The development of psychoanalysis as explored in the anorexic symptom of refusal

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Paruk, Nadia
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MA in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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aim of this dissertation is to explore the anorexic symptom of refusal as it is situated within psychoanalytic discourse which has evolved and changed over time. A discourse which begins from an early instinctual drive-based perspective, evolving to an object-relational formulation then finally emerges within a theory of the unconscious as structured like a language which produces the divided subject. It is necessary therefore to explore a number of relevant psychoanalyst’s theories, beginning with Sigmund Freud’s conception of the duality of the drives. His influence on subsequent theorists such as Anna Freud and Lacan will be discussed, in terms of a move from a theory of the individual within a dyadic to a triadic relation as observed in Lacanian psychoanalysis. A discussion of these theories are relevant since they provided the foundation for later theories of anorexia that emerged, such as evident in the work of Ripa di Meana, Cosenza and Recalcati. The focus of the discussion will then shift to an exploration of these contemporary theorists perspectives on anorexic refusal. Chapter Two examines Freud’s influential drive theory which laid the foundation for subsequent psychoanalytic thought. Particular focus will be drawn on the way in which the drive is incorporated within the unconscious which proves essential in the later theories on the anorexic subject’s refusal. Chapter Three is an examination of Anna Freud’s ‘A Psychoanalytic Understanding of Feeding Disturbances (1946)’ read through the lens of Jacques Lacan’s theories of the maternal imago and the weaning complex laid out in ‘Family Complexes as a Formation of the Individual (1938)’. The notion of the pleasurable nature of the early experience of the child with the mother and the oral drive will be contrasted with Lacan’s ideas on the importance of the interruption to this relationship. The aim of this chapter is to establish the crucial differences between the two psychoanalytic approaches, highlighting elements that a re-reading can suggest regarding the establishment of feeding disturbances. Chapter Four concerns a discussion of Lacan’s concepts of the Real, Imaginary and Symbolic registers and the notion of the unconscious as that which exists in relation to the Other, where an assimilation of language is paramount. This will open up the Lacanian exploration of the anorexic symptom of refusal in relation to the life and death drives and the relationship to desire. Finally, Chapter Five focuses on the ‘trans-structural’ quality of the ‘no’ of the anorexic subject within the context of a discussion of contemporary psychoanalytic perspectives via the work of Ripa di Meana, Cosenza and Recalcati. Author keywords: Anorexia, Refusal, Psychoanalysis