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Psicologia USP

Print version ISSN 0103-6564On-line version ISSN 1678-5177

Psicol. USP vol.28 no.3 São Paulo Sept./Dec. 2017 

Original articles

“I will not miss you”: tessituras between fantasy and (de)negation in psychoses

Manoel Luce Madeira* 

Simone Moschen

2Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Departamento de Psicanálise, Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil


The concept of (de)negation was set by Freud and was based on the sense of repression and the treatment of neuroses. It is a specific mechanism that connects negation and affirmation. This article aims to establish its originality by first proposing that the different tessituras of negation and affirmation are equally recurrent in psychoses. It is worth emphasizing that theoretical-clinical studies which phenomenologically and structurally articulate denegation and psychoses are still scarce. Such singular tessituras, which are different from the Freudian negation, are herein denominated (de)negation. Secondly, the originality of the current study lies on the aspect that it does not view (de)negation as merely a clinical phenomenon, but also as an operator itself in the treatment of psychoses. Thus, this hypothesis is supported by the clinical case of an adolescent herein named Luizel. Finally, the article aims to evince the intrinsic relationship between (de)negation and fantasy in appeasing the psychotic symptoms in transference.

Keywords: psychoses; negation; fantasy; tessitura; substitution


In his renowned and dense text, Negation (Die Verneinung), Freud states that “affirmation [Bejahung] - as a substitute for union - belongs to Eros, whereas negation [Ausstossung] - successor of expulsion - to the instinct of destruction” (1925/2010, p. 281, free translation). The Verneinung (translated as negation), capable of revealing the structure of repression (Verdrängung) in a small clinical scenario, will place this short Freudian writing at the heart of an intricate reflection on different variants of operations of affirmation and negation, the background being the constitution of different psychological structures. Lacan (1955/1998, p. 388) points out that “the Verwerfung nips any manifestation of the symbolic order in the bud, that is, of the Bejahung, which Freud characterizes as the primary process in which the attributive judgment is entrenched”, in doing so he unveils a fertile field for the fundamental and differential mechanism of psychoses to be aimed at the primordial affirmation-expulsion operation of the neuroses. In fact, the Freudian negation presupposes a repression that precedes it, so it would be thusly inconsistent to propose a psychotic negation. Therefore, the researchers use “(de)negation” for psychoses, which will be further detailed and explained throughout the text.

This group of originally Freudian notions engendered works of a primarily philosophical nature, albeit of undeniable interest to psychoanalytic clinics. As examples, the researchers highlight the text by François Balmès (1999), which exhaustively recaptures the well-known dialogue between Lacan and Hyppolite, as well as that of Vladmir Safatle (2006), who proposes, for example, that the Verwerfung can also be articulated “outside the structural framework of psychosis” (p. 51, free translation). The authors understand Safatle’s proposition as indicative of the possibility of foreclosure in the neuroses as a non-inscription operation, without specifically referring to the foreclosure of Lacan’s Name-of-the-Father.

In turn, if psychoanalysts are also interested in the diversity of forms of negation-affirmation, with explicit references to psychoses (Costa, 2008; Furtado, 2011; França Neto, 2006), then the preponderantly clinical studies that articulate denegation, both phenomenologically and structurally, in relation to psychoses, are still scarce. In this sense, the researchers reference the article by Marie-France Bonnet (2003) that has the merit of relating the “mode of paranoid enunciation it is not me that…” (p. 98) to the interrupted sentences of Schreber. The work, however, in addition to being restricted to a single passage of the Schrebian testimony, only briefly addresses the issue of denegation, differentiating it from Verwerfung or foreclosure in a merely illustrative way through the “‘collapse of the imaginary relationship aa’ of Lacan’s Scheme L” (2003, pp. 105-106, free translation).

For the past ten years, researchers have been thinking about the different emergencies of negation in work with psychotics, notably in the cases Bethania (Madeira & Rickes, 2007), Maria (Rickes & Gleich, 2009) and Raimundo (Madeira, 2015a). In addition, they have recently proposed that (de)negation can be thought of as a distinctive operation between schizophrenia and paranoia (Madeira, Lepoutre, & Vanier, 2016). If the (de)negation itself appears in the texts listed as a supplementary trait of the clinical cases, then the experience with Luizel enabled the authors to finally approach the question from a detailed perspective, doing so by situating the course of its affirmation-negation operations, whose content is related to the (de)negation “tu vas pas me manquer” (“I will not miss you”). The latter seems to suture tessituras of Luizel in relation to the lack of the Other - a tapestry that produces an effect of lasting symptomatic appeasement over the years.

Luizel, a 12-year-old adolescent at the beginning of the treatment, was treated by Manoel Madeira, one to two times a week, for four years, at a Centre Médico-psycho-pédagogique (CMPP) in France. Thus, it is justified that here we make use of the first person in regard to the clinical scenario, and the third for the rest of the text. The use of the notion of tapestry, which accompanies our writing, was developed extensively by Madeira (2015b) in his doctoral thesis, the aim being to introduce it as a differential nomenclature for the stabilization of psychoses.

In this context, if the notions of “stabilization, compensation and substitution” are used “in the most complete confusion and indistinction” (Askofaré & Combres, 2012, p. 26, free translation), we propose some terminological precision in this article, following the conceptions attributed to them by Lacan (1955-1956/2002, p. 103), who understands the term stabilization as an effect of structural change, which is therefore a phenomenological consequence. Thus, according to Askofaré and Combres (2012, p. 27, free translation), “talking about the stabilization of psychosis by the delusional metaphor, as the metaphor, even delirious, is a capitonage”.

On the other hand, Lacan attributes the notion of compensation to a primarily imaginary dimension. The meaning is palpable, firstly, in the seminar The psychoses, in which he points to the “imaginary crutches that allow the subject to compensate for the absence of the signifier” (Lacan, 1955-1956/2002, p. 233, our highlights, free translation). Twenty years later, in the seminary Le sinthome (The symptom), the imaginary appears again as preponderant as the moment Lacan places, in relation to Joyce, “the compensation of the paternal loss, the Verwerfung de facto” (Lacan, 1975-1976/2007, p. 86). Lacan continues: “his desire to be an artist is well-known to the whole world, to as many people as possible, . . . is it not exactly a compensation for the fact that his father was never a father to him?” (1975-1976/2007, p. 89, free translation). According to Pellion (2009), whenever it seems inappropriate for Lacan to use reference the symbolic, the metaphor, in the constitution of the Joycean sinthome, he uses the term compensation as “charged with accounting for the influence of Joyce’s identification with the artist” (p. 94, free translation). In this sense, Combres and Askofaré (2012, p. 27, free translation) propose that compensation is characterized by a substitution in which “the imaginary fulfills the significant failure or the effects of this failure”. It is noteworthy in this sense that imaginary identifications are a well-known compensatory mechanism that Lacan has emphasized since his analysis of the personalities “as if”, as highlighted by Hélène Deutsch (see Lacan, 1955-1956/2002; Deutsch, 1934/2007).

In turn, the notion of substitution is present throughout Lacan’s entire works, acquiring different concepts until the seminary Le sinthome, in which substitution is related (also) to psychoses. Lacan employs it in reference to the Borromean knot, as a knot (in French, nouage) constituted in the absence of the name-of-the-father, enables the mooring to “be preserved in such a position that it has the appearance of a three-twist knot” (1975-1976/2007, p. 91, Lacan’s highlights, free translation), establishing a bond that articulates it within the core of the structure. In relation to psychoses, the term substitution in psychoanalysis (only used two times on that year) seems to have become a concept itself in the psychoanalytic field, starting from comments on this seminar, which propose, for example, the notion of “ordinary psychosis” (Battista & Laia, 2012), or the distinction of three general and disparate forms of substitution by the predominance of one of the three registers, Real, Symbolic or Imaginary (Hoffmann, 2004).

Not satisfied with any of these three terms coined by the psychoanalytic literature, the researchers proposed the notion of tessitura that would be characterized by the composition of significant articulations. Briefly, it would possess the agency of such articulations that are essential to structural functioning outside of crisis - articulations proper to the synchronous structure of the anchoring point, the metaphor (Lacan, 1960/1999). As Lacan (1955-1956/2002, p. 304, our highlights7, free translation) states,

I do not know the total, but it is not impossible to determine the minimum number of necessary fundamental points of attachment [points d’attache] between the signifier and the significant for a human being to be called normal, and that, when not established, or released [lâchent], produce a psychotic.

The tessitura would thus be established by the (re)stitching of these “mooring points” (points of attachment), establishing significant tapestries and producing substantial clinical effects. In the lane of the different psychotic triggers and clinical cases that are exhaustively presented, some of these fundamental and intrinsically interweaving tapestries are indicated as follows: death, sex, body, alterity, procreation (see Madeira, 2015b). The psychotic triggering implies the tearing of the tessitura at the mooring point(s). As Lacan suggests, psychotic triggering requires us to “recognize, at the different stages of the phenomenon, at which point the stuffing has broken down” (1955-1956/1981, p. 305, our highlights, free translation).

From the point of view of the clinic, this article proposes that operations, such as naming, letter, delirium, fantasy and (de)negation, would be used to transfer such tapestries - the articulation of the latter two is the object of this article. The aim is therefore to theorize different possible solutions in psychoses, beyond the delirium and the artistic productions, which would be woven in transference and under the action of such operators. It is worth mentioning that if nomination, letter, fantasy and (de)negation are concepts erected in reference to neuroses, the article proposes to reflect on the singularity of such operators in psychoses. Finally, conceiving the unconscious, structured as a language and as a fabric, enables us to name both small fantasy sketches and the web of solutions that produce a stabilization of the psychotic symptoms as a tessitura, since in both cases they are related to a seam, to a greater or lesser extent, of the significant tapestry.

Following our establishing of such distinctions, let us now explore the tessituras of Luizel’s case, which are guided by the articulations that the adolescent produces between scenarios of a fantasy nature and his/her surprising statements of affirmation/negation until the emergence of (de)negation itself - “tu vas pas me manquer” (I will not miss you). Our general objective is to support the pertinence of the psychoanalytic clinic of psychoses, sequentially exposing the scenario of the case and manifesting its phenomenological consequences.

First interview

At the first appointment, Luizel8 arrived accompanied by his mother, Luiza Zambèze. She states that her son’s name is the result of the amalgamation between Luiza and Raphael, the father’s name. Together they had four children: Magnifique, seventeen, Richard, fourteen, Luizel, twelve and Gaël, eight. When I asked her the reason for coming to the CMPP, Mrs. Zambèze said that her son “was always different from the others.” She considers an “accident” that she suffered shortly after Gaël’s birth as the source of Luizel’s difficulties, which occurred four years previously. There is no record in the mother’s relation of the event that justifies the use of the word accident: she states that she was affected by a “paralysis in the legs” that left her bedridden for two years; a period in which she did not take care of her children. “I left Luizel and I think that marked him”. The adolescent listens to her with careful attention, and repeatedly mutters “c’est ça” after the mother introduces her hypothesis.

In another moment in the appointment, I only talked to Mrs. Zambèze. She states that Luizel was “distressed” [bouleversé] after the death of his paternal grandfather. The adolescent asks, “why did he die?”, “how did he die?”, “can he come back?”, “can one see him?”; questions the parents were unable to answer. Luizel frequently asked these questions at school, which worried his teachers. Ms. Zambèze emphasizes that there are no particular religious beliefs in the family, and that she has the impression that her son sees her grandfather.

When I asked her about her maternal grandmothers, she says that at the age of four she fled from Mozambique on foot because of the civil war, accompanied by a fourteen-year-old aunt. Upon returning, sixteen years later, she discovered that her parents had died during the conflict. She had never told this story to her children, and she had been simulating phone calls to make them believe that the grandparents were still alive.

Conversations with the father during later sessions revealed that his trajectory is very similar to that of the mother, except that the paternal grandfather survived the war. Both reported the impossibility of remaining in Mozambique, even after the armistice. They lived in the country for a few months, when they met, and decided to migrate to France. Mr. Zambèze was, however, very attached to his father, and he talked with him “every day on the Webcam”: “the first thing I did when I got home from work was to call my father,” he states.

“No, your grandfather cannot come back”

“I have come to make sure that we do better at school,” says Luizel at his first individual meeting. In fact, his grades were very low, he had isolated himself from his classmates, and his school had instituted a process to transfer him to a so-called “social inclusion” class in which he would be dismissed from the ordinary education curriculum.9 The adolescent often uses the expression “we” [on], referring to him and his deceased grandfather. He states that he sees the grandfather in ritornello - at school, at home, and even at the CMPP. “Can my grandfather come back?” Luizel asks at the beginning of our dialogue. “No, your grandfather cannot come back,” I reply.

Short silence. “When we say that someone is deceased, that means he cannot go back,” I continue. “Oh làlà,” retorts Luizel, “why do you say ‘deceased’? My parents say ‘he died’, then they say ‘disappeared’” [disparu]. I asked them [what that meant?] and they showed me a video of the funeral. “You tell me: was my grandfather in the coffin?” “If it was his funeral, yes”, I reply. Then a conversation about the fate of the body at funerals follows, which is also about the religious beliefs of his schoolmates, and Luizel asks, “but if my grandfather is in the coffin, how can his portrait be on the wall in my house? He is there! I know it’s him, because I saw him on the Webcam.” “Yes, but it’s his picture. I imagine there’s also a portrait of your father on the wall…” I say. “Yes,” he replies. “So your father appears in the photo, but he is not the photo. Your body is somewhere else, at work, in the waiting room. The photo is just an image of him”, I say. This first conversation places Luizel in a state of notorious relief. The peremptory position, in which I stood and objectively responded to the boy’s questions, was only established during this first meeting.

The pas possible and the maternal abandonment

In the following sessions, Luizel talks about the desire to visit New York and visit the World Trade Center (WTC). The “twin towers”, he said, would be huge, taller than him, taller than his father and, perhaps, the office ceiling. The fall of the WTC would be a milestone of his birth, despite being chronologically separated: “When I was born, there was the WTC,” he repeated. The phrase was then supplemented by another remark that identified his older brother: “and when Richard was born, France beat Brazil in the World Cup”.

What interested the adolescent was to see the reconstruction of the towers. However, he said invariably, “they cannot fall again, if they did, it is pas possible”. The expression pas possible becomes a refrain of Luizel’s speech, being notably used in stories that he invented, whose structures resemble that of the twin towers. That is, a given body undergoes a malfunction and is rebuilt. This body, however, cannot be reached again, if it did, it would be pas possible. The singular meaning that Luizel attributes to these words, whose ordinary translation to English would be “they cannot fall again, if they did, it would be unbelievable”, or “it would be the pits”. However, Luizel uses pas possible as impossibility - which was evident in our exchanges. If I would resume his statement by saying, “If they fall again,” he would interrupt me immediately: “No! I said, it’s pas possible!” In this case, the meaning of pas possible is impossible. The consequence is that the constructed sentence ended by establishing a particular articulation between affirmation and negation - if it falls again, it is impossible.

The WTC story seemed to allow Luizel to sketch an essential fantasy tessitura that clearly uses the words of his mother at the beginning of the treatment, when she says she abandoned him. This is because the boy will create a scenario that comprises the abandonment through transference. According to him, his mother “became pregnant with twins”, “fell down the stairs”, suffered a “paralysis in the legs” and lost her two children. In French, the expression tomber enceinte, used by Luizel, literally, means to fall pregnant. The plot created by Luizel seems to rely on the literal conception of the signifier, amalgamating the expression of falling pregnant with twins to the physical act of falling. Luizel continues: “My mother cannot fall again, if she does, it is pas possible”. That is, the structure of the story about the WTC is very similar to the fantasy sketch Luizel sews on his childhood, which is coined by the same ending phrase, a hybrid in its affirmation/negation - if they fall again, it is impossible. We thus think that the tessitura of the first fantasy scenario on the twin towers enables the elaboration of the second, in the subjective absence of the mother. Both are intrinsically articulated to the affirmative-negation operation that is marked by the pas possible refrain.

Luizel’s scenario lies precisely in the discursive hole exposed by his mother, since she finds it impossible to trace her “accident.” He thusly weaves a small fiction that symbolizes not only maternal abandonment, but, more broadly, the lack of the Other - which death deflagrates in a radical way. The pas possible apparently aims to establish a seal that certifies the presence of the mother, a seal that introduces the possibility of absence in the same action: if my mother abandons me again, it is impossible.

The pas créé and the familiar names

Following these sessions, Luizel will be instigated by the names, claiming that at some unknown time, “they changed everything.” He had the impression that every person had changed their names, notably the members of his family. According to him, Magnifique, for example, was called Samantha, Richard was called Dylan. Luizel and his youngest had invested nicknames: “I should be called Gaël”, he would repeatedly say while unsettled. In a session with the adolescent and his parents, Luizel interrupts them and asks: “Why did they change my name? I should be called Gaël!”

The parents explained that they had indeed decided to name him Gaël before his birth. However, when the father registered his son, he impulsively decided to call him Luizel, without consulting his mother. When the fourth son was born, they gave him the name Gaël. “Voilà! I should be called Gaël!”, Luizel insisted to the astonishment of his parents who were unaware that his son had any memory of the history of this change. It is thus seen that the adolescent’s difficulties of articulation between body and language overlap a family history that assaults Luizel and makes him confer fantasy consistency to it.

By changing the name, the father seems to dismiss the mother’s desire in naming the child, a desire that will be deposited to the youngest. Thus, the question of the mother’s non-commitment in relation to him is again placed in front of Luizel. The choice of the father is a curious one, because in the same gesture in which he breaks the agreement with the mother, he confers to the son a name that represents the marriage of the couple. However, such an inscription of the marital bond in the name - perhaps in the guise of unconscious reparation - does not prevent the subjectification of the mother’s desire from becoming problematic for her son.

Still inhabited by these questions, the adolescent will be interested in the objects in the room, notably by the words made in written in them. He opens a large encyclopedia and studies the countries therein at length. He finds Mozambique and draws a line on the map from there to France to signify his parents’ journey. Then he finds China: “That’s where toys are made!”, He says in surprise, and starts looking for the “trace” [la trace] of all the objects in the room, the vast majority of them made in China.

In the next session, Luizel arrives anxiously seeking to continue his verifications, when he makes an unexpected discovery as soon as he finds an object without any trace: “pas créé!” he exclaims surprised, literally, “not created”. “Pas créé?” I ask. “Pas créé, this object does not have the trace. It means that it does not exist”, Luizel states. Here we see the repetition of a sentence that expresses affirmation and negation in a particular way: this object that I’m showing you, for which I summon your gaze, does not exist.

From this point of view, his search for objects will change his objective: he will no longer try to distinguish the origin, but to differentiate it, according to him, the objects “with trace” from the objects “without trace”, the “created ones”, which exist, from the “uncreated ones” which do not exist. During two lengthy sessions, Luizel insists on the non-existence of uncreated objects, due to the absence of the trace. He uses a groove in the table to separate the created toys from the uncreated ones. At the end of the first session, Luizel requests a photo of his classification, a picture he uses to continue and end his verification at the next session. At this second appointment, I ask Luizel if objects would be “created” if we wrote “made in China” on them: “No”, he answers, “it has to be there from the beginning”. At the end of this session, Luizel stresses: “I saw a picture from when Richard was a baby, and there was a label on his arm written Richard. In fact, he always called himself that.” That is, from the beginning.

At the next session, the adolescent recreates, in his own way, the story of his name. He says that when his mother had been pregnant for the third time, her parents were waiting for Gaël. However, at birth, when they saw the baby, they realized that Luizel had been born in Gaël’s place: “I was born out of order!”, he says. The father, then, recognizing Luizel, registered the son by the name chosen with the mother, thus preserving the mother’s desire in his denomination.

In the tessitura of the new fantasy sketch, Luizel finds a solution (terminology used by Pommier (2000) and Popova (2014) in relation to the clinic of psychoses) to his denomination; it is only possible by the strange suppression of the dimension of the enigma that every child is for adults, as well as the gradual bond between body and language. Believing that his parents could recognize him and name him through his image soon after childbirth, the adolescent dismisses the subjectification of the little human, which is gradually attributed to him so that his name acquires consistency. If we can say that “José is José”, it is because there is a transformation from the name into an identifiable singularity. Thus, what characterizes the proper name in its origin “is that the accent in its use is placed, not regarding the sense, but regarding the sound as distinctive” (Lacan, 1961-1962/2008, p. 79, free translation). This makes Lacan suppose that in the name one finds “the function of the signifier in its pure state” (1961-1962/2008, p. 87).

Luizel’s work on the crées/pas créés objects, to which we can attribute a play status, is sewn intrinsically into the web of family denominations, to the conception that there is a name (or trace) that should trace the existence of something or someone from the beginning. In this sense, in order for both babies and objects to exist, they require a mark of indelible origin from the beginning - the name itself would be, in parallel, a certain equivalent of the made in China. In addition, Luizel will then be interested in the traces that record the names of the people - identity cards, photo albums, hospital documents. Thus, we see here again an operation of affirmation-negation - an operation that allows him to affirm through transference that specific objects that present themselves to our perception do not exist - directly articulated to the fantasy sketch woven by Luizel, which is a fundamental outline in the course of the treatment. As in the conversations about the WTC, the play of pas creé seems like, from our perspective, a previous retail that enables the fantasy seam that precedes it.

“Tu vas pas me manquer”

A few weeks after the beginning of the treatment, Luizel’s concerns in regards death were deposited in Gaël. The adolescent will continuously ask where his brother is, anguished by the separation. At the same period, Luizel established a relationship “as if” (Deutsch, 1934/2007) with his older brother, Richard -both of whom wore the same clothes, kept the same haircut, did the same extracurricular activities. Luizel and Richard were always together - the first not being able to leave home without the second - and Richard invariably accompanying his brother to the CMPP sessions, waiting for him in the waiting room. This union worried Mrs. Zambèze: “I find it very strange… They never fight!”, she said.

During a session the adolescent states that Gaël would travel two days later with his class from school during a week, expressing his anxiety in regards to the separation. Then, Luizel says: “in any case, I will tell you: Gaël, tu vas pass me manquer”, meaning I will not miss you10. The phrase tu vas pas me manquer becomes, after pas possible and pas créé, Luizel’s new discursive refrain. He will address it to his mother when he leaves school, Richard when he is prevented from accompanying him to the CMPP, and to me when we go on vacation. Luizel will also say it in reference to objects in the room and to places when he leaves. Leaving a park that pleased him, he loudly declares: “park, tu vas pas me manquer”. On a particularly difficult winter morning in order to deprive himself of sleep, Luizel takes a picture of his bed and publishes it on social network: “bed, tu vas pas me manquer.” It is evident that the phrase clearly indicates an affirmation to his interlocutor - I will not miss you - revealing the resentful affection for those from whom the boy separates. In addition, the adolescent always said it in a humorous tone, which made his intention even more clear.

Thus, this is not a case of Verneinung, in the sense of the concept coined by Freud (1925/2010), in which the subject guards the emergence of an unconscious representation through negation, but rather a case of a (de)negative construction containing a flagrant affirmation that only emerges when marked by negation. However, it is important to emphasize that the possibility of producing such a formulation by the negative is articulated with the clinical observation of the decrease of the anguish in the absence of the Other - the Other, with a capital letter, in the sense that it is the sketch of the inscription of an abstract reference to otherness. Luizel will no longer reproduce Richard’s appearance or behavior, he will start coming alone to the CMPP, get the house keys, which he exhibits with pride, and can go out without depending on his brother. In addition, the anguish regarding the possible death of Gaël ceases. The Other may now be missed.

Apsychotic (de)negation?

In Negation, Freud (1925/2010) introduces the prized concept of Verneinung (negation) in psychoanalytic theory, arguing that

the repressed content of an idea or image can open the way to consciousness under negation. Negation is a way of understanding what has been suppressed, it is even a survey of repression, but it is certainly not an acceptance of the repressed. (p. 277, free translation)

The advent of negation thus implies a repression (Verdrängung) that precedes it, referring strictly to neuroses. The turning point that is supported in this article, aiming to bring an original theoretical-clinical reflection, is to think of the outline of the denegation as a psychotic tessitura. It is about making an articulation between affirmation and negation work by producing a barrier and, at the same time, giving symbolic consistency to an unconscious content.

If its mechanism is therefore distinct from that of the Verneinung, the article proposes to indicate a correlation of the Freudian negation that is often observable in clinical psychoses. Its correlate status justifies the spelling (de)negation or the proposition of a denegation sketch. Phenomenologically, the (de)negation in psychoses would be differentiated by different forms of exposing rather than veiling the unconscious representation, which we invariably observe as a transference effect in the cases listed above (see overture). Thus, Bethania told us that “she was not beaten with a broom” (Madeira & Rickes, 2007, p. 201), Raimundo, who had “never with a man” confused his legs (Madeira, 2015b, p. 313), Gustave, nine years old, joked of “not being afraid” (Madeira, 2015b, p. 222). As demonstrated, it is not through the formal character of the sentence that the singularity of the psychotic (de)negation takes place, but only in the transferential relationship in which its double negative-affirmative effect operates. That is, this (de)negative particularity is established in addressing the other as a primordial representation, which is, at the same time, supported in its existence and, in a certain way, negated - aggression, fragility, homosexuality, fear, the absence.

The researchers stress, without the pretense of establishing diagnoses, that it is also possible to highlight curious literary (de)negations as a production of meaning. Thus, James Joyce (1922/2012) describes the lady serving the breakfast milk under Stephen’s watchful eye: “as he observed her, she would pour the right amount and from there to a pitcher, the thick white milk, which is not hers. Old withered breasts” (p. 111, our highlights, free translation). “Not hers” (Joyce, 1922/2000, p. 15), Joyce points out, making the representation that the milk was spilled exists through negation - which is then allegorically associated with breast milk - it could have come from the breasts of that “secret and old” lady. That is, negation here produces the direct effect of the affirmation, the unveiling of representation.

The introduction of (de)negation at the core of the delirium structure

In a well-known excerpt from the Schreber Case (1911/2010), Freud distinguishes variants of possible negations from the phrase “I (a man) love him (a man)” (p. 83, free translation), thereby establishing different delirious compositions from them: “The jealousy delirium contradicts the subject, the persecution one contradicts the verb, erotomania, the object” (p. 86, free translation). Thus, Lacan states, in the Rome Discourse, that in the dialectics of the “unfolding of delusional structures,” Freud “not only found a shortcut, but gave it its axis tracing its course on the level of grammatical forms” (1953/2001, p. 157, free translation).11

In this 1953 text, Lacan (1953/2003) already indicates that in the persecutory delirium, the excerpts from “I love him” to “I hate him” suppose a “latent denegation” (p. 163). The argument is resumed in the seminar The psychoses, in which Lacan (1955-1956/2002) supports, firstly, that in this delusional structure, “we deal with something much closer to denegation. It is an alienation converted in the sense that love has become hatred” (p. 54, free translation). Later, at the last meeting of the seminary, Lacan (1955-1956/2002), more directly, extends the denegating form as common in the three forms of delusion:

You know how Freud shares the various denegations of homosexual tendency. He starts off with a phrase that symbolizes the situation - I love him, a man. There is more than one way to introduce denegation in this sentence. It can be said, for example, it is not I who loves him or he is not the one whom I love, or even, this is not about love for me, I hate him. (p. 349, free translation)

If this excerpt is pertinent to this article in particular, it is much less because of the considerations regarding the representation of homosexuality in the delirium, and more so as Lacan, in the same path as Freud, places (de)negation as the constituent of the delirious gear. That is, the (de)negation would bring a solution to an intolerable representation, operating at the core of the tapestry that organizes delusion. The (de)negation, in this sense, would not be a simple effect of reestablishing the imaginary relationship in psychoses (Scheme L), but an operator itself of the delirium structure and, thus, of the symptomatic appeasement. The article aims not only to stress such arguments, but to expand them by situating what is herein call (de)negation, not only as a gear of delusional constructions, but also of fantasy sketches in psychoses that do not necessarily form the fabric of a delirious weft per se.

Lacan (1955-1956/2002) points out in a repeated excerpt from the seminary The psychoses that, immediately after the trigger, “the subject sees himself absolutely disarmed and unable to make Verneinung work in regard to the event” (, p. 104), a reaction that would occur in the “counter-diagonal of our magic square” (p. 104, free translation), that is, the imaginary relation of Scheme L. The tessiture of negation in transference in psychoses therefore seems to produce a patch in face of the denegative impossibility soon after the trigger. Since death is a radical absence of another, an event that enables the emergence of psychotic symptoms in Luizel’s case, the “tu vas pas me manquer” (de)negation seems to establish itself as a response that weaves some symbolic stuffing to such a lacerating absence.

Symptomatic unfoldings

The researchers also highlight some symptomatic movements presented by Luizel throughout the treatment, movements for precious knots, as they generally attest to the possibilities of the psychoanalytic clinic and, in a specific way, the possible effects of the constitution of (de)negation connected to fantasy wefts. They stress that, initially, the boy’s hallucinations ceased after the first sessions. In addition, the disorientations resulting from the loss of the functions of the mirror stage were also appeased. The improvement in Luizel’s school performance comes as a surprising effect: his referral to a special class was re-evaluated and suspended; the adolescent successively received grade promotions during the four years of treatment to reach secondary school. The researchers believe that the evocation of such considerations about school effects, infrequent in psychoanalytic literature - effects that, however, have been familiar to the field for a long time (Mannoni, 1964) - could contribute to the sustainability of the social place of psychoanalytic practice.

Other relevant clinical movements in the Luizel case refer to the flexibilizations of the signifier. In our first meeting, his difficulty in relation to the synonyms of death was evident. Once, for example, Luizel claimed that his finger was “blocked”. As the conversation progressed, I understood that the joystick button on his videogame was broken and I commented: “The joystick button is locked.” Then Luizel answered, “anyway, the joystick is you” [la manette c’est vous]. “The joystick is you” was a widespread slogan at the time of a videogame in which it was not necessary to use the joystick. Luizel thus conceives a literal correspondence between body and joystick: if one is blocked, the other should also be - after all, the joystick is you.

The clinical vignette corresponds to what Freud called “organ’s language” (1915/2010, p. 145) from a case of Viktor Tausk (1933/2010), in which a girl complains that her “eyes turned”, after a fight with her boyfriend; he would be a hypocrite, literally, “an eye twister” [Augenverdreher]. “Schizophrenic discourse has a hypochondriacal trait there, it becomes the organ’s language” (1915/2010, free translation), says Freud, and then differentiates it from hysterical conversion that would imply tangible consequences on the body and the repression of representation, hindering access to the word.

The extension of the significant primacy over the signic functioning, although limited, was revealed throughout the treatment by the possibility of producing linguistic slips, of making use of the humor and, especially, by the games that he invented. The adolescent consumed months of sessions by soaking brushes in some paint and plunging them into the water in the living room sink. The paint then peeled off the brush, producing a stain on metamorphosis, and it was Luizel’s interest to stress the different denominations we could give it: “It’s a train!”, I would say. “No, it’s a cigarette,” replied Luizel. The joke lasted as long as the ink colored the full volume of water. Luizel then emptied the sink, made new strikes until exhaustion overcame him.


What causes anguish . . . is not the rhythm, nor the alternation of the presence-absence of the mother. The proof of this is that the child is pleased to renew this presence-absence game. The possibility of absence is the security of presence.

(Lacan, 1962-1963/2005, p. 64, free translation)

The Luizel case presents, in short, the sewing of two affirmation / negation operations, the “pas possible” and the “pas créé”, which are woven into fantasy tapestries that respectively describe the “accident” suffered by his mother and his naming. The first is based on the subjective absence of the mother, her momentary incapacity for libidinal commitment, which she places as the supposed origin of Luizel’s symptoms. The “pas possible” fabric for the fantasy sketch seems to be a barrier to the repetition of maternal failure. Then, the play of the “pas créé” interweaves with the mythological draft of the denominations; this establishes significant mooring, delineating certain continuity and consistency to the tangle of body and language.

Finally, it is fundamental to highlight that such fantasy seams that situate the Other - his desire, his name, his presence - precede and give rise to what we properly call (de)negation, a formulation that comes as a suture to Luizel’s tessitura: “tu vas pas me manquer.” The anteriority of the fantasy sketch and the wefts between affirmation / negation indicate that (de)negation in psychoses is constructed in transference, and can be situated as the symptomatic appeasement of the operator itself.

The phrase, “I will not miss you,” repeated infinite times, seems to diametrically oppose death - an event which disturbs the adolescent, producing the symbolic tearing that brings forth the psychotic symptoms. (De)negation and fantasy sketches, intrinsically woven together, add symbolic stuffing to the ever-present risk of disappearance, making absences bearable, and sustaining the subjectification of less evanescent presences.


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7We propose here slight changes of the English translation marked in brackets.

8To ensure the patient’s and their family’s confidentiality, the name of every person and place were altered.

9Regarding CLIS program, abbreviation of “Classe pour l’inclusion sociale”.

10It is noteworthy to stress that, strictly speaking, the phrase would be “tu ne vas pas me manquer”, since the sentence without “ne” doubles the negation, the most used form in oral speech.

11See in the original « Car l’analyse dialectique que nous venons de tenter du déploiement des structures délirantes, Freud n’y a pas seulement trouvé un raccourci, illui a donné son axe à y tracer son chemin au ras des formes grammaticales », (

Received: February 22, 2017; Accepted: April 29, 2017

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