NLS Minute – 12

– 12 –

Ordinary of the tattooed mark

Nassia Linardou – Blanchet 


Ordinary psychosis entered our
vocabulary to become one of our clinical concepts during the Antibes Convention in 1998.
Jacques-Alain Miller created it "as a direct consequence of what we call
the last teaching of Lacan which is a feedback from his pragmatic development
over the thirty years of his Seminar"[1].

As J.-L. Monnier reminds, the
production of this concept took place in three phases: surprise-rare
cases-ordinary psychosis[2].
In Antibes neo-triggering, neo-conversion,
have tried to apprehend what is new into the clinical
field. But in his introduction, Jacques-Alain Miller says that he doesn't want
to connect this elaboration to the neo-psychosis:
"I don't like at all the neo-psychosis. And I told myself: finally, what
we are talking about is ordinary psychosis"[3].
So, ordinary psychosis indicates that the psychosis of the modern times
displaces the question of 'ordinary' normality assigned by the only Oedipus

It is sensible that Jacques-Alain
Miller encourages us to center our diagnostic question on the existence of
"a disturbance that occurred at the inmost juncture of the subject's sense
of life" and to refer all the little details to that central disturbance.
He organizes this disturbance according to a triple externality. It is here
that I would like to stress on the bodily externality.

The body nowadays tends to be
less 'hold' by the discourse. Clinical evidence converges to the fact that
"to build his own body" or to establish a link with the Other often
gets through the cutaneous mark. Ordinary psychosis certainly inspired this
tattoo fashion which acquired a surprising importance and claims to be an
answer to the question 'what can the body be made for?' at the very moment that
the norms forsake it. Anthropologists confirm that today the tattooed-criminal
short cut, whose tenacity was remarkable, has been put aside. Moreover, where
usually the body mark socialized the human being, nowadays the 'ordinary'
tattoo is considered rather a personal act and an individual choice[4].

Could we establish a
differential diagnosis of the tattoo? It is a question of tonality,
Jacques-Alain Miller says. For example, such a masculine subject consults the
psychoanalyst following the advice of his cardiologist because of an anxiety
which could heighten his mitral valve prolapse. He is a young man who pursuits
a rather successful career. He is covered in tattoos, specifically with Tibetan
death's-heads. He decided on his first tattoos at the exit of the adolescence
when his father died. This subject is inhabited by the death but a particular
detail gives a precise indication into the disturbance at the inmost juncture
of his sense of life. His tattoos certainly tell a story of power and wisdom, a
story which pleases him, as he says. But the Push-to-the-tattoo to which he
devotes, is qualified by him as "a singular experience": indeed the
smell of the burned flesh mixed in that of the ink as well as the proven pain procures
him an infinite jouissance. Here the tattoo as "a joint brace to connect
with his body"[5] has to
be renewed in the infinity as the psychotic modality of the drive imposes.
Ordinary psychosis thus, but what psychosis is in question? Because "the
term of ordinary psychosis must not be a permission to ignore the clinic”[6].
I shall say that this body is not ballasted by the object as the rhythm of his
frantic life shows as well as the occasional use of cocaine which deletes the
circadian cycle of the life. Only anxiety badly subjectivated comes to indicate
the neighborhood of the mania with the death. 

Such other feminine subject
also at the exit of the adolescence chooses the tattoo as a mark of the link to
the Other. She gets inscribed on her back the name of her father that she had
lost during her early childhood. She had always been considered as 'the
orphan'. "The lack of my father always pushed me towards the life during
all these years", she says. By fixing this mark to the body in an indelible
way, she tries at the same time to fix something of the cause which directs her
love life. Here, the tonality is completely other, that is to say hysterical,
and the body obeys the constraint of the castration.

[1] Miller J-A, « Effet retour sur la psychose
ordinaire », Quarto 94-95, p.

[2] Monnier J-L, « Psychose ordinaire et ‘présent
liquide’ », Quarto 94-95, p. 34.

[3] La psychose ordinaire, La Convention d’Antibes,
Ouverture, p. 230.

[4] Among other studies, cf Elise Müller, Une anthropologie du tatouage contemporain,
L’Harmattan, 2013.

[5] Miller J-A, « Effet retour sur la psychose
ordinaire », p. 46.

[6] Miller J-A, « Effet retour sur la psychose ordinaire »,
p. 45.



NLS Congress 2016
Dublin, 2nd and 3rd July 2016

Congress: 180 euro

Students (- 26 years old): 90 euro 

Party/Dinner on Saturday evening: 50 euro

Congress Time: Saturday 9am – 6pm / Sunday 9am – 3pm.



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