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Riolo, F. (2011). Transformations in Hallucinosis. Ital. Psychoanal. Annu., 5:107-120.

(2011). The Italian Psychoanalytic Annual, 5:107-120

Transformations in Hallucinosis Language Translation

Fernando Riolo

Translated by:
Philip Slotkin, M.A.

He's the perfect presence […] as positive, as individual, […] as sensitive a fact.

Henry James, Sir Edmund Orme

The topic to which this congress is devoted is the exploration of the unconscious. For this reason I should like to begin with a few words about the indissoluble relationship that obtains in any exploration between observation and theory. According to Karl Popper, a scientific theory is like a searchlight: it throws light on the things it describes, which in its absence we should never have seen; in other words, it reveals certain underlying dimensions of things which, although vital determinants of their reality, are not observable because they cannot be seen. The unconscious is an example of a reality which, while lying at the origin of consciousness, cannot be conscious; we see it only by virtue of its effects on consciousness and through the filter of theory. Hence theory is an essential instrument of observation. We cannot move a single step forward unless we are guided by a theory.

Investigation of the unconscious genesis of the contents of consciousness was made possible by Freud's theory, which is the foundation of our clinical method and of the observations it permits. As stated in an earlier contribution of mine (Riolo, 2009), the method's legitimacy is based on the assumption that the unconscious, while in itself unrepresentable and ineffable (a-phane), continuously bursts into the territory of representation through its manifestations — its phanie — by virtue of which it becomes amenable to investigation and capable of attaining the state of «effability». The unconscious that can be investigated is therefore first and foremost a representational unconscious, whose forms, in Freud's terms, are Vorstellungen, Darstellungen, and Entstellungen — that is, ideas, images and distortions.

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