[…] According to the classical model of conversion, from mind to body, in C’s heart we could see a container, for a psychic conflict. The affect tied to the repressed representation could then assume the contours of a heart gone mad and find the space of its release in its decompensation. Or, we could think that in this “besting heart” unthinkable emotions take shape, making their appearance despite the work of repression, denial and even foreclosure. The homicidal arrhythmia is the traumatic return of what was once scotomized.
Further we could place all this in the field of a retrojection in which the unity with the lost object is reactualizes or the epicenter of a somatization that provides for the patient’s inability to dream or use imagination.
Yet beyond all possible speculations, I kept wondering about the “madness” of C’s beating heart. Caught between emotions, affect, representations and thoughts, here the heart is but a mere scenario, almost the anonymous organic support, for a battle that takes place in another scene, ultimately the only one that counts. Consigned to the indifference of the support, we see it precipitate into the oblivion of senselessness as opposed to the world of meaning, to which the emotional experience (detached from the economical viewpoint of the classical theory), legitimately belongs. Because, let us remember, the emotional experience in Bion, as from Aristotle to Freud, is located on a “representational” continuum, and it is already on the psychic side, making sense only within a theory of thought and representation, in an anthropology that saves meaning to the detriment of the sensitive, thought to the disadvantage of flesh. Thus, Freud could read dreams without seeing them and Aristotle could attend the spectacle of the Attican tragedy as if he were in front of a book. Both impermeable to the vision of the event, whether it be a dream or a spectacle. Curiously, where Freud is obliged to see the dream, as in the case of Irma’s throat in the dream princeps of Traumdeutung, he finds it impossible to think. From here stems our first, decisive question: how to see C’s heart without “reading” it?
Talking cure and Authority. Between Politics and Violence.
However, it is still not enough to say that the space for politics opens up only when violence is suspended by speech. The space for politics requires taking on the exercise and the monopoly of violence through authority and its procedures: the Law. As we know the law is ineffectual without force, which is how violence becomes the real face of politics. For example, only the State can, within limits of the Law, sentence to death and authorize murder.
Let me elaborate on this with an anecdote from the times in which I was serving as a senior officer in the UN mission in Lebanon, dealing with PTSD in soldiers. It soon became evident to me that what triggered the traumatic experience was not so much the brutal violence of having killed a man – which stemmed from the obligation to fulfill the orders of a State or a third party that ratified the execution – rather it was the unthinkable trauma of the shooting of their fellow fighters. What is truly traumatic is being stripped of the imaginary cover, of the psychic skin that the group provides for each member. On a symbolic level, the traumatic experience consists in falling into the ambiguity and lack of clear rules of engagement.3. The violence that lies at the heart of politics and of authority similarly defines the nature of any verbal exchange in which we find – as Blanchot states: “command, seduction, terror, resentment, flattery, aggression. All speech is violence — and those who choose to ignore this – claiming it as dialogue – will add liberal hypocrisy to dialectic optimism” .
If dialogue were – as many like to think – an effort to reach a shared point of view supposing there should be an underlying symmetry between speakers, it would mean repressing the desire and the power-struggle that lies at the bottom of any live exchange. If we are looking for recognition in dialogue and a reflection of what is shared and accepted, there can be no real exchange, for we are merely asking the other to be like us and perpetuate the hypocrisy that tolerates only what is already known.