views updated May 17 2018


The term repudiation is the most literal translation of the terms Verwerfung ("foreclosure") and Verleugnung ("denial-disavowal") that Sigmund Freud used to refer to a psychic act he wanted to distinguish clearly from repression.

In his commentary on the "Wolf Man" he declared that "A repression [Verdrängung ] is something different from a repudiation [Verwerfung ]," (1918 [1914]). Indeed, repression, while it erases an unpleasurable idea from consciousness, cannot prevent this idea from "working" to produce symbolic derivatives in the form of symptoms. Repudiation, by comparison, consists in invalidating a perception or mental representation, and thus is a way that allows it to remain conscious, but emptied of meaning; it is thus unable to have a role in the subject's fantasy life.

The ultimate form of repudiation exists in what Jacques Lacan called foreclosure, where the representation is incapable of playing any symbolic role whatsoever (foreclosure in the Name-of-the-Father). But it can manifest itself elsewhere in a paradoxical manner by becoming inscribed within the individual topology of the split ego. In that case it will effect the kind of repudiation-disavowal seen in the so-called perverse structures. In any event, to varying degrees, such failure to symbolize an idea makes it impossible for the mental representation to be a part of the subject's mental and fantasy life.

Bernard Penot

See also: Foreclosure.


Freud, Sigmund. (1918b [1914]). From the history of an infantile neurosis. SE, 17: 1-122.

Lacan, Jacques. (1966). Du sujet enfin en question. In his Écrits (pp. 73-92). Paris: Seuil.


views updated May 29 2018


The rejection or refusal of a duty, relation, right, or privilege.

Repudiation of a contract means a refusal to perform the duty or obligation owed to the other party.

anticipatory repudiation is an act or declaration before performance is due under a contract that indicates that the party will not perform his or her obligation on the future date specified in the contract.