The Eye (I) of the horse, a schziophrenic invention*

The Eye (I) of the horse: articulation between the rejection of the primordial signifier and the mirrored image, a schizophrenic’s invention

Barbara Bonneau

Between truth and knowledge, the eye and the gaze

Tell me the truth, said this schizophrenic man that I had just been introduced to in the psychiatric hospital. Is my face not full of holes? Can a woman love me? Reduced to being a pure signifier of the Others lack, the only means that he had at this point of establishing a localisation of the Others jouissance outside of his own body was by defecating. As with the Wolfman, he rejected by this expulsion any signification of the Others castration. A rejection, Verwefung, that Freud says is something other than a repression and that Lacan translated by the term foreclosure in order to include the notion that what had been abolished from the conscious corresponded to a representation of what could have been imagined as missing. (Freud, S., 1914 [1918], p. 82-83.) Although for Freud the term abolition corresponds to the process which characterizes psychosis, (Freud, S., 1911, p. 315) Lacan justifies his use of the term Verwerfung taken from Freud’s explanation of the Wolfman’s different attitudes towards castration, to explain the primordial rejection of a fundamental signifier, which in psychosis goes beyond that of the patient’s attitude towards the reality of castration. (Lacan, 1953 - 54, p. 54-55).          


`I dont know my birth. I would have liked to have seen myself born open-eyed, this schizophrenic patient concluded in a lamentation that resembles that of Oedipus. But how could he see himself, even his own image in the mirror, when his gaze is obstructed by the vision of what appears to him as gaping holes? Am I blind? He asks. He is un-seeing in any case with respect to the elision of castration at the level of desire as it is projected into the image’ (Lacan, 1962-63, 22 May 1963), unpublished) and ignorant in so far as there is an omission of the signification of the lack in the Other. I killed [you are] my father and Im in the mirror, ‘Jai tué [tu es] mon père et je suis dans la glace’. The only thing that he ‘knows’ of his father is that he fell from a scaffold before he was born. Was I already in my mothers womb when my father was killed? He asked.


         This mans statements and especially their implications brought to my mind not only Freuds invention of the Oedipus complex, but even more so the Lacanian formulation of the disjunction of truth and knowledge, that is produced by discourse, and the coupling of this disjunction in discourse with that of the disjunction that Lacan describes in the scopic drive. The development of this second point was part of the theme of two previous theses that also included a discussion concerning the development of a certain type of subjective metaphor (Bonneau, B., 1992, p. 25-26).


 But how does the schizophrenic subject invent this type of metaphor, if we can call it that? And what is its purpose?

Series and sliding chains

It seemed to me as if the frozen image in the mirror was somehow related to the something that seemed equally as petrified in his speech. During the fecund period of this subjects delirium, his words were recorded as being schizophasic. However a close examination of his speech revealed a structure beyond that of the poetic quality of the metonymic repetitions of phonemes.


First of all these phonemes appeared to be jointed with a sort of body metonymy, in addition to the homophony, which seemed to occur in order to create a density to his language. Secondly, what the patient called métamorphosé, or the changing of the visual hallucinations of his mirrored image(d), seemed to be linked with the sliding chain of signifiers in the absence of ‘anchor points’.(Lacan, 1955-56, p.297)


Such statements rely on an examination of the subjects own speech in his own language, which in this case is French. I thought about translating the material into its international phonetic alphabetical form. However, although this translation would provide the reader with an accurate phonetic base for understanding the patients syntactical arrangements it would not necessarily enable him to identify the paradigmatic transactions. Nevertheless, it seems impossible to explain my affirmations without providing examples of their translation, even if laborious. This difficulty underlines the different axes of speech, indicated by Lacan, and points to the necessity of an examination of these axes in the subjects own language. Perhaps the difficulty to translate in terms of both axes demonstrates something about what is happening with the subject of speech as well.


Fortunately the first example of this patients discourse provides some signifiers that can be readily referred to and understood by English speakers without much translation:

On m’a pris pour un lion par l’adjectif trop parfait de moi, pour ma clé, mon échappée, ma naissance, mon accident. Je suis l’adjectif parfois, je refuse tout traitement, je suis un mage, une étoile, l’échappée, je suis un peu un pur, un adjectif parfait. Je me bats depuis un an avec mon visage, mon image, quand j’étais encore dément, je n’étais pas encore démantelé par la doctrine.’[1]


From the patients discourse we might understand that the subject is speaking of his birth, his troubles and his beliefs. However, in the beginning there was no question of dysmorphophobia. What struck me was the repetition of the phoneme or signifier age which seemed to act as a motor for the remainder of the discourse, and to be retained in order to make a series. (Lacan, 1955-56, p. 261) According to Lacan, the core of psychosis appears under the form of a pure signifier, emptied of its signified, blazing the trail however for the delirium which builds itself around this core.  For  Schreber, the correspondence of each element of neighbouring  discrimination, like Chinesenthum or Jesus-Christum are only  equivalents as far as, in German, the ending  tum has a particular sonority.


Dr. Richarz, in 1858, while referring to melancholia with agitation and mania argued that:


Mania is always linked to the ‘formation of series’, which certainly obey laws of ‘association and of reproduction’– alliteration and assonance of words, identities and contrasts of ideas --. These laws exercise their empire also on the language, apparently of the most confused madmen, but often it is not possible to seize the proof of this empire, the only fact that occupies us in this case, ‘one step unique carrying away with it a thousand relations’ of combinations of representations that succeed with such a rapidity and form in a such great number, to melt as rapidly, that they escape any observation oriented towards them. And this is especially because of the more or less great ignorance, which besides is unavoidable—of the observer in what concerns the special links that are formed by the representations of the observed individual, according to his personal experience of life.(Richarz as cited by Lambotte, 1993, p. 71.)


 Dr. Richarz seems persuaded that these series also possess a ‘key’ for understanding the patient’s experience. However this does not mean that we can speak of sense on a paradigmatic axis. In the above reported sequence, the phoneme appears six times, in ‘adjectif, mage, visage and image’ (adjective, mage/magician, visage, and image), all with the same homophonic ending in French. Even though he later reported having noticed the changes in himself on his eighteenth birthday, here there is no question of age or becoming of age. There is no conscious paradigmatic transaction between the signifier ‘age’ and the signified: ‘age’. Is it only a strange coincidence that this signifier appears as well in the thin discourse which concerns the only thing that he knows about his biological father? The French word for scaffold that he uses when he speaks of his father’s death is “échaffaudage.  


These elements, appearing here as a return of a real signifier, are present in the beginning of the patient’s delirium in this and other homophonic repetitions. The signifier ‘age’ seems to determine, at least in part, the localisation of the Other’s jouissance on the subject’s face and particularly at certain moments. It appears again, under the form of a recrudescence of acne and red blotches on his face in the days preceding his birthday, commemorating it seems, this day for him. In this circumstance there is a relation between the signified and the signifier. Even with the failure of the identification of his form in the mirror, he seems to associate the image which he sees as belonging to him through the artifice of this signifier which perhaps could be considered as the unitary trait, or einziger Zug, the one that incarnates. However can one really determine a Master signifier in schizophrenia? (Lacan, 1964-65, p. 129)


Frozen signs and fixed images


The next sequences of speech that I propose to examine demonstrate another quality of this subjects language. The articulations in question seem to determine not only the localisation of the Others jouissance on the patients face but also the virtual aspect of his appearance and the sort of metamorphosis that this subject expressed while the signifying chain slid on the chain of the signified. The most elementary form of the sequences accomplishes the reduction that the patient affirms once his delirium is no longer quite so active, and acts as a cork or plug for the lack in the Other. These sequences require some translation.


In the beginning of a delirium, the patient heard voices affirming that he was born of a milk cow, ‘né dune vache à lait’[2] in French. Sometimes he would hear simply: you are a milk cow. He would also hear: You are a horseTu es un cheval.He heard as well: ‘Tu es un jeu de cheval’. The word jeu in French means game, however pronounced je, it also means I, the first person pronoun. (‘You are a horse game’ or ‘you are an ‘I’ of a horse’) Not only did he perceive his image in the mirror as resembling that of a milk cow or a horse but in an association that he made years later, he admitted that for him he thought that this voice was telling him that as a milk cow or a horse, he was a superior being and that he should force others to submit to him.


Perhaps with these thoughts that came about as the signifiers that rushed through his mind, capturing the signified here and there, that if a milk cow was a figure of fortune, a superior being, a mage, it was also a figure of a naïve from which one could extract wealth, or jouissance. However, he was never quite able to construct a persecutor and his delirium never resembled that of a paranoiac.


In any case, at this point in his delirium the voices also said that he was born from fear. He said he wanted to sob, to ‘chialer’.  More than ten years later, he confided to his analyst that he heard a voice that said to him: ‘you are a chial’, a neologism, perhaps meaning something like a cry baby, created it seems from the slang expression chialer, to sob, or to cry. It is difficult to say at what point he perceived the image of the chial, whether it was after or before he started to cry. Perhaps even this image participates only in a reconstruction after the fact. The image in the mirror was not constant and had started to change again, accompanied by the changing auditory hallucinations and the sliding signifiers of S2. It is only by the fact that in his discourse he continues to speak about his image that I could link this furtive neologism with the other elements of his delirium. 


The subject at this point in his delirium could no longer create a barrier with the Others insatiable appetite. The hallucinations were reduced to a simple command, that of an automatism: Go shit, go!Sit venia verbo. Vas chier, aller! And with this threatening demand, the subject performed the act which permitted its own resolution, a separation with the Others jouissance, a production of false a[3], a castration of sorts which relieved him momentarily of the dysmorphophobic anxiety, and this sentiment of ‘being’ human refuse, ‘chet humaine’.


‘Chialer, je suis allé’: these responsive utterances containing this core of speech are so close in French, even with the confusion of closely related phonemes, often occurring when signifiers are ‘lost’, (Lacan, 1953-54, p.59 and 1955-56, p.271.) that the recognition of the signifiers continual flow with the anchorage on the patients image of his body, practically contiguous with the object produced, leaves seemingly no difficulty.[4] Nevertheless, a distinction between the image (phallic) and the anal object permit a better understanding of this patients dilemma.


     Lacan explains the disintegration that occurs in language, even inside of words from the example that Freud provides concerning the forgetting of names (Freud, S., 1898 as cited by Lacan, 1953-54, p. 59 et 1955-1956, p. 271). Lacan also cites several times in reference the elision of the letter in the case of the Wolfman (Lacan, 1958, 1966) as noted by Freud, when this subject, under transfer, is confronted with the memory of the real of the sexual encounter while telling of a dream where a man tears off the wings of yellow striped wasp. Instead of naming the insect, Wespe in German,  clearly associated by the Wolfman with the his first nurse, Grouscha, (who he falsely remembered at first as having the same name as his mother, but also who reminded him of the original scene, and with it, the threat of castration), he omits the first letter, W  or the first signifier, S1.


    The surprising result of this phonetic censure: Espe, a Witz  and not a neologism, where  the subject is produced almost as if in a transgression, under the form of these letters, SP, the initials of the his name --- Serguei Pankejeff, signifiers representing the subject for another significant.. Here the castration that had been in the image is permutated to the symbolic field bringing with it the disjunction of the terms:  S1 and S2, and the division of the subject, $. The difference with the production of the neologism and the Witz is remarkably illustrated by these incidences of the signifiers. Although both are produced at the on the edge of the virtual experience, the Witz produces a discontinuity between the signifiers and between the gaze and the eye, whereas the neologism participates in their continuity. (Bonneau, B., 2003)

The icon or schizophrenics being 

   Some linguists insist on a notion of language at the origin, on brute sounds, for example, that might become a sign. From Darwinism and the meeting with tribes of supposedly « primitive» people in the nineteenth century, numerous « linguists » have pondered on the beginnings of language without any scientific foundation. This step is not very different than that of Freud who speculated about the beginnings in the human child confusing these with, according to this hypothesis, the beginnings of the human species. However, the notion of the holophrase is undertaken in a more rigorous fashion by other linguists with the classification of languages according to internal references of their structure. The holophrase is accounted for in these typologies according to the mode of languages said to be ‘agglutinated’. Van Humboldt’s tripartite is based on ‘the predominant structure of the word as a grammatical unity.’ (ROBINS, R. H., as cited by Stevens 1987-88)


   More recently, the linguist, Derek Bickerton, introduced the idea of a ‘protolanguage’ which could permit the description Homo erectus’ language... This primitive protolanguage would be composed of juxtapositions of concrete words, but would posses no grammar, without this fact destroying the global sense of the phrase. This linguist makes the same parallel between this so called primitive language and that which is practised by young children. It permits to announce phrases like ‘want eat’, ‘bad baby’, or ‘daddy not gone’ , etc. and is based on the study of displaced and recomposed populations, such as the creoles  and  that of  animal communication, especially that of birds.( Bickerton, 1990)  


    Lacan insists however, on the fact that these word-phrases, captured by the structure of language, are not decomposable. Holophrase: there are phrases, expressions that are not decomposable and report to a situation taken in its entirety, these are holophrases.(Lacan, J.,1953-54, p.250) Following Lacans explanations(Lacan, 1964-65, 215-214)about the effects of the holophrase of the signifying pair S1-S2, I thought that I could link the clinical phenomena of schizophrenic dysmorphophobia with what I proposed to call an icon, (Bonneau, B., 2001, p. 300) after Pierce’s definition of the simultaneous occurrence of the signifier and the signified, where one is represented by the other.


  According to Jakobson, Pierce called this type of language device an ‘icon’ and opposed it to the ‘indice’ and to the ‘symbole’ (a metaphor in the lacanian definition.) The notion of an icon is in my view more judicious for describing this occurrence of something in language that resembles at times more an object and that distinguishes itself with lacanian metonymy. The metonymic processes exists in both neurosis  and psychosis and concerns the language contiguities in speech even if lacanian psycho-analysts borrow this notion to speak as I have done so, of a ‘body metonymy’. According to Pierce, the ‘icon’, concerns the factual similarity between the signifier and the signified. That is where the signified doesn’t miss its referent. It remains very closely correlated as with the neologism, in spite of its apparent abandon. It is also a linguistic device very close to the notion of the holophrase, depending on the language. (Pierce, as cited by Jackobson, 1966, p. 24).


This structure seems to be different from what Ceccarelli (Ceccarelli, as cited by Rodriguez, 2001, p. 129)describes as being the autistic pseudo-metaphor because it allows the speech of the schizophrenic subject not only to become public to some degree, but also to find a form of surrogate (suppléance) for the metaphor (qua) of the subject. In addition, the term pseudo-metaphor suggests a form of substitution for something which occludes the lack of the Other. However it does not seem to permit any possibility of representation, or replacement, only a form of ideation observed by Rodriguez in autistic subjects as that of corresponding to the Others growth in extension and complexity. The coincidence of the signifier and the signified permits apparently no separation whatsoever between them in the autistic pseudo-metaphor. (Rodriguez, 2001, p. 126.)


As far as schizophrenics are concerned, in my view, this structure of the icon will occasionally stand in for the signifier of the symbolic father of castration, (Bonneau, B., 1992) if only momentarily so, although it prevents the operation of signification of the Others absence in the absolute sense. It is for these reasons that it seems to me that the possibility for the substitution for the Others lack, created out of what had previously been a plug, was necessarily created from an anchor tie between S2 and the signified, rather than S1 and the object a. This type of relation would be correlated with a possible separation of the signifier and the signified in spite of their identical appearance. The distinction between the signifier and the signified is perhaps only a logical inference, but one that seems necessary to make in order to describe the invention of the surrogate or even a sinthome (Lacan, 1975-76)by the schizophrenic subject.


One might easily ask why the anchorage on the second signifier instead of the first? Why consider this icon as being formed by this imaginary knot, linking the body to the second signifier instead of the first? Was nt the first signifier enough to link the body to the linguistic signs? It would be very interesting indeed, if verifiable from the point of view of neurologists, if language possesses an anatomical anchorage, a sort of object of thought which exists at birth. For Freud and for Lacan the notion of the body is already an entity marked by signification and thus eluding its somatic substance. However, beside the fact that transforming a material object, real we might say, into a verbal element is a seemingly complex task, although one that has been thought of by some linguists, Lacan developed the notion of the holophrase which for him concerns a freezing of the first signifiers as a result of a foreclosure of the signification of the absence of the Other, indicated by both S1 and S2 as necessary parts of the operation which includes the relation of the image of the object, the signified, as one of the terms.


Symmetric coupling


The object in question is not the object a. Although the subject tries to recuperate the ‘material’ object in order to satisfy the demand of the Other, the object that participates in the holophrase is a ‘signified’ object. It corresponds to a psychical content in the same way that the object a would, if it could be signified. It is real in so far as it depends on the ‘hazards’ of the Others presence. It would seem that the mark left by the Other is there as sort of a print or trace in place of the absence, even in schizophrenia. This mark remains correlated to yet another signifier and to an image, perhaps that of the imaginary phallus. Lacan remarks (Lacan,1964-65, p. 215-216):

I would go as far as formulating that, when there is no interval between S1 and S2, when the first couple of signifiers solidify, holophrase, we have the model of a whole series of cases—yet still, in each one, the subject does not occupy the same place.

For the schizophrenic subject, the first signifier(Lacan, 1964-65, p. 129-130) allows the subject to recognise the image, or the signified content that he sees, as belonging to him despite being alien, but only because he is able to fill the hole left by the Other with other signifiers and the signified. Lacan argues:


The unary trait, the subject himself grasps it, and at first he marks himself as with a tattoo, the first of the signifiers. When this signifier, it’s a one, is instituted, -- the count, it’s a one at the level of the account, that the subject has to situate himself as such. In such that already the two ‘ones’ are distinguished. Thus is marked the first split that makes so that the subject as such distinguishes himself from the sign which at first he could constitute himself as a subject.  Thus, I teach you to beware of confusing the function of barred S with the image of the object a, in so far as it is thus that the subject, he sees himself, redoubled, ---sees himself as constituted by  the reflected image, temporary, precarious, of mastering, imagining man only as he imagines. (underlined by the Bonneau, B.).


The confusion of the image of the object with its signifier is even easier if there is no division possible because the first signifier is forclosed. Moreover, it is not because we can speak of a first signifier that it is possible to isolate it in the structure. In psychosis, the fixation remains on the Ego (Ich) itself. The phallic function supported by the Master signifier, acts to attract the eye and to fragment the gaze. This function can equally, in some conditions, be stabilized by the formation of what is called a phallic image in terms of grandeur in some deliriums.  This « phallic image » seems to correspond to a specific structure in schizophrenia, but it is not as though it can be detached from its frame. The holophrase illustrates this indistinct report between the image and the frame. The ‘recognizing’ of the image here would be rather that of a captivation by the image. It remains to be said that the subject is not captivated however by another’s image, only that of himself.


Lacan distinguishes the suite of S1 from the suite of S2 in his formula for holophrases pertaining to ‘retarded’ children. (Lacan, 1964-65, p. 214-215)  It seems that the suite of identifications are associated with S1 where as the suite of significations are associated with S2. However, schizophrenia is often characterized by the level of identification which remains that of an identity. This identity can be thought of as an ‘identity of perception’ (Freud, 1900a, p.481, 1915e, p. 113) or an ‘identity of expression verbal’ (Freud, 1915e, p. 116) or as an ‘identity symmetric’ which is as remarkable in the ‘synchronic repetitions’, that  Lacan identifies with   the Wahrnehmungszeichen, ‘the perception sign’ from the 52 letter of Freud to Fleiss(Lacan, 1959-60, p. 80), as it is in the stereotypic ‘as if’ imitations identified by Deutch (as cited by Lacan, 1955-56, p.281)  and Ross (Ross, 1976, p.61).


The type of identity that is signalled here is above all that of the groping for a signifier in an attempt to mark the absence in the place of the Other’s desire. Such a signifier is forclosed in schizophrenia. The attempts of signification appear as stereotypic automatisms. Lacan argues, in the symbolic order: ‘fulls are as significant as empties; it seems very well that (…),that it is the opening of a space which constitutes the first step of all of its dialectical movement.‘ (Lacan, 1954, p.392) What is this to say if not that death or loss must appear as a form of absence, that is, it must be represented under an imaginary form? This is what explains, it seems, the insistence that the schizophrenic makes to repeat this step. ‘In vain, because for him, all of the symbolic is real’. (Lacan, 1954, p.392)


The redeployment of the phoneme ‘age’, is thus structured, it seems, by the original scene where the patient’s own father is killed by falling from an ‘echafaudage. This recuperation and rather non metaphorical employ of the signifier ‘age’ from the coordinates of the father’s imago illustrates the difficulty of distinguishing a Master signifier in schizophrenia. Here the identification is limited to a repetition or an imitation of sorts and does not permit any paradigmatic signification whatsoever because there is no possible room for a dialectic, for an equivocal meaning of the Other’s absence. Lacan indicates that it is the solidification of the chain of the primitive signifiers that prevents the opening of a dialectic observed in the phenomena of belief (Unglauben). (Lacan, 1964, p. 216) In schizophrenia, the solidification of the chain apparently allows only homophonic associations between the different but close phonemes, and/or the rather unconscious emergence of the psycho-somatic syndrome on his birthdays, commemorating in this way his father’s death.  


Under such conditions, it seems as if almost any signifier can be used as a sort of a harpooning device for the Ego (Ich) as long as it meets two conditions: It must prolong the narcissistic mirage, (if only phonetically so) and it must consolidate its image by providing some sort of ‘signification’.   This second condition already allows one to speak of S2, after Lacan’s description. However this condition does not allow us to determine a temporality, only sort of a logical order, between S1 and S2.  It seems as if it is the anchorage of a signifier and a signified which ‘institutes’ the order in schizophrenia, instead of the Name of the Father.


In the spoken sequences of this schizophrenic subject, the signifier: ‘I am’, j’suis and the signifier: ‘shit’, chi, are conjoint like the code and the message that the sequence supports. However, in this conjunction, sometimes there is also a conjunction of the material object and the signified image, as it seems to be with autistic subjects. Nevertheless in schizophrenia, even if the phoneme ‘j’ (ge) coupled to the phoneme ‘sui’ seem to be snared by their phonetic resemblance (in French) with the signifier ‘chi’ and its signified element, they seem to also retain a small capacity of combining with other terms.

Localising the holophrase

But for this schizophrenic subject, just where does the primitive holophrase occur? Is it contained in the connection between what I indicated above might be an S1, where the subject localised something of the Others lack, in the holes in his face: visage, image Thus it seems, making different attempts of symbolization that endeavour in vain to integrate and neutralize the resulting traumatism? Or does it refer to the chain of the homophonic signifiers that are anchored to the signified as paradigmatic terms for the object in question, between the homophones: j’suis’ and ‘chi’? (Bonneau, B. 1992, p.21-32)


   By situating the holophrase on the signifiers: ‘j’suis’ and ‘chi’ (paradigmatic translations might be: ‘I’m’, and ‘shit’), I situate these signifiers as S1 and S2, according to the lacanian definition. However, even though I isolate somewhat the second signifier, this does not mean that I will have isolated S1.


It seems that the hypothesis that the subject seems to make is that: je suis, I am (my father), demonstrating the confusion of the subjects image and that of the imaginary phallus, and contributing to the confusion between the image and the real,(Bonneau, B. 1992) is almost identical to the one cited above: ‘j’ suis’ and ‘chi’.


 The following statement illustrates the subject’s hypothesis: j’ai tué mon père et je suis dans la glace’, and/or ‘J’ai, tu es mon père et je suis dans la glace’. According to how the axes of language permit(s) one to understand the contents of this statement(s) as translated as either: ‘I killed my father and I am in the mirror’ (or ‘in the image’, which he often says as well), or ‘I have’, ‘you are’, ‘my father and I am in the mirror’. (Bonneau, B. 1992, title, subtitle) This statement, and especially (their) its translation underline(s) the effect of a possible confusion of pronouns and the confusion of the first person verbs ‘to be’ and ‘to have’, in French: ‘jai, tu es,…mon père’. The only constant parameter in this statement is the conclusion. He says that he is ‘in’ the mirror, and what he sees apparently ‘is him’, whether the image that is there is that of his father or that of some other being or thing.


Lacan says that the function of the holphrase is that of participating in the unity of the phrase, in the measure that the code and the message are confused. He articulates this function with that of the ‘statement’ in order to disjoin the notion of need with the terms of the demand. The holophrastic statement ‘cannot be’, according to Lacan ‘reduced to its function’ because it is taken from the subjects discourse.(Lacan, 1958-59, 3 December 1958) If we are to follow Lacans definition of the holophrase, then, in my view, we should retain the homophonic terms: j’suis and chi’, which were identified for this subject not only participate in the unity of the phrase, but also respond to the criteria of discourse by the capacity of its terms to provide a consistence for the subject’s body, indicating by there it’s link with ‘organ’ language and with neologisms.


However, it might be useful to add that the effects of the holophrase are such that the various points of the Others jouissance and the lexical terms which seem to define them, are somehow also linked to this holophrase. Are the words visage, image, etc., simply associations with what one would expect to see in the mirror, and/or the repetition of the signifier ‘age’, a production of an ‘emptied’ signifier in a series?


Perhaps in addition to the above arguments, the patient furnishes other indications in this sequence from the early moments of his delirium: ‘The last game (jeu – je) is a horse game, it’s an adjective…’ [5]  The phoneme ad seems to ‘stick to’ the phoneme je, thus permitting a form of ideation which extends by contamination: ‘On m’a pris pour un lion par l’adjectif trop parfait de moi, …, je suis un mage, …un adjectif parfait.’[6] If we analyze while interpreting these sequences after Freud, and with Jung’s considerations, (JUNG, 1906, p.55) we can obtain the condensation[7] :  ‘I(Je) is an adjective too perfect of me’ ‘It’s a (cheval) horse’ [8] The ‘Je’(ge) alone only operates on the syntactical dimension. It qualifies ‘me’. It is only the fusion of this phoneme with the phoneme ‘sui’ or ‘am’ which permits a functioning on the paradigmatic axes as well, thanks to the bolting by the icon. This interpretation is a little like that of Artaud who affirms to be a ‘me-lice’. [9] (BRUNO, 1999) This patient seems to believe at moments that he is a ‘me-horse’ This deduction from the proposed linguistic hypothesis is somewhat confirmed by the patients own words when he speaks of one of his ‘metamorphosis’: ‘I am a I (game) of a horse’ (‘Je suis un je(u) de cheval).      


The association of the signified content (here the virtual image) with the signifiers of the holophrase, also supports the idea that the icon occurs on the second signifier, which allows some mobility in the chain. There seems to be a substitution in which there is a tentative association with other signifiers: (je), (ge), (age) even if what appears as a metonymy of the body is a restrictive form of association, one where the lack from which the metonymy is constructed is almost obviated. However, the substitution seems to occur as well from the association of the two ‘signified’ contents: visage or image, and that of the chi-al, and the signifiers which are associated with them. The subject indicates that for him, he ‘is’ (suis), because ‘I’ (je) describes whatever he sees in the mirror. (Bonneau, B., 1992) He ‘is’ every ‘word’ that qualifies him, and his image reflects this qualification. This recognition seems to be the result of the holophrase (Bonneau, B., 1992). Perhaps we could go as far as to say that this agglutinate, ‘j’suis’ (I’m), corresponds to the device that permits the mobility of the chain of signifiers through the deployment of the holophrase: J’suis-chi (I’m-shit). It is the verb ‘to be’, holophrased with the term of the body (chi), which gives him then, not only the possibility of consistence, but also the possibility of speech.


Of course an affirmation of this nature demands to be completed by other questions. One such question concerns the signifier ‘to be’ which is different from the verb, ‘to be’. I respond here somewhat implicitly to this question. If one is to speak of the ‘verb’, there is a question of signification and perhaps of a signified. However, it seems likely that a holophrase could only permit a limited form of signification, as noted by the formation of a neologism. It is important to consider that if the verb can have a signification, even if in a limited form, it could have a limited grammatical function as well.


Perhaps this question could be better answered by the study of other holophrases where other verbs acquire the role that the rather exceptional verb ‘to be’ acquires in this case, due to its use with the first person pronoun and its ‘holophrastical’ fusion to this signifier. This remark in itself opens a rather metaphysical question which one could easily take for granted here:  Why does the subject speak of ‘being’ instead of speak of ‘nothing’? The very nature of his use of the holophrase demonstrates that the ‘verb’ acquires a signification and is not simply an emptied signifier but much more. The ‘I’, characterized by Lacan as ‘ being of non being’, affects itself in this case with a ‘being’, precisely through the holophrastique device. Here the substance of the subject doesn’t abolish itself from his knowledge. This substance supports his discourse instead of its being supported by a lack.  (Lacan, 1960, p. 802)             

Holophrastic interval and schizophrenic invention

The holophrase is what is responsible for not only the absence of interval between S1 and S2 which prevents the separation from the object a, but it also ‘permits’ the invention of a surrogate for the absence of the subjects qua metaphor. The notion of surrogate suggests that there is a form of substitution that takes place. However as we have seen, the icon or the pseudo-metaphor, even if it acts as a last remaining anchor tie that prevents the subject from losing all binding to his language, does not, in itself, permit the signifier to ‘represent’ the subject for another signifier. The absent interval between S1 and S2 prevents the division of the subject by an operation that would subtract something from the Other. Nevertheless, it seems that this gap can be more or less open.


The sliding chains generate images which permit the subject to distance himself somewhat from the mirrored image in order to allow a more satisfying form of existence, perhaps not unlike the autistic subject. However, no form of anchorage prevented the form in the mirror from changing, and as the medication calmed the delirium, the metamorphosis stopped, leaving this subject with a very mediocre form of response to the Others jouissancethe icon. And in fact in this elementary form, there appears to be little or no difference between the schizophrenic icon and the autistic pseudo-metaphor.


Perhaps the only difference between these structures is that the icon remains somewhat active. In the past, this subject was not allowed to go outside of the psychiatric hospital. A change in the social politics of the management of the mentally ill in France allowed this patient a new form of care where he could request leaves of absence from the hospital and even outpatient care. Although the patient mostly refrained from using his newfound rights, he did manage to leave the hospital accompanied by a nurse and a few other patients on some occasions. He was enabled in this fashion to develop a taste for betting on horse races in the local placement bars. Although his fears of encountering the others gaze were increased during these outings, particularly when he was alone, they permitted him to place bets which can be thought of as producing a question concerning ‘being’ for him. But, a question is not ‘being’. It signifies something other than a ‘real’ presence.


Recalling what this subject had during his delirium, stated as a je(u) de cheval, a horse game and/or an I of a horse, or perhaps both, I noticed that this subjects dysmorphophobic syndrome seemed somewhat relieved by his participation on the bets. Freud observed in the game of fort-da the articulation of the signifier of the Others absence ‘generated’ by the ‘repeated’ absence created by this tossing of the bobbin by the child. (Freud, 1920, p.53) This creation of a sort of empty field by the child was a way of exercising somewhat the hazard of that real presence by the subjects own ‘auto-mutilation’. The bobbin, it is not the mother reduced to a small ballit is a little something of the subject that detaches, in remaining still quite his own, yet withheld. This is the place to say; to imitate Aristotle that man thinks with his object.(Lacan, 1964-65, p. 60) Perhaps the schizophrenic subject deploys the elements of the icon in this same way, detaching part of himself in an ‘auto-mutilation’ that momentarily escapes the real.


For Bruno, what specifies schizophrenia is the fact that the subject is signified by the phrase: it speaks of him, without ever being named, that is to say, isolated as such in language. (Bruno, as quoted by Rodriguez, 2001, p.129) However, this subject seems to demonstrate that although isolated somewhat in language, there is a certain access to the nucleus of identification, different than that in paranoia, although this difference is beyond the scope of this article. This schizophrenic subject seems to demonstrate that he has found a means of relying on a device which is more than that of a signification. It is already a form of nomination. (Bonneau, B., 1994, p. 63)


The subject who says I am an I of a horse or I am a horse game, although the first person pronoun is glued to what speaks of him, is perhaps already in a position different from that identified by Rodriguez as being the autistic subjects position: ‘a subject without a proper name, who in his act of speaking repeats the signifiers (reduced to frozen signs) of the Other. Instead of the primordial identification with the signifier of the ideal (I), the autistic subject remains identified with those petrified signifiers.’ (Rodriguez, 2001, p.134-5) Even though the schizophrenic subject remains somewhat identified, as with the autistic subject, to the frozen signifiers, there is a possibility of discourse, in the sense that a discourse permits a subject a social participation, even if limited, and especially to exist, in his own ‘body’. This patient could thus read the paper, venture into bars, have a drink, face the others gaze, and even, share the money that he sometimes wins, even if this stabilisation must be recreated each time.


His question about what bet to place, ‘what ideal’, ‘what horse’, ‘what name’ to bet on was linked to the icon, frozen to the first signifier. However as a question it had become for him, a question of acquiring a name, a sort of epistemological quest opened by the ‘possible’ responses which no longer depended only on the hazards of the Other. It seemed to provide, in this way, a sufficient interval (Bonneau, B., 1994, p. 46-58) to create a sinthome, precisely because the question creates a metonymic lack in the signifier. This is where another signifier, perhaps the one indicating the subject, might be ‘represented’, if only momentarily so. By this device, in my view, the subject creates a kind of trick similar to the one created by the disjunction of truth and knowledge. Without this invention of the ‘possibility’ of a missed encounter, the subject would always be lost in his symbolic questhors(e) discourse. Of course!


June 2003 

 -« The Eye(I) of the Horse, a schizophrenic’s invention, » June 2003, in Analysis, n° 12, The Australian Center for Psycho-analysis, Trobe University Press, sur Internet depuis le 3 juin 2004


The Internet version may vary slightly as it was originally prepared for a British Review.


* This texte is a résumé of prior work that was presented at first as a Master Thesis in 1992. It was then presented to the Association of the Cause Freudian in Dijon in 1995. In 1999, it was submitted in the form of an article to the revue, Evolution Psychiatrique. It was not publised at that time. In fact, as a resumé it presents a major default to psycho-analystes. It seems to illustrate theory, or appear as an application of theory. However, this "case" was "made from scratch" where I questionned the phenomena that I noticed all while reading existing theory. The psycho-analytical theory at that time was mostly preoccupied by the foreclosion of the Name of the Father and rarely mentionned schizophrenia. This lack of theory lead to some "invention" on my part, where I try to construct a theory of the logic of the holophrase as it seemed to influence the subject, from the beginning of the delirium, to a form of suppléance or perhaps even a "sinthome". From the moment that I deposited this work in the Paris VII University Library, up until the publication of a version of this article, many psycho-analysts, including myself, haved completed work where the holophrase is given a particular place, although its logic may not be described. 

[1]  Approximate paradigmatic translation with, as above, added punctuation:  One took me for the lion by the perfect adjective of myself, for my key, my escape, my birth, my accident. I am the adjective sometimes, I refuse all treatment, I am the magician, a star, the escapee, I am a little a pure, a perfect adjective. Ive been fighting myself for a year, with my face, my image, when I was not yet dement, I was not yet demented by the doctrine. An interpretation or a research for sense is a research on the paradigmatic axis.

[2]  The sounds that are repeated several times in these sequences correspond to: ty, e, va, ς, ί, a, le in the international phonetic code and tu, é, va, ch, chi, a, lé in French.

[3]  Or: false o according to translations.

[4]  This continual flow of the signifiers can perhaps be more readily noticed if one reads out loud the noted elements of the subjects discourse: Vache à lait, Cheval, Va chier, aller, chial, chi. 

[5] « Le dernier je(u) est un je(u) de cheval, c’est un adjectif… »

[6] See note 2 page 3 for translation.

[7]I’m including this reference that might surprise the lacanian reader, although Freud himself doesn’t hesitate to cite it as late as 1915, in order to invite him to read these articles written on schizophrenia by Jung with the knowledge that this Bonneau, B. was rejected for quite different reasons. This work is developed by his own linguistical research which is different than that of Lacan and of Freud.

[8] In French : «Je est un adjectif trop parfait de moi » « C’est un cheval ». 

[9] In French : un « moi-poux »