Sex and Prediction Error, Part 1: The Metapsychology of <em>Jouissance</em>

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J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 2021 Aug;69(4):693-714. doi: 10.1177/00030651211042000.


Jouissance is one of Jacques Lacan’s most impenetrable concepts. Yet it is essential to Lacan’s view of sex. The term is sometimes translated as “enjoyment,” but this misses key features of the concept, notably its “traumatic,” excessive character. This excess points to a structural negativity within the subject (i.e., the real), an original split that cannot be remedied. In this first of a series of three papers, it is proposed that “surplus prediction error”-as understood within contemporary neuropsychoanalysis-is a neural correlate for jouissance. In part 1, jouissance is explicated within Lacanian metapsychology, primarily in reference to Lacan’s real and symbolic registers. Jouissance is an excess enjoyment, outside of the binding, representational capacities of language. The real is the negativity or antagonism within the symbolic, the limit of language and meaning, the point where jouissance emerges. To clarify the relationships among these terms, their positions are traced in some of Freud’s major concepts, including drive, infantile sexuality, repetition, and the unconscious. A basic understanding of jouissance is necessary for the rest of this Lacanian neuropsychoanalytic project.

PMID:34727734 | DOI:10.1177/00030651211042000

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