On the obsession with being titled
For titles do not reflect honour on men,
but rather men do on their titles.
have intended to coin the neologism agnomenosis to point to a
specific psychopathology which the mind of the Ďmoderní man is
afflicted with so inveterately to the extent that it dominates his
or her behaviour and thinking at the expense of the real social
demands of his or her role in life. The neologism is simply derived
from the Late Latin stemmed nominal agnomen affixed to it the
Greek suffix -osis, with the former literally meaning Ďin
addition to a nameí and the latter indicating, among other things, a
diseased or an abnormal condition as in thrombosis, neurosis,
psychosis , and the like. The principal reason for coining this
new term is, in fact, the well observed preposterous phenomenon
which is typical of a sickeningly sick society and signifies that
the agnomen in question becomes, in the eyes of the person who
happens to hold it, even more compulsively significant than his or
her authentic proper name (or even sense of identity) Ėjust as the
prevalent interpretation of a given Ďcanonicalí text becomes more
coercively important than the text itself, regardless of the deviant
nature of this interpretation (see, for example, Adonis, 1989:187).
Given that proper names, unlike any other kind of signifier, do not
tend to change or alter their Ďmeaningsí at any moment of
articulation, as in the Lacanian formulation, the agnomen in
question seems to undergo a series of psychically inflationary
transformations, where each such transformation imposes a further
nuance of signification depending on the level of narcissism which
is typically exemplified by the psychical make-up of what will be
called, the agnomenotic (on the analogy of the neurotic,
the psychotic, etc.). And given that the level of
narcissism itself presupposes several different layers or even
sublayers of the meaning of Ďself-loveí, as in the Freudian
formulation, the clinical structure of agnomenosis is in general
identified with the most unhealthy incarnation of these layers and
sublayers, and is therefore represented as a persistent symptom (or
a set of symptoms) of patriarchal Ďpower structuresí that are
characteristic of very serious clinical structures such as
schizophrenia and fetishism, in particular. In consequence, the
megalomaniacal and obsessive manifestations of such clinical
structures may well turn, at a primitively aggressive level, into a
devastating blow both to human nature and to human society, as will
be seen in the upcoming exposition.
The exposition will begin with reference to Freudís distinction
between primary narcissism and secondary narcissism so far as the
normal and abnormal (or pathogenic) libidinization of the meaning of
Ďself-loveí is concerned. Thus, on the one hand, the exposition will
point to the integrational relationship between the two structures
of narcissism and egoism in the sense that the former is a libidinal
complement of the latter. And on the other hand, it will touch on
the oppositional relationship between the two structures of egoism
and altruism where the latter is explained in terms of a nullified
longing for sexual satisfaction, hence its conformity with libidinal
object-cathexis in the state of (heterosexual) love. Accordingly,
the exposition will underline the expression of sexual overvaluation
which is intrinsic to altruism in the same state with respect to the
two contrasting types of object-choice (the anaclitic versus the
narcissistic), and is therefore comparable with the symptom of
megalomania that is indicative of forms of functional psychosis such
as schizophrenia, especially when the symptom is modified by the
subjectís adherence to word-presentation rather than
object-presentation Ėwhether this latter object is a person or a
By highlighting the close resemblance between Freudís psychical
dichotomy Ďword-objectí and de Saussureís structural-linguistic
dichotomy Ďsignifier-signifiedí, the exposition will make the first
analogy between schizophrenia and agnomenosis by which the two
psychopathologies converge in the presentational nature of the
signifier (the word and the agnomen, respectively), and diverge in
the distribution of narcissistic libido with regard to repression as
a defensive procedure. Moreover, within the anthropological and
psychological conceptions of fetishism, the distinctive aspect of
the inherent sexual perversion in the psychological conception will
be characterized by the symptom of obsessiveness. Hence, the second
analogy between fetishism and agnomenosis will be made on the basis
whereby the two psychopathologies agree in the compulsive import of
the symptom in question, and disagree in the type of object-choice
(the anaclitic versus the narcissistic) as well as the kind of
sexual overvaluation (the active versus the passive). This dual
analogy will lead to the identification of the clinical structure of
agnomenosis with the two (sets of) symptoms of megalomania and
obsessiveness, thereby identifying the acquired agnomen under
consideration, which is quite bastardized in nature, as a
manifestation of what will be termed, the Ďmanic-obsessive
signifierí (in contradistinction to Lacanís notion of the Ďmaster
signifierí). Finally, the dual analogy will also lead to the
designation of at least three generalized categories of agnomenosis
as a clinical structure: Ďagnomenosis of professionalismí,
Ďagnomenosis of factionalismí, and Ďagnomenosis of
authoritarianismí. These three generalized categories will,
therefore, be discussed and exemplified by drawing on factual
observations both in the so-called Ďdeveloped societyí and the
so-called Ďunderdeveloped societyí.
Within the inevitable constitution of the ego, the (desiring)
subject seeks to actively orientate a considerable magnitude of the
libidinal energy which exists at his or her disposal towards the
destined object of desire (be it a person or a thing) for the
attainment of sexual satisfaction in the first place. This active
orientation of libidinal energy is, at bottom, governed by
narcissistic motivation which is, in and of itself, an innocuous
character trait in the normal course of psychical development. In
the abnormal course of such development, however, the narcissistic
impulses tend to emerge far more perniciously when the libido in
question is withdrawn from the destined object of desire, thus
undergoing a passive (or rather reflexive) orientation towards the
(desiring) subjectís own ego.
Freud himself differentiates between two generalized categories of
narcissism as a psychical structure, primary narcissism and
secondary narcissism, with the perceivable similitude between the
two, moreover, suggesting a rather recalcitrant aura of
self-centeredness where either category is related to the designated
meaning of Ďself-loveí in one form or another. Yet it is the first
category of narcissism which seems to approximate this designated
meaning more closely than the second category, and thus the intended
love of self that is prioritized over the love of others may well
act as a psychical precondition for at least one kind of Ďsexual
perversioní or even other kinds of Ďsexual disorderí, as pointed out
by Freud restating psychopathologists like Ellis, Näcke and Sadger
(see, for instance, Freud, 1914:65; 1916-7:465). It appears,
therefore, that both of these sexual Ďabnormalitiesí (or
Ďaberrationsí) originate from narcissism as the universal
state of things, a primordial affective condition which does give
rise to the aforesaid love of the other (but only later), without
the narcissistic impulsion vanishing by necessity.
Although both sexual Ďabnormalitiesí (or Ďaberrationsí) are
explained in terms of the libidinal energy that is reflexively
directed towards the desired object, they are clearly distinguished
by the internal and external nature of such reflexivity,
respectively. Whereas a typical example of the Ďsexual perversioní
refers to the tendency of a narcissist who treats his or her own
body as if it were the body of the normal object of desire (in which
case the tendency would be described as an auto-erotic one), a
characteristic example of the Ďsexual disorderí points to the
propensity of a narcissist who regards the body of another
narcissist of the same sex as though it were the body of his or her
normal object of desire (in which case the propensity would be
identified as a homosexual one). In either case of sexual
Ďabnormalityí (or Ďaberrationí), a quantum of libidinal
intersubjectivity manifests itself on the psychical threshold of
egoism (or even solipsism), a threshold which, in turn, reveals
itself most predominantly in the (normal) state of sleeping where an
emulation of intrauterine existence is compulsorily and repetitively
conjured up, as will be seen later in the exposition. But insofar as
the object of desire is libidinally externalized, as in the latter
case of sexual Ďabnormalityí (or Ďaberrationí), narcissism is more
likely considered to be entering into the less primitive phase of
The second category of narcissism (secondary narcissism), on the
other hand, is much easier to discern: the ego and the id are no
longer as undifferentiated as they would be under the genesis of
primary (or, rather, primitive) narcissism, and the designated
meaning of Ďself-loveí is derived from the subjectís impulsive
identification with the (external) object of desire as an
essentially defensive demeanour whereby the former is induced to
disavow the forfeiture of the libido that is associated with the
latter. Secondary narcissism, from this viewpoint, is
contemporaneous with the formation of the ego through such impulsive
identification, and the Ďsecondaryí description of its self-love
implication can be seen in the retrieval of the libido (which is
originally inducted into the ego) from the impulsively identified
object of desire.
As discussed in a previous article, any amount of libido that is
incorporated into a person or a thing (i.e. object-libido) would
ultimately be amalgamated into the ego (i.e. ego-libido), thereby
resulting in the duplicate proclivity for the enlargement of the
infantís self-awareness (which may itself culminate in
self-love) at the one extreme, and the circumscription of his or her
emotional affiliation (or libidinal tie) with the parent at the
other extreme (see el-Marzouk, 2008a; 2008b).
On such a basis, and by drawing an analogy from the organic world,
what appears to be, the Ďextrinsicí correlation between ego-libido
and object-libido may well be juxtaposed with the Ďintrinsicí
correlation between the simplest living organism in this world (i.e.
the amoeba) and those unauthentic protrusions or protuberances it
constantly and incessantly formulates (i.e. the pseudopodia). Just
as an amount of the protoplasm is flown through these pseudopodia
while its main substance remains in the amoebaís main body, a
magnitude of the libido is emitted towards the object (or objects)
of desire while its principal assemblage tarries in the egoís
principal abode. Thus, in the normal course of psychical
development, there exists no impediment to the possible
transformation of ego-libido into object-libido, nor is there any
(undesirable) hindrance to the restoration of the libidinal energy
that has been actively orientated towards the latter to the ego
itself (see Freud, 1914:68; 1916-7:465f.).
With this biological analogy in mind, it would be reasonable to
suggest that the ego under the genesis of secondary narcissism, in
particular, is forced willy-nilly to stand on a quite precarious
interface between the normal conservation of proper self-esteem and
the abnormal (or, rather, pathogenic) disposition towards the
improper overestimation of the self, a disposition which can only be
psychologically sensitized (and therefore socially automatized)
through a destructive amalgamation of the subjectís dispirited sense
of identity and the nonsensically grandiose and grandiloquent nature
of the system of government which manifests itself in the well known
institutions (such as, the family, the school, and the state). Since
the destructive amalgamation, from this standpoint, is perceived to
be a proactively coercive relationship between the ruling (communal)
authority as a Ďpatriarchal wholeí and the ruled individual as a
Ďfilial partí, it can also be diachronically traced back to the
infantile constitution of such ruling authority. That is to say, the
destructive amalgamation, from the same perspective, is understood
to be a retroactively oppressive relationship between the so-called
Ďdeveloping societiesí and the so-called Ďdeveloped societiesí,
especially in the aftermath of any form of colonialism (or
imperialism) that has been actually practised by some of the latter
against the majority of the former.
the subjectís retrieval of libidinal energy from the impulsively
identified object of desire, its Ďrecathexisí (or reinvestment) in
the ego circumscribes narcissism with an egoistic emanation where
the subject is unflaggingly beguiled under the delusion that the
external world exists exclusively for his or her own advantage or
even wish-fulfillment (as in the extreme case of solipsism). Hence,
narcissism can be Ďbehaviourallyí separated from egoism in terms of
the libido theory in the sense that the former is characterized as
the libidinal (or, rather, libidinized) consummation of the
latter, notwithstanding the possibility of further Ďbehaviouralí
separation between these two psychical structures. It is possible
for the subject to be categorically egoistic but, nonetheless,
harbouring a nonnarcissistic predilection for the cathexis (or
investment) of libidinal energy in the object (or objects) of
desire. In this case, the nonnarcissistic predilection may be
consolidated far more intensely so long as the fundamental
satisfaction of the objectís need constitutes part of the subjectís
need itself, and insofar as the compulsion to maintain such
satisfaction does not entail any affective damage to the ego.
However, it is also possible for the subject to be categorically
egoistic whilst at the same time accommodating a hypernarcissistic
inclination towards the Ďdecathexisí (or Ďdeinvestmentí) of
libidinal energy from the object (or objects) of desire. As such,
the hypernarcissistic inclination may be fortified to the extent
that the subject would have very little need for the same object (or
objects) of desire, whether the need in question be generated for
the purpose of purely sexual gratification or, on the contrary, be
engendered for the sake of highly nonsensual aspiration, with this
latter alternative being derived from the subjectís (basic) need
under the banner of heterosexual love.
From this Ďbehaviouralí separation between the two psychical
structures, it can be perceived (albeit not easily) that egoism is
the incontrovertible and constant structure, whereas narcissism is
the controvertible and variable counterpart (see Freud,
1916-7:467). And given the analogous distinction between the id and
the ego (where the former is a constant entity and the latter is a
variable one, too), it can be perceived more transparently that
egoism establishes a much closer tie with the id than it does with
the ego, while the reverse is true for narcissism (see, also, el-Marzouk,
2008a; 2008b). This indicates that it is egoism
(rather than narcissism) which abides by the laws of the pleasure
principle much more submissively than it does by those of the
reality principle, an excessively obsequious manner which is typical
of the Ďcivilizedí and Ďmoderní man (especially the extremely docile
Ďacademicí who is institutionalized by means of some form of
opportunism or even nepotism), and thus procreates the most
primitive incarnation of the oral phase during the infantile phases
of libidinal and ego development. If it is true that the oral phase
predominates over the psychical structure of the suborder
Anthropoidea for the development of the ego itself, then the
sustained egoism of the uncivilized and age-old
anthropoid would be far less malignant and baleful than the
maintained egoism of the Ďcivilizedí and Ďmoderní man Ėjust as the
heteronomous infantís apparently obsessive concentration on
material and/or emotional possessiveness is much more instinctive
and congenital, and is therefore far more innocent and benign than
that of the Ďautonomousí adult.
As mentioned at the outset of this part, one abnormal manifestation
of (primary) narcissism is the impulsive proneness towards auto-erotism,
an instinctual structure which is characterized by a connate nature,
a persistent, self-concatenate conatus in Spinozaís sense,
not to speak of the connate-acquired qualities of the ego. With the
psychical mechanisms that underlie narcissism in mind, there must be
something supplemented to auto-erotism (after birth), something
acquired as a new psychical activity under such conatus in
order to effectuate, and thence activate, those mechanisms (see
Freud, 1914:69). Thus, so far as the development of the ego is
concerned, the Ďsuccessfulí endeavour to gratify the impulsive
proneness towards auto-erotism takes place at the earliest phase of
such development by means of an instinctual (or instinct-) component
known as passive scopophilia, a component which paves the way for
the later inception of its antithetical counterpart, active
scopophilia, particularly when the psychical structure of narcissism
is entirely depleted of its libidinal content. It follows that the
reversed transformation of active scopophilia into passive
scopophilia, which is similar, in principle, to the inverted
transmutation of (active) sadism into (passive) masochism,
necessitates the inescapable recrudescence of the narcissistic
object on the one hand, and the inextricable replacement of the
narcissistic subject by an alter (extraneous) ego on the other hand,
with the replacing ego, moreover, being acquired through impulsive
identification (see, also, Freud, 1915a:129).
This means that the transformed passive scopophile (or the
transmuted (passive) masochist, for that matter) entertains what may
be called an overlibidinized narcissism, a psychical
structure which does result from the superimposition of secondary
narcissism upon primary narcissism, but whose highly destructive
mission is to consummate (or, rather, contaminate) egoism with its
overlibidinization, thus culminating, as it does transitively, in
the overaggressification of its psychical structure (i.e. that of
egoism). The antithetical counterpart of egoism is, of course,
altruism, a further psychical structure which is distinguished from
all other categories and subcategories of narcissism by one of two
(nondestructive) characteristics, at the very least, that may
ultimately entail the same affective attitude: firstly, the
perceived absence of the libidinal energy which is to be invested in
the object (or objects) of desire for the attainment of sexual
satisfaction proper; and secondly, the perceivable presence of a
psychologically and/or socially determined propensity for the
desexualization of the libidinal energy in question under the aegis
of Ďsublimationí, which is itself a developmental process (see,
also, note 2).
With regard to the normal state of being in love, however, the
psychical structure of altruism seems to operate in parallel with
the one that emanates from the (normally) invested libidinal energy,
thereby converging with it in a unified psychical structure which
cannot be differentiated even if the amorous longing for sexual
gratification comes to a climax. In such a state, the object of
desire tends to attract a given proportion of the subjectís pent-up
narcissism, a proportion whose egoistic equivalent acts as an
essential precondition for the sexual overvaluation of the former
(that is performed by the latter). This signifies that the
altruistic transposition of egoism will generate in the object of
desire a delusional feeling of immense grandeur, as can be clearly
seen from a love poem written by Goethe in his Westöstlicher
Diwan [West Eastern Divan]. In this stanza, Hatim, the
lover, appears to ruminate about his beloved Zuleikha in an amatory
dialogue between the two (cited in Freud, 1916-7:468) (Notice, here,
that James Strachey, the chief translator of Freudís complete works
into English, cites the English version of this stanza from Ernest
Dowdenís translation, West Eastern Divan, 1914):
Wie sie sich an
Bin ich mir ein
Haette sie sich
verloer ich mich.
(Does she expend
her being on me,
Myself grows to
myself of cost;
Turns she away,
I to my very self
[End of Part 1, to be continued]
*** *** ***
Adonis (Ali Ahamad Said) (1989):
ŖŠ«„ «Š»Ō«Ū« [The Beginnings of Arabic Poetics]. Beirut:
Darwish, Mahmoud (2004): ō»«ř
[Counterpoint]. al-Karmel, 81:68-79.
Dennett, Daniel (1991): Consciousness Explained. Penguin
Freud, Sigmund (1900): The Interpretation of Dreams. Penguin
Freud Library, vol. 4.
Freud, Sigmund (1905a): Three Essays on the Theory of
Sexuality. Penguin Freud Library, vol. 7.
Freud, Sigmund (1905b): Fragment of an Analysis of a Case
of Hysteria. Penguin Freud Library, vol. 8.
Freud, Sigmund (1908): Character and anal erotism. Penguin Freud
Library, vol. 7.
Freud, Sigmund (1914): On narcissism: An introduction. Penguin Freud
Library, vol. 11.
Freud, Sigmund (1915a): Instincts and their vicissitudes.
Penguin Freud Library, vol. 11.
Freud, Sigmund (1915b): Repression. Penguin Freud Library,
Freud, Sigmund (1915c): The unconscious. Penguin Freud
Library, vol. 11.
Freud, Sigmund (1915d): Thoughts for the times on war and
death. Penguin Freud Library, vol. 12.
Freud, Sigmund (1916-7): Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis.
Penguin Freud Library, vol. 1.
Freud, Sigmund (1917): A metapsychological supplement to the theory
of dreams. Penguin Freud Library, vol. 11.
Freud, Sigmund (1923): The Ego and the Id. Penguin Freud
Library, vol. 11.
Freud, Sigmund (1930): Civilization and its Discontents.
Penguin Freud Library, vol. 12.
Freud, Sigmund (1932): The acquisition and control of fire. Penguin
Freud Library, vol. 13.
Fromm, Erich (1950): Psychoanalysis and Religion. New Haven &
London: Yale University Press.
Fromm, Erich (1976): To Have or To Be. Continuum (1997).
al-Hakeem, Tawfiq (1938): Õ ‘„”
«Š›Ŗ— [Under the Sun of Thought]. Cairo: Daar Mişr.
al-Hakeem, Tawfiq (1974): ŕśŌ… «ŠśŕŪ
[The Return of Consciousness]. Cairo: Daar al-Shuruuq.
Lacan, Jacques (1953): Some reflections on the ego. International
Journal of Psychoanalysis, 34:11-17.
Lacan, Jacques (1966a): Écrits: A Selection. Trans. A.
Sheridan. London: Routledge (1997).
Lacan, Jacques (1966b): Écrits. Trans. B. Fink. New
York: Norton (2006).
Lacan, Jacques (1972-3): The Seminar. Book XX. Encore: On
Feminine Sexuality, The Limits of Love and Knowledge. Trans. B.
Fink. New York: Norton (1998).
el-Marzouk, Ghiath (2007a):
«ŠŌ„Ő [Identification]. Damascus: Maaber.
el-Marzouk, Ghiath (2007b): Identification. Damascus: Maaber.
el-Marzouk, Ghiath (2008a):
«Š√š« [The ego]. Damascus: Maaber.
el-Marzouk, Ghiath (2008b): The ego. Damascus: Maaber.
el-Marzouk, Ghiath (2009a):
«Š„”šŌ ŇŠŪŚ [The subject]. Damascus: Maaber.
el-Marzouk, Ghiath (2009b): The subject. Damascus: Maaber.
el-Marzouk, Ghiath (2009c):
«ŠŌ«Š [The signifier]. Damascus: Maaber.
el-Marzouk, Ghiath (2009d): The signifier. Damascus: Maaber.
Orwell, George (1958): The Collected Essays, Journalism and
Letters: My Country Right or Left 1940-1943. Penguin Books
(1982), vol. 2.
Said, Edward (1992): The Question of Palestine. London:
Said, Edward (1994a): The Politics of Dispossession: The
Struggle for Palestinian Self-Determination 1969-1994. London:
Chatto & Windus.
Said, Edward (1994b): Representations of the Intellectual.
Žižek, Slavoj (2006): Lacan. London: Granta Books.
The main ideas of this exposition were, in fact, originally
written with other ideas in a lengthy research monograph to
appear in the CLCS Occasional Papers Series at the
Centre for Language and Communication Studies, Trinity
College Dublin, a few years ago. For reasons which have to
do with the general editorís sudden retirement as well as
his incompetence and dishonesty in dealing with publication
matters (given the considerable time-lag between the
submission of the manuscript and the cessation of the
Series), I was quite reluctantly forced to reconsider
these main ideas from an entirely different perspective
later on, a perspective which now addresses the human psyche
as general mental structure, regardless of the workings of
those mechanisms that underlie the language faculty proper.
And for reasons which also have to do with the considerable
length of the original research monograph, I have decided to
divide this monograph into four principal parts for ease of
reading and reference. Accordingly, these four principal
parts will be brought out consecutively in Maaber,
beginning with the June-July Issue 2016, both in the English
version and the Arabic version.
It is worth mentioning, here, that the bitter controversy
which has been aroused over the implication of the term
Ďlibidoí (that is, whether or not the term is restricted to
the energy which is intrinsic to sexual instinctual drives)
appears to be, in principle, a merely terminological matter
rather than a conceptual one. Those psychoanalysts who are
blindly convinced by Jungís insistence upon the primordial
unification of all instinctual drives should not feel
disinclined to dismantle this unification since it would not
be laudable to speak of the antithesis between Ďsexual
libidoí and Ďasexual libidoí, not to speak of the literal
meaning of the term as Ďdesireí or Ďlustí in its Latin
origin. To be sure, the unification can only be transiently
maintained when normal states such as those of sleeping,
being ill, and falling in love are considered in themselves,
states which result in a uniform condition where the libido
is detached from its object (or objects), and is thence
accumulated in the ego in one form or another. Freud himself
makes a distinction between Ďsexual instinctual drivesí and
Ďself-preservative instinctual drivesí so as to imply the
seemingly meritorious polarity between Ď(sexual) libidoí and
Ď(asexual) interestí, respectively, and to account for the
internal conflicts which bring about abnormal states like
transference neurosis and narcissistic neurosis,
specifically. Even the very energy that is inherent in
sexual instinctual drives (and to which the term Ď(sexual)
libidoí is confined) can nonetheless be desexualized
or libidinally normalized through the developmental
process of sublimation. If, however, the energy that is
elemental to self-preservative instinctual drives is viewed
as libidinal in nature, then the ensuing antagonism is
simply displaced: everything which has to do with the libido
comes under the generalized category, the Ďlife instinctual
driveí (or Eros), as opposed to the further
generalized category, the Ďdeath instinctual driveí (or
Thanatos) (see Freud, 1916-7:462f.; see, also, el-Marzouk,
2008a:n.8; 2008b:n.2). Furthermore, given the
psychological implication of the dichotomy between
Ďmasculinityí and Ďfemininityí (rather than the biological
or the sociological implication), the (sexual) libido itself
is, in Freudís words, ďinvariably and necessarily of a
masculine nature, whether it occurs in men or in women and
irrespectively of whether its object is a man or a womanĒ