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Chiarandini, I.C. (1996). Revista de Psicoanálisis. (Argentina) Special International Issue, 1993: Repetition.. Psychoanal Q., 65:852-853.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Revista de Psicoanálisis. (Argentina) Special International Issue, 1993: Repetition.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 65:852-853

Revista de Psicoanálisis. (Argentina) Special International Issue, 1993: Repetition.

Irene Cairo Chiarandini

On the basis of the negative therapeutic reaction, Freud conceived of repetition as beyond the pleasure principle. From that concept he hypothesized the death instinct: its aim is a reduction from the complex to the simple. In contrast, in the process of healing and cure, what is achieved is a greater complexity. Following Klein, Bion, Meltzer, Winnicott, Searles, and Green, the author emphasizes that there are two different processes connected with repetition: those that result in re-editions and those that make new editions. The first demand an instinctive discharge, the latter a process of charge: a semantic charge, a mnemic charge. Traumatic experience demands a psychic registration because of the original semantic emptiness connected with the trauma.

Repetition was an inspirational concept for Freud. For the first time in science, through the concepts of trauma and repetition, the neuroses were placed in the field of reversible phenomena. From trauma, repetition, discharge theory, through libido theory and complementary series theory, it is the ego that reconciles pleasure and reality. Repetition follows the pleasure principle; the symptom reflects the peremptoriness of discharge. The preconscious transforms the unconscious wish from its representational labyrinth: in the preconscious the repetition acquires originality. The preconscious transforms the drives.

Already in “The ‘Uncanny’” and more clearly in Beyond the Pleasure Principle Freud found repetition that does not follow the pleasure principle. This repetition tends to a charge, not discharge. The final aim of this kind of repetition is a process of psychic charge that makes possible the unconscious representation. If in the trauma quantitative vicissistudes are such that the ego is overwhelmed, a portion of the ego will be alien to the traumatic experience, which is thus not registered. What can be represented is interrupted at the point where the ego was overwhelmed. Later, libidinization guides repetition in the attempt to register the representational signification of the trauma. Thus, the analyst's task is no longer to make the unconscious conscious, but rather to make unconscious something that achieved a traumatic effect, yet never found a psychic registration. When the original traumatic disaster overwhelmed the ego, these facts were neither conscious nor unconscious: they are not memory; they are an active process of destructuring. It is from these ideas that Freud reconceptualized the psychic apparatus. It is perception that will transform the id into ego; Thanatos pushes in the opposite direction, toward psychic death.

In the topographic model thinking begins in the gap between the impossibility of repeating and the unconscious wish to repeat. With the structural model there is a marked difference between the factual event (trauma) and the psychic event. Repetition searches for the missing representations. Repetition beyond the pleasure principle is id that does not become unconscious ego.

The concept of the death instinct points to a force that erases that which is learned, tending to involution. It never operates alone. All psychic instances are subject to the interplay Eros-Thanatos.

Lutenberg raises a fundamental question: Is repetition an endless reproduction of the same? Or does it make eternal a first time which was never completed? He proposes the psychic registration of a first time that never took place. This concept

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marks the difference between the factual event (traumatic experience) and the psychic event (psychic registration). Repetition seeks the missing representations. In the transference wish there is a disfigured repetition of the wish. Lutenberg calls this the “re-edition” of the wish. Where there has been no psychic registration, there has been no such wish. Two contrasting clinical vignettes illustrate these ideas. Lutenberg discusses these transference re-editions, comprising a vast number of processes of working through that occur in the psychoanalytic session. Their common denominator is the construction of a mental structure that did not exist before.

In contemporary practice we think of structures that underlie the neurotic structure. Lutenberg refers to David Liberman's ideas that relate the analysand's style to the underlying structure (for Liberman there is a predominant style, and also stylistic subcomponents). These notions help the author understand the relation between the edited and the unedited in the analysand. Lutenberg believes that pure repetition cannot occur. An ideal interpretation should always contain the opening implied in every repetition simply by its appearance in the transferential link. If we emphasize only the regressive aspect in the analysis, an addiction may result that favors masochistic fixation. The analyst, as semantic catalyzer in the process, is the one who favors forward or backward direction of the analysis. The analyst appreciates the transformational processes in the patient and therefore can assist the production of new thinking.

Transferential editions confront us with the underlying emotion, terror; we attempt to reconstruct the emotions related to the terror through a special grammar that combines the analyst's countertransference with the morphology of each object of the setting. Free association brings a true semantic opening when examined in the light of transference movement. The analytic dyad intercepts repetition without edition, transforming it in edition without repetition.

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Article Citation

Chiarandini, I.C. (1996). Revista de Psicoanálisis.. Psychoanal. Q., 65:852-853

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