Barry O’Donnell – Questions Arising from Reading Darian Leader’s What is Madness

THE LETTER 49 Spring 2012, pages 51-63.

This paper examines the representation of a psychoanalytic response to madness in the recent publication What is Madness? by Darian Leader.  Drawing from the comments of Christian Fierens and Guy Le Gaufey and guided by the treatment of Freud’s position on paranoia in Tom Dalzell’s  Freud’s Schreber Between Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis the paper finds that the representation of a psychoanalytic response raises crucial questions  for our practice and teaching as well as the constitution of our schools.

Keywords: diagnosis and practice, quiet madness, ordinary psychosis, the use of vignettes as a representative device

The use of vignettes as a representative device 2011 saw the publication of two books on the question of madness which came to my attention. Tom Dalzell’s Freud’s Schreber between Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis has been recognised as a very readable, thoroughly scholarly, theoretically rigorous book. It articulates Freud’s specificallypsychoanalytic account of psychosis and situates it in the context of the psychiatric theories and treatments of psychosis of Freud’s time. Furthermore, it studies the influenceof Freud’s account on subsequent  psychoanalytic responses to madness. Dalzell argues that Freud explains the psychosis of President Daniel Paul Schreber’s as caused by a fixational narcissism. What distinguishes this theory from all others is that Freud invokes a theory …

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