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Eecke, W.V. (1995). Schreber and Hölderlin: The Concept of “A-Father” or The Psychological Origin of Mental Breakdown. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 23(3):449-460.

(1995). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 23(3):449-460

Schreber and Hölderlin: The Concept of “A-Father” or The Psychological Origin of Mental Breakdown

Wilfried Ver Eecke, Ph.D.*

Lothane's writings on Schreber present us with new facts, but they also challenge many older interpretations of Schreber's illness. In this article I use the new information provided about Schreber by Lothane in order to address one theoretical point about psychosis: the breakdown. The framework to interpret the psychotic breakdown will be Lacanian.

The Lacanian Model

Lacan, like most analysts, differentiates the cause from the occasion of the psychotic breakdown. He calls the cause of psychosis the “foreclosure of the name-of-the-father” (De Waelhens, 1978; Lacan, 1977, 200 ff; Ver Eecke, 1988; pp. 107, 108, 110, 113; passim 1993, pp. 89-91). He calls the occasion for the psychotic breakdown the appearance of “A-Father” (Lacan, 1977, p. 217). This summary of the Lacanian model needs explanation. Foreclosure of the name-of-the-father roughly means the absence of the oedipal triangle. Absence of the oedipal triangle is more than fear, hatred, or even rejection of the role of the father. When there is fear, hatred, or rejection then the father has a negative role in the emotional life of the person. Foreclosure means to imply a deeper form of absence of the father's function. We can develop a sense of what foreclosure of the name-of-the-father means by consulting a work by Jean Laplanche, a student of Lacan.

I wish to thank Thane Naberhaus for the many stylistic improvements he suggested.

Presented at the Winter Meeting of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, December 1994. Also published, by permission of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, in the Festschrift in honor of William Richardson as “Schreber and Hölderlin: The concept of ‘A-Father’” in From Phenomenology to Thought, Errancy, and Desire, ed. by Babette B. Babich (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1995), 475-84.

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