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In order for the realm of The Symbolic to be bound to the realms of The Imaginary and The Real, Lacan postulates the existence of a paternal function (The Name of the Father or Primordial Signifier). This function prevents the developing child from being engulfed by its mother and allows him/her to emerge as a separate entity in his/her own right. It is a symbol of parental authority (a general symbol that represents the power of father of the Oedipus Complex) which brings the child into the realm of the symbolic by forcing him/her to act and to verbalise as an adult. The three realms are now integrated in a way that is conducive to the creation of meaning and successful communication by what Lacan calls a Borromean knot.
In some cases the paternal function is foreclosed from the Symbolic Order. When this happens, the realm of the Symbolic is insufficiently bound to the realm of The Imaginary and failures in meaning can later occur (the Borromean knot becomes undone, completely disconnecting the three realms). Psychosis is experienced after some environmental trigger in the form of a signifier that the individual cannot assimilate. The fabric of the individual's reality is ripped apart and no meaningful symbolic sense can be made of experience. Psychotic delusions or hallucinations are the result of the individual's striving to account for what they are experiencing.
- Fink.B (1997) A Clinical Introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis, Theory and Technique. HUP. London
- Sanchez. B (2004) Understanding the Psychotic Mental Structure from a Lacanian Point of View and Dialogical Treatment in a Therapeutic Community. Therapeutic Communities. 25, 4. 253-260