The Real and Jouissance

Finally, Lacan posits a register called "the real"—not the empirical world but the ineffable realm of constancy beyond the field of speech. According to Lacan, the "reality" which is given to consciousness is no more and no less than an amalgam of the imaginary (the specular and imagistic world of the rationalizing ego, with all of its self-delusions, defenses, and falsifications) and the symbolic (the meaningful social world of language). Lacan resists defining the real in any explicit or easily codifiable way. In his later work in the 1960's Lacan discussed the register of the real in light of his work on jouissance, a term which is loosely translated as "enjoyment" but which is much more complex.

According to Lacan, jouissance is any experience which is too much for the organism to bear. More often than not it is experienced as suffering—an unbearable pain which is experienced as a kind of satisfaction by the unconscious drives. According to Lacan, this is what lies at the heart of the Freudian "repetition compulsion," namely an unconscious, and unconsciously satisfying, wish to suffer. Healthy human life is about the regulation of jouissance. Children's bodies are prone to overexcitation and overstimulation because they are full of jouissance, which is slowly drained from the body of the child after its encounter with the "Law of the Father" and its entry into the register of the symbolic. Portions of jouissance linked to especially intense bodily memories from childhood can become "caught" or centered in the body and manifest as symptoms. Lacan reconfigured Freud's theory of castration by redefining it as the loss of jouissance from the body. More broadly,

Lacan says that the entry into language itself is castration because it introduces the idea of lack or absence into the world.

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Breaking Bulimia

Breaking Bulimia

We have all been there: turning to the refrigerator if feeling lonely or bored or indulging in seconds or thirds if strained. But if you suffer from bulimia, the from time to time urge to overeat is more like an obsession.

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