......• The First Three Lessons of the Treatment of the Wolf Child
.........Rosine and Robert Lefort

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The first three sessions of the treatment of the Wolf Child Rosine & Robert Lefort The case of the so-called Wolf Child is now famous in French psychoanalytic literature. Presented by Rosine Lefort at Jacques Lacan's seminar in 1954, it appears in his first Seminar Book I, Freud's Papers on Technique, 1953-1954.

Robert, the Wolf Child, born in March 1948, was referred to Rosine Lefort at Christmas, 1951. After eight sessions of "observation", the treatment commenced on 15 January 1952. Here we publish the notes on the first three sessions as they were written at the lime. They are followed by a commentary written by Rosine and Robert Lefort in 1983 after working in a cartel with Eric Laurent, Jacques-Alain Miller and Judith Miller.

Notes on the case (1952)

Tuesday 15 January, 5 p.m.

This morning, when I was looking for Maryse, Robert claimed most of my attention, searching for pencils and biscuits, and then leaving two pots on my knees. He cried when I took Maryse away.

This evening I found him on the potty. He got up as soon as I saw him and followed me. No reaction in front of the staircase, so I look him to the consulting room.

His behavior was extremely agitated, almost like he was when he arrived at the lazaret. He has the same obsession of the first days', he cannot bear an open door. Three limes in the course of the session he slammed the door when it was not closed properly or went to verify that it was in fact closed.

Apart from his usual behavior-piling things up on lop of me and shutting other things away in boxes, known as Noah's arks here - the new salient traits are:

- He put the pot on my knees.

- He took off his pants, which he had put back on incorrectly, and threw them into the corner.

- He gave the biscuits to me without trying them.

- His attitude towards the feeding bottle and water.

- He jumped up and down on the spot, crying out, very agitated.

He discovered the feeding bottle, surprise, fell it, look it, put it down again and blew on it He came back to it frequently, and each lime he kept still for a few seconds, with the bottle in his hand, without crying out and with his face expressionless for a brief lime. He ended up taking away everything that was on the table around the bottle, which he left on its own.

Before deciding to take away everything from around the bottle, he noticed the water bowl. Very agitated, he rushed to it, grabbed it by the edge to turn it upside down. But he dropped it before the water was poured out, as if he were scared. The impact of the bowl against the floor made the water squirt. Laughing and crying, he looked at the pool of water; scared, he moved back, and then came over to the other side of my knees to look at the water, separated from it and protected by my knees.

He then started to remove the things from around the bottle. But he heard a nurse going into the next room and, with the feeding bottle in his hand, he ran to open the door. He saw the nurse and offered her the bottle, saying, Bois or Vois ("Drink" or "Look") to her, quickly closed the door, put the bottle back on the table and went to the sandbox. He pointed it out to me, but he did not touch anything.

He went back to finish clearing the table around the bottle, and when he had finished he said, "Good-bye" to me and went out. He returned, took the Noah's ark and look it with him to the crèche.

Since the ark is a toy that belongs in the consulting room, I asked the nurse to get it back from him later on, but to leave him the wooden animals contained in the box. When she did this, there were roars from Robert. Because after a quarter of an hour there was no sign he was calming down, I went to see him. He gradually calmed down while silting on my knee, grabbed the pencil and paper from my pocket and returned lo the crèche after quietening down. He was in a sweat and his face was so strained and tense that I had to wait until he was a bit more relaxed (even after he stopped screaming) to take him back.

Wednesday 16 January, 6 p.m.

When I took Maryse to the canteen, Robert clung to me and became very agitated. I told him that I would be coming back to fetch him. His face was awfully tense.

He went out in front of me and quickly moved in the direction of the consulting room. He was carrying a pair of celluloid scissors. He went to the door of the crèche; but as I told him that we were going upstairs, like yesterday, he moved quickly to the bottom of the staircase. He tried to climb up, but as he was not able to, turned towards me and I helped him up. During the climb, some violent screams. Once upstairs, he rushed into the room, came out, returned to the room, verified that I was there and closed the door.

Like yesterday, he went to the bottle, lifted it up, blew on it, showed it to me, tense and crying, and put it back down so that it almost fell over. He was scared; he took the bottle and put it back gently and showed me that it was straight.

He grabbed the baby doll, pulled at its jumper, held it out for me, then laid two empty boxes down on my knees before putting the baby doll on top.

He approached the bottle, but before daring to take it he cleared the space around it; then he placed it on the floor, close to me, looked at it, stood motionless for a few seconds, and put it back on the table. He bent down to pick up a cube and while gelling up again he bumped against the table. The bottle fell, squirting milk on the table and floor. He was very scared; he stood the bottle up again and furtively wiped the stains on the table with his hand, restless.

He went to fetch the celluloid scissors, put them in a glass and shook them, left them there and put both things inside an empty box which he had placed on my knees at the beginning.

He went 10 the sand, touched it, moved back as if he were scared and then grabbed a plate as a spade. But he did not do anything with it. He look the glass again, leaving the scissors to one side, used the glass as a spade and tipped the sand out onto the spot he had been digging in. Very agitated.

On several occasions he checked the door was properly shut, while screaming violently as if he were shouting abuse. He rushed to the baby doll, hit it on the bottom, threw it back into the cradle.

Very restless, he tried to wipe the milk stains off the floor with his hand. Then he randomly stacked up toys in the ark, shouted, "Good-bye" at me and left. During the lime I was getting rid of the things he had put on my knees he had reached the first steps of the stairs, and I heard a heartrending, pathetic call: "Mummy, Mummy!" I went to him, look him in my arms and descended the stairs. Twice, the same heartrending call uttered in a fairly low voice, contrary to every other form of verbal expression from Robert.

He returned to the canteen without difficulty. Like yesterday, today's session lasted about fifteen minutes, and it was he who decided on the duration.

Behavior perhaps even more agitated than yesterday. His face very tense and his eyes even more so; he did not look good at all.

Like yesterday, he jumped up and down on the spot, ending up crouching. He would very often put his hand on his head, as would an adult whose head was about to explode under the pressure of his obsessions.

In contrast, during his agitation after the bottle fell, he placed his hand on his pants several times, then jumped in the air and crouched for a second.

In the light of the succession of acts or gestures, one would have to say that everything is swamped by a terrible agitation which destroys any possible variation of emotion from one act to another, with the exception, perhaps, and very briefly, of the bottle. It all seems to be incoherent, but I do not think that this is so.

Thursday 17 January, 6 p.m.

Because of Maryse, whom I don't take today, the mothercraft brought Robert into the corridor. He rushed towards me, screamed once only, and held out his arms to me. While we were climbing the stairs, he held me tightly and caressed my face, purring with satisfaction.

He entered the room very quickly. He was considerably less agitated today. His activities were less scattered, more organized. It was I who after half an hour invited him to go down for dinner.

He took the bottle, blew on it, put it back in its place and held it for a while to be sure it was stable. Put two empty boxes on my knees. Took the baby doll in the cradle, offered it to me and cried out, "Baby!", but he did not come close; then he threw it violently into the cradle. I said to him that he was not happy with the babies. He looked at me and said, "No!" energetically. He would not give me the baby doll today.

He took the glass and put some toys on my knees before filling the glass with sand and slowly tipping it out (without either evident jouissance or aggressiveness). He wiped it with his smock and placed it on my knees after putting a cube inside it. This was followed by a scene of violence in which he threw objects into the cradle.

He piled the ark and toys up on my knees; the bottle remained behind. He took it, blew on it and, with his arm extended, carried it towards the sandbox. Incomprehensible screams, and he put the bottle back on the table. He was not able to make it steady; when he saw that it was going to fall, he drew back. He picked it up from the floor, ran his hand over it as if there were a stain (though no milk was spilt), tried to place it back on the table. But as he could not manage to hold it steady, he placed it back on the floor. Furtively, he wiped the imaginary stain once more. Noticed that when bringing the bottle back from the sand, an unconscious gesture of tipping it horizontally towards me, very quickly.

Went and checked that the door was properly shut. Took some of the things on my knees back and placed them on the floor, then noticed the paper in my pocket, piled everything up again, took my paper and pencil, put the paper back in its place. He broke the lead of the pencil with his teeth, threw away the lead aggressively and put the pencil on the pile.

Went and opened the door, looked to see if there was anyone behind it and closed it again; spread out the pile, put the things back in a pile again and went to play with the electric switch. Firstly switched it off and on very quickly, uninterruptedly; then twice piled new things up on top of me and between each operation went to switch the button on and off several times in a row.

The time in darkness became quite long. I told him that he saw, did not see anymore and that everything remained there all the time.

Went to the sandbox, put some sand in a paper bag, emptied the bag and then tore it to pieces. Took a piece of wrapping paper that was on the table, covered all the things on me with it, took the paper again, crumpled it, went and threw it outside and closed the door carefully.

Took the bottle lying on the floor and, keeping it in his hand, went to switch the light off. A brief period of darkness, and quickly put the bottle back on the floor. I told him that he did not want to see that he had taken the bottle, even though he very much wanted it, but was also scared of it. Went to the sand.

Found a piece of biscuit in the sand, bit a comer off it, and, very quickly, went and threw it outside, and carefully closed the door.

I took him downstairs with the ark which he wanted to carry. He was considerably less agitated. There were brief periods of indecision about what he would do, and when they lasted too long, he jumped in the air once, crouching down as he dropped, and then acted. Less agitated tension in his gestures, anxiety that could be perceived a little at times. No violent laughing; less screams. Tense face but less unstable with changes of expression. Said "Mummy!" several times while going down the stairs, less heartrending than yesterday in the sense that yesterday I had felt that it was addressed to an absence while today it was in part addressed to me.

Friday 18 January

A nurse told me that yesterday evening, after being put to bed, Robert tried to cut his penis with a pair of celluloid scissors. Panic-stricken, Christiane said to him, "You're going to hurt yourself, and Maryse, seated on the floor, looked on, sucking her thumb. The occupants of this seniors room are himself, Maryse, Christiane and Yolande.

Commentary (1983)

The psychoanalyst distinguishes, following Lacan, between phallic jouissance, Other jouissance and jouissance of the Other. French uses the one word. At a meeting with Spanish colleagues, Rithée Cevasco informed us - to our delight - that the Spanish language has two terms: el goce, which designates phallic jouissance, and el gozo, mystic jouissance, of which there has been no shortage of representatives in Spanish history over the last three centuries.

Mystic jouissance, jouissance of God, jouissance of the Other-in Spanish, the category is well defined, and nevertheless the jouissance of a Saint John of the Cross cannot in any way be assimilated to the kind of jouissance that Schreber experienced, which is wholly due to foreclosure (Verwerfung).

The Wolf Child is from the beginning open to the dimension of jouissance but, moreover, he is open at the level of a phallic representative, the bottle, only to find himself, after a total failure, in the abyss of jouissance of the Other, where the necessity for the abolition of all phallicity emerges: this is the mutilation he inflicts upon himself of the representative of the phallus in the shape of an organ, his penis.

In the commentary on these first three sessions that we presented at the 1981 Autumn Meeting of the École de la Cause freudienne, we insisted on the holes that Robert's structure evidently presents, without pointing out the positive side of his relation with speech which here appears:

- in the place that he gives to the Other from the very beginning of his treatment,

- by means of the introduction of that privileged object, the bottle, bound to the Other and to the Other's word.

The bottle, an oral object par excellence, in this case loses its oral character and comes almost exclusively to represent-so as to find one's bearings, one could say-a phallic object. Indeed, it appears that what the bottle truly represents is the organ, Robert's penis-and this will be the case for a long time to come.

Moreover, it is precisely the organ, which is entirely real, that Robert wants to deprive himself of, after his desire to have it has been enunciated for him.

The Other without object

As far as the Other is concerned at the beginning of this treatment, it is remarkable that the analyst is immediately in a place different from the one she occupied during the period of observation. At that time Robert was the Other when he announced himself with his strident cry, "Madam!" This signifier fell, and the analyst took the place of the Other in the real. Everything thai Robert would subsequently express was related to this Other who had become external to him.

On 16 January, when, having fled from the session and facing the void from the top of the staircase, he utters, "Mummy, Mummy!" for the first lime, in a pathetic call, he expresses-it could not be said more clearly-the disappearance of the primordial Other for him, that is, the real, longstanding absence of his mother.

On 17 January he attempts to re-establish, in the transference, contact with the Other, since on going upstairs for his session he huddles up against Rosine, he caresses her face, while purring with satisfaction, and on returning downstairs after the session he says, "Mummy!" several times, on this occasion addressing his call in part to the analyst.

Engaging in the treatment was, therefore, enough for Robert (who somehow had included the Other in himself through being this Other, in so far as his cry "Madam!" did not receive a response that would have transformed it into an appeal) to find again an appeal that he had surely known before, even if the relation with his mother, a paranoic who used to starve him, had been far from satisfactory. It is this appeal, "Mummy!", that founds for Robert a minimal symbolisation of the primordial Other constituted by the mother. But he at first addresses it to the void and then utters it while in Rosine's arms. He will not call Rosine "Mummy" again, as if that appeal remained without future in the absence of the symbolic which renders futile what this appeal actually is: an appeal to the paternal metaphor.

Everything is in place, then, in such a way that the Other is not the vehicle of this metaphor, is not barred and remains without a beyond, in the real.

With this status the Other is not the vehicle of the object, either - the bottle, isolated by Robert from the other objects, and from Rosine as much as from himself. It is a representative of the penis, which does not attain the dimension of a symbolic metaphor and has no access to the status of the signifier of lack as Vorstellungsrepräsentanz. It remains a scopic, materialized object, and its fall is identical to the loss of the penis, as Robert exhibits by putting his hand on his sexual organ while he crouches, as the bottle falls or almost falls.

Castration in the Real

It is between the Other and the object that remain separated from one another that, at the beginning of the treatment, Robert's castration will be played out. But which castration? In no way is this the castration that results from an Oedipus complex where the subject, symbolically fastened down, can function in the Held of the Other's desire.

While we are not dealing with such a structure, nonetheless we cannot avoid evoking castration in the real. which would then realize the ). We must then deal with Schema R - but a Schema R whose geometrical points have changed as a function of the absence of the symbolic). [1]

What, then, is the place of (p and what is the reason for its cut in the real? Normally, the cut concerns the subject who is promoted by it on the basis of the structure of the body's surface defined by a Moebius strip (the surface R being its flattening down: i I e M) with that which falls out: the objet a.

Robert does not correspond to such a structure of the body, but the signifier that dwells in him nevertheless imposes upon him a cut in the real, a real that covers the two triangles of Schema R (MIO and MIS), since the symbolic is absent there. It is therefore a real which is different from that at the end of the chain of symbolic identification.

Without the symbolic, the signifier remains in the real; it is the redoubling of the real. This appears clearly in the field R of Schema I: "creatures of speech", "speech in which the created is maintained". [2]

It is in the "relation to the signifier that this drama (of madness] is situated. [3]

The consequences are as follows:

- On the side of the signifier, the ego ideal takes the place of the Other (see Schema I); what the Other utters is that which it is in the real-it speaks and it commands. This is the psychotic's superego,

- On the side of the image, the object of need and, subsequently, the object of desire cannot be taken from the Other without endangering the Other, without his existence being put in question.

In the real, without the symbolic, the cut can no longer pass between the object and the Other, there can be no holes in the Other. Conflict arises between taking the object and killing the Other or making oneself in the image of the Other, from which the feminine superego of the psychotic derives.

In fact, everything is due to the Other:

- the breast which is no longer in the subject,
- the excrement, which is the model of the price to be paid to the Other in the real,
- the look, which in its fixity is made into a wall,
- the voice, which is only but a cry, bellowing, on the side of the Other without appeal.

The Other of Jouissance

As far as the penis is concerned, in the absence of I and S it cannot attain the status of signifier of lack. It is a real organ whose possession by the subject is equivalent lo depriving the Other of it, and this is impossible.

It remains for the psychotic to deprive himself of the penis for the Other, while realizing the image of the primordial feminine Other: the subject re- introduces the elision of the phallus, Lacan writes, "in order to resolve it, into the mortifying gap of the minor-stage". [4]

The penis is therefore in the place at which its function is identical to the other objects, hence its status which can be assimilated to the objet a except that it cannot be the cause of a desire, but jouissance clings to it with evident predilection: it is a pole of attraction for infantile masturbation.

Jouissance for the sake of whom, though? For the sake of the Other, to such an extent that the subject no longer manifests any such jouissance for himself, as is apparently the case with Robert. It is not the same in the case of Schreber. but apart from the involuntary emissions that he had at the beginning, Schreber is careful not to write anything down about his compulsive masturbation.

The breast or the bottle were for the sake of the Other; so is the penis, also. If the first must not be sampled, the second must not be owned: this is the price of the Other through jouissance. It remains for the psychotic to take the place of this object of the Other's jouissance for the Other to exist, following the model in which a subject turns himself into the phallus, the object of the Other's desire, but in registers other than the real. He can also turn himself into the Other in order to have a portion of jouissance... by castrating himself.

This is the same oscillation that we find in Schreber between becoming the object of the Other's jouissance and being the feminine Other, both states being run together. Such is the case of his initial fantasy: "It really must be rather pleasant (to be a woman succumbing to intercourse). [5] But while this is a fantasy according to Lacan's formula ( <> a), which is an essential component of the structure and as such is part of the real of the subject, it is certainly not the real of Schema R but that of Schema I, without an Other other than that of jouissance. In the first case, the fantasy submerges the subject in an imaginary (un imaginaire) which generates pleasure. Now, it is not pleasure that Schreber encounters but, after initial horror, a flood of jouissance, the jouissance of God: God demands a constant stale of jouissance... It is therefore my duty to offer him this jouissance... And if in doing so a bit of sensual jouissance falls to me in return, I feel justified in accepting it as a small compensation for the excessive suffering and privation that have been my lot for so many years...

The signifier becomes unleashed and there is jouissance (ça jouit), but there is a double risk: that God will withdraw from him if Schreber is not thinking of something, or that God will be threatened in his existence if Schreber attracts him to the point of occupying his place.

Death is at stake - his own and God's. The death of the body-from jouissance to beatitude.

God has knowledge only of corpses and he can, after having obtained his jouissance from Schreber, "leave him in the lurch", "forsake him", unless the Other and he form a doublet of leprous corpses.

The () in psychosis is of the order of the real; when every phallic representative of "the being of the living", every object, has withdrawn, has been envaginated into the real and is no longer there between the subject and the Other.

The superego can occupy the entire place there, since the signifying murmur of the lost voices inscribes a law on the Tables, which is not among the laws of speech.


[1] See Schema R in Jacques Lacan, "On a question preliminary to all possible treatment of psychosis", in Écrits: A Selection (London: Tavistock, 1977), 197.

[2] See "Question", 212.

[3] "Question", 214.

[4] "Question". 211.

[5] Daniel Paul Schreber, Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, I. Macalpine and R. A. Hunter (trans.), (London: W. M. Dawson & Sons, 1955).


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