Hallucinatory, The

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The basis for the transformational dynamics of representation-perception-hallucination, the hallucinatory register is a constant process of mental life, representing the instinctual impulse insofar as it is "pressure" (Drang ) and movement (Treiberegung ).

In noun form and detached from any psychiatric connotations, the term hallucinatory was introduced as a metapsychological notion in 1990 by César Botella and Sára Botella, in an attempt to broaden an analytic theory that was overly focused on the notion of representation, and that therefore could not explain certain analytic structures or why certain analytic treatments were doomed to failure.

Freud used the expression "hallucinatory satisfaction of need" throughout his writings, and he considered the hallucinatory a basic assumption governing mental life. However, he never really developed the idea.

The same was true of the post-Freudians. In "Le développement du sens de réalité et ses stades" (Stages in the development of the sense of reality; 1913), Sándor Ferenczi described a "hallucinatory stage" but did not explore it in depth. Wilfred Bion took an interest in the topic, but his notion of hallucinosis remained close to that of pathological hallucination. Jacques Lacan, in Das Ding (1959), hinted at a "fundamental hallucination," but he did not develop this idea either.

André Green, in The Fabric of Affect in the Psychoanalytic Discourse (1973/1999) was indisputably the first to posit a hallucinatory formation, as a "negative hallucination" (the representation of the absence of a representation; this is a reverse configuration, whose opposite is hallucinatory realization). According to Green, hallucination was fundamental to the structure of the psyche. In "L'hystérie, unité et diversité" (Hysteria, unity and diversity; 1985), Augustin Jeanneau conceptualized a "hallucinatory position" with the value of a mental function.

The hallucinatory represents the instinctual impulse in the same way that affect represents qualitatively the quantity of the instinct, and the idea represents the instinct's contents. It involves a process that is inseparable from the regressive pathway that opens up in dreams but that must be inhibited during the working hours in favor of ideation and perception.

This notion is indispensable to psychoanalytic practice. At certain times during the session, under the influence of a formal regression of thought, "accidents of thought" or a quasi-hallucinatory "work of representability" can unexpectedly occur in the analyst without his or her conscious awareness; this may be the only way to gain access to the meaning of the patient's unrepresentable material.

CÉsar Botella and SÁra Botella

See also: Absence; Action-(re)presentation; Amentia; Experience of satisfaction; Fantasy; Idea/representation; "Metapsychological Supplement to the Theory of Dreams"; Negative hallucination; Negative, work of; Pleasure/unpleasure principle; Primary need; Reality principle; Reality testing; Representability; Subject's desire; Wish-fulfillment; Wish, hallucinatory satisfaction of a; Word-presentation.


Botella, César, and Botella, Sára. (1990). La problématique de la régression formelle de la pensée et de l'hallucinatoire. In La psychanalyse: Questions pour demain, colloque de la S.P.P. Unesco, Paris: Presses universitaires de France.

. (1992). Névrose traumatique et cohérence psychique. Revue française de psychosomatique, 2.

. (2001). La figurabilité psychique. Lausanne and Paris: Delachaux & Niestlé.

Green, André. (1999). The fabric of affect in the psychoanalytic discourse (Alan Sheridan, Trans.). London: Routledge. (Original work published 1973)

Jeanneau, Augustin. (1985). L'hystérie, unité et diversité. Revue française de psychanalyse, 49 (1), 258-283.