Anzieu, D. (1979). The Sound Image of the Self. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 6:23-36.

(1979 ). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 6 :23 -36

The Sound Image of the Self
Didier Anzieu It is my intention in this paper to advance further the psychoanalytical considerations which I have already set out on the anaclisis of narcissism and masochism, and on the functions of the skin. These have led me to formulate the hypothesis of a skin-self (Anzieu, 1968), (1974a), (1974b). I have upheld the hypothesis that the ego is constituted as a containing envelope, a protective barrier and a filter of exchanges, as a result of proprioceptive and epidermal sensations and the internalization of skin identifications. First of all, however, I would like to step back and discuss the constitution of the self as a pre-individual psychic whole, endowed with an outline of unity and identity which existed prior to the establishment of the borders, limits and space of the ego. During the past few decades, three important notions have been contributed by English-speaking psychoanalysts. Bion (1965) shows that the change from 'non-thinking' to 'thinking', or from beta to alpha 'elements', is based on the effects of a capacity that the infant must experience if he is to develop psychically. It is the capacity of the mother's breast to 'contain' sensations, (particularly coenaesthesic and kinaesthesic), affects and memory traces (or mental images) which are then imprinted in the new-born psyche. The container-breast halts the aggressive-destructive retroprojection of expelled and scattered bits of the self. This retro-projection constitutes the original psychotic nucleus of the personality. Kohut (1971) tries to differentiate between two antagonistic—alternative and complementary—movements: one, where the self is constituted by 'mirroring' itself in objects with which it accomplished a partial narcissistic fusion ('selfobjects'); and the other, where the self accomplishes a 'grandiose' fusion with an ideal object. Lacan (1949) describes the mirror-stage in which the ego constitutes itself as other based on the model of a mirror image of the whole, unified body. Winnicott (1967) speaks of an earlier phase in which the mother's face provides the first mirror for the child who then creates his self according to what she reflects back to him. Both Winnicott and Lacan accentuate the visual signals. I, however, would like to reveal the existence, at an even earlier stage, of a sound mirror or of an audio-phonic skin, and what its function is with regard to the psychic apparatus and the acquisition of the capacity to signify and symbolize (Bick, 1968) ; (Montagu, 1971) ; (Lacombe, 1959) ; (SamiAli, 1969) ; (Rosolato, 1969). First, I shall give excerpts taken from two sessions of analysis. I shall call the patient Marsyas, as a tribute to the silenus who invented the flute and provoked Apollo, god of the lyre, into a contest as to who could produce the most beautiful music. The god Apollo won by a hair's breadth and, in accordance with their contract, inflicted on the loser the punishment of his choice. He hung him on a pine tree and skinned him completely. This particular patient has been in analysis for several years. Before a negative therapeutic reaction set in, he used to lie on the couch; now we face each other during the hourly sessions. As a result of this new arrangement, analytic work started again and produced some improvements in the life of the patient, although he still has a hard time supporting the interruptions caused by holidays. The session I am about to speak of is the first
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This paper was originally published under the title 'L'enveloppe sonore du Soi', in La Nouvelle Revue de Psychanalyse, numero 13, printemps 1976, Paris. pp. 161–80. Translated by Monique Meloche and edited with the help of Judith Rotstein and Clifford Scott. Copyright © Didier Anzieu
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one after the spring holidays. Marsyas talked about feeling empty rather than depressed. During the past few days while he had been resuming his professional duties, he had felt distant from others. He thought that I also appeared to be far away; that he had lost me. He then realized that the two long periods of depression he experienced during his analysis both happened during the long holidays, although one of them followed a professional failure which greatly affected him. At Easter, the occasion to go away for a long weekend had presented itself. He went south and stayed in a comfortable hotel with a heated swimming pool by a magnificent sea. He greatly enjoys both swimming and excursions.

nor as a volume or movement. This prompted me to offer him replacement appointments to compensate for the coming legal holidays when I would not be able to see him. nothing went well. Appalled by this information. There had been moments of such poverty in his inner life that I was led to believe that he had undergone a period of psychic death. by the maid who was a stern. one his mother liked to talk about. we engaged in dialogue more frequently and exchanged important facial expressions and gestures. I received no reaction from Marsyas. elderly single woman with strong principles and an equally strong superego. and she in turn felt reassured about his normality. he did not mention until late in the analysis. He became breathless. but very rapidly. Her relationship with her employer was of the sado-masochistic type. I had come to a better understanding of what Marsyas' body image is. He was afraid of diving. Apart from polite approval. smiled and babbled to his mother's satisfaction. but in doing so did not reveal that I was thus exercising the two functions that Winnicott (1941) assigns to a goodenough environment: the handling or appropriate management of the child's body. . but he expected me to provide what the maid did not—stimulation to his psyche. at one time. his lack of response became apparent to the maid and she told the mother that he did not hear well and was born retarded. and the function of the face as the primitive mirror in which the child learns to be by seeing what he is for his mother. . on the other hand. as a source of sensation and of movement (like the fear of falling). just as he feared his mother would not WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared.However. however. It is illegal to copy. Through these exchanges. but rather to be carried and warmed by me. I thought of Bowlby's (1969) attachment instinct and of the ideas I had been entertaining of a skin-self. The sensations caused by being wet made it unpleasant for him to get into the water. he shivered. For his mother. My countertransference feelings were mainly of narcissistic satisfaction over thorough work. and through her expression gains a reflection of what he feels. however. reacts and makes a noise.24 - come to see him any more and he would waste away like his sister. active and warm verbal exchange on these three themes. hyper-cathected and eroticized at both ends. I then decided to ask him directly: to tell me not how he was fed. On a number of occasions she verified this and soon after changed maids. During walks he tired easily. For the first time I started talking to him of his body as a volume in space. he slipped on the wet tiles and banged his head quite painfully. He felt neglected. and one of his fears is to urinate during intercourse. and as soon as feeding time was over she gave him back to the maid and then turned her attention to her other child who had been ill for so long that. abandoned and rejected. He is anxious at the thought of my being late or of cancelling a session. while his movements became more and more uncoordinated. She entrusted him to the care of a maid who turned out to be better at domestic jobs than at child care. Marsyas felt forsaken and was in a passive and apathetic state. it was as if I were picking him up. Marsyas fed greedily (this behaviour carried over into adulthood in the rapid attainment of orgasm without much loving accompaniment). which is something I had felt I was doing ever since we made our new arrangement. He immediately brought up a memory he had already mentioned a few times. Upon leaving. warming him. shook him and moved him about. Twice. distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever. although there was the physical distance between us. Perhaps the reason Marsyas comes to these sessions is not so much to be fed by me. to be manipulated and. She worked hard. Her only interest in Marsyas' body was to train him prematurely. but how he was held by his mother when he was little. making him move and if necessary shaking him until he acts. thus stimulating him—the result was that he looked. to regain the potential offered by his body and mind. He did not get along with the other people. whom he already knew from several weekends spent together. Between these visits he was watched over. instead of the usual flaccid handshake. The explanation I had conceived of at the beginning of the session was confirmed. While I was listening to this. He could not find the right rhythm. After a few months. I told this to him. through the exercise. the mother grabbed Marsyas. His wife had been obliged to stay at home with a convalescing child. In spite of the sunshine. yet neglected. neither cathected his body as a global mass of flesh. he pressed my hand firmly. She was not interested in his body for itself and neither touched nor played with him. She fed him generously. Using this narrative as a base I will bring together several elements which I told Marsyas over a period of time. out of a sense of duty. he was adequately fed. but it was mainly in the course of group activities at the swimming pool that everything went from bad to worse.) The maid. The mother always made a point of breast-feeding him for she had been very pleased with his birth. already over-burdened by four children (an older son and three daughters) felt herself caught between the needs of Marsyas and those of her youngest daughter who was then a year old and seriously ill. otherwise she provided only mechanical care. Hence the often-felt anxiety of empty space which. he was a digestive tube. Thirdly. We had a long. there was fear for her life. and seemed not to derive any pleasure from anything else. He waits for his sessions with me in the same way he did the 'feeding-visits' of his mother. Not long after his birth. Since the time he started sitting during sessions. while walking near the edge of the pool. (Even the smallest emotion triggers off a violent need to urinate. his mother. friends and colleagues of both sexes.

not in the sense of castration. she was unable to intuit the feelings of the members of her family nor help in their expression.At our next session a few days later I was greatly disappointed for Marsyas was depressed and. He talked a great deal with her. and thus reminded him of. Furthermore. My thoughts were: he takes one step forward and two backwards. but of course. the two main infrastructures of the signified—namely. But where in this sequence can one place the needs of the ego? The renewed therapeutic alliance between Marsyas and myself allowed for the continuation WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. I had believed his thinking capacities to be more developed. A feeling of disappointment similar to his arose in me. In this way. and which later that same evening I had summarized to myself. his mind empty. This interpretation was readily confirmed and he resumed psychoanalytic work. while to me. and the prelinguistic one concerning the global listening to phonemes—were both affected by the same disturbance. At this point I made a connexion. From this arose Marsyas' impression of having to deal both with his mother and me in an alien tongue. started by complaining about the last session which he considered to have been negative. But then I took hold of myself and tried to understand. he found more pleasure in being alive and would not miss a session for anything in the world. the one more usual between us—as between himself and his mother—of brief and intense feeding. she was a cause of either irritation or irony for those in her environment. (It is necessary for the analyst to repeat an interpretation when it concerns the functioning of the psychotic part of the personality which is itself also subject to repetition and therefore easily escapes insight—for a well-prepared and well-timed interpretation can bring to resolution a neurotic process. His mother's voice had hoarse and rough intonations. Any interpretation made in terms of object libido. namely that of his narcissistic wound. his mental functioning was more or less maintained during childhood. this immediately aroused in him the feeling that he had. Because of this. Oedipus fantasies and preoedipal fixations would have been erroneous and even persecutory. It is illegal to copy. it appeared to have been so enriching for him (and for me in my understanding of him). These two sessions served to confirm my idea that the early deprivation of ego needs means that the patient lacks . On the other hand. he is afraid of losing on another. but in that it deprives him of his mental capacities. the 'all or nothing' principle which seems to govern his inner life. as it is in the loss of the love-object or the organ of pleasure. Marsyas was not psychotic. a neighbour whom he visited almost every day from the time he first could talk until he started attending school. he neither understood nor remembered what I was telling him. it became quite acute—he did not even 'hear' me in the acoustical sense of the word. how did his mother talk to him? He went on to describe a situation of which he had not said a single word despite years of analysis. . This particular remark of his was both judicious and fundamental. corresponding to frequent abrupt and unpredictable mood swings. This resistance caught me unawares. A continuous and unfinished trial went on in his mind. He connected this alternation between losses to his longstanding fear—which he never expressed clearly—of analysis taking something away from him. a succession of maids and priests. the bodily contact he had missed with his nurse. in consequence. wished to happen or experienced internally. but remained mute. was uncovered. At the session previous to the one where this came up. for unlike them. as carrier of global sense. In all probability. What I comprehended was that when he is winning on one side. more freely than he could with his mother who was both too busy to do so and could only accept that which conformed to her moral code and ideal of the perfect little boy. distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever. as the maid's mechanical care was interspersed and cut up by the intense and gratifying body exchange with his mother during feedings. as a 'negative bath of words'. he was unable to communicate it to me. often. sisters. if an interesting idea came to him about his problems. She had been unable to talk to her youngest son in a language through which he could recognize himself. much to my surprise. I am tempted to give up. mentioned for the first time during these sessions. and. His mother and his analyst should finally admit the wrongs they had done him! Contrary to Spitz's cases of hospitalism. while making notes. The relation of the baby Marsyas to the maternal melody. lost the other type of contact. There was always someone to fulfil the role of mother. Marsyas' problem concerned a deficit in his narcissistic libido and the after-effects of the failure of his primitive environment to satisfy the needs of his ego (as these needs are distinguished by Winnicott (1967) from those of the body). I did not let him know. was thus interrupted. he denies the progress he is making. I spoke of. the infralinguistic one concerning care and games of the body. The discussion then turned back to his relationship with me: he felt that I gave him a lot. One of Marsyas' comments was that talking with me is sometimes like talking with the neighbour and at other times like talking with his mother. a brother. Marsyas' mother was incapable of adequately expressing what she felt. he added spontaneously. however. The anxiety concerning loss was not related to castration.) I pointed out that during the last session he had found. But an important obstacle still existed between us. What he was unable to obtain from his mother was not compensated for when obtained from someone else—his mother should have given it to him. through me. cut up. another dimension of his susceptibility to frustration.25 - of the analysis and. and asked him: When he was little.

It consists of wails ending in cries. croaking' (Ombredane. the circular visual-motor reaction takes place— the child reaches out towards the bottle. The cry of hunger. So it is that well within the first few months infants begin to decode the expressive value of the adults' acoustic intervention. the physical structure of this cry is very different from the other four. from among the great varieties of phonemes. and appears well before those concerning sight and psychomotricity. 1969). but non-neurotic. certain precise. (Oleron. of all future discriminatory learning. labials or gutturals. at this stage. eating and the digestive tract. so that both parties can work on them analytically. First there is 'clucking. and plays an essential role in the expansion of emotions (Herren. to the auto-stimulation of these same functions. one begins to see 'the pseudo-cry of distress geared to getting attention' (Wolff. who at an early stage try to tell them apart. it always follows the other three which appear to be only variations of it. is invaded by psychic death. and possibly the prototype. it is uncertain among researchers as to how this acquisition is actually made. following the maturation of the fovea. however. smacking. as a consequence of the therapeutic alliance between the authentic part of the self and the analyst. In any case. in a normal family environment. the baby is linked to his parents through a real audio-phonic communication system. Wolf (1963). one thing remains that is certain. while it still cannot distinguish her face from other faces. (b) the cry of anger (at being undressed. but it also reaches out towards the mother's voice! While. For the infant it is its first circular reaction. He thus acquires what the linguist Martinet (1967) calls the secondary articulation of words (the articulation of the signified into precise sounds or into special sound combinations). These literally transform the body into a sound box and are disturbing since their origin is unknown. These four cries each have a specific duration of frequency. appears to be fundamental. It is the beginning. however. patient is extremely dissatisfied with his analyst and with analysis. . or by an internal event. At five weeks the infant can distinguish the mother's voice from other voices. It is illegal to copy. There are two experiments worth relating ————————————— 1 From the moment of birth on. he will slowly begin to know. In babbling. the audiophonological imitation is much more diversified. for example). 1966 analysed the acoustic parameters in infants of less than three weeks. It is not so certain today as was once believed. Therefore the aims of analysis in such a case are: (a) to provide this hetero-stimulation through appropriate changes in the psychoanalytic arrangements. time sequence and spectrographic characteristics. the deeply deprived. They produce in mothers. At this time. though not necessarily linked with that physiological state. Excluded are the specific sounds made by coughing. it is well to summarize the known facts about hearing and phonation in infants. 1976).26 - facilitating environment. on the contrary. Some authors believe that infants spontaneously use all possible sounds and then slowly narrow them down to those that make up their environmental sound system. Other authors maintain. 1971) . the old splits in the self as well as any uncertainties as to the coherence and limits of the ego. through his dissatisfaction. As of the third week. and (d) the cry in reaction to frustration (as when an actively-sucked nipple is withdrawn). (c) the cry of pain caused by an external agent (like having blood drawn from a heel). specific reactions which all have the same goal of stopping the cry—although mothers do react differently according to their character and experience. this hetero-stimulation leads. at three months one can already hear imitative cries. limited and overcome in a new and WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. the cry is the most characteristic sound made by the baby. through the determination of the analyst to symbolize on behalf of the patient every time the latter has a blank mind. through internalization. at around three months. 1935). (b) to bring out. that sounds at this stage are imitations and are increased progressively. the first communication. All of these cries are pure physiological reflexes. At this point. specific deficits which can be named. 1 which all lead to the following conclusion. in the transference. for instance. He discriminated four structurally and functionally different cries: (a) the cry of hunger. distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever. the buccopharyangeal cavity is very easily controlled right at the beginning of mental activity. the infant imitates the sounds another makes as much as he imitates his own sounds. is the voice of the mother: from the end of the second week it stops the baby's screams much more effectively than any other sound or even the visual presence of the human face. In a good-enough environment. in fact. that the child uses a plurality of phonetic structures more expansive than the one used in the spoken language by the adults of his environment. If we leave aside the frequency of appearance of vowels and consonants. the infant babbles—he plays with the sounds he makes. The best means of extinguishing the cry. the child can only copy the gestures he sees himself making such as those of his hands and feet. It is the first intentional sound made. Because it produces the necessary 'formants' for communication. Between three and six months. those that are constituents of his mother tongue.sufficient stimulation by others of some of his psychic functions. that is. Then he progressively tries to differentiate. to produce voluntarily and to possess. .

But Butterfield also adds an important addition or correction: that mental capacities are first applied to material of an acoustical nature. the cry of the child plays a certain role in his first theory. gestures that he cannot see himself doing. Nevertheless. but he preferred his mother's voice when he recognized it as such. to an unknown voice using an unfamiliar vocabulary. then they took their electrocardiographs while either reduced or normal signals belonging to the adult repertory were presented to them. he is able to reproduce. that is. To the side of the playpen of an eleven-month old child he attached a double-track tape of two programmes. with music. At this age. As is evident from their eagerness in sucking. Here is one last example. just as a few months later. whereas the latter sets the stage for primary articulation (that of signifieds into signifiers). and independently of. in the presence of an outside model. The results show that infants possess a perceptual richness much greater than their capacity for phonetic emission. but in that case. McCaffrey (1967) and Moffit (1968) have solved this methodological problem in an elegant way: first they habituated a number of ten-week old babies to certain phonetic signals that the babies could reproduce. In the first structure of the psychic apparatus 'the reflex . but after a few manipulations the latter voice was preferred. Of course. One can therefore be fairly safe in thinking that in the second year of life. Such feedback is audio-phonological in nature and mainly concerns. with obvious functional and morphological analogies existing between the two. since there are no observable signs that he has indeed heard. Butterfield (1968) has found another way of solving the problem: babies who are only a few days old will suck more actively during feeding. He is also able to produce representations of perceived objects or events outside of his perceptual field. In other words. This does away with Wallon's (1945) views. The results were as follows: (1) WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. It is difficult to know what the infant hears. distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever. distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever.27 - here. we note that although reference to a 'bath of words' is not to be found in his works. one hour before their meal and while wide awake—therefore independent of the gratification provided by feeding—these melodophilic babies were able to start or stop the recorded music which was connected to the empty bottle at their disposal. there is a slowing down of vocal activities. At the same time. after a few manipulations however he preferred the latter. deep-toned and sonorous voice to his mother's when her voice had been altered to monochord by a device. the ability to make differentiations and comparisons concerning vocal and phonematic characteristics as well as lexical material. It is also at this age that the child becomes afraid of unknown faces and voices. however. During the first year of life phonetic behaviour is a primary factor in mental development. the acquisition of prelinguistic meaning (that of cries and then of prattling) precedes that of infralinguistic meaning (that of mimicry and gestures). (2) The child preferred a familiar and natural-sounding voice. It is illegal to copy. than without. . a scientific demonstration would be methodologically more difficult to carry out and has not as yet been attempted. It appears that babies are sensitive to feedback from the environment at a much more precocious level than previously thought. Thus he demonstrates. through his activity. a child is capable of auto-stimulation by choosing material that is unfamiliar to him. cries and then vocalizations. first. cries and phonemes.28 - The child preferred an unknown. (3) The child at first preferred a short and repetitively-articulated programme to a long one containing a great deal of information. and perhaps as a consequence of this ability. imitation of heard-forms (formes entendues) as well as frequency of prattling. some babies might be said to prefer a classical to a popular melody or song! After a few exercises of this kind. he analyses the phono-behaviour of others more than his own.WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to copy. which have prevailed in France for the last fifty years. the first problem that a budding intelligence is required to solve is that of a differential organization of bodily noises. when he has mastered the thumb-index opposition. Between eight and eleven months. their understanding of semantics will be superior to their elocution. chronological succession does not imply a structural relationship: the vocal-motor and visual-motor coordinates each possess their own relative autonomy and specificity: the former sets the stage for the acquisition of secondary articulation (that of signifieds into sounds). when its invariants had been discovered. a time-frequency recorder and a two-button command device allowing the child to use either one or the other of the sound programmes. I would like to add that it is probably olfactory in nature also. the oral sexual instinct. These findings confirm Bowlby's (1969) theory which states that there is a primary attachment instinct functioning simultaneously with. Friedlander (1968) gained proof for this by using the following device. These form the basis for the learning of semiological behaviour. and according to which social communication and mental representation are based on the differentiations of gestures and mimicry. . Turning to Freud (1950) in this regard. using known words. At around ten months. both the development of the linguistic function and the start of appropriation of the mother tongue require that the child tolerate the structural difference between vocal communication and gestural communication and that he overcome this difference by the creation of a more complex and abstract symbolical structure.

318). In essence a word is after all the mnemic residue of a word that has been heard' (p. from a wish to a memory image of the satisfying object. it is from this point that studies were initiated on the psychopathological consequences of deficiencies in identification. Freud (1923) again took up the same analysis and demonstrated that his views on the decisive role of verbal traces in the conscious future had not been altered by the elaboration of the second topic: 'Verbal residues are derived primarily from auditory perceptions. It is of interest to note that Freud (1950) himself described what I shall call the zero level of this articulation—the articulation of sounds together with perceptions: 'In the first place. in the psychopathology that results from deficiencies in the environment at this stage of development. for instance. as opposed to the previous type of satisfaction which depended on the environment. p. except with deaf-mutes. distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever. the cry is an auto-plastic modification and not an alloplastic one. in so far as it is unconscious.discharge comes about because every movement. while the other can be understood by the activity of memory—that is. play the part of auxiliary indications. 1900) 'the exigencies of life confront it first in the form of the major somatic needs. if it does not. as it were. The excitations produced by internal needs seek discharge in movement. and is part of the circular interaction with the environment. he foresaw a place for it in his theory. A hungry baby screams or kicks helplessly' (p. (p. of which one makes an impression by its constant structure and stays together as a thing. the information of one's own scream serves to characterize the object' (p. 565). the cry also becomes the prototype of the demand: 'In this way. 318). he screams—will awaken the memory of his [the subject's] own screaming and at the same time of his own experiences of pain. However. to the importance we have ascribed to preconscious verbal residues in the ego. because of his strictness and insight. and may to begin with be left on one side. Not much is now needed in order to invent speech. Therefore our first conscious memories are of a painful nature. which. as is known. a second structure of the psychic apparatus is formed in which meaning exists at the elementary level of the signal. Prolonging the imitation of what is now called a signified (that is pronounced by the environment). plays a part. which may be described as an "internal change" or an "expression of emotion". 367). it can be supposed that the child identifies with the mother on the basis of phenomenological corporality. 'There are other objects. so may the motor images of words. the question arises whether it can be the case that the superego. and on the other hand. abstractions). Freud (1950) linked the cry not only to the experience of satisfaction but also to the test of pain. When otherwise. The case of Marsyas has furnished a further example. At this second level of mental functioning. now. This image is mainly visual or motor and is no longer related to the registering of sound. Moreover. 1950. owing to pain. This third structure of the psychic apparatus in turn becomes more WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. 366). it is possible to find the information of movement attaching to this sound image' (p. 366–7. because they arouse pain. and this allowed his successors to work on its further development. But the cathectic energy does not reach these contents of the superego from 2 . It is illegal to copy. The level of complexity of the psychic apparatus progresses. While it provides a means of discharge. one has received no good indication of the quality of the object. it is more than a simple signal). consists in such word-representations and. what else it consists in. In virtue of the trend towards imitation. there are objects— perceptions—that make one scream. Our tentative answer will be that it is impossible for the superego as for the ego to disclaim its origin from things heard. emphasizes the object as a hostile one and serves to direct attention to the perceptual [image]. On the one hand. and it turns out as an immensely important fact that this association of a sound (which arouses motor images of one's own as well) with a perceptual [image]. acquired through reading. the subject now voluntarily associates sounds to perceptions. and then he further analysed its effect on communication: 'Other perceptions of the object too—if. Freud did not advance very far in the clinical and technical applications of this second structure. he cautiously suggests a new hypothesis. 565).29 - complex as the articulation of verbal traces (or word-representations) to thing-representations renders possible thought and secondary psychic processes. a sound. . The alloplastic change is then affected because of the environment. therefore. a special sensory source. which emerges during judging. 'This association is a means of making memories that arouse unpleasure conscious and objects of attention: the first class of conscious memories has been created. through its subsidiary results. that of the acoustic origin of the superego: 'Having regard. the motor discharge it carries out is also heard by the environment as a signal to which that environment usually responds. which is composite apart from this. 20–1). it is an experience in selfsatisfaction. that is. p. Since Freud. it is the basis for the primary psychic process the aim of which is a hallucinatory need satisfaction. Thus the complex of the fellow human-being falls apart into two components. In this way. so that the system preconscious has. and 'an experience of satisfaction can be achieved which puts an end to the internal stimulus' (1900. 331). can be traced back to information from [the subject's] own body' (p. the path of discharge acquires a secondary function of the highest importance. which constantly produce certain sounds—in whose perceptual complex. that of communication' (Freud. becomes the occasion for fresh sensory excitations (from the skin and muscles) which give rise to a motor [kinaesthetic] image.' (1950. Nonetheless. for it is a part of the ego and remains accessible to consciousness by way of these wordpresentations (concepts. thus. p.) 25 years later. The visual components of wordpresentations are secondary. The association between mental images and instinctual activities constitutes a form of symbolization (that is. that is. Later (Freud.

1. 52–3. At best. felt in the subject himself. etc.' (Beller. If the child repeats poorly. He is thus submitted to a sound bath reduced to rhythm. p. With the learning of the first articulation of language (assimilation of rules as to lexical use. the author has maintained a strictly didactic position. 2. This bath of sound pre-figures the skin-self. this combination of sounds produces: (a) a common space-volume which ————————————— 2 The Ego and the Id. 1923. at the same moment that he is repeating a word. wraps the self of the child in harmony (none but a musical term could be used here) and. that is. while believing he is conversing with somebody. During the next half hour. he has tried to turn the process into a sort of 'curing machine'. After listening to filtered music. Previous to the occurrence of the above. 1973. audition. in return. recently. the ego had developed as a relatively autonomous structure by using the skin boundary as the basis for acquiring the secondary articulation (fixation of the flow of those vocal sounds to phonemes which are fundamental to the mother tongue) as well as establishing the 'outside' status of the object. 64. leaving out elements of transference and interpretation as well as the spotting and understanding of the role of the environment in the development of linguistic 'deficiencies' in the child. for half an hour. After all. with one half of its double face turned to the inside and the other half to the outside. if he voluntarily adds whimsical or rude variants. in order to learn a code. the child rapidly learns to converse with himself. 3. thus alienating all possibility of a real dialogue. Before the look and smile . The second phase deals with the secondary articulation. 75. He is also allowed to continue drawing while listening and talking. In France. Winnicott (1953) had included babbling among transitional phenomena. During the first phase—which is purely passive—he can play freely (drawings. but he had put it on the same level as other transitional phenomena. 'Thus. melody and inflection. His intuition however proves to have borne fruitful results. rich in high harmonics. WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. children suffering from language problems have been placed in a sound bath before any attempts at re-education—this 'treatment' is called 'semiophonie' (Beller.) while listening to filtered music. p.' 2 I can now make my position clear as to the limits of my accord with Freud and to the additions that should be made to his work. 'In the first phase of this re-education—the so-called passive phase—when exterior sounds are filtered to a point of becoming non-significant. They have rather only maintained the references to screaming and to similarities of sounds in slips of the tongue and play on words. During the next and more simple phase. There is still research to be done on Freud's views on sound. As a result. the archaic-sadistic superego acquires the regulating character of thinking and behaviour. Moreover. the editors of the S. one must be free both to play with it as well as transgress it. no notice is taken and he is of course not reprimanded. The problems of voice and audition have not much interested Freud's comentators. as a result of the experience of the 'sound bath' the self emerges as an envelope of sound (concomitant to the self as a suckling).30 - permits of a bilateral exchange (whereas sucking and elimination constitute only a one-way flow) (b) a primary image (spatio-auditive) of the immanent body. I shall now draw on supplementary evidence supplied by the gadgets of technology and the inventiveness of mythology and science fiction. having heard him. grammar and syntax). sound. However.auditory perception (instruction or reading) but from sources in the id. Since the sound envelope is composed of sounds coming alternatively both from the environment and the baby. the subject hears himself in the earphones—and discovers his own voice by auditory feedback. p. 1973. .E.) Unfortunately. The little child is introduced into the world of illusion through the other who. It is illegal to copy. 1973). the child echoes the sounds and thus stimulates itself. and (c) a link of actual fused reality with the mother (without which the imagined fusion with her later on would not be possible). the child can only stimulate himself to listen to his own sounds if his environment prepared him to do so by the quality. in the representation he has of himself.) This strangeness is disturbing only when the environment does not 'hold' (in Bion's sense) the psychic life of the subject. the previous musical bath as well as the filtered sounds are removed. the subject must then participate actively by repeating pre-recorded signifieds that have also been filtered so as to make the voice perfectly distinct and audible while favouring a scale of high harmonics. distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever. he listens to a pre-recorded and filtered voice. The subject is confined within a spacious and soundproof cabin which contains a microphone and hearing helmet—a real 'phantasmic egg' in which he can curl up and regress narcissistically. elaborateness and volume of its sound bath. have not included in their index the terms: voice. it could be said that the subject is experiencing pleasant feelings of strangeness … This emotion leads to a state of elation. and the repeating of sentences in story form begins.' (Beller. with this other part of himself which he has belittled— precisely that part which he has projected on to others. puzzles.

expects or expresses. soon there was nothing left of her but a plaintive voice repeating the last syllable of words. The Brief Life of Edwin Mulhouse. It is illegal to copy.31 - old age only if he did not look at himself. Mouvement Psychiatr. 2. distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever. I should like to cite two important exceptions: a tragic version. her songs. Such a voice disturbs the constitution of the self: the sound bath no longer envelops the subject. the result would be a great many difficulties in social. for his cries (calmed down by mother's voice). then for his babbling. so that when the mother talks to him. metallic (no melody) and hoarse (with predominantly grave sounds which. the young girls who had been neglected by Narcissus sought revenge from Nemesis. and in consequence wasted away. The infant will not feel assured about his own self if for her he is merely a machine to be maintained rather than a living body which needs help in developing or a person to be loved. The sound space is the first psychic space: outside noises which become painful when loud or abrupt. but not about him. as well as something about pleasure and pain which are the primary psychic qualities of the beginning self. as told . Gori. as well as the primary feminine character of the voice. Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury(1929) . but to no avail. The mother of a schizophrenic can often be recognized by the discomfort which her voice produces in the physician or the psychologist being consulted. in his logical thinking. She often talks to herself in his presence. would produce schizophrenia. Wolfson's paper 'Le Schizo et les langues' (1970) provides a good illustration of how the body is alienated through language. The pathogenic defects of the 'sound mirror' are: 1. Narcissus came to a spring and bent over to drink. Just as Echo and her sound image. If the first were to be present and not the second. Echo also fell in love with him. cries that come automatically but are accompanied by an active motor image. and a playful one. When Narcissus was born. but he remained insensitive to them. Meanwhile. Impersonality: it does not communicate to the infant what he feels about himself nor what his mother feels about him. This legend appropriately illustrates the precedence of the sound-mirror over the visual-mirror.of the nursing mother has sent back to the child an image of himself that is visually perceptible and which he can use to strengthen his own self and start his ego. alarming inside gurgling which cannot be localized in the body. and the link that exists between the emission of sound and the request for love. This bath of words—or of silence— demonstrates that he means nothing to her. 'Wolfson ou la parole comme objet'. The death instinct is freed and becomes economically predominant over the life instinct. Feeling desperate she withdrew into solitude and started losing weight. and finally for his games of phonemic articulation. and it was so beautiful that he fell in love with it forever. the melodious bath (the voice of the mother. the music she created for him) have provided him with a primary sound (echo) mirror which he manipulates. on condition that the mother expresses to the child something of herself and something of him. his parents consulted Tiresias. Even during the funeral ride down the Styx. phonemic and semantic. Her voice is monotonic (poor rhythm). Abruptness: it is at times either insufficient or excessive. first. But it also provides us with elements for an understanding of pathology. 1975). Dissonance: it is not in temporal accordance with what the infant feels. 3. Greek mythology contains almost all there is to know of the unconscious. and moves from one extreme to another in a way that is arbitrary and incomprehensible to the infant. by subjecting him to double-binds and by disqualifying statements he makes concerning himself (Anzieu. It contains holes as well as producing them. 1972. Narcissus stirred up a lot of passion in many a nymph or young girl. After having spent a very hot day hunting. his request. American writer. The fusion of the visual and sound mirror is revealed in its myths in the constitution of narcissism. only reflects back the subject to himself—that is. It is no chance occurrence that the legend of the nymph Echo is linked to that of Narcissus. As a young man.. 1943–54. whether they occur at birth. The sound and visual mirrors contribute to the structuring of the self and then of the ego. or are ————————————— 3 4 Cf. If only slight disturbances are created. Only a severe conjunction of these two disturbances. makes for a sense of confusion created by the sounds and a feeling of being intruded upon by them). 3 Furthermore. the result would be a narcissistic personality. she is programming a machine. during the acquisition of primary articulation the mother confuses the child. there would be a predisposition to psychosomatic illness. . who told them that the child would live to an WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. R. the diviner. in the listener. She may talk out loud or in the muteness of her inner world. he saw his image. If the second were to be present without the first. distress (Echo) or quest for ideal (Narcissus)—the result will be a defusion of instincts. intellectual and scholastic adaptation. It becomes disagreeable and in terms of a skin-self it would be said to be rough or discontinuous. whether of sound or vision. There are not many descriptions of the vocal space in literature. he still tried to catch a glimpse of his own face. If the mirror. he withdrew from the world to look at his own image.

he has developed convergent notions of a 'sound image'. that he was too different from others. . i. Through WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. his pain with appeasement. Sometimes he kept his feelings to himself and complained that those in his environment did not see through him. but that they were unable to do so.. Deep down. speaking or signalling. anger. He often felt invaded and disorganized by the feelings of those around him. WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. with its inflections and invariants that rapidly compose its individuality. Only the olfactory space has an almost identical power of diffusion and penetration—but smells are all experienced passively as the infant cannot distinguish whether they emanate from himself or from the environment. as well as with me. He tried to escape from others. . one of scepticism rather than of depressive anxiety. made of sounds rich in harmonics. of a 'body anchoring of speech' and of an 'alienation of . or the buccopharyngeal cavity. etc. then the visuo-tactile. S. It is illegal to copy. or. it is a volume in which there are rumblings. All of these noises probably compose what Xenakis tried to reproduce by his 'polytope': a non-organized. or a human voice. but by being overcritical towards himself he refused himself all practical means of escaping from the impact of the feelings of those around him. There can arise from this background of sounds. distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever. But original deficiencies in the sound envelope of the self will handicap this progression. He felt he could never change as much as he wanted to. Smells lack the motor experience that accompanies the cry—almost all of the body muscles are involved in the latter and it takes years before the baby can use it to produce signals. of scattering. Millhouser (1972). To explain this basic discordance. portending the unit of himself. the will. which he could not deny. I accounted for this state of affairs by the following explanation: Marsyas could not clearly differentiate between what went on in himself and what went on in his environment. proper music. temporal-spatial crisscrossing of signals of primary psychic quality. in blindness and through walls. if there was.by Jeffrey Cartwright. of a primary cloud of disorder crossed by fog signals. an illusion of a space in which there is no difference between the self and the environment and wherein the self is made stronger by both the stimulation and the calm of the environment to which he is united. or what Michel Serres (1975) tries to describe in his philosophy of flow. There are moments during which the baby feels harmonious. a few months after the sessions I have reported took place. The psychic sound space is not limited by psychomotor development. Marsyas went through another difficult phase. then the locomotor and finally the graphic space will teach the child the differences between what is familiar and what is not between the self and the environment. He became discouraged and thought that I judged him unable to complete his analysis and therefore it would be better if we both agreed to interrupt it. It is a hollow space like a breast. distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever. In spite of progress. providing one has the time. Roland Gori (1975) has pursued ideas that are in a way parallel and often complementary to mine. The study of this progression has been further pursued by Sami-Ali (1974) in his book L'Espace Imaginaire. pain. or deprivation of the object—all contribute to making the first psychic space. at other times he expressed his feelings in such a way as to provoke violent reactions. Another patient. If a metaphor is necessary to give it a graphic form then one can say that the sound space is shaped like a cavern. he organized his relationships on the model of an inescapable disagreement between himself and the environment. The French version of this book got the Medicis Prize in 1975. had come to the symetrically opposite conclusion: he thought that his psychoanalyst and the environment should change. It is illegal to copy. It is not by serendipity that scholars have used the concept of acoustical resonance as a model for all psychic resonance and that psychologists and group psychoanalysts have used it for that of unconscious communication between individuals! 4 First the visual. In the case of Marsyas. the timing was wrong if until then the subject had not yet lived a period of time during which the environment had met his pleasure with pleasure. he and I were able to clarify the way this handicap had developed in him. particularly not by the visuo-tactile coordination—one can hear and be heard in the dark. pain.33 - transference interpretations I showed him that in his personal and professional life. his emptiness with fulfilment and his fragmentation with integration. This is proof that the effects of this handicap can be greatly reduced by psychoanalysis. using these sessions as explicit reference points. echoes and resonances. the problem was a similar one: there was no differentiation of psychic qualities—pleasure. He is a self amidst the diversity of his feelings and he experiences a first enchantment.—between the subject and his environment. He always came to the same conclusion: I am the one who must change but I am unable to do so. of 'sound walls'. suitable time-space arrangements and interprets according to the correct theory—in this instance it was that of the structure and genesis of narcissistic states.e. both in his emotional and social life.32 - caused by hunger. a sheltered space but not hermetically closed. whose childhood and the defective functioning of his self and his ego reminded me of Marsyas. It is necessary for the psychoanalyst to talk about this—without having to place him into a semiophonic cabin—so that a new environment is created. as harmonious through the voice as it is in its meaning. between differences in the self and those in the environment. melodies from a more classical or more popular music. I proposed the following formula: One's happiness has its counterpart in the unhappiness of the other.

1966 La vallée des échos In E. made greedy by his discovery.' 'In the valley of the Echoes are gathered the sounds of a vanished people. Psychan 12:49-72 BELLER. Losfeld (ed. 1975 Les murailles sonores Evol.I. Psychan 9:195-208 ANZIEU.E. Schultze Hygiène Mentale 4 . for these light voices to bear contact with him. becoming increasingly fainter until they reached the agony of silence. R.T. D.). Exptl. Sur les premières manifestations du langage enfantin et sur la prétendue loi de F. FAULKNER. 1974b Le moi-peau Nouvelle Rev. 1968 Speech Perception by Infants Doctoral Dissertation. 'Explorers were looking for traces of a vanished life. 1972 Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer. KOHUT. which are pathogenic in relation to the child's narcissistic integrity: dissonance. OMBREDANE. W. in the desert. He enumerates those defects in the sound mirror provided by the mother. G. 1975 Le transfert paradoxal Nouvelle Rev. S. McCAFFREY. Ass. Using semiophony as an illustration. 19 [→] FREUD. S. MOFFIT. 1967 Speech Perception in Infancy Doctoral Dissertation. or rather a million murmuring voices. R. Child Psychol. A. 1968 The experience of skin in early object relations Int. 1966 LACOMBE. 1974a La peau: du plaisir à la pensée. D. Psychoanal. 1 [→] FRIEDLANDER. R. The uproar of an entire population pronouncing unbelievable incomprehensible words … we were assaulted by sound in successive and whirling waves.subjectiveness to code'. too material. 1968 The effect of speech identity. abruptness and impersonality. Paris: Presses Univ. D. Kaes & D. A. psychan. SUMMARY The author develops his previous hypothesis of a skin-self. J. Francaise Psychan 23:83-102 MARTINET. 1973 La Semiophonie Paris: Maloine. It is both a prehistoric memory and the deathly threat of a ragged audiophonic shroud which neither envelops nor allows for meaning or psychic life in the self. 1969 Attachment and Loss I. A. (Unpublished Paper. 1971 Touching. 1935 Etudes sur le langage. France 4:84-91 ANZIEU. 1968 De la mythologie particulière à chaque type de masochisme Bull.p. (Unpublished paper. 5 [→] FREUD. This is a beautiful metaphor for sound matter that is foreign to the living body and keeps itself going by its own empty repetition.) MILLHOUSER. France. Press. voice inflection. 1959 Du rôle de la peau dans l'attachement mère-enfant Rev.) L'Attachement Zethos. W. A. D. Delachaux & Niestle. Medical Center. 1971 The Analysis of the Self New York: Int. S. 1943-1954 New York: Knopf. Zazzo (ed.E. Un Chant de Pierre Le Terrain Vague. the Human Significance of Skin Columbia Univ. BOWLBY. Working Paper No. 1971 La voix dans le développement psychosomatique de l'enfant J. A. 1929 The Sound and the Fury New York: Cate & Smith. J.). H. [→] LACAN. E. H. B. R. 1967 Eléments de Linguistique Générale Paris: Armand Colin. 1972 Wolfson ou la parole comme objet Mouvement Psychiat 3:19-27 GORI. du Seuil. HERREN. it is the only place in the universe where fossils are not minerals but sound masses. overstepped himself and as a result the voices softened. [→] BUTTERFIELD. he draws a parallel with the fact that a harmonious musical bath assists the reeducation of children suffering from language problems. 1950 Project for a scientific psychology S. London: Hogarth Press. 1976 L'acquisition du langage In Traité de Psychologie de l'Enfant Tome 6. 49:484-486 [→] BION. An explorer. J. he was too heavy. on Mars. 140-154 ANZIEU.E. S. He presents the case of a patient in whom certain Ego functions had been inhibited by the abruptness in the intonation of his mother's voice. I. Psychiat 40:779-803 GORI. In R. Minnesota. vocality and message redundancy on infant selection of vocal reinforcement J. 1923 The ego and the id S. M. One day. P. REFERENCES ANZIEU. 1900 The interpretation of dreams S. FREUD. BICK. P. Anzieu (eds. Children's Rehab. 43. Univ. Francais d'otorhino-laryngologie 20:429-435 KLEIN. 6 GORI.' Gori (1976) explains that this happened because his body had become a screen. telle qu'elle nous est révelée dans l'expérience psychanalytique In Ecrits Paris: Ed. 1965 Transformation: Change from Learning to Growth London: Heinemann. Cornell University. showing the importance of the auditory environment in the earliest development of the Self. Press. OLÉRON. 1949 Le stade du miroir comme formateur de la fonction du je. 1976 Essai sur le savoir préalable dans les groupes de fromation In R.) MONTAGU. Désir de Former et Formation du Savoir Paris: Dunod. S. Through him I heard of Gerard Klein's (1966) science fiction novel La Vallée des Echos in which the existence of sound fossils is imagined. Univ. 1968 An extended version of Modification of Sucking with Auditory Feedback Bureau of Child Research Lab. they arrived to a place where there were indented cliffs not at all similar to the worn-down landscapes they had come across on the sand planet … and they met the echo … I perceived a voice.

SERRES. It is illegal to copy. France. W. 1941 The observation of infants in a set situation Int. 1970 Le Schizo et les Langues Paris: Gallimard. . WOLFF.34 - WOLFSON. Determinants of Infant Behaviour. . distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever.). J. 1945 Les Origines de la Pensée chez l'Enfant Paris: Presses Univ. 22:229-249 [→] WINNICOTT. It is illegal to copy. London: Methuen. 1969 Etude de l'image du corps dans l'urticaire Rev. WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. H. 1975 Zola. 1963 The early development of smiling In B. WOLFF. Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing. 6:23-36 Copyright © 2008.35 - Article Citation [Who Cited This?] Anzieu. II. Psychoanal. (1979). WINNICOTT. 1967 Mirror-role of mother and family in child development In P. L. 1969 Essais sur le Symbolique Paris: Gallimard.. Psychoanal.). M. The Predicament of the Family London: Hogarth Press. Foss (ed. D. R. G. London: Methuen. The Sound Image of the Self. W. 1953 Transitional objects and transitional phenomena Int. D. Foss (ed. 34:89-97 [→] WINNICOTT. WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. . J. D. M. IV. WALLON. Psycho-Anal. Feux et Signaux de Brume Paris: Grasset. W. SAMI-ALI. P. P. M. It is illegal to copy. distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever. Determinants of Infant Behaviour. Lomas (ed. Int. Report a Problem WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. 1969 The natural history of crying and other vocalizations in early infancy In B. 1974 L'Espace Imaginaire Paris: Gallimard.). Francaise Psychan 33:201-226 SAMI-ALI. distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever. D.Schultze Hygiène Mentale 4 ROSOLATO.