Rik Loose – Libido and Toxic Substances

THE LETTER 06 (Spring 1996) pages 32-43

If writing, according to the king and under the sun produces the opposite effect from what is expected, if the pharmacon is pernicious, it is so because it doesn’t come from around here. It comes from afar, it is external or alien to the living, which, is the right-here of the inside, to logos as the zoon it claims to assist or relieve.

J. Derrida in Plato’s Pharmacy


Despite Freud’s tendency to deny this, there can be little doubt that the Cocaine Episode was an important part of his scientific and therapeutic work. Elsewhere we have proposed a reading of Freud’s Cocaine Papers which considers them as a beginning of the Freudian adventure.

Freud’s encounter with the drug cocaine in 1884 triggered a desire in him to cure not only others, but also himself of his neurotic and neurasthenic symptoms. One of the first objects of this desire was his friend and colleague von Fleischl Marxov who had become addicted to morphine. Freud hoped to be able to wean his friend off morphine by substituting it with cocaine. This failed miserably and consequently we can say that whilst addiction was Freud’s first object of his desire to cure, it also became his first real obstacle and medical mistake.

Freud’s further experiments with cocaine and its effect on the body also came to an impasse; his findings continuously exceeded the boundaries of his theoretical framework of nineteenth century energetics based on the…

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