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A Basic Theory of NeuropsychoanalysisA Cursing Brain?A Dream of Undying FameA Map of the MindAfter LacanAgainst AdaptationAgainst FreudAn Anatomy of AddictionAnalytic FreudAndré Green at the Squiggle FoundationAnger, Madness, and the DaimonicAnna FreudAnna Freud: A BiographyApproaching PsychoanalysisAttachment and PsychoanalysisBadiouBecoming a SubjectBefore ForgivingBerlin PsychoanalyticBetween Emotion and CognitionBeyond GenderBeyond SexualityBeyond the Pleasure PrincipleBiology of FreedomBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheCarl JungCassandra's DaughterCherishmentConfusion of TonguesContemporary Psychoanalysis and the Legacy of the Third ReichCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesCulture and Conflict in Child and Adolescent Mental HealthDarwin's WormsDesert Islands and Other Texts (1953-1974)Dispatches from the Freud WarsDoes the Woman Exist?Doing Psychoanalysis in TehranDreaming and Other Involuntary MentationDreaming by the BookEnergy Psychology InteractiveEqualsErrant SelvesEthics and the Discovery of the UnconsciousEthics Case Book of the American Psychoanalytic AssociationFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFed with Tears -- Poisoned with MilkFeminism and Its DiscontentsForms of Intersubjectivity in Infant Reasearch and Adult TreatmentFour Lessons of PsychoanalysisFratricide in the Holy LandFreudFreudFreudFreudFreudFreudFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFreud As PhilosopherFreud at 150Freud's AnswerFreud's WizardFreud, the Reluctant PhilosopherFrom Classical to Contemporary PsychoanalysisFundamentals of Psychoanalytic TechniqueGenes on the CouchGoing SaneHans BellmerHappiness, Death, and the Remainder of LifeHate and Love in Psychoanalytical InstitutionsHatred and ForgivenessHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHeinz KohutHeinz KohutHidden MindsHistory of ShitHope and Dread in PsychoanalysisImagination and Its PathologiesImagine There's No WomanIn Freud's TracksIn SessionIn the Floyd ArchivesIntimaciesIntimate RevoltIrrationalityIs Oedipus Online?Jacques LacanJacques Lacan and the Freudian Practice of PsychoanalysisJung and the Making of Modern PsychologyJung Stripped BareKilling FreudLacanLacanLacanLacan and Contemporary FilmLacan at the SceneLacan For BeginnersLacan in AmericaLacan TodayLacan's Seminar on AnxietyLawLearning from Our MistakesLove's ExecutionerMad Men and MedusasMale Female EmailMelanie KleinMemoirs of My Nervous IllnessMental SlaveryMind to MindMixing MindsMoral StealthMourning and ModernityMovies and the MindMurder in ByzantiumNew Studies of Old VillainsNocturnesNoir AnxietyOn Being Normal and Other DisordersOn BeliefOn IncestOn Not Being Able to SleepOn the Freud WatchOn the Way HomeOpen MindedOpera's Second DeathOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsPhenomology & Lacan on Schizophrenia, After the Decade of the BrainPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPractical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and PatientsPsychiatry, 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WorldThe Brain, the Mind and the SelfThe Cambridge Companion to LacanThe Challenge for Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyThe Clinical LacanThe Colonization Of Psychic SpaceThe Condition of MadnessThe Couch and the TreeThe Cruelty of DepressionThe Dissociative Mind in PsychoanalysisThe Dreams of InterpretationThe Examined LifeThe Fall Of An IconThe Freud EncyclopediaThe Freud FilesThe Freud WarsThe Fright of Real TearsThe Future of PsychoanalysisThe Gift of TherapyThe Heart & Soul of ChangeThe Knotted SubjectThe Last Good FreudianThe Late Sigmund FreudThe Letters of Sigmund Freud and Otto RankThe Mind According to ShakespeareThe Mystery of PersonalityThe Mythological UnconsciousThe Neuropsychology of the UnconsciousThe New PsychoanalysisThe Power of FeelingsThe Psychoanalytic MovementThe Psychoanalytic MysticThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Puppet and the DwarfThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Revolt of the PrimitiveThe Seminar of Moustafa SafouanThe Sense and Non-Sense of RevoltThe Shortest ShadowThe Social History of the UnconsciousThe Surface EffectThe Symmetry of GodThe Tragedy of the SelfThe Trainings of the PsychoanalystThe UnsayableThe World of PerversionTherapeutic ActionTherapy's DelusionsThis Incredible Need to BelieveThoughts Without A ThinkerTo Redeem One Person Is to Redeem the WorldTrauma and Human ExistenceTraumatizing TheoryUmbr(a)Unconscious knowing and other essays in psycho-philosophical analysisUnderstanding Dissidence and Controversy in the History of PsychoanalysisUnderstanding PsychoanalysisUnfree AssociationsWalking HeadsWay Beyond FreudWhat Does a Woman Want?What Freud Really MeantWhen the Body SpeaksWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Whose Freud?Why Psychoanalysis?Wilhelm ReichWinnicottWinnicott On the ChildWisdom Won from IllnessWittgenstein on Freud and FrazerWittgenstein Reads FreudWorld, Affectivity, TraumaZizek
Topology is a branch of mathematics that formalizes places and shifts without measurements. It became popular during the nineteenth century dealing with aspects of geometrical figures that remain invariant when they are being transformed. In that sense, for example, a circle and an ellipse are topologically considered to be equivalent because both have the ability to transform into each other with no cutting or pasting. (Nobus 2003, 63)
Trained as a forensic psychiatrist, Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) worked as a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist. His philosophical perspective was strongly influenced by post-structuralism that argued for the understanding of man according to a structure (modelled by language) having its own logic, independent of reality or ideas. That logic was non-binary, ie. not based on opposites. During the 1950s his view on what psychoanalysis should be slowly changed and his proposal expanded psychoanalysis' area of influence to society at large. Lacan strived for re-actualize Freud's original writings relating it to contemporary philosophy, linguistics, biology, and topology. In his view, psychoanalysis should take full responsibility of its potential and affirm itself as a powerful tool, able to contribute both to a better management of each individual's life and also to society itself.
During the 1960s/ 1970s several references to topology show up in Lacan's work but particularly in the last decade (between 1971 and 1981) topology became his main focus, aiming at deepen the relevance of these surfaces for the formulation of a scientific theory of psychoanalysis — through writing and drawing. Having no formal training in mathematics he worked with mathematicians, using recurrently the sphere, the Möbius strip, the torus and the cross-cap to come across his psychoanalytical thinking.
Interdisciplinarity can face many challenges and the intersection of psychoanalysis and mathematics is not easy. An understanding of what is at stake can only arise from a dialogue between both areas of expertise. It is therefore positive that the leading editor of the current volume, Michael Friedman, is a Mathematician and scholar of Philosophy, at the Interdisciplinary Laboratory "Image Knowledge Gestaltung", Humboldt University in Berlin — having developed his studies in Israel and France. Co-editor Samo Tomšič, from Slovenia, is a Philosopher, working also at the same Laboratory. The volume features a total of eight essays from contributors based in Germany, Belgium, Slovenia and Israel.
We will now make a brief review of the featured topics. Mai Wegener (Psychoanalyst, Berlin) dwells on optical models, the Möbius strip, the distinction between topic and topology, and mathemes. Dominiek Hoens (Philosopher, University of Gent) claims that topology, in Lacan's work, is the need to visualise the structure within the subject. Mladen Dolar (Psychoanalyst and Philosopher, University of Ljubljana) works on the distinction between a limit and a border, cracks and slips in language, embodied voice, the voice of unconscious, voice and ego, and inner speech. Samo Tomšič addresses the connection between Lacan and Kant, transcendental aesthetics and philosophy of consciousness, Koyré's influence in Lacan, the Möbius strip, the value of topology, Lacan and his relation with philosophy. Claudia Blümle (Professor of History and Theory of Form, Humboldt University in Berlin), reflects on Lacan's drawings and topological sketches; schema, model and image. Michael Friedman claims that topology is knowledge that cannot be written, investigates the relation between topology and the concept of identification, and goes in depth on the torus. Renen Amir (Department of Philosophy, Tel-Aviv University) addresses the signified and significator, the conception of the letter, metonymy and metaphor. Rona Cohen (Department of Philosophy, Tel-Aviv University) examines Kant's influence on Freud's conception of space, the imaginary body, and the relation between space and body.
Psychoanalysis' place among sciences of behaviour and mind became convoluted in the last couple of decades. Up until the 1980s, it was all one could hear about and it's strength in universities' curricula and within the scope of mental health was powerful. Overtime, it has lost its allure. Briefly, some of the reasons were: lack of results ('cures'), the emergence of technology associated to mental health, a heavily medicated society culture, too many sub-divisions among psychoanalysts themselves, the lack of a proper scientific corpus, etc. However, the practice continues to exist, new psychoanalysts continue to emerge and many continue to seek psychoanalysis in order to better manage their lives. To sum up, perhaps psychoanalysis has had a more relevant role in the past but it continues to have a role today. Furthermore, as the editors remind us in their Introduction, psychoanalysis affirms itself as a crosscurrent, openly questioning scientific epistemology and also rejecting both the dualism body/ soul and a reductionist approach by neuroscience. What can we learn from it?
There have been several books on Lacan's topology in the last couple of years and the subject continues to capture one's imagination. However, more research is needed in order to decode its relevance both to psychoanalytical practice and to how it can strengthen its scientific corpus. The current volume goes beyond a historical curiosity on the history of psychoanalysis and has the potential to be useful to both.
Nobus, Danny (2003). Lacan's science of the subject: between linguistics and philosophy. In The Cambridge Companion to Lacan (ed Jean-Michel Rabaté), UK: Cambridge University Press, pp.50-68.
© 2018 Diana Soeiro
Diana Soeiro. Philosophy PhD. Research Fellow at Universidade de Lisboa/ University of Lisbon. Updated information: www.linkedin.com/in/DianaSoeiro