis: when this suggestion is taken to its logical conclusion it serves to undermine the possibility of a boy's heterosexual identification. I analyse the possible results of a boy identifying not with his father but with his mother, an identification accepted then rejected then projected onto his own daughter, onto a body the now grown boy can better control. The next section addresses Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle, focussing on Freud's theory of the compulsion to repeat, where representation of a trauma gains momentum unhinged from the origin it can only represent, binding the invasion of stimuli only as it binds the subject to death. Freud suggests that tearing apart a body is a means to create one: I ask how it happens that the means overtakes the end, when destroying the body becomes its own return. The thesis concludes with an exploration of several key concepts as outlined by Lacan: the mirror stage, the drive, objet a, and the relationship between the real, the imaginary and the symbolic. My aim here is to explore what structures form the body and what is lost through this formation, when corporeality is cut and cuts back.

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