Life as Art
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Life as Art

Deleuze and Psyche 2

The Psyche as Multiplicity

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Deleuze and Jung

Deleuze follows Jung insofar as the latter interprets the psyche as an open multiplicity. And he credits Jung with his focus on the problematic:

The psyche is not an ordered system repressing sexual desire, but instead an evolving process of unconscious questioning, generating instincts and tendencies.

Further, there is no distinction between problems sourced within or without. Problems that arise socially fold in on the psyche, and instinctual psychic problems unfold socially.

The psyche is a multiplicity that engages in such problems and seeks the creation of the new in an open context. It expresses its forces in historically contingent images, rituals and behaviors.

We cannot determine once and for all the nature of the unconscious for it is in a continual dynamic state of becoming.

It follows that Freud’s Oedipus Complex, as an objective explanation of the repressive quality of the unconscious, is called into question by Deleuze.

Deleuze and Freud

Deleuze interprets Freud’s Oedipus Complex in terms of its function in the historically contingent nuclear family.

The Oedipus Complex is a representation only, that serves a specific purpose: to legitimize the repression of desire in the context of state authority, the capitalist form of production and the necessity of the nuclear family.

The Oedipus Complex is real, but it is manufactured in aid of serving repression in society, and it is delivered into the depths of the unconscious for this very purpose.

As such, it is also historically contingent, and we can release ourselves from its grip.


Deleuze adopts the term “schizoanalysis” in contradistinction to psychoanalysis.

Schizoanalysis starts with desiring-production as a force akin to Nietzsche’s will to power and Bergson’s elan vital. Desire is seen not in relation to an object, sexual or otherwise, but instead as a psychic / social force in itself.

As per Jung, it is a psychic energy of passion in general, subject to a multitude of forces or drives sourced along a continuum that knows no boundaries between within and without.

The Psyche as Multiplicity

The Deleuzian psyche is open and de-centered:

The psyche is a multiplicity in a perpetual state of becoming, in a continuous evolution continually renewing the nomadic subject.

It is an effect of a virtual process, which arises, and in extreme cases, can completely dissolve into delirium. It is inherently fragmented and open.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Thanks for reading!


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Excerpt from my forthcoming book, Becoming: A Life of Pure Difference (Gilles Deleuze and the Philosophy of the New) Copyright © 2022 by Tomas Byrne. Learn more here.



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Tomas Byrne

Tomas Byrne


Jagged Tracks Music, Process Philosophy, Progressive Ethics, Transformative Political Theory, Informed Thrillers, XLawyer