TUCHÉ : Fixation

« Le sujet est heureux(…) tout heur lui est bon
pour ce qui le maintient, soit pour qu'il se répète
— Télévision, Autres écrits, 526


What Fixes, What Repeats 

Joanne Conway


What of fixation?

As Alexandre Stevens points out in his argument for the NLS Congress, Lacan in Seminar XI will fix repetition as one of the four fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis. 

But what of fixation? Well only in his later teaching will Lacan wrestle with that concept while Freud, says Stevens, uses this term in a “rather discreet way”, but how?

For psychoanalysis, fixation accounts for the fact that we are marked by childhood experiences from which we “retain […] an attachment to greater or lesser extents, to archaic modes of satisfaction, types of object and of relationship.” These fixations of which the subject knows nothing insofar as they are unconscious, are the source of repetitions. These determining fixations may however make their presence very manifest via repetition, in the various rituals, symptoms and acts of the subject.

Freud makes no explanation per se of fixation but utilises it in a highly descriptive way throughout his work, particularly in relation to the aetiology of neurosis. In the Three Essays fixation is linked to the theory of the libido and the persistence of archaic sexual traits where the subject seeks out particular forms of activity or remains attached to certain properties of an object whose history can be traced to some moment in the sexual life of the child. This gains extension in the theory of libidinal stages which of course includes the drives as he elaborated them there.

Later in Beyond the Pleasure Principle Freud asserts a fixation to trauma, where libidinal satisfactions are no longer sufficient to explain this traumatic element that persists. Here Freud will assert the existence of the compulsion to repeat, to which we shall return later, together with Lacan.
The Freudian Unconscious and Ours

It struck me however upon re-reading Freud’s texts, particularly the metapsychology papers on Repression and The Unconscious from 1915, that in fact fixation is at the very core or rather cause, of his concept of the unconscious.


Fixation beyond Inertia

Rik Loose



In Seminar XI Lacan indicates that the drive is neither organic nor a myth but rather that it is a fiction in the Benthamite sense of the word. (1) It is interesting to note that he refers to Jeremy Bentham. With this reference he indicates that the drive is a construction, a fiction, that nevertheless indicates that something there ex-sists as for Lacan Bentham’s fictions are situated in the domain of the relationship between language and the real, between what IS and what EX-SISTS. He calls this drive a montage and not a model because a model is, essentially, a imaginarization of the real as a scientific attempt to approach the latter. Before he deconstructs this drive, he refers to Beyond the Pleasure-Principle where Freud writes that the drive is a manifestation of inertia in organic life, and he says that this idea of inertia could be linked to fixation. But, according to Lacan, doing so, would be a mistake.(2) From Seminar XI onwards the relationship between fixation and inertia begins to shift. 



[1] Lacan J. (1964-1965), The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, New York: Norton, p. 163.
[2] Ibid., p. 162.

Fixation and Murder of Passion

Maria-Theresia Müllner



“… that each stage in the development of psychosexuality affords a possibility of 'fixation’ and thus of a dispositional point. People who have not freed themselves completely from the stage of narcissism–who, that is to say, have at that point a fixation which may operate as a disposition to a later illness–are exposed to the danger that some unusually intense wave of libido, finding no other outlet, may lead to a sexualization of their social instincts and so undo the sublimations which they had achieved in the course of their development. This result may be produced by anything that causes the libido to flow backwards (i.e. that causes a ‘regression’): whether, on the one hand, the libido becomes collaterally reinforced […] on the other hand, there is a general intensification of the libido, so that it becomes too powerful to find an outlet along the channels which are already open to it, and consequently burst through its banks at the weakest spot.” (1)

In 1911, Freud was already thinking about what would remain a clinical and current phenomenon. Freud’s text could offer a way of interpreting this phenomenon.


[1] Freud, S. (1911). Psycho-Analytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia, III The Mechanism of Paranoia, in: Volume XII, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, J. Strachey (ed.), Hogarth Press: London, pp.61-62.



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