The Aimee case, or paranoia of self-punishment

The Aimee case, or paranoia of self-punishment

The Aimee case is one of the most famous cases in the history of psychiatry and psychoanalysis.It is especially so for two reasons. The first is that this case represented the foundation of Jacques Lacan's doctoral thesis. The second is that it allowed tremendous progress on what was known as "paranoid psychosis".

Jacques Lacan is perhaps the greatest representative of psychoanalysis after Sigmund Freud.His postulates have led to significant advances in classical psychoanalysis. The case Aimee is the one who catapulted him as a new lucid thinker in this field.

This case also triggered a controversy because of the particular conditions of treatment and its presentation to the scientific community. Not to mention its consequences, in the long run, among the descendants of this famous patient. We are talking about a fascinating chapter in the history of mental health sciences.

… "what has been rejected in the symbolic world reappears in reality".

-Jacques Lacan-

Marguerite Pantaine, the Aimee of Lacan

Marguerite Pantainewent down in history as Aimee. It was the name of one of the characters in a novel she had written.And of the one that Lacan gave him in his doctoral thesis. She was born into a Catholic and peasant family of France. She apparently began experiencing persecution delusions when she was 28 years old.

The first occurred when she was pregnant. She thought we wanted to hurt her and therefore developed violent behavior.Her first child was stillborn, but Marguerite was convinced that one of her friends had killed him. She then had a quiet time, but during her second pregnancy, the ideas of persecution came back. For this reason, she did not let anyone take care of her son Didier during the first five months of his life.

Then his delusions intensify. It is therefore interned for the first time in a psychiatric hospital. Once out, she leaves to live alone in Paris. There, she is sure that an actress, Huguette Duflos, wants to hurt her son. She writes letters to the Prince of Wales to express her suspicions. Finally,in April 1931, Marguerite attacks the actress with a knife. She is sent to prison.

The development of the Aimee case

Marguerite is sent to the psychiatric hospital of Santa Ana where she is treated by Jacques Lacan for a year and a half.His symptoms had disappeared as soon as he entered prison. This is what drives Lacan to determine that she suffers from a "paranoia of self-punishment".In other words, being punished calms her down. She suffers from an unconscious guilt and since she evacuates it through a prison sentence, the delirium becomes obsolete.

Without going into the psychoanalytical details of the Aimee case, it must be known that he had a very particular development and denouement.Jacques Lacan has this woman and her situation. In fact, the name Aimée does not seem trivial. It is curious that Lacan called her that way. He did not have a romantic relationship with her. Now, thanks to her, he found many keys to develop his theory of psychosis.

Marguerite wrote novels that no one published. During her treatment, she handed them to Lacan who kept them.Paradoxically, this woman became famous thanks to the writings of Lacan. Even before she began treatment, Marguerite thought that people wanted to steal her texts.

She accused the writer Pierre Binot of stealing his ideas to write his stories. And that's what happened during his experience with Lacan.

An unexpected denouement

According to Jacques Lacan, Marguerite was simply cured by his severe punishment for his homicide attempt.We know that some of his delusions reappeared later. But they have not made his life unlivable. Nor did they cause her to be hospitalized again. Lacan's basic thesis was therefore considered correct.

The most surprising thing about this story is that Marguerite's son, Didier, decided to become a psychoanalyst. In his autobiography, he reported that deep loneliness and the problem of his mother had pushed him to take this direction.Without knowing it, Didier went to Lacan's office to be psychoanalyzed.He was totally unaware that Aimee was referring to his mother.

Then he began to have doubts. He did more research on the subject and was angry with Lacan for not telling him anything. He confessed that he did not even realize it was his son. At least not at the beginning. He had not spoken about it.

Didier tried to retrieve his mother's novels but did not succeed.Then he became a writer himself. A beautiful ending.The son of a delusional mother who becomes a psychoanalyst. He never knew what his mother had written. But he ends up taking the pen and doing his job.

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