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Project for a Scientific Psychology - Freud

Teaching Notes

3 sessions

HISTORICAL SUMMARY [my comments are in square brackets]

From Strachey - Follow the history of its development in Freud's letters to Fliess through 1895 and early 1896 (discovered among the Fliess papers and translated and first published in 1950).

From Sulloway (and Strachey):

April 27, 1895 (Letter 23) – involved in his 'Psychology for Neurologists'; "devoured by it", a "powerful preoccupation". [a sublimation pursued as a passion]

May 25, 1895 (Letter 24) – first, trying to discover what form the theory of psychical functioning will take if a quantitative line of approach, a kind of economics of nervous force, is introduced (reducing the mental apparatus to the laws of psychophysics); secondly, to extract from psychopathology a yield for normal psychology. Have devoted every free minute of the last few weeks to work like this; …the night hours from eleven till two with imaginings, transpositions and guesses like these. Freud was likely inspired by the recent publication of a similar model by his teacher Sigmund Exner (1894) (Sketch of a Physiological Explanation of Psychical Phenomena). Exner's model of the mind was "neuronal, and regulated by the physiological dictates of the pleasure-unpleasure principle." [Much of Freud's writing was inspired, in some instances word-for-word, by the writing of other professionals and scholars, at that time and during the previous hundred years.]

June 12 (Letter 25) – nothing certain can be said as yet; an announcement now would be like sending the six-months' foetus of a girl to a ball. [Freud's sense of humour] In July, Breuer wrote to Fliess: "Freud's intellect is soaring at its highest. I gaze after him as a hen at a hawk."

August 6, (Letter 26) – understanding of pathological defense [repression] and many important psychological processes. [Could this be described as a "fantasy" - in the most serious sense of the term - derived from an exquisitely detailed tracking of the processes in his own mind.]

August 16 (Letter 27) – a queer experience with my ϕψω - fresh difficulties ; threw down the whole alphabet [typical of people doing creative work]. I wanted to do no more than explain defense, but I was led from that into explaining something from the centre of nature. I have had to work through the problem of quality, sleep, memory – in fact the whole of psychology.

September 4 – Freud visited Fliess in Berlin. [Support from his "transferential" object]

September 23 (Letter 28) – while I was still in the railway carriage [on the way home]…I began a summary account of my ϕψω for your criticism (the first few penciled sheets of the Project as we possess it today.) [In a burst of focused concentration on that deeper level of thought as a result of having been with Fliess]

October 8 (Letter 29) Sent Fliess two notebooks, “scribbled out entirely since my return”. (Total of one hundred manuscript sheets or eighty-eight printed pages in the original German-language version.) German editor's title was Entwurf einer Psychologie (Sketch of a Psychology). Freud held back a third notebook which dealt with repression. Alternately proud and happy, ashamed and wretched; an excess of mental torment; what I cannot fit together is … the explanation of repression.

October 15 (Letter 30) – once more thrown aside. [More evidence of the creative process]

October 20 (Letter 32) -"the barriers were suddenly raised, the veils fell away and it was possible to see through from the details of the neuroses to the determinants of consciousness. Everything seemed to fit in together, the gears were in mesh, the thing gave one the impression that it was really a machine and would soon run of itself. [A sense of coherence and confidence emerged] The three systems of neurones, the free and bound conditions of quantity, the primary and secondary processes, the main trend and the compromise trend of the nervous system, the two biological rules of attention and defense, the indications of quality, reality and thought, the state of the psycho-sexual groups, the sexual determination of repression, and, finally the determinants of consciousness as a perceptual function – all this fitted together…"

November 8 (Letter 35) – threw it into a drawer; felt overworked, irritated, confused, and incapable of mastering the stuff.

November 29 (Letter 36) – I can no longer understand the state of mind in which I hatched out the "Psychology". [Very common experience demonstrating the different states of mind between the present mind's functioning and that at "other level" engaged at the time of creative writing]

January 1, 1896 (Letter 39) – contains an elaborate revision of some of the fundamental positions adopted in the Project (printed as an Appendix to the Project itself).


Entwurf = Sketch



Regularly used by Freud

Of particular terms


N – Neuron (neurone)

W – Wahrnehmung-sbild (perception; perceptual image)

V – Vorstellung (idea)

Er – Erinnerung-sbild (memory; mnemic image)

Greek letters:

ϕ - phi

ψ - psi

ω - omega

Q – external quantity

Qη - psychical quantity


Dashed it off in two or three weeks, left it unfinished, and criticized it severely at the time of writing it; later seemed to have forgotten it; in old age he did his best to destroy it. Marie Bonapart saved it.

Sulloway – Freud was working out the solutions to three problems at the time; he focused on the concept of defense at this time in order to explain these three problems.:

1. Choice of neurosis –

Actual (current, in the adult) neuroses: anxiety neurosis and neuraesthenia; related to contemporary abnormal sexual practices; the build-up or excessive expenditure of the "sexual substance" [chemical, "hormonal"]. Led to Freud's conclusion that all neuroses have at their root sexuality. The sexual substance was from the reproductive organ and was toxicological if not discharged appropriately. Anxiety was conceptualized as transformed somatic (sexual) excitation (libido), which took place whenever somatic sexual excitation was not fully converted into its psychical counterpart. Not treatable by psychoanalysis.

Psychoneuroses: The cause is in childhood. Hysteria, Obsessional and Phobic types, Hallucinatory psychoses, and Paranoia.

Hysteria – characterized by defense against an incompatible idea and a concomitant capacity for somatic conversion of affect into symptoms.

Obsessional and phobic – the psyche achieved a separation between the incompatible (sexual) idea and its quantitative measure of libidinal affect; there is attachment of the "free" affect to another more compatible idea.

Hallucinatory psychosis – a more energetic form of defense; it has rejected both the incompatible sexual idea and its accompanying quota of libidinal affect.. Results also in a rejection of a substantial part of reality.

Paranoia – accepts the incompatible idea but projects it onto the external world. Repression results in the idea losing its connection to sexuality.

The seduction theory (described in a letter to Fliess in early October 1895) - All the psychoneuroses were due to a premature "sexual" experience (seduction traumas), the memory of which is mobilized by 'deferred action' when the child reaches puberty. Revised this in 1897 reducing the importance of actual seduction and increasing the importance of fantasies of seduction.

2. Why sex? - Why sexual ideas alone are subjected to [pathological] repression. Due to the absence of a sexual instinct in infancy and early childhood and therefore the young child's psychical inability to comprehend the act of seduction, childhood sexual seductions exert a uniquely delayed psychophysical effect upon the human nervous system. As well as perhaps generating unpleasure at the time due to "assault" features, which results in repression, the memory is repressed because its nature and significance is not grasped at the time. After puberty, "the memory will display a power which was completely lacking from the event itself. The memory will operate as though it were a contemporary event, a trauma."

3. Pathological repression – This includes amnesia for the repressed content which is in the unconscious; how to distinguish this from normal putting things out of one's mind. Freud considered that the latter was easily explained by psychological means, but that pathological repression required a physiological explanation (in concert with his whole theory that the neuroses were a toxicological consequence of improperly utilized libido, itself obviously somatic and chemical in nature). Whatever was capable of pathologically inhibiting such a quantity also had to be something quantitative – and hence, physiological.

The remarkable truth is that the Project, in spite of being ostensibly a neurological document, contains within itself the nucleus of a great part of Freud's later psychological theories; it threw light on some of the more obscure of Freud's fundamental hypotheses (eg. Chapter VII of The Interpretation of Dreams).

Differences from the later theories:

Little to indicate the technical procedures of psychoanalysis.

Parts I and III – largely theoretical and a priori foundations. Part II – psychopathology; clinical.

Whereas in the largely clinical portion (Part II) sexuality figures prominently, in the theoretical parts (I and III) it plays only a small part. At that time, in his clinical researches, Freud was focused on sexuality.

The emphasis here is on the environment's impact upon the organism and the organism's reaction to it. There are described endogenous excitations, but their nature is hardly considered. The 'instincts' are only shadowy entities, with scarcely even a name.

Endogenous excitations are discussed mainly in terms of 'defensive' operations and their mechanisms. What would later be called the 'pleasure principle' was regarded here solely as an inhibiting mechanism, blocking unpleasure. In The Interpretation of Dreams, it was still always called the 'unpleasure principle'. Internal forces are regarded here as scarcely more than secondary reactions to external ones. The id is still to be discovered. Thus this is a pre-id, a 'defensive' description of the mind. With the recognition of infantile sexuality and the analysis of the sexual instincts, Freud's interests shifted to the study of the id. Only in the last period of his work did he return to a consideration of defense.There seems to be a foretaste of the structural ego.

Freud himself ultimately threw over the whole neurological framework. He found that his neuronal machinery had no means of accounting for "our one beacon-light in the darkness of depth-psychology"…namely, "the property of being conscious or not." However, Strachey's opinion was that most of the ideas Freud advanced in the Project were "constructed with more than half an eye to psychological events". Sulloway agrees with this and adds that it is "clear that the Project also made abundant use of contemporary neurological concepts (eg. contact-barriers, facilitation between neurones).

Traditional psychoanalytic history has tended to see the project as the last remnant of Freud's "need to neurologize", placing much weight upon his never having asked for the return of the manuscript that had cost him so much time and mental anguish. However, recently, some scholars have taken account of the various conceptual continuities that this controversial document indicates about Freud's intellectual development. Eg. Kanzer (1973), Wollheim (1971), Peter Amacher (1965).

Robert Holt (1965) – stresses the historical and neurophysiological continuity in Freud's life; he considers that many of the most important and often seemingly arbitrary aspects of psychoanalytic theory have their origins in "hidden biological assumptions" derived from Freud's pre-psychoanalytic career. Wrote that Chapter 7 of the Interpretation of Dreams was a "convenient fiction" that had the paradoxical effect of preserving these [biological] assumptions by hiding their original nature, and by transferring the operations of the apparatus into a conceptual realm where they were insulated from correction by progress in neurophysiology and brain anatomy". (1968)

Sulloway - This work contains two distinctly different biological models: a neurophysiological or "mechanical" one; and an organismic, evolutionary or "biological" one. What he couldn't explain using the one, he tended to use the other. Eg. permeable and impermeable neurones, attention, primary defense.

Freud's disgruntlement about the Project was due to his final inability to arrive at a [mechanical] explanation of repression. He could not provide a mechanical explanation for defense against unpleasure without having to assume the existence of an "observing" ego. His theory of defense took as its starting point the "puzzling but indispensable" hypothesis of key neurones. 

Diagram from page 324. 

"Suppose a in the figure to be a hostile memory image and b to be its associated key neurone storing a chemical measure of unpleasure." Freud had envisioned a defensive inhibition (or lateral cathexis) by the ego stemming from α, β, γ and δ to divert the normal flow of Qη away from key neurone b and into other more friendly mnemic images. Hence, b has been repressed. This required another hypothetical mechanism, attention, which somehow was supposed to forewarn the "mechanical" ego of each imminent fresh cathexis of a hostile memory trace. In addition, biological experience (apparently innate) was presumed to assist such primary defenses.Freud ultimately abandoned his previous belief that he could come to terms with both defense and pathological repression in purely mechanical terms. He could not explain the variation in outcomes in adults who had been known to have been sexually assaulted in childhood (neurosis, perversion, simple immorality), nor give an explanation for the repression of supposedly pleasurable sexual experience in childhood, except to invoke an even earlier affectless assault.

 "Perhaps in the end," he wrote Fliess, "I may have to learn to content myself with the clinical explanation of the neuroses." 


Q = Quantity (in general, or of the order of magnitude in the external word); differentiates activity from rest; "subject to the general laws of motion".

Qη = Quantity (of the intercellular order of magnitude)

ϕ = system of permeable neurones; Q energy

ψ = system of impermeable neurones; Qn energy

ω = system of perceptual neurones

W = perception

V = idea

M = motor image

Neurones – the specifiable material particles, presumed to be physiologically distinct cellular entities interconnected by numerous contact-barriers.




Furnish a psychology that shall be a natural science;

Represent psychical processes as quantitatively determinate states of specifiable material particles.

Two principle ideas:1. What distinguishes activity from rest is to be regarded as Q, subject to the general laws of motion.

2. The neurones are to be taken as the material particles.

[1] (a) First Principal Theorem

The Quantitative Conception

Quantitative characteristic derives from pathological clinical observation, where excessively intense ideas were concerned, in hysteria and obsessions where they are stronger than in normal.

Stimulus, substitution, conversion and discharge suggested the conception of neuronal excitation as quantity in a state of flow.

Principle of neuronal inertia: neurones tend to divest themselves of Q, through discharge (primary function of the nervous system). On this basis, the structure and development as well as the functions [of neurones] are to be understood. Q is the result of external stimuli.   

The principle of inertia explains the structural dichotomy of neurones into motor and sensory as a means for neutralizing the reception of Qn by giving it off. Reflex movement is intelligible as an established from of this giving-off. A primary nervous system makes use of this Qn which it has acquired by giving it off through a connecting path to the muscular mechanisms, and in that way keeps itself free from stimulus. This discharge represents the primary function of the nervous system. Among the paths of discharge, those are preferred and retained which involve a cessation of the stimulus: flight from the stimulus (secondary function). In general there is a proportion between the Q of excitation and the effort necessary for the flight from the stimulus, so that the principle of inertia is not upset by this.

The principle of inertia is broken through because the nervous system also receives stimuli from the somatic element itself – endogenous stimuli – which equally have to be discharged. These have their origins in the cells of the body and give rise to the major needs: hunger, respiration, sexuality. The organism cannot withdraw from these as it can from external stimuli; they only cease subject to particular conditions, which must be realized in the external world. In order to accomplish such an action (specific action), an effort is required which is independent of endogenous Qn and in general greater, since the individual is being subjected to conditions of the exigencies of life.In consequence the nervous system is obliged to abandon its original trend to inertia (bringing the level of Qn to zero). It must maintain a store of Qn sufficient to meet the demand for a specific action. Thus the trend is modified at least to keep the Qn as low as possible and to guard against any increase of it, to keep it constant (constancy principle).

[2] (b) Second Principal Theorem

The Neurone Theory

The nervous system (through histological discoveries) consists of distinct and similarly constructed neurones, which have contact with one another through the medium of a foreign substance, which terminate upon one another as they do upon portions of foreign tissue. Certain lines of conduction are laid down insofar as they [the neurones] receive excitations through cell-processes [dendrites] and give them off through an axis-cylinder [axon]. Combining this account with the conception of the theory of Qn – idea of a cathected neurone filled with a certain Qn while at other times it may be empty. The principle of inertia finds its expression in the hypothesis of a current passing from the cell's paths of conduction to the axis-cylinder (which is the organ of discharge). (The whole nervous system can be represented by what goes on in a single neurone.) The secondary function of the nervous system, which calls for the accumulation of Qn, is made possible by the assumption of resistances which oppose discharge. The structure of neurones makes it probable that the resistances are all to be located in the contact-barriers between one neurone and another.

[3] The Contact-Barriers

The process of conduction itself will create a differentiation in the protoplasm of the neurone, and consequently an improved conductive capacity for subsequent conduction. In order to account for memory, which must involve a permanent alteration by a single occurrence, assume that this characteristic of being permanently influenced by excitation belongs to one group of neurones (mnemic cells), and the characteristic of being unalterable, thus fresh for each new excitation, to another group (perceptual cells). The restoration of resistance after a current has ceased is a general characteristic of contact-barriers.

ϕ system – neurones which allow Qn to pass through as though they had no contact-barriers; after each passage of excitation they are in the same state as before. Permeable – offering no resistance, retaining nothing, serve for perception.

ψ system – neurones whose contact-barriers make themselves felt; they only allow Qn to pass through with difficulty or partially. After each excitation, they may thus be in a different state from before and thus afford a possibility of representing memory. Impermeable – loaded with resistance, holding back Qn, the vehicles of memory and so probably of psychical processes in general. Their contact-barriers are brought into a permanently altered state; because of the increased ease of re-learning, it is clear that contact-barriers must become more capable of conduction, less impermeable, more like those of the ϕ system. This state of the contact-barriers – their degree of facilitation [Bahnung]. Memory is represented by the facilitations existing between the ψ neurons, more specifically by the differences in the facilitations resulting in one path being chosen over another.

The facilitation depends on – the memory depends on its magnitude of impression and on the frequency with which the same impression is repeated. Facilitation depends on the Qn which passes through the neurone in the excitatory process (to be discharged) and on the number of repetitions of the process. Qn is the operative factor and quantity plus facilitation can replace Qn.

In the nervous system, Qn is stored up by an increase in the number of impermeable neurones. Qn is kept as small as possible by setting up facilitations. Thus, facilitations serve the primary function of the nervous system – to discharge Qn.

Every ψ neurone must have several paths of connection with other neurones; the state of facilitation of each contact-barrier of the neurone must be independent of the other facilitations. Otherwise, no preference and no 'motive'. A neurone filled with Qn is cathected. Facilitations must develop through the transmission of Qn through the selected .contact-barrier(s) leaving behind an increase in permeability. The Qn which left the facilitation behind is no doubt discharged. The facilitation which remains after a passage of Qn may not be as great as it had to be during the passage.

[4] The Biological Standpoint

The two systems of neurones (ϕ and ψ) provide an explanation of the peculiarities of the nervous system – that of retaining and yet of remaining capable of receiving. Do they have a different significance biologically?Conjecture that developmentally, ϕ neurons are the ones which the external stimuli reach, ψ, receive the endogenous excitations. Thus, think of the ϕ neurons in relation to the grey matter of the spinal cord; the ψ with the grey matter of the brain which has no peripheral connections but to which the development of the nervous system and the psychical functions are attached. The ψ system is subjected to further development through an increase in the number of neurons and an accumulation of Q. It is expedient that ψ neurones should be impermeable in order to meet the requirements of the specific action (storing Qn).

The contact-barriers of the ψ neurons are subjected to facilitation and it is Qn that facilitates them. The greater the Qn in the passage of excitations, the greater the facilitation; that means, the closer the similarity with the permeable ϕ neurons. Attribute the differences not to the neurones but to the quantities with which they have to deal (and thus their location). Quantities must pass on to the ϕ neurons against which the resistance of the contact-barriers does not come into account, but only such quantities reach the ψ neurons as are of the same order of magnitude as that resistance.

The system ϕ is turned toward the outside world and is exposed to large quantities of Q. The system ψ is out of contact with the outside world; it only receives Q on the one hand from the ϕ neurones; and on the other from the cellular elements in the interior of the body. It is probable that these quantities of stimulus are of a comparatively low order of magnitude. We expect that endogenous stimuli are of this same intercellular order (Qn) of magnitude, that is, of the order the resistances of the neurons.

[5] The Problem of Quantity

The structure of the nervous system would serve the purpose of keeping off Qn from the neurones and its function would serve the purpose of discharging it. That is, the nerve endings in the periphery are in end-organs which protect them from very large Q's, Q-screens, damping down the quantity. The nerve endings in the interior have no end-organs; the energy there is already at the intercellular level.

[6] Pain

Pain is the result of failure of the contrivances of the nervous system to keep Qs down. The nervous system is inclined to flight from pain, resulting in a cessation of the stimulus. Pain consists in the irruption of large Qs into ψ and ϕ (Qs of an order higher than the ϕ stimuli). Pain sets the ϕ as well as the ψ system in motion, no obstacle to its conduction, the most imperative of all processes. The ψ neurones seem permeable to it.

The precipitating causes of pain are increase of quantity: every sensory excitation, even of the highest sense-organs, tends towards pain with an increase of the stimulus. Also pain where the external quantity is small, linked with a breach in continuity; an external Q which acts directly on the ends of the ϕ neurons, and not through nerve-ending apparatuses, produces pain.

That pain passes along all pathways of discharge – on our theory than Q produces facilitation, pain no doubt leaves permanent facilitations behind in ψ – as though there had been a stroke of lightening – facilitations which possibly do away with the resistance of the contact-barrier entirely and establish a pathway of conduction there such as there are in ϕ.

[Thus there is no resistance to pain with increased experience of it.]

[Think about this in terms of mental pain; the pain of fibromyalgia.]

[Proust wrote: “We suffer with neurosis, but we obey pain.” Discuss.]

 [7] The Problem of Quality

So far, have treated psychical processes as something that could dispense with the awareness through consciousness, as something that exists independently of such awareness. A place has to be found in our theory of quantity for the content of consciousness. Consciousness gives us qualities, sensations which are different in a great multiplicity of ways and whose difference is distinguished according to its relations with the external world.

Qualities do not exist in the external world in which there are only masses in motion. Not in the ϕ system (the spinal cord grey matter) because everything points to its being in the upper stories. The ψ system? However, during perception, ϕ and ψ systems operate together. Only in the ψ system is there reproducing or remembering, but this is without quality. Assume there is a third system of neurones – ω – which is excited along with perception, but not along with reproduction, and whose states of excitation give rise to the various qualities; ie. Conscious sensations.

The nervous system contrives to transform external quantity into quality. Suspect that the ω system is moved by still smaller quantities than ψ. There must be some Qn in them which strives towards discharge.

With still smaller Qns, the ω neurons would seem to have to be more impermeable, but they are not – cf. the mutability of their content, the transitory-ness of consciousness, the easy linking of qualities simultaneously perceived – all of this tallies only with complete permeability of the ω neurons together with total restoration of their former state. They behave like organs of perception.

Idea of period [distance between waves or beats] related to the passage of Qn. Assume that all the resistance of the contact-barriers applies only to the transference of Q, but that the period of the neuronal motion is transmitted without inhibition in all directions, as though it were a process of induction. Assume that the ω neurons are incapable of receiving Qn, but that instead they appropriate the period of the excitation – with a minimum of Qn, affected by the period of the excitation: the basis of consciousness.

Differences of periods come from the sense-organs. They act not only as Q-screens but also sieves; they allow the stimulus through from only certain processes with a particular period. They transfer this period to ϕ, and these proceed through ϕ via ψ to ω where they generate conscious sensations of qualities. They leave behind no trace and cannot be reproduced.

[8] Consciousness

Here consciousness is the subjective side of one part of the psychical processes in the nervous system, namely of the ω processes; the omission of consciousness does not leave psychical events unaltered but involves the omission of the contribution from ω.

The discharge of Qns from ω will, like all others, go in the direction of motility; with the transformation into motion, everything in the nature of quality, of period, is lost. The filling of ω neurons with Qn can only proceed from ψ. We don't know what the original biological value of the ω neurons was.

Besides the series of sensory qualities, consciousness exhibits another series – the series of sensations of pleasure and unpleasure. Since we know of a trend in psychical life towards avoiding unpleasure, identify that trend with the primary trend towards inertia. Unpleasure coincides with the raising of the level of Qn or an increasing quantitative pressure: the ω sensation when there is an increase in Qn in ψ. Pleasure would be the sensation of discharge of Qn in ψ. Hypothesize that when the level in ψ rises the cathexes in ω increases, and that level falls when the cathexes decreases. Pleasure and unpleasure would be the sensations in ω of its own level of cathexes. ψ and ω would represent intercommunicating vessels. Thus the quantitative processes in ψ would reach consciousness as qualities.

The aptitude for perceiving sensory qualities which lie, so to say, in the zone of indifference between pleasure and unpleasure disappears with the [presence of the] feeling of pleasure and unpleasure. That is, the ω neurones show an optimum for receiving the period of neuronal motion at a particular [strength of] cathexis; when the cathexis is stronger they produce unpleasure, when it is weaker, pleasure – till, with a lack of cathexis, their capacity for reception vanishes.

[9] The Functioning of the Apparatus

The amounts of excitation penetrate from outside to the endings of the ϕ system. First come up against the nerve-ending apparatuses and are broken up by them into quotients, probably of a higher order than intercellular stimuli. Here there is a first threshold; below a certain quantity no effective quotient at all comes into being, so that the effective capacity of the stimuli is to some extent restricted to medium quantities. The sieve function of the nerve-ending coverings act so that not every kind of stimulus can operate on the various terminal points. The stimuli that actually reach the ϕ neurons have a quantity and a qualitative characteristic (period); in the external world they form a series of the same quality and of quantity ranging upwards from the threshold to the pain limit.

Whereas in the external world the processes exhibit a continuum in two directions, according to quantity and period, the stimuli corresponding to them are, with regard to quantity, reduced and limited owing to excision, and as regards quality are discontinuous, so that certain periods do not operate as stimuli at all.

The qualitative characteristic of the stimuli now proceeds unhindered through ϕ by way of ψ to ω, where it generates sensation (by a particular period of neuronal motion, not the same as but related to that of the stimulus, which does not persist for long and disappears towards the motor side; nor does it leave any memory).

The quantity of the ϕ stimulus excites the nervous system's trend to discharge, by transforming itself into a proportionate motor excitation. The apparatus of motility is attached directly to ϕ. In the muscles and glands there is a release of quantity, whereas between neurons there is only a transference.

In the ϕ neurons the ψ neurons terminate; only a part of the Qn is transferred to ψ, of the intercellular magnitude. Does the Qn transferred to ψ correspond to the quantity flowing in ϕ? There is a special contrivance which once again keeps off Q from ψ. 

Diagram p. 314

The sensory path of conduction in ϕ is constructed in a peculiar fashion. It ramifies continually and exhibits thicker and thinner paths, which end in numerous terminal points; probably a stronger stimulus follows different pathways from a weaker one. For instance, Qn will pass only along pathway I and will transfer a quotient to ψ at terminal α. 2(Qn) will not transfer a double quotient at α, but will be able to pass also along pathway II, which is narrower, and to open up another terminal point to ψ (at β). 3(Qn) will open up the narrowest path III and will transfer through γ as well. This is how the single ϕ path is relieved of its burden; the larger quantity in ϕ will be expressed by the fact that it cathects several neurones in ψ instead of a single one. The different cathexes of the ψ neurones may in this case be approximately equal. If Qn in ϕ gives rise to a cathexis in ψ, then 3 (Qn) is expressed by a cathexis in ψ1 + ψ2 + ψ3. Thus quantity in ϕ is expressed by complication in ψ. By this means the Q is held back from ψ, within certain limits at least.

In this manner ψ is cathected from ϕ in Qs which are normally small. The quantity of the ϕ excitation is expressed in ψ by complication, its quality is expressed topographically, since according to their anatomical relations, the different sense-organs are in communication through ϕ only with particular ψ neurones. But ψ receives cathexis as well from the interior of the body; and it is probable that the ψ neurons should be divided into two groups: the neurons of the pallium which are cathected from ϕ and the nuclear neurons which are cathected from the endogenous paths of conduction.

[10] The ψ Paths of Conduction

The nucleus of ψ is connected with the paths by which endogenous quantities of excitation ascend. A direct pathway leads from the interior of the body to ψ neurones. ψ is exposed to Qs on this side without protection and in this fact lies the mainspring of the psychical mechanism.

Endogenous stimuli are of an intercellular nature, they arise continuously and only periodically become psychical stimuli. There is an accumulation; the intermittent character of their psychical effect suggests that on their path of conduction to ψ they come up against resistances which are overcome only when there is an increase in quantity. They are therefore paths of conduction made up of multiple segments, having a number of contact-barriers interpolated between them up to the ψ nucleus. Above a certain Q, the endogenous excitations act as a stimulus continuously, and every increase of Q is perceived as an increase of the ψ stimulus. There is a state in which the path of conduction has become permeable. After the ψ stimulus has been discharged, the path of conduction resumes its resistance once more.

The paths of ψ are filled by this summation till they become permeable. Summation also occurs in the ϕ paths of conduction.

The ψ neurones of conduction are able to maintain a position between the characteristics of permeability and impermeability, since they recover their resistance almost completely in spite of the passage of Qn. This contradicts the property that the ψ neurones possess of being permanently facilitated by a current of Qn. The restoration of resistance after a current has ceased is a general characteristic of contact-barriers. In ψ neurones (which are influenced by the passage of Q in the direction of facilitation), the facilitation which remains after the passage of Q consists, not in the lifting of every single resistance, but in its reduction to a necessary remaining minimum. During the passage of Q, the resistance is lifted; afterwards it is restored, but to various heights, in proportion to the Q that has passed through, so that the next time already a smaller Q will be able to pass through, and so on. When facilitation is most complete, a certain resistance remains which is equal for all contact-barriers and which also requires the increase of Qs up to a certain threshold before they can pass. This resistance would be a constant. Accordingly, the fact that endogenous Qn operates by summation signifies that this Qn is made up of very small amounts of excitation which are less than the constant. The endogenous path of conduction is therefore nevertheless completely facilitated.

The ψ contact-barriers are in general higher than the barriers in the endogenous paths of conduction, so that a fresh accumulation of Qn can occur in the nuclear neurones. Once the path of conduction has been re-adjusted, no further limit is set to this accumulation. Here ψ is at the mercy of Q; it is thus that in the interior of the system there arises the impulsion which sustains all psychical activity. We know this power as the will – the derivative of the instincts.

[11] The Experience of Satisfaction

The filling of the nuclear neurons in ψ will have as its result an effort to discharge, an urgency which is released along the motor pathway. The first path to be taken is that leading to internal change (expression of the emotions, screaming, vascular innervation). No such discharge can produce an unburdening result, since the endogenous stimulus continues to be received and the ψ tension is restored. The removal of the stimulus is only made possible here by an intervention which for the time being gets rid of the release of Qn in the interior of the body; this intervention calls for an alteration in the external world (supply of nourishment, proximity of the sexual object) which, as a specific action, can only be brought about in definite ways. At first the human organism is incapable of bringing about the specific action. It takes place by extraneous help, when the attention of an experienced person is drawn to the child' state by discharge along the path of internal change. In this way this path of discharge acquires a secondary function of the highest importance, that of communication, and the initial helplessness of human beings is the primal source of all moral motives.

When the helpful person has performed the work of the specific action in the external world for the helpless one, the latter is in a position, by means of reflex contrivances, immediately to carry out in the interior of his body the activity necessary for removing the endogenous stimulus. The total event then constitutes an experience of satisfaction. Three things occur in the ψ system: 1. a lasting discharge is effected and so the urgency which had produced unpleasure in ω is brought to an end; 2. a cathexis of one (or several) of the neurones which correspond to the perception of an object occurs in the pallium; and 3. at other points of the pallium information arrives of the discharge of the released reflex movement which follows upon the specific action. A facilitation is then formed between these cathexes and the nuclear neurones.

The information of the reflex discharge comes about because every movement, through its subsidiary results, becomes the occasion for fresh sensory excitations (from the skin and muscles) which give rise to a motor [kinaesthetic] image in ψ. ψ neurones are influenced through ϕ and through endogenous paths of conduction; but the different ψ neurones were cut off from one another by contact-barriers with strong resistances. Now there is a basic law of association by simultaneity, which operates in the case of pure ψ activity, of reproductive remembering, and which is the foundation of all links between the ψ neurones. Consciousness – that is, the quantitative cathexis of a ψ neurone, α, - passes over to another, β, if α and β have at some time been simultaneously cathected from ϕ (or from elsewhere). Thus a contact-barrier has been facilitated through the simultaneous cathexis α-β. A Qn passes more easily from a neurone to a cathected neurone than to an uncathected one. Thus the cathexis of the second neurone operates like the increased cathexis of the first one. Once again, cathexis is here shown to be equivalent, as regards the passage of Qn, to facilitation.

A Qn in neurone α will go not only in the direction of the barrier which is best facilitated, but also in the direction of the barrier which is cathected from the further side. The two factors may support each other or may in some cases operate against each other.

Thus, as a result of the experience of satisfaction, a facilitation comes about between two mnemic images and the nuclear neurones which are cathected in the state of urgency. Along with the discharge of satisfaction the Qn flows out of the mnemic images as well. Now, when the state of urgency or wishing re-appears, the cathexis will also pass over on to the two memories and will activate them. Probably the mnemic image of the object will be the first to be affected by the wishful activation.

In the first instance this wishful activation will produce the same thing as a perception – namely, a hallucination. If reflex action is thereupon introduced, disappointment cannot fail to occur.

[12] The Experience of Pain

Pain is experienced when ψ is exposed to Q from the endogenous paths, and abnormally where excessively large Qs break through the screening contrivances in ϕ. Pain gives rise in ψ 1. to a large rise in level, which is felt as unpleasure by ω; 2. to an inclination to discharge, which can be modified in certain directions, and 3. to a facilitation between the latter [inclination to discharge] and a mnemic image of the object which excites the pain. Pain has a peculiar quality, felt along with the unpleasure.

If the mnemic image of the hostile object is freshly cathected is some way – eg. by a fresh perception – a state arises which is not pain but has a resemblance to it. It includes unpleasure and the inclination to discharge which corresponds to the experience of pain. Where does this extra Qn, raising the level, come from. In the actual experience of pain, it was the irrupting external Q that raised the ψ level. In the reproduction of the experience – in the affect – the only additional Q is that which cathects the memory, and it is clear that this is in the nature of any other perception and cannot have as a result a general raising of Qn.

Thus owing to the cathexis of memories, unpleasure must be released from the interior of the body and freshly conveyed up. The mechanism: just as there are motor neurones, which, when they are filled to a certain amount, conduct Qn into the muscles and accordingly discharge it, so there must be 'secretory' neurones which, when they are excited, cause the generation in the interior of the body of something which operates as a stimulus upon the endogenous paths of conduction to ψ – neurones which thus influence the production of endogenous Qn, and accordingly do not discharge Qn but supply it in roundabout ways. We call these secretory neurones 'key neurones'. They are only excited when a certain level in ψ has been reached. As a result of the experience of pain the mnemic image of the hostile object has acquired an excellent facilitation to these key neurones, in virtue of which facilitation unpleasure is now released in the affect.

It is similar in the case of sexual release. In both instances the endogenous stimuli consist of chemical products, of which there may be a considerable number. Since the release of unpleasure can be an extremely big one when there is quite a trivial cathexis of the hostile memory, we may conclude that pain leaves behind specially abundant facilitations. In this connection we may guess that facilitation depends entirely on the Qn reached; so that the facilitating effect of 3xQn may be far superior to that of 3 experiences of Qn.

[13] Affects and Wishful States

The residues of the two kinds of experiences [of pain and of satisfaction] are affects and wishful states. They both involve a raising of Qn in ψ – brought about in affect by a release, and in a wish by summation. Both leave behind motives of a compulsive kind. The wishful state results in a positive attraction towards the object wished-for, or, more precisely, towards its mnemic image; the experience of pain leads to a repulsion, a disinclination to keeping the hostile mnemic image cathected. Here we have primary wishful attraction and primary defense [fending off].

Wishful attraction – explained by the assumption that the cathexis of the friendly mnemic image in a state of desire greatly exceeds in Qn the cathexis which occurs when there is a mere perception, so that particularly good facilitation leads from the ψ nucleus to the corresponding neurone of the pallium.

It is harder to explain primary defense or repression – the fact that a hostile mnemic image is regularly abandoned by its cathexis as soon as possible. It should lie in the fact that the primary experiences of pain were brought to an end by reflex defense. The emergence of another object in place of the hostile one was the signal for the fact that the experience of pain was at an end, and the ψ system, taught biologically, seeks to reproduce the state in ψ which marked the cessation of the pain. It may be the increase of Qn, invariably occurring with the cathexis of a hostile memory, which forces an increased activity of discharge and thus a flowing away from the memory as well.

[14] Introduction of the 'Ego'

The states of wishful attraction and of the inclination to repression indicate that an organization has been formed in ψ whose presence interferes with passages [of quantity] which on the first occasion occurred in a particular way [i.e. accompanied by satisfaction or pain]. This organization is the ego. The regularly repeated reception of endogenous Qn in certain neurones (of the nucleus) and the facilitating effect proceeding thence will produce a group of neurones which is constantly cathected, and thus corresponds to the vehicle of the store required by the secondary function. The ego is defined as the totality of the ψ cathexes, at the given time, in which a permanent component is distinguished from a changing one. The facilitations between ψ neurones are a part of the ego's possessions, as representing possibilities, if the ego is altered, for determining its extent in the next few moments.

Inhibition – the influencing of the repetition of experiences of pain and of affects. A Qn which breaks into a neurone from anywhere will proceed in the direction of the contact-barrier with the largest facilitation, sets up a current in that direction. The course of Qn taken among the various contact-barriers depends on their resistances (facilitations). A third factor – an adjoining neurone similarly cathected acts like a temporary facilitation and modifies the course of the current away from the other facilitated contact-barrier; that is a side cathexis acts as an inhibition of the course of Qn. Picture the ego as a network of cathected neurones well facilitated in relation to one another. If we suppose that a Qn enters a neurone α from outside (ϕ), then, if it were uninfluenced, it would pass to neurone β; but it is so much influenced by the side-cathexis β-γ that it gives off only a quotient to γ and may even perhaps not reach β at all. Thus an ego inhibits psychical primary processes.

Inhibition of this kind is a decided advantage to ψ. Suppose α is a hostile mnemic image and β a key-neurone to unpleasure. If α were awakened, primarily unpleasure would be released. With an inhibitory action from γ the release of unpleasure will turn out very slight and the nervous system will be spared this development and discharge of Q without damage. If the ego pays attention to the immanent fresh cathexis of the hostile mnemic image, the ego can succeed in inhibiting the passage to unpleasure by a copious side-cathexis. The stronger the unpleasure (original Qn) the stronger will be the defense, the ego having taken the Qn up into itself.

[15] Primary and Secondary Process in ψ

The ego in ψ can be made helpless and suffer injury under two conditions. If, while it is in a wishful state, it newly cathects the memory of an object and then sets discharge in action, satisfaction must fail to occur because the object is not real but is present only as an imaginary idea. ψ requires a criterion from elsewhere to distinguish between perception and idea. Also ψ is in need of an indication drawing its attention to the re-cathexis of a hostile mnemic image, enabling it to obviate, by means of side-cathexis, the consequent release of unpleasure. If this is not soon enough, there is the release of immense unpleasure. Too strong a wishful cathexis or the release of unpleasure due to not an external event but from an association in ψ can be biologically detrimental.

It is from ω neurones that is given the indication of reality by discharge to ψ neurones. The indication of quality follows if it comes from outside, whatever the intensity of the cathexis, whereas, if it comes from ψ it does so only when there are large intensities. That is, under the condition of inhibition small intensities produce no quality. Also the ω neurones can protect the ψ system by drawing the attention of ψ to the fact of a perception being present or absent. Assume that the ω neurones are originally linked anatomically with the paths of conduction from the various sense-organs and that they direct their discharge back to the motor apparatuses belonging to those same sense organs. If there is inhibition by a cathected ego, the indications of ω discharge become quite generally indications of reality, which ψ learns biologically to make use of.

If when an indication of reality of this kind emerges, the ego is in a state of wishful tension, it will allow discharge towards the specific action to follow. Wishful cathexis to the point of hallucination and complete generation of unpleasure, which involves a complete expenditure of defense, are psychical primary processes; by contrast, those processes which are only made possible by a good cathexis of the ego, and which represent a moderation of the foregoing, are psychical secondary processes. A necessary precondition of the latter is a correct employment of the indications of reality, which is only possible when there is inhibition by the ego.

[16] Cognition and Reproductive Thought

In part I, on the one hand, are cognition (and judgement) and, on the other, reproductive thought (remembering, wishing, desiring and expecting). In part III, reproductive thought disappears and fresh terms are introduced: practical thought, observant thought, theoretical thought, critical thought.

Cognition: action or faculty of knowing, perceiving, conceiving as opposed to emotion or volition.

Hypothesis – during the process of wishing, inhibition by the ego brings about a moderated cathexis of the object wished-for, which allows it to be cognized as not real. In the first case, if simultaneously with the wishful cathexis of the mnemic image, the perception of the image is present, the two cathexes coincide (an identity of perception), the indication of reality arises from ψ and the discharge is successful.In the second case, the wishful cathexis is present and along with it a perception which does not tally with it wholly but only in part. We must take into account that perceptual cathexes are never cathexes of single neurones but always of complexes. Say the wishful cathexis relates to neurones α + β and the perceptual to α + κ. Biological experience demonstrates that it is unsafe to initiate a discharge if the indications of reality do not confirm the whole complex but only a part of it. The perceptual cathexis, when compared with other perceptual complexes, can be dissected into a component portion, neurone α, which remains the same, and a second component portion, neurone β, which for the most part varies. This dissection, judgement, will discover the resemblance which exists between the nucleus of the ego and the constant perceptual component and between the changing cathexes in the pallium, and the inconstant component; language will call neurone α the thing, and neurone β its activity or attribute, in short, its predicate.

This judging process is a ψ process, made possible by the inhibition of the ego, evoked by the dissimilarity between the wishful cathexis of a memory and a perceptual cathexis that is similar to it. The coincidence between the two cathexes becomes a biological signal for ending the act of thought and for allowing discharge to begin. Their non-coincidence gives the impetus for the activity of thought, which is terminated once more with their coincidence.

If neurone α coincides [in the two cathexes] but neurone κ is perceived instead of neurone β, then the activity of the ego follows the connections of this neurone κ and, by means of a current of Qn along these connections, causes new cathexes to emerge until access is found to the missing neurone β. The image of a movement, a motor image, arises which is interpolated between neurone κ and neurone β and when this image is freshly activated through a movement carried out really, the perception of neurone β, and at the same time the identity that is being sought, are established. Consider the example of the baby viewing a different view of the mother’s nipple than that of the wishful mnemic image. Head movement brings the wishful image into view.

It is Qn from the cathected ego which underlies this traveling along the facilitated neurones and this traveling is dominated not by the facilitation but by an aim. The aim is to go back to the missing neurone β and to release the sensation of identity, that is, the moment when only β is cathected. There is an experimental displacement of Qn along every pathway (thinking). Sometimes a larger and sometimes a smaller expenditure of side-cathexis is necessary, according to whether one can make use of the facilitations that are present or whether one has to work against them. The struggle between the established facilitations and the changing cathexes is characteristic of the secondary process of reproductive thought, in contrast to the primary sequence of association.

What directs this traveling? The fact that the wishful idea of the memory, of neurone β, is kept cathected while the association is followed from neurone κ. A cathexis like this of neurone β makes all its possible connections themselves more facilitated and accessible. During this traveling, Qn may come upon a memory which is connected with an experience of pain and thus gives occasion for a release of unpleasure. Since this is a sign that neurone β will not be reached along this path, the current is at once diverted. Unpleasurable paths retain their great value in directing the current of reproduction.

[17] Remembering and Judging

Reproductive thought has a practical and a biological aim – to lead a Qn which is traveling from the superfluous [unwanted] perception back to the cathexis of the missing neurone. With this, if in addition the indication of reality appears from neurone β, identity and a right to discharge are achieved, The process can make itself independent of this latter condition and strive only for identity – i.e. a pure act of thought.

When there is a wishful cathexis and a perception emerges which does not coincide in any way with the wished-for mnemic image, there develops an interest for cognizing this perceptual image so that it may perhaps after all be possible to find a pathway from it to the wished-for mnemic image. The perceptual image is again hypercathected from the ego. If the perceptual image is not absolutely new, it will now recall and revive a mnemic perceptual image with which it coincides at least partly.

If the cathexes coincide, they give no occasion for activity of thought. Non-coinciding portions “arouse interest” and can give occasion for activity of thought in two ways: the current is either directed on to the aroused memories and sets an aimless activity of memory at work, which is thus moved by differences and not by similarities, or it remains in the components of the perception which have newly emerged and in that case exhibits an equally aimless activity of judging.

As example: suppose that the object which furnishes the perception resembles the subject – a fellow human-being. The theoretical interest taken in it is also explained by the fact that an object like this was simultaneously the subject’s first satisfying object and further his first hostile object, as well as his sole helping power. Therefore it is in relation to a fellow human-being that a human-being learns to cognize. The perceptual complexes proceeding from this fellow human-being will in part be new and non-comparable – his features in the visual sphere. Other visual perceptions, e.g. those of the movements of his hands, will coincide in the subject with memories of quite similar visual impressions on his own - of his own body, memories which are associated with memories of movements experienced by himself. Perceptions of the other’s scream will awaken the memory of his own screaming and at the same time of his own experiences of pain. Thus the complex of the human-being falls apart into two components, of which one makes an impression by its constant structure and stays together as a thing, while the other can be understood by the activity of memory, traced back to information from the subject’s own body. This is cognizing the perceptual complex; it involves a judgement.

Judgement is not a primary function but presupposes the cathexis from the ego of the disparate [non-comparable] portions of the perception; no practical purpose – during the process of judging the cathexis of the disparate components is discharged – explains why activities, ‘predicates’, are separated from the subject-complex by a comparatively loose pathway. It is the original interest in establishing the situation of satisfaction that has led in the one case to reproductive consideration and in the other to judging as a method of proceeding from the perceptual situation that is given in reality to the situation that is wished-for. The necessary precondition for this remains that the ψ processes should not pursue their passage uninhibited but in conjunction with an active ego. This demonstrates the eminently practical sense of all thought-activity.

[18] Thought and Reality

The aim and end of all thought-processes is thus to bring about a state of identity, the conveying of a cathexis Qn emanating from outside, into a neurone cathected from the ego. Cognitive or judging thought seeks an identity with a bodily cathexis; reproductive thought seeks it with a psychical cathexis of one’s own (an experience of one’s own). Judging thought operates in advance of reproductive thought by furnishing it with ready-made facilitations for further associative traveling. If after the conclusion of the act of thought the indication of reality reaches the perception, then a judgement of reality, belief, has been achieved and the aim of the whole activity attained.

With regard to judging, its basis is the presence of bodily experiences, sensations and motor images of one’s own. If these are absent, the variable portion of the perceptual complex remains un-understood; it can be reproduced but does not point a direction for further paths of thought. Thus, no sexual experiences produce any effect so long as the subject is ignorant of all sexual feeling – in general, that is, till the beginning of puberty.

Primary judging seems to presuppose a lesser influence by the cathected ego than do reproductive acts of thought. It is a matter of pursuing an association which is due to partial coincidence between the wishful and perceptual cathexes, an association to which no modification is applied.Perception has an imitation-value, or a sympathy-value.

[19] Primary processes – Sleep and Dreams

By what quantitative means is the ψ primary process sustained. Pain – the irrupting Q from outside; an affect – the endogenous Q released by facilitation; secondary process reproductive thought – a greater or lesser Qn can be transferred to neurone c from the ego (= thought interest, which is proportionate to the affective interest where that may have developed. Question – whether there are ψ processes of a primary nature for which the Qn supplied from ϕ is sufficient or whether the ϕ cathexis of a perception is automatically supplemented by a ψ contribution (attention), which alone makes a ψ process possible.

ψ primary processes that have been biologically suppressed in the course of development are daily presented to us during sleep. The pathological mechanisms revealed in the psychoneuroses by analysis are similar to the dream-processes.

The precondition of sleep is the lowering of the endogenous load in the ψ nucleus (e.g. after dining and copulating). In sleep the individual is in the ideal state of inertia, rid of his store of Qn. In adults this store is in the ego; hence the unloading of the ego determines sleep and is the precondition of psychical primary processes. The height of the level of energy is not necessarily the same in all the neurones.

Sleep – motor paralysis (paralysis of the will); is the discharge of the total ψ Qn. Spinal tonus (motor ϕ) is relaxed. All the sense organs are closed. During the day, a constant, even though displaceable cathexis (attention), is sent into the pallium neurones, which receive perception from ϕ, so it may be that the carrying-out of the ψ primary processes is made possible with the help of this ϕ contribution. Whether the pallium neurones are already precathected remains to be seen. If ψ withdraws these pallium cathexes, the perceptions take place upon uncathected neurones and are slight, and perhaps not capable of giving an indication of quality from ω.

Along with the emptying of the ω neurones, the innervation of a discharge which increases attention comes to a stop as well. In hypnotizing, the apparent lack of excitability of the sense organs must rest on this withdrawal of the cathexis of attention. Thus, by an automatic mechanism, the counterpart of the mechanism of attention, ψ excludes the ϕ impressions so long as it itself is uncathected.

Strangest of all – during sleep ψ processes occur – dreams.  

[20] The Analysis of Dreams

1. Dreams are devoid of motor discharge; we are paralyzed in dreams. – due to the absence of spinal precathexis owing to the cessation of ϕ discharge. The motor excitation cannot pass over the barrier when a neurone is uncathected.

2. The connections in dreams are partly nonsensical, partly feeble-minded, or even meaningless or strangely crazy. In dreams the compulsion to associate prevails, as it does primarily in psychical life generally. Two cathexes that are present simultaneously must be brought into connection. A part of the dreamer’s psychical experiences have been forgotten; all the biological experiences which ordinarily inhibit the primary process are forgotten, owing to the lack of ego-cathexis. It seems that ψ cathexes that have not been withdrawn level themselves off partly in the direction of their nearest facilitations and partly in the direction of their neighbouring cathexes. However if the ego were completely unloaded, sleep would necessarily be dreamless.

3. Dream ideas are of a hallucinatory kind; they awaken consciousness and meet with belief. One shuts one’s eyes and hallucinates; one opens them and thinks in words. It might be that the current from ϕ to motility has, during waking life, prevented a retrogressive cathexis of the ϕ neurones from ψ, and that when this current ceases, ϕ is retrogressively cathected and the necessary precondition for the generation of quality thus fulfilled. It is distinctive of sleep that it reverses the whole situation, that it suspends the motor discharge from ψ and makes the retrogressive one to ϕ possible. Also the primary memory of a perception is always a hallucination and that only inhibition by the ego has taught us never to cathect a perceptual image in such a way that it is able to transfer Qn retrogressively to ϕ. The conduction ϕ - ψ takes place more easily than the conduction ψ - ϕ. In dreams the vividness of the hallucination is directly proportionate to the importance, to the quantitative cathexis, of the idea concerned; thus it is Q which determines the hallucination. If a perception comes from ϕ in waking life, it is no doubt made clearer by ψ cathexis (interest), but not more vivid; it does not alter its quantitative characteristic.

4. The aim and sense of dreams can be established with certainty. They are wish-fulfillments – primary processes following upon experiences of satisfaction; they are only not recognized as such because the release of pleasure in them is slight because in general they run their course almost without affect (without motor release). Infer that primary wishful cathexis was of a hallucinatory nature.

5. How poorly dreams are remembered and how little harm they do in contrast to other primary processes. For the most part, they follow old facilitations and thus make no change in them, that ϕ experiences are held back from them and, owing to the paralysis of motility, they do not leave traces of discharge behind them.6. Consciousness in dreams furnishes quality with as little trouble as in waking life. Thus consciousness does not cling to the ego but can become an addition to any ψ processes. It warns us, too, against possibly identifying primary processes with unconscious ones. The meanings of dreams as wish-fulfillments is concealed by a number of ψ processes, all of which are met with once more in neuroses and characterize the latter’s pathological nature.

[21] Dream Consciousness

Consciousness of dream ideas is discontinuous. What becomes conscious is only separate stopping points in a succession of associations. Between these there lie unconscious intermediate links which we can discover when we are awake. A diversion can be brought about by a simultaneous cathexis, of a different kind, which is not itself conscious.Gives an example from the Irma’s injection dream.Regarding wish-fulfillment – it is not that the wish becomes conscious and that its fulfillment is then hallucinated, but only the latter; the intermediate link is left to be inferred (the cathexis of the intermediate link is not enough to make its way through to a retrogressive hallucination). The psychical passage of excitation in dreams takes place in accordance with Q; but it is not Q which decides the question of becoming conscious.


Freud's Use of the Concept of Regression


A. Psychopathology of Hysteria

[1] Hysterical Compulsion

[2] The Genesis of Hysterical Compulsion

[3] Pathological Defense

[4] The Hysterical Proton Pseudos - The story and diagram of Emma’s phobia p. 353-4

[5] Determinants of the Proton Pseudos

[ 6] Disturbance of Thought by Affect






APPENDIX B Extract from Freud's Letter 39 to Fliess of January 1, 1896

APPENDIX C The Nature of Q

LACAN on Freud's Project   

Sulloway (p. 95) with regard to Freud as Psychological Determinist. The standard English expression "free association" is a misleading approximation of Freud's own choice of the German words freier Einfall for his technique. Freud's term conveys much more of the intended impression of an uncontrollable "intrusion" (Einfall) of preconscious ideas upon conscious thinking, a process that his fundamental rule of analysis – that the patient should report everything that comes to mind – was further designed to lay bare to the physician. Freud himself did not believe that anything at all was truly "free" in the life of the mind.   

LACAN'S READINGS OF THE ENTWURF - Seminar II – The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis: 1954-55

Chapters VIII-X

Chapter VIII – Introduction to the Entwurf

Various relations of the subject – for there to be an object relation, there must already be a narcissistic relation of the ego to the other. Which organs come into play in the narcissistic imaginary relation to the other whereby the ego is formed. The imaginary structuration of the ego forms around the specular image of the body itself, of the image of the other. Involves the eye.

Beyond narcissism, you’ve got auto-erotism, that is, a mass invested with libido inside the organism, whose internal relations…are as much beyond our ken as entropy is. Among the energy equivalences we can apprehend with respect to a living organism, only really know about metabolism, the balance sheet - what goes in and what comes out; quantities of energy the organism assimilates and muscular expenditure, effort, dejections comes out. Psychosomatics –

The real is absolutely without fissure. The ancient notion of reflected relations of the living being with its environment, the hypothesis of a pre-established harmony is a premise whose validity nothing goes to demonstrate. One can project symbolism into the real, imagine it is the elements of the real which are of relevance, but it is simply symbolism. Symbolism is essential to all the most basic manifestations of the analytic domain, namely to repetition; tied to a circular process of the exchange of speech. A symbolic circuit external to the subject – tied to a certain group of supports, human agents, a which the subject’s destiny is indeterminately included.

Analysis is made for him to make out, for him to understand in what circle of speech he is caught, and into what other circle he must enter.

Synapse – 1895 – rupture in continuity from one nerve cell to the next. To the vitalist system of the reflex arc (stimulus-response obeying the law of discharge, with pure and simple inertia, shortest path to discharge) Freud tags on a buffer-system, a system inside the system, from which the ego system originates. The reality principle is introduced in reference to the psi system, turned towards the inside. Later on, the terms will criss-cross.   

The omega system is already a prefiguration of the id system. Consciousness must be brought back in – in the paradoxical form of a system with exceptional laws: the period has to pass through it with the minimum expenditure of energy, almost none. The system of consciousness has to be placed outside of the laws of energy equivalence which govern the movements of quantity.

Desire – Freud puts into play the correspondence between the object which appears and the structures already constituted in the ego; what appears is either what is expected, or not. Any kind of construction of the object world is always an attempt to rediscover the object….To the extent that what appears to him corresponds only partially with what has already gained him satisfaction, the subject engages in a quest, and repeats his quest indefinitely until he rediscovers (repetition) this object.

Repetition as structuring the world of objects.

Conflict – makes a bridge between libidinal experience and the world of human knowledge, which mostly escapes from the field of the forces of desire. The human world isn’t structurable as an Umwelt fitting inside an Innenwelt of needs; it isn’t enclosed but rather open to a crowd of extraordinarily varied neutral objects.   

The ego experiences reality not only in so far as it lives it, but in so far as it neutralises it as much as possible – through the process of derivation, in the branching of neurons, accounting for the fact that the scattered and individuated influx of energy doesn’t pass through. To this extent a comparison becomes possible with the information which the system gives us in terms of periodicity, namely on account of the energy reduced, not perhaps in its potential, but in its intensity.

Structural condition of the construction of the object world in man – the rediscovery of the object…discovery of narcissism is later.

Freud reconstructs everything, memory, judgement, etc. starting off from sensation…returning to the primary process in so far as it concerns sleep and dreams.   

Chapter IX – Play of writings

Psychosis is not structured the same way in the child as in the adult. We always understand too much, especially in analysis. Most of the time, we’re fooling ourselves. 

Regression (Lang) – a symbol, not a mechanism which occurs in reality. It is a symptom which must be interpreted as such; there is regression on the plane of signification and not on the plane of reality.

What needs to be defined in madness is how it is that its determining mechanism has got nothing to do with what happens every night in dreams. Four schemata illustrating the progress of Freud’s development:

  1. the project, his first general psychology
  2. the theory of the psychic apparatus having the explanation of the dream for its object (the Interpretation of Dreams)
  3. much later theory of the libido (Three Essays and On Narcissism)
  4. Beyond the Pleasure Principle

Schemata of the analytic field. From the psychic apparatus to the human being. Think of the psyche as object, something in front of you, something you see. Scientific progress – making the object as such disappear. However, being and the object aren’t the same thing; being does not belong to the scientific order. Psychoanalysis delimits its vanishing point. It stresses that man isn’t an object, but a "being" in the process of becoming, something metaphysical, experienced (not known).

In every dream (Freud), there’s an absolutely incomprehensible point, belonging to the domain of the unknown – the navel of the dream. This is the point where the relation of the subject to the symbolic surfaces.

In the inter-human relation, we have the imaginary and the symbolic; they produce either an opposition or a mediation. To think that they are one is wrong; leads to magical communication, a universal analogy, on which many people base the theorization of their experience. (Illustrated in Beyond the Pleasure Principle)   

System phi - starts from the schema of the reflex-arc. Essential property of the system of relation of a living being – it receives something, an excitation, and it responds with something. The response is in an adapted being (has a purpose). Only when the phi system has an effect on the psi system that the notion of a quota of energy comes up. The psi system has to do with internal promptings, needs.   

Needs – closely linked to the organism, clearly distinguishable from desire. Need expresses how this organism system hooks up with the general homeostasis of the organism. Therefore have the notion of energy constancy. Freud considers there is an energy equivalence between psi, which experiences something from within the organism, and phi, which produces something related to its needs. We are ignorant of the x.   

Freud introduces a supplementary apparatus, omega, because he needs not only stimuli from the external world, but the external world itself, its structure. It involves perception; Freud confounds it with consciousness. So that a living being doesn’t perish, it must possess some adequate reflection of the external world. Already here the notion of an equilibrium (homeostasis) which has to be conserved and of a buffer-zone which maintains the excitations at the same level. Therefore it records in a filtered fashion, “badly”.

The filtering is ongoing, progressive, brings with it facilitations – a model which provides the measure of the real (events, incidents that have occurred in the development of the individual). Imaginary is here. But also Gestalten predisposing the living subject to a certain relation with a “typical form” which specifically corresponds to it; it presupposes a biological coupling of the individual with an image of its own species, what is biologically useful for it in a determinate environment. No trace of that here; only a zone of experience and a zone of facilitation.

Memory is here conceived of as a succession of engrams, the sum of a series of facilitations; requires the notion of image. As soon as the same series is reactivated by a new excitation, pressure, a need, the same image is reproduced. That is, all stimuli tend to produce hallucinations. The principle of operation of the psi system is hallucination. That is, primary process.

Relation of hallucination to reality – needs consciousness system autonomous from the point of view of energy, to test reality. This test presupposes a comparison between the hallucination and something which is given in experience and preserved in the memory of the psychic apparatus. The system w is made up of differentiated organs which do not register the massive energies coming from the external world. From massive energies from the external world, the organism can only take flight (not able to buffer). But for subtle determinations of the external world, the specialized apparatus retains only a part of the phenomenon. It selects a certain frequency, gets in tune (not with the energy as such) but with the period. Identifies quality, not energy.   

An exclusively perceptive discharge corresponds to a simple need for symmetry; what comes in must go out. But between excitement and discharge, there is the minimum displacement of energy. Because this system must be independent of displacements of energy. Thus is the pure world seen as a simple reflection.

For there to be a comparison between the inside (image depends on memory – hallucination) and the outside, the ego must allow the maximum inhibition of the passage of energy through this system (doubly emphasizing the regulatory function of this buffer.) What enters as a prompting, already considerably filtered, must be filtered again, so it can be compared with the specific images which arise in consequence of need. What has to be ascertained is the level of the pressure of the need, whether it will impose itself in the face of all counter-evidence, or whether the quantity of displaced energy can be sufficiently buffered, sifted, by the ego for it to realize that the image isn’t actually real.

Two zones in the psychic apparatus – a zone of imagination, of memory, or memorial hallucination, in relation to a perceptual system which is specialised as such. Here consciousness is a reflection of reality. (The term psychic apparatus is totally inadequate to cover what is in the Traumdeutung, where the temporal dimension begins to emerge.) Ego and indications of reality:

  1. If the ego is in a state of desire (wishful state) at the time when the indication of reality appears, a discharge of energy through the specific action takes place. That is, we have the satisfaction of desire.
  2. If an increase in unpleasure coincides with the indication of reality, the system psi reacts by initiating defense through a lateral investment. That means that the quantity of energy passing through several neuronic filters arrives with a smaller level of intensity at the synapses.
  3. If neither one nor other of these two cases occurs, the investment can augment without hindrance, in accordance with the dominant tendency.

Judgement, thought, etc. are inhibited discharges of energy. Thought is an act carried out with a minimum level of investment, a simulated act. That it is a reflection of the world must be conceded, in as much as experience obliges us to posit a neutral perception (from the point of view of investments.) For animals there are lines of force in the world, in the Umwelt of the animal, which are for it preformed points of appeal corresponding to its needs, its Innenwelt, the structure linked with the preservation of its form. In a test associating a perception with an element of its needs, see that the sensory field which is at the disposition of a given animal is extremely extended in comparison with what acts so as electively to structure its Umwelt. That is, each has a zone of consciousness – reception of the external world inside the sensory system.

Man lacks the preformed paths. He learns things by paths other than those of the animal. He has Gestalten, the preformed images. Either there is a neutral recording apparatus, which constitutes a reflection of the world, which we call, with Freud, conscious or there isn’t.

In man it becomes visible with the particular configuration we call consciousness in as much as the imaginary function of the ego comes into play. Man gets to see this reflection from the point of view of the other. He is an other for himself. This is what gives the illusion that consciousness is transparent to itself. We aren’t present in the reflection; to see the reflection, we are in the consciousness of the other.

The notion of equivalence is here a bastard notion.

Needs exist, Freud says, and these needs push the human being into reactions aimed at satisfying them. This is an energetic notion; the quantity of neuronal energy is there from the start. The conjunction of this conception with the experience of the dream will produce a striking transformation in the schema. It is not that Freud moved from a mechanistic to a psychological conception. Ne never did abandon this schema; he elaborated it in his theory of the dream, without marking the differences. He thus took the decisive step, which introduces us into the psychoanalytic domain proper. He introduces the notion of information.   

Chapter X - From the Entwurf to the Traumdeutung

The x of Beyond the Pleasure Principle – repetition compulsion, Nirvana principle, death instinct.


Freud used this concept in the context of the analytic situation, this novel form of communication – the framework that gives the comparison between the death instinct and entropy its meaning. In the four stages of Freud’s thought, we see the persistence of the same antinomies under transformed guises. Bring out the true order of what Freud is tackling, that is the symbolic order, with structures proper to it, its own dynamism, with the mode specific to the manner in which it intervenes so as to impose its coherence, its economy, which is autonomous to the human being and his experience. The symbolic order is what is most elevated in man.

The psi system – crudely representing the reflex-arc, based on the notion of quantity and of discharge, with a minimum of content. Freud produced a buffer – ahead of the neuron theory; synapses as contact barriers; in the process leading to the act of discharge, he interposes a buffer-system, an equilibrating system, a system which filters, damps down the system psi. The brain is like a differentiated ganglion, of the sympathetic kind, like the chain of nerves in insects.   

Freud requires the system omega (consciousness) as a reference to this reality out of which one will never manage to pull a rabbit without having put it there in the first place. He remodels the structure of the human subject by decentring it in relation to the ego, and by shifting consciousness to a no doubt essential, but problematic, position. The elusive, irreducible nature of consciousness with respect to the functioning of living things is as important to grasp as what Freud tells us about the unconscious. He is unable to find a coherent model of it, and this is not due to the existence of the unconscious. There are paradoxes – it both has to be there, and not be there. Some energy has to go through it, but it cannot be linked to the external world’s massive input presumed in the first discharge system, of elementary stimulus-response reflex. It must be separated off from it and have only minimal energy.

But, beginning with what happens in omega, the system psi needs information; it can only find this information at the level of the discharge of the perceptual system. The reality test thus takes place in the psyche. Example of a properly perceptual motor discharge: movements in the eye occur as a result of the visual accommodation, of fixation on the object. In comparison with the hallucination of desire, in the process of being formed in the psyche, that is what theoretically should force the issue – Should I believe my eyes? Is this really what I’m looking at? Now the motor discharge, the motoric aspect of the operation of the organs of perception, is that part which is totally unconscious. We are conscious of seeing – seeing imposes its own transparency on itself. But on the other hand, we are not in the least aware, of what we are doing, efficaciously, actively, in a motoric sense. A series of paradoxes –

The model in the Traumdeutung – there’s a support; something will form a ladder between the perceptual system and the motor system., the various layers which constitute the level of the unconscious. Then the preconscious, consciousness - the first model tried to give a true representation of an apparatus, which one then tried to get working; an apparatus with organs of perception, cortex and sub-cortex, functioning like a kind of autonomous ganglion, regulating the pulsation between the drives internal to the organism and the manifestations of research outside. It was a question of the instinctual economy of the living being in quest of what it needs.

Now it is no longer an apparatus, but something more immaterial, not spatial, e.g. optical images which are nowhere. Freud introduces the temporal dimension into the schema, and a certain logical dimension. We have moved from a mechanical model to a logical model.

Cybernetics –

What is language? Where does it come from? Must grasp it at the level of our analytic experience.

The third model – introduce into it the imaginary, into the field of narcissism. It places the perception-consciousness system at the heart of the reception of the ego in the other, for all imaginary references of the human being are centred on the image of the fellow being.

The last schema – in Beyond the Pleasure Principle – understand to what necessity this work answers. Freud wrote it when psychoanalytic technique was taking a turn, when one might have thought that resistance and unconscious signification corresponded to one another as right side out to inside out, such that what works according to the pleasure principle in the so-called primary system appears as reality in the other, and vice versa. This is the classical study of the ego. But Freud maintains that this isn’t it, that not all of the system of significations is to be found in the ego, that its structure isn’t a synthesis of these significations, rather the contrary.

Resistance, the imaginary function of the ego, controls the passage or non-passage of whatever there is to transmit in the action of analysis. If there were no interposition, no resistance from the ego, no frictional effect, no lighting up, no heating effect, the effects of communication at the level of the unconscious would not be noticeable. It shows that there is not the slightest sense of the relation of the ego to the discourse of the unconscious – this concrete discourse in which the ego bathes and plays its function of obstacle, of interposition, of filter – being one of negative to positive. The unconscious has its own dynamic, its own flow, its own paths. It can be explored according to its own rhythm, its own modulation, its own message, quite independently of whatever interrupts it. In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud wanted to situate this imaginary function of the ego.   

 M. Valabrega: Freud tells us that the vivacity of the hallucination, its intensity, is proportional to the quantity of investment of the idea in question. It is quantity which conditions the hallucination. It is the opposite of perception In perception, which comes from the system j, attention makes the perception more or less distinct.   

J.L. It comes from the system omega. The quantitative contributions of the external world come from the system phi, but everything which is perception and not excitation occurs as such in the system omega. A symptom is always part of the overall economic state of the subject, whereas the dream is a state localized in time, under extremely specific conditions. All they have in common is a grammar and that’s a metaphor. The dream makes it possible to grasp the symbolic function at play and it is on that account capital for understanding the symptom, but the dream is only a part of the activity of the subject, while the symptom is spread out over several domains. The processes are more analogous than identical.

In Freud’s conversation with Fliess, the fundamental speech, which is at this time unconscious, is the essential dynamic element. It is unconscious because it infinitely surpasses what both of them, as individuals, can at this time consciously apprehend of it. The discovery of the unconscious, such as it appears at the moment of its historical emergence, with its own dimension, is that the full significance of meaning far surpasses the signs manipulated by the individual. Man is always cultivating a great many more signs than he thinks. That’s what man after Freud is.

LACAN'S READINGS OF THE ENTWURF in: Seminar VII – The Ethics of Psychoanalysis - Chapters II-III

Chapter II

My thesis is that the moral law, the moral command, the presence of the moral agency in our activity, insofar as it is structured by the symbolic, is that through which the real is actualized. To understand the moral action as it is expressed in reality, must consider what is reality? – daily reality, social reality, scientific reality, psychic reality. Moral action is grafted onto the real. It introduces something new into the real and thereby opens a path in which the point of our presence is legitimized. The ethical principles of psychoanalysis coincide with the limits of its practice. Its practice is only a preliminary to moral action – the action through which we enter the real.

Aristotle – his Nicomachaen Ethics refers to an order, which presents itself as a science, the science of what has to be done, the uncontested order which defines the norm as a certain character. How is that order established in a subject? How can a form of adequation be achieved in a subject so that he will enter that order and submit himself to it? The establishment of an ethos is posited as differentiating a living being from an inanimate, inert being. Man acquires habits. These habits must be made to conform to the eqox , an order that has to be brought together in a Sovereign Good, a point of insertion, attachment or convergence, in which a particular order is unified with a more universal knowledge, in which ethics becomes politics, and beyond that with an imitation of the cosmic order. However, if there can be no good action without conformity with the right discourse, how can intemperance survive? How is it possible that a subject's impulses draw him elsewhere? For Aristotle the problem is delimited by the conditions imposed by a certain human ideal, which is found in the master, to whom he is addressing, who is one of a group of people who have privileged lives of leisure (Their slaves do the work.).

In analysis we are seeking a liberating truth. However, it is not that of a superior law. If it is a truth that frees, we will look for it in our subject. It is a particular truth. It appears in everybody in the form of an imperious Wunsch, eg. the true Wunsch which was at the origin of an aberrant or atypical behaviour. It cannot be judged from the outside. We encounter this Wunsch with its particular, irreducible character as a modification that presupposes no other form of normalization than an experience of pleasure or of pain, a final experience from whence it springs in the depths of the subject and where it is preserved in an irreducible form. The Wunsch does not have the character of a universal law, but, on the contrary, of the most particular of laws. It s form is characterized as regressive, infantile, unrealistic, thought abandoned to desire, by desire taken to be reality.

This reference to childhood, the idea of the child in man, that something demands that a man be something other than a child, but that the demands of the child are perpetually felt in him can be situated historically, eg. at the beginning of the 19th century with the industrial revolution, English romanticism. There is a very different tension between the thought that we have to deal with in the unconscious and the thought that we characterize as adult, ie. the opposition between the primary process and the secondary process, between the pleasure principle and the reality principle.

In his auto-analysis Freud said that the unpleasant thing are the Stimmungen, moods or feelings, which by their very nature cover, hide, reality. Freud searched for the reality that was inside himself. Even sexual excitement was unusable in this approach to see the final realities.   

The opposition between the pleasure principle and the reality principle was presented in the Entwurf, in chapter VII of the Traumdeutung, and Civilization and its Discontents. Others before Freud spoke of pleasure as a guiding function of ethics. Eg. Aristotle tried to restore the true function of pleasure to its proper place. Pleasure in Aristotle is an activity, contrasted with the radiance passively given off by youth.

In Freud, the pleasure principle is an inertia principle. Its function is to regulate by a kind of automatism everything that comes together through a process that Freud tends to present as dependent on a preformed apparatus that is strictly limited to the neuronic apparatus. The apparatus regulates the facilitations that it retains after having suffered their effects. It is a matter of everything that results from a fundamental tendency to discharge, in which a given quantity is destined to be expended.

This model supporting the pleasure principle is not based on clinical facts; it is a probable and coherent representation, a working hypothesis, to respond to something masked and avoided here. To explain the normal functioning of the mind, Freud starts with an apparatus whose basis is wholly antithetical to a result involving adequation and equilibrium, a system which naturally tends toward deception and error. That whole organism seems designed not to satisfy need, but to hallucinate such satisfaction. It requires another apparatus to oppose it, that operates as an agent of reality, a principle of correction, of a call to order.

The reality principle goes much further than a mere checking up; it is rather a question of rectification. It operates in the mode of detour, precaution, touching up, restraint. It corrects and compensates for that which seems to be the natural inclination of the psychic apparatus, and it radically opposes it. Thus, conflict is introduced here at the base, at the origins of an organism which seems after all to be destined to live. This opposition between the phi system and the psi system explains/justifies those experiences of ungovernable quantities seen in clinical practice; that is the driving imperative behind the whole system.

The justification for giving such prominence to quantity corresponds to the most direct kind of lived experience, that of the inertia which at the level of symptoms presented Freud with obstacles whose irreversible character he recognized. In this text, beneath a manner that is cool, abstract, scholastic, complex and arid, one can sense a lived experience, and this experience is at bottom moral in kind. (P. 318 - The Project)

Freud's task is to explain how the activity of review and restraint functions, how the apparatus which supports the secondary processes avoids the occurrence of catastrophes that would inevitably follow a lapse of too much or too little time, or the abandonment to its own devices of the pleasure principle. If the pleasure principle is released too soon, the movement will be triggered simply by a Wunschgedanke (wishful thought); it will necessarily be painful and will give rise to unpleasure. If on the other hand the secondary apparatus intervenes too late, it if doesn't give the little discharge required to attempt the beginning of an adequate solution through action, then there will be a regressive discharge, an hallucination, which is also a source of displeasure. (This addresses Aristotle's question of why does 'someone who knows' be intemperate.)

I have taught you to articulate what goes on in the unconscious; ie. the discourse that is employed on the level of the pleasure principle. It is in relation to this 'right discourse' that the reality principle has to guide the subject in order for him to complete a possible action. From a Freudian point of view, the reality principle is presented as functioning in a way that is essentially precarious. It is to the extent that it is precarious that the commandments which trace its path are so tyrannical. As guides to the real, feelings are deceptive. The approach to the real can only begin to occur by means of a primary defense, a defense that already exists before the conditions of repression are formulated.

Consider the diagram below. Broadly speaking, conscious is on one side, the unconscious on the other. We articulate the apparatus of perception onto reality. Yet the pleasure principle operates on perception and tends toward an identity of perception, whether it is real or hallucinated. If it does not coincide with reality, it will be hallucinated. The risk is in the possibility of the primary process winning out.

The secondary process tends toward an identity of thought. That is, the interior functioning of the psychic apparatus occurs as a kind of groping forward, a rectifying test, thanks to which the subject, led on by the discharges that follow along the Bahnungen (facilitations) already established, will conduct the series of tests or of detours that will gradually lead him to anastomosis (cross connections) and to moving beyond the testing of the surrounding system of different objects present at that moment of its experience. The backcloth of experience consists in the construction of a certain system of Wunsch or of Erwartung (expectation) of pleasure, defined as anticipated pleasure, which tends to realize itself autonomously in its own sphere, theoretically without expecting anything from the outside. It moves directly toward a fulfillment highly antithetical to whatever triggers it.

Thus thought ought to appear to be on the level of the reality principle, but it is not since this process is unconscious. Unlike that which reaches the subject in the perceptual order from the outside world, nothing that takes place at the level of these tests – thanks to which, by means of approximations in the psyche, the facilitations are realized that enable the subject to make his action adequate – is perceptible. All thought by its very nature occurs according to unconscious means. It is doubtless not controlled by the pleasure principle, but it occurs in a space that as an unconscious space is to be considered as subject to the pleasure principle.   

Of everything that occurs at the level of inner processes, eg. thought, according to Freud, the only signs of which the subject is consciously aware are signs of pleasure or pain. We are conscious of thought only insofar as words are uttered. Freud – words are that which characterizes the transition into the preconscious, of movements that belong to the unconscious. What we know of the unconscious reaches us as a function of words. A hostile object is only acknowledged at the level of consciousness when pain causes the subject to utter a cry. The cry fulfills the function of a discharge, a bridge where something of what is happening may be seized and identified in the consciousness of the subject. The important objects for a human subject are speaking objects, which allow him to see revealed in the discourse of others the processes that inhabit his own unconscious. We only grasp the unconscious finally when it is explicated, in that part of it which is articulated by passing into words. Thus we recognize that the unconscious has in the end no other structure than the structure of language. Further, the theories of relations of contiguity and continuity illustrate the signifying structure insofar as it is involved in any linguistic operation.   

The reality principle controls what happens at the level of thought, but it is only insofar as something emerges from thought, articulated in words in interhuman experience, that it is able as a principle of thought to come to the knowledge of the subject in his consciousness.   

Conversely, the unconscious is to be situated at the level of elements, of logical components articulated in the form of a 'right discourse' hidden at the heart of the spot where the transitions, the transferences motivated by attraction and necessity, and the inertia of pleasure occur for the subject, those operations which cause one sign rather than another to be valorized for him, to the extent that this sign may be substituted for the earlier sign or, on the contrary, have transferred to it the affective charge attached to a first experience.   

Thus we see three orders emerge: First, a subject or a substance of psychic experience which corresponds to the opposition reality principle/pleasure principle. Next is the process of experience, which corresponds to the opposition between thought and perception. The process is divided according to whether it is a question of perception, therefore linked to the activity of hallucinating, to the pleasure principle; or to a question of thought. This is what Freud calls psychic reality. On one side is the process as fictional process. On the other are the processes of thought through which instinctual activity is effectively realized, that is the appetitive process, a process of search, of recognition and of recovery of the object. That is the other face of psychic reality, its unconscious process, which is also its appetitive process. Finally, on the level of objectification or of the object, the known and the unknown are in opposition. Because that which is known can only be known in words, that which is unknown offers itself as having a linguistic structure. What is involved at the level of the subject?   

The oppositions fiction/appetite, knowable/unknowable divide up what takes place at the level of the process and of the object. At the level of the subject, what is the division of the two sides between the two principles? As far as the pleasure principle is concerned, that which presents itself to the subject as a substance is his good. Insofar as pleasure controls subjective activity, it is the good, the idea of the good, that sustains it. This is why ethical thinkers have at all times not been able to avoid trying to identify these two terms, which are fundamentally antithetical, namely, pleasure and the good.

But how does one qualify the substratum of reality of subjective activity? It is problematic. Freud doesn't consider identifying adequacy to reality with a specific good. In Civilization and its Discontents he says that civilization or culture asks too much of the subject. If there is something that can be called his good or his happiness, there is nothing to be expected in that regard from the microcosm, nor moreover from the macrocosm.   

Chapter III

The opposition between the pleasure principle and the reality principle or between the primary process and the secondary process concerns not so much the sphere of psychology as that of ethics properly speaking…the relation of pleasure to the final good. In many cases it appears that the goal of pleasure is in opposition to moral effort, but moral effort has nevertheless to locate its ultimate point of reference there, in relation to pleasure. Therefore the problem of conflict is posed within every discussion of morals.

There are certain distortions of the Entwurf's original intuitions, caused by the English translation. Eg. Bahnung is translated as "facilitation"; actually it has the opposite meaning; it suggests the creation of a continuous way, a chain. Perhaps it can be related to the signifying chain insofar as Freud says that the development of the psi apparatus replaces simple quantity by quantity plus Bahnung, that is to say its articulation.

                                               Pleasure principle                        Reality principle

SUBJECT                                          His good                                              ?

PROCESS                                        Thought                                      Perception

OBJECT                                         Unconscious                           Known (words)   

 Freud posits that the psi system must always contain a certain level of Qh quantity. Thus the discharge cannot be complete, reach a zero level, after which the psychic apparatus achieves a final state of rest. The latter is certainly not the plausible goal of the functioning of the pleasure principle. Freud wonders, How can one justify that it is at such a level that the quantity which regulates everything is maintained.

The psi system is not only related to endogenous stimulations. An important part is constituted of raw Q quantities from the outside which are transformed into quantities that are not comparable to those that characterize the psi system. It is the transformation of what is pure and simple quantity into "complication".

On the one hand, the phi system; on the other, the psi system which is a highly complex network capable of shrinkage and of Aufbau, extension. There is a crossing over between the two; once a certain limit is passed, that which arrives as quantity is completely transformed as far as its structure is concerned. Freud distinguishes between its Aufbau (building up, constructions), its tendency to retain quantity, and its function, which is to discharge it. The function isn't simply to circulate and discharge; it appears at this level as split.

To Lacan, this apparatus is a topology of subjectivity, insofar as it arises and is constructed on the surface of an organism.

There is also in the psi system a part , the Spinalneuronen, which are open to endogenous stimulation, in which there is no apparatus transforming the quantities.

There is the Schlusselneuronen (key neurones) which receives the quantities from the endogeny; they are a particular form of discharge within the psi system. Yet paradoxically that discharge has as its function to increase the pressure. Freud calls them motorische Neuronen – they provoke stimulations that occur within the psi system, a series of movements which increase the tension still further and which as a result are at the origin of current neuroses.   

The important point – everything that happens here offers the paradox of being in the same place as that in which the principle of articulation by the Bahnung reigns, the same place in which the whole hallucinatory phenomenon of perception occurs, of that false reality to which the human organism is predestined. It is in the same place that the processes oriented and dominated by reality are unconsciously formed, insofar as it is a question of the subject finding the path to satisfaction. In this case, satisfaction should not be confused with the pleasure principle.

Freud speaks not of specific reaction but of specific action as corresponding to satisfaction. There is a big system behind that spezifische Aktion, for it can only correspond to the refound object. This is the principle of repetition. That specific action will always be missing something. It is not distinguishable from what takes place when a motor reaction occurs, for it is a reaction, a pure act, the discharge of an action.

There is in the text the description of the gap inherent in human experience, the distance that is manifested in man between the articulation of a wish, and what occurs when his desire sets out on the path of its realization. Freud expresses there the reason why there is always something that is far from finding satisfaction and which doesn't include the characteristics sought in a specific action. Compared with anything the subject seeks out, that which occurs in the domain of motor discharge always has a diminished character ("monotonous quality").   

Draw an analogy between that search for an archaic, regressive quality of indefinable pleasure which animates unconscious instinct as a whole, and that which is realized and satisfying in the fullest of senses, in the moral sense.

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