Margins of destiny, destiny of the margins

Dr Fred Fliege, 2016

Fred Fliege s’est employé à étudier ici les déterminants inconscients des symptômes de destinée.
Il a notamment interrogé les liens entre la relation d’objet et certaines défaillances de l’instance topique de l’idéal du moi, ainsi que l’incidence de ces conjonctures psychologiques sur les parcours individuels de ses patients.
Ceux-ci souffrent de syndromes de destinée, se traduisant par des fiascos répétés dans leur existence. Cependant, l’auteur illustre comment, grâce aux effets surprenants de la parole, ils parviennent à échapper au sort qui semble s’acharner sur eux, à se réapproprier leur histoire ; enfin, à redécouvrir et à accueillir leur propre désir.

A psychoanalytic investigation, conducted by the CEPPA – European Centre of Clinical Psychology and Psychoanalysis –

Under the direction of Fred Fliege


Designed as a psychoanalytic approach of destiny syndromes, this work is part of a series of investigations conducted by the CEPPA (European Centre for Clinical Psychology and Psychoanalysis), particularly in its research component, entitled ‘the place of the Other in psychoanalysis’.

  1. Previous research

Initially, we relied on assumptions about fate by Freud and Lacan, in order to develop a theoretical apparatus and a reading grid to understand the dynamics, the structure, the etiology and the therapy of those symptoms.

  1. The Freudian approach of fate

The father of psychoanalysis attributes the origin of personnal events with the characteristics of the super-ego, determined in turn by those of the father: « If the father was hard, cruel, violent, then the super-ego might collect these attributes from him. »

Furthermore, a sadistic super-ego – likely to cause the failure of psychological repression – could trigger a revival of archaic mechanisms, such as masochism, passivity and the feminization of the ego: « In its relation [super-ego] with the ego, the passivity, supposed to be repressed, settles again. The super-ego thus sadistic, whereas the ego becomes masochistic – that is to say feminine and passive.  »

Generally, he locates the super-ego basis of these symptoms in the father’s perception by the subject: « If the father was hard … » (see above).

Freud also referred to the « demonic » turn characterizing certain existences, dotted with setbacks and failures.

Thus, he noted that some people, without any specific neurotic symptoms, « give the impression of being pursued by a fate that gives a demonic direction to their existence. »

The idea conveyed by the Greek word ‘daimon’ ( « god, goddess, » later « inferior divinity »), refers to a ‘superhuman’ force, evoking a fierce super-ego, not integrated into the ego.

  1. The Freudian theories confronted with empirical data

The symptoms we are trying to explore here appear to affect, above all, the personal and professional failure of the subject, his ability to develop social bonds and to meet those (for example  psychoanalysts) that could help him to distance himself from that which freezes him in failure.

An analogy can be envisaged between the phenomenon described by Freud and social marginalization that affects the here presented patients.

In this hypothesis, « destiny » – studied by the example of social exclusion, as it can be a symptom – would therefore « not be different from the neurotic compulsion of repetition. »

In terms of psychic causality, « destiny [would be] essentially prepared by the subject himself, and determined by early childhood influences. »

Freud suggests the existence of a correlation between the compulsion of repetition and the destructive effects of a subjective attitude, underlying pathologies of destiny: « There are people who always repeat, at their expense, the same reactions without correct (…).We attribute then, to the repetition compulsion, a demonic character.  »

Finally, it seems essential to point the audacious genius of Freud, when he considers an equivalence system between mental functioning and the event side of existence:

First, he argues that the subjective meaning of a punishment is equivalent to that of castration: « Any punishment is in its bottom a castration ».

Going further, he does not hesitate to attribute the fate to unconscious effects of a projection of the father  (« Fate itself is ultimately a subsequent projection of the father »).

Finally, he extends his theory about destiny, by stating that « fate is (…) a substitute of the parental authority ».

While some of these assertions may seem very bold, they represent mainly the result of an ingenious reflection on the nature of the symptoms, as well as on the symptomal status of fate and the place of parental authority – and especially that of the father – with respect to the existence.

  1. The Lacanian contribution

According to Jacques Lacan, whose epistemological audacity is comparable to that of Freud, the mother is the carrier of ‘lalangue’ (‘thelanguage’), which has the important function to lay the foundations of symbolic appropriation, by the child, of reality. This pioneer of psychoanalysis argues that « (…) it is not in the dictionary that one can find the [lalangue], and that it is primarily the work of women. » According to Lacan, « men are busier with that to what pushes them their phallic tropism: maintain the forms, the rules. »

In his speech of Rome, Jacques Lacan argued that the three registers RSI (real, imaginary, symbolic) are not required, to articulate in a Borromean way, being all toric rings.

Furthermore, even though he qualifies the symbolic and the imaginary as « registers », he expressed his reservation to appoint a category likely to define the ‘real’ (impulses as well as reality constraints).

One of the characteristics of the real lie in that it would remain inevitable when the symbolic and the imaginary have deserted the place, and that the Borromean knot has not be formed.

In other words, when the symbolic and the imaginary are lacking, the ‘real’ would remain.

However, empirical data collected in this study appear to pose the problem in an inverted form; that is to say: “What happens when the psychic failure appears to result from a deficiency in the real itself ?”.

And, this seems not only raise the topical dimension of the real in itself, but a real defined by its status as a modality that is inseparable of the paternal function.

This distinction assumes, of course, two meanings of the real. First, it would appoint the remaining non symbolized by the operation of castration, the impossible, the hole in the symbolic order.

On the other side, the real refers – and only as a part of the component « real father » – to the father’s lacks, his inclinations and failures as a desiring subject.

We know the structural relationship that connects the respective functions of the real father and the symbolic father, involving partial overlap between their respective places.

Indeed, prohibition assigns to the subject his sexual position, for the sole reason that the father ‘has’ the mother. In other words, it is as an object of maternal desire that the father occupies both, symbolic and real, positions for the child.


But, in light of clinical data collected here, one can not ignore the possible existence of additional conditions regarding the metapsychological status of the real father.

So, the here exposed cases seem to illustrate how paternal disinvestment can clog not only the ratification of the function of the real father, but also the one of the symbolic father.

  1. Theoretical and therapeutic conclusions

From a large corpus of clinical data, we undertook to study the unconscious determinants of destiny symptoms.

In this perspective, we questioned the possible links between the object relationship and certain failures in the topical instance of the ego ideal, and the impact of these psychological circumstances on the individual paths of our patients.

Before entering into analysis, they seem to suffer from highly debilitating destiny syndromes, resulting in repeated fiascos, on all planes of their existence.

However, this work shows how, through the surprising effects of the word, they gradually manage to overcome the unconscious mechanisms that trap them; to escape the fate that seems to pursue them; to symbolically reclaim their history; Finally, to rediscover and embrace their own desire.

© Fred Fliege, CEPPA 2016

ISBN 979-10-93874-01-2


5 thoughts on “Margins of destiny, destiny of the margins

    1. Nous vous en remercions; oui, vous pouvez vous abonner à notre flux RSS;
      et, nous avons également une page Facebook, intitulée CEPPA.

Laisser un commentaire

Votre adresse e-mail ne sera pas publiée. Les champs obligatoires sont indiqués avec *