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Jacques Lacan. The Neurotic’s Individual Myth

That is not all. At the very time when all these lucubrations are taking place in him, the subject knows perfectly well, we find out later, that in reality he does not owe this sum to Lieutenant B either, but quite simply to the lady at the post office who was willing to trust B, an honorable gentleman and officer who happened to be in the vicinity. Nevertheless, up to the time when he puts himself in Freud’s care, the subject will be in a state of extreme anxiety, haunted by one of those conflicts so characteristic of the experience of obsessionals and which centers entirely on the following scenario: since he swore to himself that he would reimburse A so that the catastrophes foreseen in the obsession would not happen to those he loves the most, he must have Lieutenant A reimburse the generous lady at the post office, and, in his presence, she must pay over the sum in question to Lieutenant B and then he himself will reimburse Lieutenant A, thus fulfilling his oath to the letter. This is where he ends up, through that logicality peculiar to neurotics, led by the internal necessity controlling him. 

You cannot fail to recognize in this scenario—which includes the passing of a certain sum of money from Lieutenant A to the generous lady at the post office who met the payment, then from the lady to another masculine figure—a schema which, complementary in certain points and supplementary in others, parallel in one way and inverted in another, is the equivalent of the original situation, inasmuch as it weighs with an undeniable weight on the subject’s mind and on everything that makes of him this figure with a very special way of relating to others we call a neurotic. 

Of course, this scenario is impossible to follow. The subject knows perfectly well that he owes nothing either to A or to B, but rather to the lady at the post office and that, if the scenario were fulfilled, she would be the one who, in the long run, would be out her money. In fact, as is always the case in the actual experience of neurotics, the imperative reality of the real takes precedence over everything that torments him so greatly—torments him even on the train that takes him in exactly the opposite direction from the one he ought to have taken in order to accomplish, with respect to the lady at the post office, the expiatory ceremony which seems so necessary to him. Even while saying to himself at each station that he can still get off, change trains, return, he still goes toward Vienna where he will put himself in Freud’s hands; and, once the treatment is begun, he is content quite simply to send a money order to the lady at the post office. 

This phantasmic scenario resembles a little play, a chronicle, which is precisely the manifestation of what I call the neurotic’s individual myth. 

Indeed, it reflects, in a mode that is no doubt incomprehensible to the subject—but not absolutely so, far from it—the inaugural relationship between the father, the mother, and the friend, this more or less dim figure in the past. Clearly, this relationship has not been elucidated by the purely factual way I have presented it to you, since its significance derives only from the subjective apprehension that the subject had of it. 

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