Identification

 

Ghiath el-Marzouk[1]

 

One can be quite neurotic,

when in the process of  identification.

 

Freud

 

Preliminary

This article will discuss the phenomenon of identification as the psychical expression of the infantís earliest emotional affiliation with another personís identity, an affiliation which, in the Freudian formulation, is accompanied by a parallel libidinal tie with the same person. The article will open the discussion with the set of lexical meanings which are implied by the term identification from a linguistic viewpoint, and will thus underline the specific lexical meaning (viz. its reflexive implementation) which is applied in psychoanalytic writings. It will, then, explain the two paradoxical psychical imports of the phenomenon in such writings: the positive import that refers to the feeling of idealization and the negative (or pathological) import which points to the feeling of aggressivity (as in Anna Freudís further formulation). These two paradoxical psychical imports will, therefore, be considered to originate from the ambivalent nature of the phenomenon as a derivative of the oral phase of libidinal and ego development. Given that identification fits in, and paves the way for, a more familiar phenomenon in such development, namely, the Oedipus complex, the contribution of identification towards the timely inversion (and thence the inevitable destruction) of the Oedipus complex will further be illustrated with reference to a few examples of psychopathological symptoms. Then, mention will also be made of Lacanís not easily tractable distinction between Ďimaginary identificationí and Ďsymbolic identificationí due to the considerable theoretic changes which the distinction has already undergone in his writings. Finally, the aforesaid conflictual interrelation between identification and the Oedipus complex will be taken into account to highlight the developmental aspects of the ego.

 

Exposition

From a linguistic perspective, the nominal form identification is implemented to denote a set of distinctive, but related, lexical meanings which are determined by the intrinsic variations in the ideational content of the verbal form identify. These intrinsic variations are, in turn, conditioned by the intended forces of valency which specify the number and type of objects (i.e. noun phrases) that the verbal form has the potential to combine with. Accordingly, the intended forces of valency correspond to the set of semantic implementations of the verbal form, which may be adumbrated as follows. Firstly, in the transitive implementation of the verbal form identify, its intended force of valency assigns one, and only one, external object: to identify someone or something is to establish the identity of someone or something in cases of desirable certainty, or to recognize the identity of someone or something in cases of undesirable uncertainty (e.g. She could identify the book among a hundred others; He even could not identify the writer of that book; etc.). Secondly, in the ditransitive implementation of the same verbal form, the intended force of valency designates a combination of two external objects instead: to identify someone with someone or to identify something with something is simply to equate them without any reservations in cases of desirable certainty, or to treat them as identical with some reservations in cases of undesirable uncertainty (e.g. She identified Stalin with Hitler; He identifies religion with illusion; etc.). Thirdly, between the transitive and ditransitive implementations, there arises the reflexive implementation, in which the intended force of valency denominates a combination of an internal object and an external one this time: to identify oneself with someone or something is to appropriate as oneís identity the identity of this someone or something in cases of desirable certainty, or to amalgamate oneís identity with the identity of that someone or something in cases of undesirable uncertainty (e.g. She tends to identify herself with Rosa Luxemburg; He is hardly willing to identify himself with anarchism; etc.).

 

Clearly, therefore, there exist in the main at least three distinguishable lexical meanings within the ideational content of the nominal form identification, and it is precisely the lexical meaning of its reflexive implementation which seems to occupy a central position in the bulk of psychoanalytic writings, where the term identification in its present implication does not necessarily signify the wilful establishment of oneís identity. This is because the state of affairs which is an instance of identification appears to manifest itself on two significant, albeit not easily discernible, levels of psychical representation (or, rather, development) so far as the whole process of libidinal and ego development is concerned. Primarily, the state of affairs represents itself in an underdeveloped fashion during infancy to the extent that the strict borderline between the internal object and the external object is not yet perceivable, thereby neutralizing the sharp distinction between the inner world (i.e. the self) and the outer world (i.e. the other). On this level of representation, the infant is not capable of recognizing any sense of identity of his/her own, since his/her incapability of attaining to the strict borderline and the sharp distinction being talked about is attributable to his/her inevitable Ďstruggleí with other phases (or even sub-phases) of libidinal and ego development. Secondarily, the state of affairs, on the other hand, would represent itself in a more developed manner during infancy to the extent that the strict borderline between the internal object and the external object is now perceivable, thereby activating the sharp distinction between the inner world and the outer world. On this level of representation, the infant is able to recognize a Ďsenseí of identity of his/her own instead, since his/her capability of attaining to the strict borderline and the sharp distinction in question permits him/her to generate either a feeling of idealization or a feeling of aggressivity towards the external object (the outer world) Ėwith this latter feeling being addressed with psychical belligerency through the immediate intervention of a defence mechanism of some sort. These feelings of idealization and aggressivity appear to be analogous with the positive and negative (or pathological) imports of identification, as will be seen presently.

 

Similarly, Freud tends to employ the term identification (or Identifizierung) for the most part in his writings with reference to the lexical meaning of its reflexive implementation, so as to emphasize the psychical phenomenon whereby the infant is inclined to pre-empt, wholly or partially, a particular character-trait (or -traits) that he/she assimilates in the external object, with the result that his/her identity (or the recognized Ďsenseí of it) undergoes a series of affective transformations through a corresponding series of (rather gradual) identifications.[2] Accordingly, identification in its current implication would express the infantís earliest emotional affiliation with the identity of someone or something, with the recognized Ďsenseí of identity referring to the internal object (i.e. the inner world or the self) and the affiliated identity of someone or something pointing to the external object (i.e. the outer world or the other) (cf. Freud, 1921:134). On the face of it, any instance of identification would necessitate at least two psychical entities: an entity which initiates the act of identification (viz. the person who identifies himself/herself with a person or a thing) and an entity which instigates the same act (viz. the person or the thing that is being identified with). The person who identifies himself/herself with a person or a thing (henceforth, the identifier) is embodied in the actual being of the infant, and the person or the thing that is being identified with (henceforth, the identified) is incarnated in the perceived character-trait (or -traits) of the parent of the same sex or any other (human or nonhuman) agency which stands proxy for him or her. As such, the resultant relationship between the identifier and the identified may conduce towards psychical construction (in which case there seems to exist remarkable affective convergence between the two entities), or may even culminate in psychical destruction (in which case there appears to exist considerable affective divergence instead). It is, therefore, this perceivable polarity of psychical construction and psychical destruction which indicates that identification has both positive and negative (or pathological) imports, the imports that would correspond to the generated feelings of idealization and aggressivity referred to above.

 

With regard to the positive import of identification, the identifier-identified designation may be conducive to the psychical construction of the identifier, a construction which is modified in the Ďnon-deviantí direction of the psychical make-up of the identified, and is well observable in the Ďnormalí course of libidinal and ego development. In this case, the psychical construction would recapitulate itself in the assiduous presence of affective convergence between the identifier and the identified, thereby sustaining a gradual series of what may be called, Ďpsychical reconstructionsí (or even Ďconstructive transformationsí), through a corresponding gradual series of (non-alienating) identifications. As such, the two typical instances of the identifier-identified designation in its positive import may run as follows: the girl identifies herself with the mother (or this latterís female proxy), and the boy identifies himself with the father (or this latterís male proxy). Such positive import would indicate a sort of idealization on the part of the identifier, an affective procedure by means of which the identifier takes the identified as his/her ideal or model (Freud, 1921:134f.). Hence, the libidinal tie that is liable to emerge from positive identification would be characterized as one variant of the Ďhomosexualí object-cathexis (or Besetzung Ďinvestmentí) in the narcissistic type of attachment, which is in fact a type of object-representation.[3] This libidinal tie seems to stand in sharp contrast with the libidinal tie that tends to arise from the more familiar phenomenon of the Oedipus complex, a phenomenon which would exhibit itself as a variant of the Ďheterosexualí object-cathexis in the anaclitic type of attachment, as will be seen presently. It is, therefore, tempting to suggest that the present relationship which actually exists between the identifier and the identified is in principle a direct or an indirect replication of a past relationship which has already existed between the parent and the grandparent of the same sex (or the latterís proxy), a diachronic replication which appears to circumscribe the whole phenomenon of identification with both ontogenetic and phylogenetic auras.

 

With respect to the negative (or pathological) import of identification, on the other hand, the identifier-identified designation may be contributory to the psychical destruction of the identifier, a destruction that is triggered by the Ďdeviantí direction of the psychical make-up of the identified, and is also well observable but in the Ďabnormalí course of libidinal and ego development. In this case, the psychical destruction would aggravate itself in the pertinacious presence of affective divergence between the identifier and the identified, thereby undergoing a gradual series of what may called, Ďpsychical re-destructionsí (or rather Ďdestructive transformationsí), through a corresponding gradual series of (alienating) identifications. Thus, in order to counteract the imminent effects of the psychical re-destruction being talked about, identification turns into a potent defence mechanism which is described by Anna Freud as Ďidentification with the aggressorí (Freud, Anna, 1937:109f.), though its implications have been pointed out by her father in connection with the unpleasurable frightening experiences that are assimilated by the infant (the identifier himself/herself) to seek ďpleasure from another sourceĒ (Freud, 1920:286; 1931:383f.). The apparent resort to this defence mechanism is nothing else than a contumacious attempt to master, and therefore to overcome, a form of anxiety or even phobia. It may occur in situations where the identifier seeks to identify himself/herself with an aggressive character-trait (or -traits) that he/she still experiences in the identified, thereby generating the feeling of aggressivity, as mentioned above. Typical examples of these situations point to a boy who merely realizes the existence of an insolent teacher and involuntarily imitates the grimace of this teacher, or to a girl who simply imagines the presence of a dreadful ghost and Ďvoluntarilyí pretends to be this ghost. Thus, by impersonating the perceived aggressivity of the identified, the identifier seems to wittingly transform himself/herself from the defensive passivity of behaviour to its offensive activity, a transformation which marks the reversal of the role of the aggressee into the role of the aggressor. Hence, the libidinal tie which is liable to emanate from negative (or pathological) identification would not be classifiable under the aforesaid narcissistic type of attachment, as is the case with positive identification, but would rather be categorizable under the sadomasochistic type of attachment, which is, in fact, an abnormal fusion of libidinal and aggressive impulses (cf. Lagache, 1962:111f.).

 

This sharp contrast between the positive and negative (or pathological) imports of identification presupposes its ambivalent nature and characterizes it as an inevitable derivative of the oral phase of libidinal and ego development, in which the Ďchosení object is now desired and then destroyed Ėjust as the cannibal who initially exhibits notable devouring Ďaffectioní for his/her fiercest adversaries but who ultimately devours his/her most intimate inmates (cf. Freud, 1905a:116f; 1921:135). It appears, therefore, that the sharp contrast between the two imports in question is well comparable with the classical distinction between the two sub-phases of Ďoral-suckingí and Ďoral-bitingí propensities, as the designated terms clearly indicate (cf. Abraham, 1927). Given that the libidinal zone of the mouth orifice is the primary Ďeroto-genicí zone (i.e. the main source of pleasurable experience) in the oral phase specifically, the infant who becomes unconsciously fixated on an external object in this phase tends to negatively (or pathologically) identify himself/herself with that external object rather than positively identify himself/herself with it as a related person or a related thing (i.e. the related outer world), thereby entertaining his/her susceptibility to serious manic-depressive oscillations at later stages. Thus, the infantís unconscious fixation on the motherís breast, which is the only external object that is available for him/her in the oral phase, would simply result in his/her negative (or pathological) identification with it, an identification that would subsequently oscillate between the aggressive possession of the mother as well as her breast at the one extreme (viz. manic oscillation) and the disappointing forfeiture of either or both of the two external objects altogether at the other extreme (viz. depressive oscillation). Moreover, even in the case of the infantís positive identification with the parent of the same sex (or his/her proxy), the identifierís abnormally excessive expression of the emotional affiliation which is concomitant with it, especially when the emotional affiliation is narcissistically overstressed and unduly encouraged by the identified as a means of filling certain psychical gaps in his/her precarious self-awareness, would eventually be destined to similar (if not the very same) manifestations of these manic-depressive oscillations. In consequence, the sharp contrast between the positive and negative (or pathological) imports of identification would be radically neutralized, and would ultimately be modified in the Ďdeviantí direction of the negative (or pathological) import, thus foreshowing the inception of the Ďabnormalí course of libidinal and ego development.

 

It follows that, in the Ďdelayedí absence of its negative (or pathological) import, identification seems to fit in, and pave the way for, the more familiar phenomenon of the Oedipus complex, since the former phenomenon, in virtue of its ambivalent nature, resembles the oral phase of libidinal and ego development. In addition, the oral phase, as its primary Ďeroto-genicí zone clearly signifies, is considered to be the earliest of the three phases which mark what is known as the Ďpre-Oedipal periodí (the other two being the anal phase and the phallic phase). Yet, identification would still exert its influence in the Ďnascentí presence of the Oedipus complex, with the identifier exhibiting two psychically discrete types of emotional affiliation: firstly, emotional affiliation with the parent of the same sex (in the case of identification); and secondly, emotional affiliation with the parent of the opposite sex (in the case of the Oedipus complex). The two typical instances of these two types of emotional affiliation may run as follows: the girl who identifies herself with the mother (or her female proxy) begins to develop a true object-cathexis towards the father (or his male proxy), and the boy who identifies himself with the father (or his male proxy) begins to develop a true object-cathexis towards the mother (or her female proxy). As mentioned above, the libidinal tie which arises from identification is radically differentiated from the libidinal tie that emerges from the Oedipus complex: while the former tie suggests a variant of the Ďhomosexualí object-cathexis in the narcissistic type of attachment, the latter tie refers to a variant of the Ďheterosexualí object-cathexis in the anaclitic type of attachment. For a certain period, these two types of emotional affiliation (or libidinal tie) are engendered side by side without the immediate exertion of any influence of the one upon the other, a state of affairs which underlines the psychical divergence between the two. Then, with the inevitable advent of their mutual interference, the two types become Ďidentifiedí with each other, as it were, a state of affairs which underpins the psychical convergence instead, with the normal manifestation of the Oedipus complex originating from this interference, especially when identification reflects its negative (or pathological) import, or in Freudís own words, when it ďtakes on a hostile colouringĒ (Freud, 1921:134).

 

It also follows that the abnormally excessive expression of the emotional affiliation (or libidinal tie) that is concomitant with positive identification may well actuate the inversion of the Oedipus complex, an inversion which demarcates the psychical transformation whereby the identifier tends to develop a true object-cathexis towards the identified. Accordingly, the inversion of the Oedipus complex would point to situations in which the transformed phenomenon exemplifies a variant of the Ďhomosexualí object-cathexis in the narcissistic type of attachment, as is the case with identification. In these situations, the distinction between the identifierís idealization of the identified and the identifierís objectivization of the identified (i.e. the infantís choice of the parent of the same sex as an object) amounts to a corresponding distinction between the identified who is what the identifier would want to be and the identified who is what the identifier would want to have (Freud, 1921:135).[4] Given that the embodiment of positive identification is already possible before the identifierís development of any object-cathexis, the distinction depends on whether or not the emotional affiliation (or libidinal tie) endeavours to mould the identifierís own ego after the fashion of the identified. With the inversion of the Oedipus complex, from this viewpoint, identification seems to display its (Ďpent-upí) ambivalent nature more conspicuously under the analysis of certain psychopathological symptoms. Thus, in the case studies of neurosis, on the one hand, the identifierís symptom may reproduce the same symptom of the identified when the latter is being idealized, as in the case of the little girl who was developing her motherís excruciating cough. Here, the neurotic symptom expresses the girlís hostile desire to occupy her motherís position, while a parallel true object-cathexis is directed towards her father under the effect of a sense of guilt (cf. Freud, 1921:136). In the case studies of hysteria, on the other hand, the identifierís symptom may also recreate the same symptom of the identified but when the latter is being objectivized instead, as in the case of young Dora who was involuntarily imitating her fatherís tormenting (catarrhal) cough this time. Here, the hysterical symptom expresses the girlís true object-cathexis towards her father in her wholehearted sympathy and concern for him, while a genuinely non-hostile desire to empathize with her motherís affective illness is unconsciously entertained in one form or another (cf. Freud, 1905b:119f.). Consequently, with the intervening inversion in question, the identifier would derive no more than a single Ďcharacter-traití from the identified, whether this identified is being idealized aggressively or being objectivized non-aggressively.

 

This single Ďcharacter-traití (or nur einen einzigen Zug) is considered by Lacan to be a signifier in virtue of being an element of a signifying system, a signifier which is initially represented as a primordial symbolic term (a mere sign), and is then introjected under what is termed, Ďsymbolic identificationí (cf. Lacan, 1960-1:431f.). In psychoanalytic practice, symbolic identification, which is taken to literally mean Ďidentification with the signifierí, is ultimately looked upon to denote Ďidentification with the symptomí, for which reason it marks what may be called, a Ďsymptomatic signifierí (viz. the assimilated painful cough in the two examples cited above). In fact, Symbolic identification has already undergone considerable theoretic changes in Lacanís writings: at the one extreme, it is seen as Ďidentification with the fatherí in the inversion of the Oedipus complex; and at the other extreme, it is rather viewed as Ďidentification with the imagoí within a genetic theory of the ego, with the latter pointing to the parent of the same sex in conformity with the normal psychical operation of the phenomenon, as has been the unmarked case with the Freudian formulation (cf. Lacan, 1953:12; 1966a:22f.; 1966b:95f.). In either extreme, moreover, symbolic identification, as a developed psychical operation, is sharply contrasted with the earlier (Ďprimitiveí) psychical operation of what is termed, Ďimaginary identificationí, an operation which literally signifies Ďidentification with the imageí in the mirror stage, where the most pristine form of reflexive self-realization is jubilantly assimilated by the human infant Ėunlike the situation of the animal infant, whose primal absorption of its own image does not appear to meet with its approval. Imaginary identification would, thus, enter exclusively into the realm of the imaginary order,[5] and would refer to the psychical transformation (or transformations) which the identifier is pre-ordained to pass through when he/she assumes a specular image of his/her own, an image that may well incarnate the threshold of the outer world (or the visible world per se) (cf. Lacan, 1966a:2f.; 1966b:76f.). For this reason, introjections under imaginary identification would mark what may be called, a Ďspecular signifierí (in contradistinction with the aforesaid Ďsymptomatic signifierí). However, the sharp contrast in question would not indicate that symbolic identification belongs exclusively to the realm of the symbolic order and has nothing to do with that of the imaginary order: it is characterized with the realm of the former order (the symbolic), simply because it represents the final stage of the identifierís passage into it by means of the signifier itself. It seems, therefore, that the fundamental motive behind these remarkable theoretic alterations in the Lacanian formulation is the great difficulty in specifying the determinant medium (the imago or the signifier) which may conduce towards the constitution of a rather developed form of the ego, given its Ďprimitiveí form before the inversion of the Oedipus complex and its Ďless primitiveí form after the inversion.

 

The inversion of the Oedipus complex, so it appears, is the beginning of its inevitable destruction (i.e. its ineluctable resolution or dissolution) and, like the case of identification, is explicable both in ontogenetic and phylogenetic terms, where the ontogeny refers to the infantís experience of afflictive disappointments and the phylogeny suggests the timeliness of the destruction when the next (predestined) phase of libidinal and ego development sets in Ėjust as the milk-teeth tend to fall out when the permanent teeth start to grow. By the same token, the ambivalent nature of the Oedipus complex is also discernible in the infantís obdurate behaviour in search of pleasurable satisfaction via his/her alternating adoption of a masculine (or an Ďactiveí) attitude and a feminine (or a Ďpassiveí) one towards the parent, an adoption which fluctuates between the identifierís objectivization and idealization of the identified. However, the aforesaid pre-Oedipal phallic phase of libidinal and ego development may well become contemporaneous with the Oedipus complex before its ineluctable destruction, thereby highlighting the crucial difference between masculine sexuality and feminine sexuality, even though both are subjected to that phase in infantile behaviour. This crucial difference is normally embodied in the girlís subliminal acceptance of, and then submission to, the castration complex as an unpleasantly accomplished fact (or fait accompli) at the one extreme, and the boyís pent-up apprehension and rejection of the possibility of its dreary occurrence at the other extreme (cf. Freud, 1924:320f.; 1925:332f.). The ineluctable destruction of the Oedipus complex may well indicate, therefore, that it begins to succumb to a differentiated quantum of repression (viz. primary repression), by which the initial emergence of instinctual drives is suppressed in the id and on which all phases of libidinal and ego development are dependent and contingent. Hence, the seemingly dwindling residuum of the Oedipus complex (or of the phallic phase, for that matter) portends the incipience of an impending period of emotional and libidinal stagnation known as the Ďlatency periodí, which ends roughly at the age of puberty. Thus, the object-cathexes become debilitated, so as to be abandoned, and thence be substituted for the more strengthened introjection (or introjections) of identification, with the perceived authority of the identified being introjected into the ego of the identifier and forming the nucleus of the latterís superego. As a result, the superego tends to appropriate the imposed severity of the identified and perpetuate his/her prohibition against incestual ties, if any, thereby preventing the ego itself ethically from recapitulating the same development of the object-cathexes through their Ďdesexualisationí in Freudís terminology or their Ďlibidinal normalizationí in Lacanís terminology (cf. Freud, 1924:319; Lacan, 1966a:2; 1966b:76).

 

This conflictual interrelation between the workings of identification and those of the Oedipus complex appears to be reminiscent of the same conflictual interrelation between the positive and negative (or pathological) imports of identification itself, given its indirect contribution towards the aforementioned desexualization of object-cathexes (which would result in their sublimation or their transformation into affective impulses) on the one hand, and its direct constitution of primitive forms of these object-cathexes (which would represent themselves as primitive instinctual drives in the id during the pre-Oedipal period) on the other hand. Accordingly, the early establishment of identification in either import seems to play an extremely significant role in the psychical progression or psychical regression of the identity of the identifier, depending for the most part on the identity of the identified. While the positive import may conduce, without the immediate intervention of other defence mechanisms, towards the development of the superego, the negative (or pathological) import tends to combine with a defence mechanism of some sort, thereby forming one of the egoís most powerful weapons and inducing it to overcome anxieties or even phobias. Clearly, therefore, the conflictual interrelation between the workings of identification and those of the Oedipus complex would highlight the libidinal and affective content of the ego, thus underlining the beginnings of the developmental dimension of this psychical entity.

 

Summary

To conclude, the term identification (in the lexical meaning of its reflexive implication) refers to the psychical expression of the infantís earliest emotional affiliation with another personís identity (viz. the parent of the same sex or his/her proxy). This emotional affiliation, so it seems, is concomitant with a parallel libidinal tie with the same person, a libidinal tie which manifests itself as a derivative of the Ďhomosexualí object-cathexis (or -cathexes) of a specific type of attachment. While the positive import of identification tends to operate in accordance with the narcissistic type of attachment, thereby generating the identifierís feelings of idealization towards the identified, its negative (or pathological) import seeks to function in conformity with the sadomasochistic type of attachment instead, thus generating the identifierís feelings of aggressivity towards the identified. Hence, this sharp contrast between the two imports of identification highlights its ambivalent nature and characterizes it as a variant of the oral phase of libidinal and ego development, a phase which is predominant in the practice of cannibalism, with the result that the identifier entertains his/her psychical susceptibility to serious manic-depressive oscillations at a later phase (or phases). What is more, identification itself fits in, and paves the way for, the more familiar phenomenon of the Oedipus complex, a phenomenon which, paradoxically, ensconces itself in a derivative of the Ďheterosexualí object-cathexis (or -cathexes) and works in congruity with the anaclitic type of attachment. Subsequently, identification tends to contribute towards the inversion of the Oedipus complex, thereby converting its operation back into a variant of the Ďhomosexualí object-cathexis (as though identification were Ďidentifiedí with the Oedipus complex), meaning that the implicit distinction between the identifierís idealization and objectivization of the identified amounts to the explicit distinction between the formerís commitment to having and to being. In such a perspective, identification appears to exhibit its ambivalent nature more conspicuously in certain psychopathological cases, where the identifier would only assimilate a single character-trait from the identified, given the intervening inversion in question. This single character-trait is considered to be a signifier that is represented as a primordial symbol (a mere sign), and is then introjected under Ďsymbolic identificationí to ultimately denote Ďidentification with the symptomí, which suggests, in turn, the formation of what may be called, the Ďsymptomatic signifierí (as opposed to the earlier formation of what may be called, the Ďspecular signifierí in the mirror stage). The inversion of the Oedipus complex is, therefore, the insipience of its inevitable destruction (i.e. its resolution or dissolution), which marks its submission to primary repression, thus underlining the climax of the conflictual interrelation between the complex and identification. In consequence, the culminating conflictual interrelation would, in turn, highlight the libidinal and affective content of the ego, as well as the beginnings of the developmental dimension of this psychical entity.

 

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References

 

Abraham, Karl (1927): Selected papers. Hogarth Press.

 

Freud, Anna (1937): The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence. International Universities Press, Inc.

 

Freud, Sigmund (1900): The Interpretation of Dreams. Penguin Freud Library, vol. 4.

 

Freud, Sigmund (1905a): Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. Penguin Freud Library, vol. 7.

 

Freud, Sigmund (1905b): Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria. Penguin Freud Library, vol. 8.

 

Freud, Sigmund (1920): Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Penguin Freud Library, vol. 11.

 

Freud, Sigmund (1921): Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego. Penguin Freud Library, vol. 12.

 

Freud, Sigmund (1924a): The dissolution of the Oedipus complex. Penguin Freud Library, vol. 7.

 

Freud, Sigmund (1925): Some psychical consequences of the anatomical distinction between the sexes. Penguin Freud Library, vol. 7.

 

Freud, Sigmund (1931): Female sexuality. Penguin Freud Library, vol. 7.

 

Fromm, Erich (1979): To Have or to Be. Abacus.

 

Lacan, Jacques (1953): Some reflections on the ego. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 34:11-17.

 

Lacan, Jacques (1960-1): Le Sťminaire. Livre VIII. Le Transfert. Paris: Seuil.

 

Lacan, Jacques (1966a): Écrits: A Selection. Trans. A. Sheridan. Routledge (1997).

 

Lacan, Jacques (1966b): Écrits. Trans. B. Fink. Norton (2006).

 

Lagache, Daniel (1962): Pouvoir et personne. Líťvolution psychiatrique, 1:111-119.

 


 

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[1] Born in Deir Ezzor (Syria); Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics (Dublin City University); Ph.D. in Theoretical Linguistics (Trinity College Dublin); M.Phil. in Psychoanalytic Studies (Trinity College Dublin); currently reading for a Ph.D. in Psychoanalytic Studies.

 

[2] It is worth noting, however, that Freud also uses the term identification with reference to the lexical meaning of its ditransitive implementation in the context of the dream-work, specifically. In this context, the relationship of equation or identicalness referred to in the text is underlined to underline the analogy between identification and substitution. Thus, the process whereby an image is Ďidentifiedí with another, for example, is analogous with the process whereby an image is Ďsubstitutedí for another, simply because the two images in question are equated or treated as identical (cf. Freud, 1900:231f., 431f., etc.).

 

[3] Given that object-representation refers to the psychical representation of an external object or the outer world (i.e. an object which exists outside the self or the inner world), and that the internal object indicates the subjectís self in the linguistic sense (i.e. the reflexive implementation of identification mentioned in the text), the latter entity should not be confused with the one that has acquired the significance of the former entity. If an internal object is psychically represented to acquire the significance of an external object, then the internal object would be comparable with an image which Ďinitiallyí occurs in the realms of fantasy, imagination, reverie, and day-dreaming. For this reason, the term identification in its present formulation is often confused with other terms, such as internalization, incorporation, and the like.

 

[4] This latter distinction may well have been the major inspiration to Erich Frommís coruscating and compelling (yet almost forgotten) book, To Have or To Be (1979), which brings to light a significant distinction between two modes of existence that are struggling for the spirit of humankind. Firstly, the Ďhaving modeí, which is by far the most dominant mode in modern industrial society, owing to its unduly fixation on material values (such as, oneís wasteful passion for the accumulation of capital, property, etc.) and illusory power (such as, enslaving oneself to maintain academic, bureaucratic, political, or even social status). This mode of existence is undoubtedly rooted in rapacity, enviousness, and possessiveness, attributes which are typical of what is known as the Ďanal characterí. Secondly, the Ďbeing modeí, which is the alternative mode of existence, since it manifests itself in the pure pleasure of shared experience and truly constructive rather than destructive activity. This mode of existence is essentially based on aim-inhibited love (in fact, Ďdivine loveí regardless of any professedly religious considerations) and the ascendancy of human values over material ones.

 

[5] Concerning mental functioning specifically, there exist in the Lacanian formulation three essential orders which may be summarized as follows. Firstly, the Ďimaginary orderí, which comprises the world of signifieds, and in which the narcissistic (dual) relationship between the ego and the specular image is initially formulated in the mirror stage. This relationship is constructed on the basis of illusion, seduction and deceptions. Secondly, the Ďsymbolic orderí, which includes the world of signifiers instead, and in which the anaclitic (oppositional) relationship between the ego the other is later formulated in the discourse of the unconscious. This relationship is constructed on the basis of the structure of desire in the Oedipus complex, given that signifiers do not seem to have positive existence. Thirdly, the Ďreal orderí, which embraces a specific world that contradicts the imaginary order (with its signifieds) and, at the same time, resists the symbolic order (with its signifiers), thus ultimately suggesting the impossibility of (true) articulation in general. Such impossibility is, at bottom, attributable to the spurious nature of the signified at the one end, and the negative nature of the signifier at the other end.

 

 

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