1st Edition

Cruelty, Sexuality, and the Unconscious in Psychoanalysis Freud, Lacan, Winnicott, and the Body of the Void

By Touria Mignotte Copyright 2020
    244 Pages
    by Routledge

    244 Pages
    by Routledge

    In Cruelty, Sexuality, and the Unconscious in Psychoanalysis, Touria Mignotte explores an innovative conception of cruelty. Integrating the life sciences and quantum physics, this approach shows that cruelty structures the living just as much as the unconscious, and makes it possible to integrate the main psychoanalytic currents, notably Freud, Lacan, Winnicott, Klein, and the thinkers of autism, while renewing the place of psychoanalysis as a human science.

    The life sciences have given us an insight into the murderous struggles that unfold before the primitive environment consents to the emergence of life as a "primary destructive impulse." This book offers a deep exploration of this primitive cruelty and of the processes of pairing that it induces: Mignotte hypothesizes that cruelty pertains to the dynamics of the void from which the human being originates, and whose creative expansion manifests itself, at each birth, as a sexual excess threatening the primary oneness. Cruelty, Sexualit,y and the Unconscious in Psychoanalysis thus posits the necessity of revisiting the fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis within a new epistemological framework developed from the laws of the dynamics of the void and based on an analysis of the development of these dynamics through clinical symptomatology. From this new perspective, this book suggests that the narcissistic psychoses and contemporary pathologies may be seen as the enactment of the murder and incest induced by the jouissance of the primitive void.

    This book calls on psychoanalysts to become the testamentary witnesses of the inhuman sexuality of the primitive void and to allow themselves to be affected by the ferment of destabilization and dissociation from which it proceeds.


    Preface by Jean-Michel Rabaté

    Preliminary note

    1 Cruelty and absolute dependence

    2 The primary unity called “destruction”

    3 The void and the “system tending towards unity”

    4 Immortal life and the feminine phallus

    5 “WOMAN” and the myth of Prometheus

    6 Prometheus: the bringer of fire

    7 Topography of the included third and the basic autistic structure of the subject

    8 The totalization of a “masculine body”

    9 The Rat Man: the split-off function of the mother

    10 The hidden third and negation







    Touria Mignotte is a doctor, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst. Her practice with psychotic adults and autistic children led her to engage in research recasting the theoretical contributions of Freud and Lacan in association with those of Winnicott. She is a member of the Société de psychanalyse freudienne in Paris and the author of several articles and the book La cruauté. Le corps du vide (L’Harmattan, 2013).


    "In this book, Touria Mignotte takes an entirely new heuristic approach to the origin of 'cruelty' at a multidisciplinary level, associating biology, quantum physics, and psychoanalysis. Her considerable contribution opens up new horizons for 'interminable' analyses which get bogged down in conflicts that cannot be overcome with the tools of free association and free-floating attention alone. 'One form of madness, the mother’s, links up with another, the primitive father’s, inventing otherness at each birth': this troubling thought elaborated by Mignotte roots clinical psychopathology in the strangest picture of parenthood that we can imagine, the failure of which constitutes the basis of the 'cruel superego'.

    Adamo Virgine, didactic member of the Italian Psychoanalytical Society and author of several books including Prenderesi cura. Sul senso dell’esperienza psicoanalitica

    "In this totally innovative book, Touria Mignotte considers Winnicott’s 'primary destructive impulse' in terms of a double return to the primitive father envisaged as a physical void. This identification fecundates the primitive father for whom each conception is a sort of 'big bang', as in the universe. Life emerges from destruction, but at what price? In the clinical examples, the author renews the analyst’s function at the heart of this big bang, taking upon herself physically the cruelty that structures the symptom."

    Pia del Sylvestris, training member of the Winnicott Centre, of the Italian Society for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy, and author of La Difficile Identita, translated into French and English (Difficult Identities, Routledge, 2018), as well as into German

    "How does one free oneself from the mother as a container and find within oneself the father of whom one is merely the formal content? Touria Mignotte shares with us here her erudition and clinical knowledge. Her approach to children and psychosis introduces us to her own particular method, but one that is more generally at work in a psychoanalytic treatment. Her writing is truly a process of weaving that sews over and over again the discourse of the Other and never lets go. We get a glimpse of the hand held out by the analyst in the most difficult clinical situations."

    Christine Dal Bon, psychoanalyst in Rome and author of Oublier son nom, Histoire d'un cas: l'Amnésique de Collegno