Our failed acts

Our failed acts

Javier comes to the office with a bad mood: "I am very angry with myself, this morning I went for a walk and left the forgotten keys at home ... Four hours without knowing what to do !, until finally my wife arrived".

Some years ago Javier negotiated with the company his dismissal, money with which he devoted himself to speculating in the stock market with the hope of increasing it.

In the morning he woke up early and at about 11 in the morning he took a half-hour walk. But this time the lap was lengthened and he could not work that morning in front of the screen, although his bad mood seemed excessive.

He explained that he could have earned a lot of money that morning and was fed up with his dismissals. Two days ago without going any further, it was hard for him to find the car two hours since he forgot where he had parked it, which made him think of a certain mental deterioration, but in fact, at 36 he was too young for it.

He commented that in the last stock market investments he had not done very well because he made one mistake after another, so he was increasingly afraid of investing. This comment gave the clue to understand his "forgetfulness".

Actually, the part of him where his fear resided, in an unconscious way, had wanted to forget the keys at home and stay sunbathing, despite his conscious intention ...

Failed acts according to Freud

In August 1898, in a letter from Freud Fliess tells him about the forgetfulness of a name and its replacement by some element of another, which led him to have the concern to investigate within himself why that fact had happened to him and a month later, in a new letter to him, he is glad that he could even easily explain a second example of forgetting his name, although he asks himself at the end of it to whom he will make him believe all this he was discovering, which shows that Freud had A huge desire to investigate and transcend their studies.

In the work “Psychopathology of Daily Life”(1901), in the first chapter, Freud analyzes the case he told Fliess, where while traveling with a casual partner to a city in Herzegovina, he could not remember the name of an Italian painter Luca Signorelli and instead Other names of painters of the same nationality came to mind: Sandro Botticelli and Giovanni Boltraffio.

He recalled that the Turks of Bosnia Herzegovina, in their resignation in the face of destiny, when a doctor announced that the case of someone close to them was desperate they said: "Herr (tr. Lord): let's not talk about it anymore, I know that if it were possible to save him , you would have done it. ”

Then, the "Bo" of Bosnia was with Botticelli and Boltraffio, while "Herr" was Herzegovina and its Italian translation "signor", in Signorelli.

While I was talking on the trip, I had thought about the importance that the Turks of Bosnia gave to sexual pleasure and their despair when they were experiencing difficulties in that regard, associating this with the news they had received in Trafoi, of the suicide of one of their patients, Affected with incurable sexual disorders. Therefore, the proximity between Trafoi and Boltraffio forced him to admit that despite the intentional distraction of his attention, he already suffered the influence of this reminiscence.

While it is true that he wanted to forget something else and not the name of Signorelli; between that "other thing" and the name an associative link was established, so that his act of will did not hit the mark, forgetting the name, being that what he wanted intentionally was to forget the other thing.

So the name of the Italian painter, associated with certain ideas of repressed death and sexuality, had been dragged with them to his unconscious.

Of course, ideas of death and sexuality by themselves do not have that effect. Freud had not forgotten the theme of the frescoes, nor the subject of death, nor the Turkish sexual stories, so the repression It was not there, but it was linked to the news received in Trafoi.

From this, Freud then states that the conditions necessary to talk about the non-accidental forgetting of a name are the tendency to forget that name, the existence of a relatively recent repression and the possibility of establishing an external association between the name in question and the object of the repression, although it later clarifies that some caution must be taken, since not all cases of forgetting a proper name can be included in the same category as that of forgetting the name of Signorelli.

Therefore, the lapsus, due to its effects of confusion and its abbreviated structure, presents similarities with the joke and sleep, so it is a good tool to undo and suppress neurotic symptoms.

From the Introductory Conferences to Psychoanalysis, Freud defines failed operations as serious mood acts and not simple contingencies that have their meaning and arise from the action found of two different tendencies, a disturbing and a disturbed one..

Failed operations

Different failed operations what Freud distinguish are: 

  • Verbal slips (in German versprechen), which can occur when you say the exact opposite of what you wanted to say, such as the President of the Chamber of Deputies who said: "I check the presence on the premises of a sufficient number of deputies, and by so much I declare the assignment closed ”, when I started it in the facts, which makes it simple to interpret that its intention was to close the assignment; when there is condensation of ideas that were going to be said, for example, the anatomy professor who, after exposing the class, asked his students if they had understood, which they answered affirmatively, to which the professor says almost not to believe it, because “the people who understand about the nasal cavities can be counted, in a city of millions of inhabitants, with a finger ... sorry, with the fingers of one handor by mixed formations, as in the case of the person who said: "But then certain facts came out to Vorschwein", a non-existent word in German, which formed it from Vorschein (tr. to come to light) and Schweinerei (tr. crap, which it was what I wanted to say), which conjugate gave that Vorschwein.
  • In the slips in reading (in German see them), there is usually the fact of replacing a word with another, which are almost always similar, which can occur due to some thought that had previously to whom this happens, where something that is desired replaces what does not interest. 
  • Ear slips (in German verhoren) occur when you hear falsely something that is said, without there being a hearing impairment. 
  • In the slips in writing, we can find anticipation of words that also point to a desire to finish the sentence, although unlike those of speech, in a letter for example, who commits them rarely notices, unless he reread what he writes.
  • In the forgetting of designs (in German vergessen), the disturbing tendency is always a contrary will, That may not always be directly related to the other person in question. For example, a person who, upon receiving his guest, says “Are you coming today? I had completely forgotten that I invited him for today. ” In this case, the guest might suspect that the host office did not really want to receive it, "for something it will have been forgotten." However, this does not necessarily mean something against that person, but it can evoke in the host the memory of a situation experienced in which nothing has to do with himself. 
  • In the forgetting of proper names and foreign names, as well as foreign words in general, operates the purpose of avoiding the displeasure that would cause their memory. Then the same name can cause different effects for two different people, for evoking an important person for one who is not in the other, so for example a difficult name, you can easily remember which of the two the name evokes that other important person, which makes this topic not so easy to interpret. 
  • The forgetting of impressions and experiences It operates as a defense mechanism, making gaps in memory also of those unpleasant situations of life. While it is true that not all unpleasant situations in life one forgets it, but many are burned to fire, which collapses this point of Freud's analysis, he admits it although he replies saying that in the Psychoanalysis Opposites are not excluded. 
  • In the case of losing or missing something (in German verlegen)  It usually happens when what is lost comes from someone who generates an unpleasant memory or if we want to replace it with something better. It can also be for self-punishment, when there is the purpose of offering something to destiny to defend against another feared loss. 
  • Trastrocar the confused things, It allows to fulfill wishes that cannot be realized. For example, a student goes to his hometown for a weekend and when he arrives on Sunday night he will take the last car that returns to the capital of his country, it takes him to get to the terminal or confuses a street, for what should remain there until the other day, which is what I was really looking forward to.

In turn, failed operations can be accumulated, as in the case of Ernest Jones, who had a letter on his desk that was delayed in sending. When he decided to do so, he forgot to put the recipient's address and it was returned. When he put the address, he forgot to paste the stamp; or combined, as for example if someone forgets to go to an appointment that he had agreed on a first occasion and then arrives at the wrong time at the second time.

Rosdom Belian of the University of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay

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