Vol 1 No 1 (2021)

Pathologies of excess and lying truth

Domenico Cosenza
University of Pavia
Published February 10, 2021


Starting from mental anorexia, this article discusses the problem of the status of truth in the contemporary clinic of the so-called new forms of the symptom. I show how the status of the contemporary symptom is heterogeneous with respect to that of the classic Freudian symptom obtainable from the neurosis clinic. I articulate this difference by leveraging the size of the excess of enjoyment and the function of the truth at stake in the symptom. In the neurotic symptom, the excess of enjoyment always occurs in partial form and within the framework of a discursive structure: Lacan would say that it presents itself as a plus-de-jouir. The truth presents itself in this picture as not-entirely sayable, and as a lying truth, inexorably taken in the fictional structure of the signifying chain in which the neurotic subject is constituted. In the so-called contemporary symptom, the size of the excess is presented in a massive and non-partial form, outside discourse of-fact if not structurally. The truth that is correlative to it is not offered as not entirely sayable or metaphorical, but rather literal, superegoic and holophrastic. At the same time, this article highlights the defensive function that these new symptomatic forms bring into play: protecting the subject from the passage to the destructive act, in particular suicide. In this sense we emphasize rather also the positive function of “action” at stake in these symptoms – with particular reference to anorexia and drug addiction – which gives life to the construction of an articulated and daily ritual that lasts over time and supports the enjoyment of symptomatic practice in play.