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Extra info for Freud's Mass Psychology. Questions of Scale
When Derrida says that every aspect of Freud’s neurological explanation proceeds from a ‘principle of difference’, he does not point to the numerous distinctions upon which Freud’s explanation rests – between permeable and impermeable neurones, between the primary and secondary functions (discharge and accumulation), or indeed, between the receptivity and the capacity of retention of memory. Rather, he draws our attention to the fact that the functions aligned on the side of the primary (of discharge, of ‘life’), of perception, or of receptivity, cannot be conceived independently from what resists them.
300). ). Memory, then, cannot be explained by the fact that some neurones as opposed to others, offer a capacity of resistance or of facilitation (Freud later says that they consist in ‘the absorption of Qn by the contact-barriers’ [p. ), differences, which, for Derrida, are ‘the true origin of memory, and thus of the psyche’ (‘Freud’, p. 201). Given that the facilitations are produced by ‘the Qn which passes through the neurone in the excitatory process and on the number of repetitions of the process’ (‘The Project’, p.
In what follows, the mass will point as much to a necessary component of Freud’s mode of argumentation as to a certain, yet unspeciﬁed, human grouping. Viewed from this angle, the metaphor of the mass is indeed an unyielding ‘socio-political’ marker in Freud’s work. For the ‘mass’ rather reminds us of the extent to which Freudian thought is preoccupied with ‘quantity’, whether it be a question of a ‘quantity’ of human beings or of the psychical energy that ﬂows conﬂictually according to antagonist principles.