Article Index


As mentioned before, different authors in psychoanalysis categorise addiction as a distinctive clinical structure, border pathology or an independent clinical entity. One should ask if the categories of Freudian psychoanalysis are still relevant.
The structures in psychoanalysis are organized around the “castration complex” and the response of the subject against this complex. The response outlines neurosis, perversion or psychosis.
Hector Lopez situates toxicomania as a specific mechanism but he distinguishes this mechanism from foreclosure, repression or disavowal. “Cancellation of pain as a specific mechanism of toxicomania refers to a particular clinical structure where the “addictive complex” is a symptomatic effect” (Lopez p152)
The specific mechanism involved can coexist with one of the three others and therefore does not constitute a different structure. This mechanism can be distinguished from repression as this constitutes a symbolic barrier against the threatening of the real. (Lopez, 2005) This barrier is fragile, but means that the subject has “accepted” the original lack. Chemical intoxication reinforces this symbolic barrier. Le Poulichet (1990, p. 121) describes this form or toxicomania as a “supplement” because it adds a precarious stability to the ego when the symptom is not efficient against the threat of something unbearable. Symptom is characterized by subjective division. In this form of toxicomania, the ego's consistency is reinforced, so the subject can imagine as "being one", i.e. having a unified ego. (Lopez 2005)
In this form of toxicomania there is an addictive assembly which is used as a method to attain a “narcissistic prosthesis” (Le Poulichet, 1990 p.134). These subjects do not suffer the threat of the Other’s invasion (the case of Psychoses) but the threat of castration.
Perversion is characterized by the fact that the subject replaces the lack with an object, retaining a particular jouissance related to a specific object. The object “drug” does not have a fetish value, the addict seeks for the effect produced by the drug and not the object itself, which is interchangeable. It is a “product to be consumed”. (Lopez, 2003, p.153). In Perversion, the subject “knows” about jouissance.
Toxicomania can have a very different meaning in psychosis where it can act as a “substitute” (Le Poulichet, 1990. p. 121) for the insufficiency of the Name-of-the-Father.
Here, the subject's existence is at risk. Toxicomania aims at controlling the body. The absence of the symbolic Other leaves open the constant threat of a jouissance which is not mediated by signifiers.
Le Poulichet claims that not all the cases which present with toxicomania as a "substitute" necessarily mean psychosis. There could be a certain failure in the paternal function where the drug plays the role of remedying a partial opening to jouissance.
When they do mean psychosis, these forms of toxicomanias respond to the insufficiency of the signifier of the Name-of-the-father. Structurally, the body has not been entirely lost. The dimension of “absence” is unknown, so toxicomanias (or the pharmakon operation as the author calls them) organise a circuit with the intention of blocking the invasion of this omnipresent Other.