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Types Of Object Loss (Psikanalizde Kayıp İleri Seviye Okuma)

The first of the three types of object loss, namely the privation is defined as the real hole that takes place after the loss of a symbolic object because of the imaginary father, who happens to be the agent (e.g., Table 1). Actually, by means of definition, real is an entity which is sufficient unto itself. Hence, an absence in the real can only be symbolically present. Therefore, the notion of privation necessarily indicates the symbolization (Lacan, 1956-1957). In the early part of Lacan’s work, privation is thought as an important step for both women and men to assume their own sex.*

            The second type of lack, the frustration, is an imaginary lack of a real object which is subtracted by the symbolic mother, who assumes the role of the agent. Frustration is about the first age of life, where the primary issue is ablactation. It is the domain of the pre-oedipal traumas, fixations, and impressions. Frustration introduces the subject-to-be with the experiences of satisfaction, gratification and of their opposites, through its real object, namely the breast (Lacan, 1956-1957). However, what the baby demands is less the real object than the love of the symbolic mother, whose presence is perceived more and more as an indication of a gift, whereas whose absence become the frustrating factor. The absence in this case creates an imaginary injury, a damage. It compasses making a claim for an object which is asked for but not owned. Therefore, the subject who experiences frustration has the narcissistic tendency to approach the object with a sense of belonging (Lacan, 1956-1957). In its essence, frustration is the realm of unleashed exigencies which are not regulated by the law. In precise terms, ‘’Frustration bears upon something of which you are deprived by someone from whom you justly expect what you have asked’’ (Lacan, 1956-1957, p. 107).

            The last of the three types of object loss defined in Lacan’s seminar of 1956-1957, namely the castration is classified as a symbolic debt, in other words as a lack which is of symbolic quality. The lacking object in castration is the imaginary phallus. Frustration establishes the ground for castration: the imaginary phallus is carved onto the traces of the missing object of frustration. Castration installs the law changes the nature of the imaginary relation inherent in the frustration. Both frustration and privation gain their value retroactively after the installation of the law (Lacan, 1956-1957).

Table 1

Types of Object Loss


Lack of Object


Real Father

Castration / Symbolic Debt

Imaginary Phallus


Symbolic Mother

Frustration / Imaginary Injury


Real Breast

Imaginary Father

Privation / Real Hole

Symbolic Object

Child - Phallus


            Taking his inspiration from Lacan’s seminar of 1956-1957, Fliche (2018) asserts that when a loved-one is lost, the consequence is the real lack of an imaginary object which is taken away by a symbolic agent. The object has an imaginary quality because a relationship based on love always refers to the specular experience which is at the heart of imaginary relations. The agent that subtracts the object, namely the death, is taken as the symbolic agent (Fliche, 2018). As the mourning process attains its goal, the lack’s quality changes; it ceases to be a real lack and turns into the symbolic lack of the same imaginary object. In other words, through the process of mourning, the experience of lack turns into castration over the time, which could be thought as the ultimate mode of dealing with the lack of the object (Fliche, 2018).

*İngilizce metnin tamamı ilgili konudaki makalemden alınmıştır.

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