The psychosis of neurosis

For Freud, there were two psychoses: paranoia and paraphrenia. Para-, in both cases, means ‘along side’, while -noia means ‘mind’ and -phrenia means ‘heart. Thus, the latter refers to a disorder of the passions or emotions and the former refers to a disorder of the mind itself. The fundamental difference has to do with the functioning of the thinking apparatus itself, of the signifying chain. Within paraphrenia, it would seem, the ‘thinking’ machine still seems to function.

Within this original grouping do we not see the origin of the endless debates about triggered versus un-triggered psychosis, Lacanian psychosis versus Ordinary psychosis, “actualpathology / psychopathology continuum,” and so on. Was it not the case that Lacan, in his later teaching, already offered a rather nice way out of this problem of classification when he discussed the sinthome?

Here, I would agree with Verhaeghe – even while dismissing his ‘continuum’ hypothesis – and state that the sinthome is a fuller account of the symptom; but I would hazard to go even further and claim that neurosis is always a psychosis which is “successful.” Thus, the difference is not necessarily between paranoia and paraphrenia, but between the successful psychosis of neurosis and psychosis proper.


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