On Shadows in the Night

Colette Soler once claimed that depression does not exist. By this she meant that depression is not one of the clinical structures. In a sense, the rise of cases of “depression” today are part of the problem of analysands knowing-too-much about their symptom. Today, I am going to make an equally radical claim: anorexia does not exist. By this I mean simply that anorexia, as a conceptual label, masks a more primordial discursive structure.

It is no secret that I have struggled with an eating disorder for the majority of my life. However, while in personal analysis I noticed that my eating disorder – my self-diagnosis of SED (a variant of anorexia nervosa) – was being used to conceal a much larger problem: my obsessive “no.” My anarchism had the same structure as my eating disorder (no to the State!). The walls of my apartment had the same structure as my eating disorder (no to Art!). My library had the same structure as my eating disorder (SRD, Selective Reading Disorder – too many books about Lacan).

The good analyst will not focus on the self-diagnosis. He will not focus on the eating disorder (e.g., anorexia) or on the mood disorder (e.g., depression). Rather, he will focus on the structure of discourse. And he will reveal, as it was revealed to me, that the symptom is worse than the self-diagnosis: it pervades the subject’s being, it splits the subject from the world of signifiers and the world of … nothing.

But how can nothing split the subject from nothing? I will share with you a eureka moment during my own personal analysis two years ago. I discovered that I was using my obsession with nothing (e.g., Stirner’s “Creative Nothing!,” the great nothing who creates everything out of the nothing!) to protect me from a much more abysmal nothing: the nothing of being. I was asked to provide an example, and, on whim, I provided this one: imagine a cow standing there in the field. The cow is white with black spots. Those black spots make up the fabric of the cow’s appearance. The darkness of night arrives, and the first black spot, the first nothing, drowns in the nothing of the second, of the night.

I was so very afraid to live in a night in which all cows are black.


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