This essay approaches the problem of the act from the perspective of psychoanalysis, which teaches us that the fear of the act as catastrophic—and especially as a mortal threat to the social bond—is often synonymous with the repudiation of the unconscious itself, whether by the individual subject or by the collective. To understand how an act of the unconscious can be received as catastrophic, whether by the actor or by others, we first have to consider both the resistance to the act at the level of the ego and its censorship by culture and civilization. For this we need to be more explicit about the nature of the act with which psychoanalysis is concerned, which is very different from other kinds of acts.

You do not currently have access to this content.