Malachi McCoy – An Intolerable Rejection

The Letter Issue 66-67 (Autumn 2017/Spring 2018) Pages 3-10

An Intolerable Rejection

Malachi McCoy

In New Studies on Hysteria, Charles Melman identifies four concepts: traumatism, incompatibility, repression and unconscious. Beyond the image is to be found a repressed and rejected cast-off; the constitution of whom, Melman asserts, is freshly preserved. Unremittingly, this original signifier’s infiltration presents the hysteric’s psychosomatic manifestations. Sounding out that foreign body, Freud’s discovery assures us that psychoanalysis alone, in deciphering the language of symptomatology, gives recognition to and discharges that real place of suffering.

Keywords: Freud; Melman; repression; hysteria; incompatible; rejection; signifier.


It is intolerable. It is rejected. Its rejection becomes an intolerable and highly charged infiltrating agent. In New Studies on Hysteria Dr Charles Melman restores Freud’s inauguration of the essential concept of repression and of the unconscious, because one is correlative with the other. The development of these new writings presents us with an idea of the freshness with which hysteria signifies the embodying preservation of an ancient, pervasive, unconscious text. What is it that we don’t want to know about the history of our subject; what implicates a traumatism so incompatible? The psychoanalyst has something new to tell us; firstly, fundamentally, he refers us to Freud.

Freud’s Journey

‘Up to a time shortly before I entered the University it had been my intention to study law’, Freud tells us. It is not…’a matter of chance that the first advocate of psycho-analysis was a Jew. To profess belief in this new theory called for a certain degree of readiness to accept a situation of solitary opposition – a situation with which no one is more familiar than a Jew’. Freud writes that his interest, after making a lifelong detour…returned to the cultural problems which had fascinated him long before, when he was a youth. ‘I perceived even more clearly that the events of human history, the interactions between human nature, [and] cultural development…

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