A Psychoanalytic Tale, Question, and Story

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Tale: Darian Leader describes a rather interesting story about a patient he saw in analysis. This man struggled with insecurities over sexual potency, and he had an upcoming date. On the date as he and his partner were entering the restaurant he asked the hostess for “a bed for two”. Of course this is your typical parapraxis that Freud famously analyzed in his great work The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. The orthodox Freudian interpretation would look something like this: unconsciously he was fantasizing about the potential sexual encounter that might occur later on the night and his wish broke through the censor and disrupted his request for a table. Basically, your typical analytic hermeneutic. However, Leader offered a much more provocative interpretation. He hypothesized that patient intentionally (on an unconscious level) had the slip of the tongue so as to deceive himself that he was more excited about the possible sex than the oral pleasure he would soon be deriving from the meal. This slip not only could convince him of his sexual excitement, but also his date.

Question: Michel Henry criticizes psychoanalysis for never allowing X to stand for X and nothing else. For example, the adolescent who fantasizes about being bitten a snake really imagines being overwhelmed or attacked by the (imaginary) Father’s gigantic penis. I often wonder how an analyst would interpret such a dream. One night, I dreamt that i had a sword fight with my father with the winner being promised my mother’s hand in marriage. After promptly slaying my father, I was able to consummate the relationship with my mother. Does this manifest Oedipal dream have any chain of associations to unravel, or can we merely quit unchaining the links and just admit the obvious Oedipal desires?

Story: I’ve always enjoyed Freud’s reading of Hamlet. I think the aspect of Hamlet that tends to annoy people is the time Hamlet wastes until he can finally avenge his father. Instead, he spends the entire play bitching and moaning. Not until the very end when his mother dies by poison does he finally have the nerve to murder his uncle. So, Freud asks the obvious question: why cant he kill his uncle immediately after receiving the command from his father’s ghost? Freud understood that Hamlet’s ambivalence in slaying his uncle stemmed from the fact that his uncle had, in fact, lived out Hamlet’s unconscious Oedipal dream. The problem was that his uncle had usurped Hamlet’s position in the Oedipal triad. Hamlet’s repressed self fully identified with his uncle’s role, and in turn he experiences serious self-loathing because of the Oedipal guilt. On an unconscious level exacting the revenge against his uncle would be unjust because Hamlet harbored identical wishes to murder his father and take his mother to himself. He can only mount the courage to finally murder his uncle after his mother’s death because he can then justify the murder in and of itself not as some ulterior motive.

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One Response to “A Psychoanalytic Tale, Question, and Story”

  1. Simon Says:

    I take it that you got that tale via Zizek? It’s right at the end of Leader’s book “Why Do Women Write More Letters Than They Post?” (or Send? in the US version):

    “It is exactly this tension which is discussed by the psychoanalyst Ludwig Eidelberg in an amazingly eccentric investigation of slips of the tongue. A man goes into a restaurant with his date and asks the head waiter for a room for two. Now, one might well imagine that the meant to ask for a table but because what he really had in mind was a sexual adventure with his date, the stronger motive declared itself: a room instead of a table please. Eidelberg refuses to be fooled. He thinks that the slip shows that what the man was desperately trying to avoid was a sort of alibi to throw his conscience off the track. What he really wanted was a big table of food. Thus, the whole theory of slips of the tongue is put in question. When you make a lapsus, is the ‘new’ word that emerges the repressed element itself or, on the contrary, is it that the ‘intended’ word, the one which did not emerge, is the real clue to the repressed complex?”

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