Hurly-Burly – Commentary of Selected Papers (VII)

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“In this respect, I would like to iterate just what an instrument
of public service the journal of the New Lacanian School is”

Éric Laurent



On Philippe La Sagna’s “Séglas and the System of the Malicious Other”




Under the aforementioned title, Philippe La Sagna elaborates the main ideas underlying Séglas’s theoretical approach and work. Starting from the asylum of the Salpêtrière, where “the clinic of hallucination was the crux of the clinician’s work”, we become familiarized with the historical context of Jules Séglas. In addition, we can witness the modifications in his thinking over time and the contributions he made to our approach to clinical practice. 


With reference to Séglas, La Sagna presents us with the hallucinatory phenomenon, especially the “little Séglasian revolution” according to Lacan, which is the verbal psychomotor hallucination. This is the beginning of an exploration of the minute differences between the various types of hallucinatory phenomena. This allows for a great variety of questions to be posed. For instance, what differences are there between auditory and verbal psychomotor hallucinations?  Is there a link between hallucinatory phenomenon and delusion? How can hallucinations be mistakenly identified with obsessions? What kind of misrecognition is taking place?


Apart from this, La Sagna provides us with further details concerning the opposition between two major poles of psychosis, specifically melancholia and paranoia. Beginning with Cotard’s syndrome, La Sagna differentiates melancholia from paranoia based on Séglas’s conception. Delusion of negation and ideas of negation, vastness and megalomania, emotions and intellectuality are some of the elements that contrast with each other.


In 1934, Séglas criticizes the notion that a hallucination is “a perception without object” – according to the definition given by Benjamin Ball- and thus he produces his own first theory of hallucination. Here is where Lacan and Séglas meet each other. Obviously, here the hallucination is being removed from the domain of sensation and being placed on the side of language. First and foremost the question now is “who is speaking”? “Contrary to what used to be believed, the source of auditory hallucination is not external to the subject but within the subject”, says La Sagna.  Additionally, for Lacan, the delusion itself is an elementary phenomenon; for Séglas, hallucination – an elementary phenomenon par excellence – is a delusion.


Philippe La Sagna’s lecture is followed by a fruitful discussion with the other participants of the seminar. With Jacques-Alain Miller’s guidance, questions and remarks, certain topics of Séglas’s theory are put forward for further clarification. I am convinced that this article will be very useful to all who are eager to study the subtle distinctions presented to us, in order to prepare their work for the next NLS Congress in Athens.


Thanos Xafenias


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