Ticiana Dine*: Objective perception and paranoia by the theory of PCM (Paranoid Critical Method) of Salvador Dalí versus Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lakan”

All study focuses on Dali’s written form and how he launches one of his theories, especially his PCM- critical paranoid method. Dalí necessarily requires to Freud to see that writing of him but meanwhile Freud would be saying that “Theretofore the surrealists that in appearance had been selected me out as their saint, seemed to me some crazy people 100 percent. This young Spaniard, with fanatic’s staring eyes and his inevitable mastery had prepossessed me to reconsider my opinion. We are talking about someone with serious psychological problems.” Sigmund Freud
Exactly, we will examine the connection that Dalí wants to do with paranoid theories of Freud, mis-comprehendsion by Freud and support that would have this theory of critical paranoid method by Lacan in his doctoral thesis.

The entire study is an approach between the theory of Dalí on Paranoid Critical Method and various forms of perception of the object and the reality, the symbolic and its interpretation. The connection is made between Dalíand the symbolic, oneiric and perceptive theories of Freud. The methodology is based on literature research and to some extent on the comparative study between the perceptual forms of symbols in general.

Key words: psychological impacts, surrealism, symptoms, critical-paranoid method


All creativity of Salvador Dalí speaks about images and psychological and artistic concernments which are not so simple to be understood by the masses, for this reason we have a permanent impact between what the artist offers to be perceived and how realistically he gain on to be understand by the society. His artworks are filled with images that exceed what was proposed as a completely different form of seeing and experiencing the reality. In fact also Mark Chagall by and in his artworks long before that surrealism was flourished, spoke for oniric images where a donkey or a palace were losing their gravity by fling and creating so an image quite different from that perceptive. Dadaist movement also stepped toward a more revolutionary stance and was more against the human perception and logic. Its founders played with linguistic and philosophical context, in terms of perception and the meaning of an image or situation which split form and content from what was taught to us before it. For example, if the word “urinal” gives to us directly the idea where it belongs to and for what serves, Duchamp displaces it by presenting into an art gallery and calling it the fountain. This new form where the word is depreciated and gets another connotation when is placed into a different location from where it used to be, creates to the observer not just a lingual disturbance but also an philosophical one in the sense of understanding and reconstruction of what we have learned linguistically before that. Another incitement would be that with the jar by which is traded the Meat and other canned elements to be consumed, but inside of it was found not any food but was found some dejection and will appear again as a work of art under the name “The dejection of artist”.
But the following years of Dadaist movement would bring another nuance and shape of conceptuality closer to metaphysics for example Max Ernst in the portrait of a man in a suit and with apple in front of the portrait, or for example the artwork of Rene Magritte “This is not a Pipe”. Surrealism would move closer to psychological that would be touched by Dalí.
The end of the First World War and then later the preparation of the Second would have been a provocative not only for the human beings but also for the artists; many people suffered mental illness and were hit by mass paranoid symptoms. Sigmund Freud would be not just a revolutionary figure in the medical field but also an inspiration to the Surrealists as a guide for a completely new path of perception, where the paranoia would not be affected as an image and situation of confusion but rather as a sense of feeling where the artist was putting himself as a patient and then suddenly was taken on the role of the psychoanalyst where was putting the observer in his former role (so the role of the patient) to study a process almost absurd, which was the hypnotic situation and paranoid perception to perceive a picture filled with images that do not have a historical, narrative, academic or objective context. This seemingly chaotic process but with a psychoanalytic content would not be touched by all surrealists except Salvador Dalí. The latter would not be easily understood by Freud but according to the study which Lacan would then make to the self-proposed theory by Dalí regarding to self-induced paranoid state would somewhat agree with this theory that in his opinion it can remain valid and not opposed as a separate theory into an absurd context.
The society itself was then a chaotic society and the political situations were into a constant moving ground for this reason the people were more and more in conflict with the perception or nationality on what as far as and how the events would go. The socio-political situation resembled actually a chaotic surrealist picture where the observer is in front of what his perception and his imagination failed to go, the shape how we understand and perceive this picture or reality which is served to you resembles a hypnotic and psychoanalytic session where the individual does not need to go necessarily to a psychoanalyst but to face his own reality where either has to find a form in order to perceive it becoming part of chaotic absurdity or to experience the hallucinatory sensation and become part of the victims of this society and of phenomena that it has presented him. The masses mainly tends to judge how incomprehensible is a picture where the images have not a chronological connection or where the pictures do not make a narrative connection with each other, but masses also forgets that life we are facing everyday is filled with such surreal situations which are as absurd as unrelated to our form of thinking and foresight of things that look like exactly the "absurd" sensation when facing a surreal picture. But precisely this logic so sharp was not followed by masses, by sciences which studied the history of art as a subject but not as logic neither a perceptive and sensory feeling. This logic was not followed and therefore mea brought to mind of masses the artists who reflected the dream, illogic, poetry or philosophy but never had been seen as a completely vital form of human being. In fact all the artists then fought more to set some theories which were related to literature than a theory which was very close to human being. Meanwhile the only one that would make more transparent the distinction between philosophy, poetry and tangible was Salvador Dalí who was even called one of the greatest and the most incomprehensible surrealists.The difference between him and his contemporary surrealists in fact was that Dalí touched more closely this space of perception and sensation.
The difference between paranoia and surrealism is that surrealism is somewhat paranoid under visual aspect in terms of chaotic images that appear into a picture. Dali’s surrealism consists in his theory concerning the paranoid interpretation or self-induced paranoid state which is what Freud would not accept nor fully understood that part which will be discussed below how Lancan supports it as a theory.
Meanwhile the paranoia itself is a process which according to Freud is self-induced but is not connected to the unconscious where we cannot possibly do an objective explanation associated with this process which is rooted in subconscious.
Paranoid symptoms and paranoid syndrome according to the summary text of Oxford are described as pathological beliefs that include aspects of daily life between love, jealousy and greatness. Paranoid symptoms can cause serious consequences for the patient and other people as well. Symptoms occur in schizophrenia and less in severe depressive disorders and dementia. They also occur in primary paranoid disorders, hereupon in the absence of any other disorder[2].
According to Sigmund Freud paranoia is seen as a form of deviant reality where the individual fails to do the objective secession between the reality and imagination, between the delirium state or rambling state and the paranoid one that affects the individual (patient or neurotic where Freud studied associated with typical cases of his patients).
In fact although Dalí does not talk about symptoms, it may be that Dalí has had an impact almost paranoid to see the outside world in a such view or his PCM theory relates to terms of more expectations for the world precisely as in such a paranoid Lacan had a quite interest on critical-paranoid method. Lacan in 1930 paid a visit to Dalí to discuss about "rotten ass " and after that, the psychoanalyst and the artist got a dialogue on several publications on surrealism and paranoia, cited in 1932 in the publication of the doctoral paper of Lacan “Paranoid psychosis in the process of dealing with personality” – Original in French “De la psychose paranoïa que dans ses rapports avec la personnalité”[3].

More in: Revista Haemus 

Social Sciences in Albania, Faculty of Communication Sciences, European University of Tirana.                
[2]Psychiatry - Text summary of Oxford (chapter tenth. P. 203 ) by Michael Gelder- Dennis Gath- Richard Mayou.
[3] Jacques Lacan, De la psychoseparanoiaquedansses rapports avec la personalite, Paris: Seuil, 1975; first published in 1932. Salvador Dali, Comment on deviant Dali, op.cit. (note 1), pp. 171-172. See also Elisabeth Roudinesco, Jacques Lacan. Esquissed’une vie, historie d’un systeme de pensee, Paris: Editions Fayard, 1993, pp.55-6, 85. Dali reciprocated Lacan’s interest in his theories in the essay ‘Nouvelles considerations generales sur le mecanisme du phenomeneparanoiaque du point de vu surrealiste’. Minotaure, no.1 (May 1933), in which he cites Lancan’s thesis, while Lancan published ‘Le probleme du style et l conception psychiatrique des forms prnoiques de l’experience’ in the same issue of Minoture. Lancan’s article, owhile substantially material from his doctoral thesis, shows signs of Surrealist influence in the introduction of Marxist terms, such as ‘revolution theorique’, civilization bourgeoise’, and ‘superstructure ideologique’. See Roudinesco, Jacques Lacan, op. cit. (note 18), p. 94. Lacan’s encounter with Dali in 1930 was crucial to his early writings; however, he was not the only Surrealist to influence the psychoanalyst; Rene Crevel, Georges Batailleand Roger Caillois also influenced Lacan’s subsequent thinking. See Carolyn Dean, The Self and Its Pleasure: Batille, Lacan and the History of Decentered Self, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992, and Roudinesco, Jacques Lacan, op. cit. (note 1).

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