The Distributed Panic of Lack

I just read a fantastic piece by Patrice Maniglier titled “Acting Out the Structure” in the second volume of Concept & Form. There are many wonderful theses in this short essay but one really sticks out for me. Within the obsessional structure of the signifying system he finds that trauma is an event which ripples and perhaps never ends. I am putting the matter in a fairly simple way here because I want to develop it to my own end.

Consider this: when a trauma event occurs, according to Maniglier, it distributes throughout the whole signifying system. For example, we see all those spaces where the zero gets passed along throughout Frege’s numeric system (in Miller’s article on “Suture,” this was very important). So, my own version is to claim something like this: when my panic attack sets in it attempts to distribute the jouissance across the whole network of zeros within the signifying system of the symbolic order. In my experience, this makes a lot of sense. I’ve often described my panic attacks as operating across various intensities, thresholds, and increasing in intensity precisely in every attempt to move outside of it.

I am tempted to claim, with Maniglier in some respects, that the jouissance aims to take all of language, to move through the entire, vast, network of signifiers. But, with hope, it does, at least in my case, inevitably – up until this point anyhow – reach a barrier. What is this barrier?

My initial thesis is that the barrier is some uninhabited level of abstraction. I can not yet figure out how to describe this but I think I am moving toward something. I think perhaps there might be a “upward” level of lack which is different in scope from the middle and lower levels of lack within the symbolic order. And I do not think that these lacks are the same. We know at least from Maniglier that the lack is distributed across the whole symbolic system – but what I am tempted to add, thanks to my own experience with the trauma of panic disorder, is that there are various registers of lack that are not distributed according to the same symbolic grammar. Of course, this higher level of lack exists only for the neurotic.

Except, if this is true then what about borderline, or untriggered psychosis, the new psychosis, autism, etc? Perhaps we can make a case that these fuzzier versions of psychosis are in fact lacks which are only lacking in one of the two or three (lower, middle, or higher) lacks of the symbolic order. Thus, perhaps I am afforded a certain level of protection from a pure psychotic break due to my panic disorder because I retain a higher level lack while another may not have any of the lower, middle, or higher levels of lack.

It is a very risky thesis – and I am moved to reject it. However, I must say, it makes a great deal of sense and explains in a way I hitherto could not explain my own panic disorder.

I would very much appreciate your comments.


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