NOVAmente (1) Psychoanalysis

The statement that psychoanalysis is a destabilizing force amidst the mass of repression maintained by culture might be no more than the expression of an ambition-the ambition of its creator, Sigmund Freud, when he described it as a “pest”, on the occasion of his trip to the United States. It has become more than ever necessary to attempt to reveal that force.
Psychoanalysis was more often than not reduced to bureaucratic protocol, on both the a practical and conceptual level, despite Freud’s caution. For that reason the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan was forced to quit IPA and attempt a reformulation of psychoanalysis, proposing a “return to Freud”. Resorting to the most sophisticated formal constructions of his time (linguistics, group theory, topology…), he attempted to formalize the psychoanalytical experience and knowledge through a mathemization of psychoanalysis,which would guarantee the reproducibility of the analytical proceeding in such a way to avoid its being dealt with in a strictly bureaucratic manner. Nevertheless Lacan’s style became method, and his efforts to reconstruct psychoanalysis resulted in an abstract sterile jargon. Whenever there is controversy it is usually the result of personal whim or market strategy rather than discussion and reflection on psychoanalysis. This is what we observe in Latin America in general and especially in Brazil, where psychoanalytical institutions still proliferate. In addition to this, there is the exhaustive work of a Brazilian psychoanalyst to actualize Freud’s original finding.

In the course of twenty-two years of seminars, from 1976 to 1998 (2), MD Magno presented an innovative analysis of the psychoanalytical field. Following the steps of Freud and Lacan, but with an awareness of the relations with science and philosophy, he develops a theory that gains notoriety as a “New Psychoanalysis”. By discerning psychoanalysis’ sole and essential principle he delineates the radical singularity of its field in relation to other forms of knowledge. Furthermore, this Brazilian author demonstrates that the need for renovation is intrinsic to psychoanalysis, and that only the renovation of psychoanalytical reflection and practice can bring back its original force. The New Psychoanalysis is psychoanalysis ‘NOVAmente’.

This brief introduction to Magno’s theoretical elaboration is intended only as an introduction of an important and original contribution to the psychoanalytical thought presently flourishing in South America. The topics briefly exposed here are probably the most central in his work, and obviously much more than this introduction would be necessary to make possible a thorough understanding of them. For that reason, we would recommend direct acquaintance with his Seminars (3), where those topics are extensively developed.

Freud’s finding

Freud’s revolutionary finding has been and will always be subject to resistance from both culture and the psychoanalytical institutions themselves, and indeed it is far from simple to maintain its effectiveness. In the first place, it is psychoanalysis itself that must be submitted to psychoanalysis, simply because it tends to be reduced, as it disseminates, to one more symptom of a given culture. Thus, the psychoanalysis of psychoanalysis becomes necessary if we believe that in it there remains something new and revolutionary. In his public seminar, MD Magno submits the works of Freud and Lacan to a rigorous examination, and proposes a reconstruction of psychoanalysis on the basis of its sole and essential principle(4): the death drive (5). But the death drive is a notion that denotes an experience, an experience that makes it possible to withhold or to relativize every symptomatic formation. And this is the fundamental experience in psychoanalysis.

Freud is led to the conception of the death drive as a movement or impulse towards extinction, immanent to organic life. The death drive-according to Freud-is an impulse leading to the restoration of a previous state of affairs, an impulse that the living entity was forced to abandon under the pressure of external disturbing forces, i.e., a sort of organic elasticity, the expression of the inertia inherent to life. This impelling force or impulse to death is in fact the insistence of the death drive in demanding its satisfaction: its own extinction.

AÃ: drive and repression

AÃ: Haver (6) wants or desires não-Haver: this is the fundamental axiom or principle of psychoanalysis, which Freud hesitantly formulated as the death drive. Through this translation, Magno proposes a conceptual simplification, resulting from the assumption of this principle as the one and only principle of psychoanalysis, and an extension of its range, conceiving the axiom AÃ as applicable to the totality of all there is (7): the Haver. The simplification concerns the articulation of drive and repression (8) as we will now see.

Repression is the cornerstone of psychoanalysis, according to Freud, but only as long as we understand it in its axiomatic sense, as the ultimate impossibility written in AÃ: the impossibility of extinction of the fundamental desire of não-Haver: the desire for what is posited as the most desirable, the não-Haver, which is in fact impossible simply because there’s no não-Haver. Defined by Magno as “Originary Repression” (9), it corresponds to what Freud called the “rock of castration”, or the impossibility of meeting with the object of this most fundamental drive. The most original repression consists of this collision with this immovable rock, ultimate destination of any formation in which we find the desire of não-Haver, such as the formation we call man and the totality of all there is, the Haver.

The death drive, which has nothing to do with individual death, is therefore condemnation to Haver, for não-Haver is impossible. In fact, the Haver is in itself the exercise of the movement of the desire of não-Haver and simultaneously the resistance implied in the impossibility of fulfilment of that desire. In other words, as drive, the Haver is movement of desire of não-Haver, as resistance it is the insistence in the impossibility of não-Haver. That is Freud’s ultimate drive, as movement and as resistance.

The Haver as resistance, which we could call originary resistance, comprises two different aspects. The first one concerns its totality, as formation resisting the extinction of its own movement towards a factually non-existent goal-the movement of the desire of não-Haver; the second aspect consists in the multiplicity of its formations, which are only the fixations, the coagula or clots of this drive flux. Such fixations are, on one level, the spontaneous formations we find in the Haver, constituting what is usually called ‘nature’. This is describes as the Primary level of repression by Magno.

Levels of repression: Primary and Secondary

Primary formations are constituted by the “auto-soma” and “etho-soma” (10), which command, on the biotic level, a first sort of kinship or vinculum: the Primary Vinculum, capable of over-determining certain types of behaviour. On this first level of repression we will find genetic and morphologic constructions, along with all the patterns of behaviour and vincula with the surrounding environment, in conformity with the specific design of a given species.

Among Primary formations, however, an animal species presents itself homologous to everything there is in its totality, homologous to the Haver, which means an animal species that is equally submitted to the desire of não-Haver: the human species. Because it carries this peculiar sort of impulse or drive, it can relativize all the needs or determinations inherent to its strictly Primary symptomatic constitution. Sexual reproduction, breathing, digestion, ethologically programmed behaviours are symptomatic determinations on the Primary level, with which, in relation, we are not absolutely forced to comply.

So, incited by this higher impulse, the human species overcomes the constraints of its biotic constitution, producing a universe of determination the constraining force of which is less powerful than that on the Primary level of repression. This is the Secondary level determination, resulting from the inventive intervention of man as a formation that is ultimately submitted to the drive to extinction, the death drive or the desire of não-Haver. For that reason, a biological imposition is now subordinated to the commands of the symbolic or cultural universe-the Secondary level of determination-, which will govern the ways of dealing with this imposition.

As a symptomatic formation on the Primary level, man is subject to the same regularities we find in nature. Such regularities constitute what we call laws of nature, which will incarnate in each formation in a specific way, producing in each case constitutive determinations. Man, for example, is submitted to the gravity, which is complied with in a particular way through his specific locomotor organs. This is one of the regularities on the Primary level of repression that assume specific determinations; these specific determinations constitute the Primary formations in their diversity, among which we find man, as a primate.

On the Secondary level of repression, however, the formations are the result of man’s inventive intervention. The institution of marriage is the invention of a certain type of relation among people-its rules varying over time and in the different societies. We could say the same about language, the family, the calendar, religious beliefs, civil codes…, which may be modified or abandoned, substituted by others. In any case, we have invented determinations that are added to those on the Primary level. But, unlike the Primary determinations, the Secondary ones impose themselves in the same proportion to man’s capacity to suspend or invent them. That means it is always possible to suspend or invent a determination on the Secondary level once we have gathered the necessary resources within a given circumstance.
Thus, in man, Primary formations are given, whereas Secondary formations depend on his creating activity.

Consequently, it would seem obvious that overcoming the former would involve higher costs, due to their supposed inflexibility, while the latter, as the invention of man, would be more malleable. In other words, being given in nature, Primary formations should be more consolidated. And on the Secondary level we would find more room for invention. Yet, we notice that Secondary formations frequently force themselves upon us imitating the given character and the compelling strength of Primary formations, so rigidified that its suspension becomes as costly as those on the Primary level.

Nature, Culture and TheLaw

On the one hand, nature is distinct from culture in the sense that culture is human artifice and nature is fabricated independently of man, spontaneously produced by the Haver. Because it pursues no other finality other than the impossible fulfilment of its desire of não-Haver, what we call nature results from the over-determination of the encounters of its formations. “Natural” formations are thus, according to Magno, “spontaneous artefacts”, as opposed to “industrial artefacts”. And, in spite of the effort to emulate nature, in its political strategies of naturalization, the repressing mechanisms of nature are in principle more capable of suspension. That is why Magno insists on the need to submit culture, on all levels, to psychoanalysis, in order to exploit its potential for creation.

On the other hand, the distinction between nature and culture, between the Primary and the Secondary levels of repression, should be established in accordance with the repressive force that constitutes a certain formation. In this case, it is a distinction of degree or intensity. It is evident then that culture does not transcend nature, that there exists no insurmountable gap separating them. Conversely, also within culture determinations can be fabricated with the same strength and insistence as those on the Primary level, effectively reproducing the Primary in its restraining force. Thence the term “neo-ethological” to designate the cultural automatisms installed on a dimension of human life where man’s creative powers can be most exercised. On this second level of repression, where a “neo-ethology” is instituted, a second type of kinship or bond is created, the Secondary Bond, comprising the whole symbolic field.

Consequently, any formation in the Haver is repressing inasmuch as it is a degradation of the utmost and only impossibility, which in fact exists: the impossibility of fulfilment of the desire of não-Haver. That is the only law we cannot escape, a law that commands us to desire the impossible, in spite of its non-existence. But it is also the absence of any foundation for any concrete law, which is always produced under symptomatic (Primary and Secondary) constraints, no matter how legitimate one might pretend it to be. That is why Magno calls it TheLaw: the only Law we are in fact submitted to, and in relation to which all other concrete laws are assumed as relative to their symptomatic and local context (11). A third level of kinship or link is now revealed: the Absolute Vinculum: a binding between all those who themselves find above all submitted to TheLaw. But also-established in the emptiness of symptomatic determinations, that is, independently of one’s eventual affinities or aversions-the Absolute Vinculum is the ineluctable binding with an otherness without content, an otherwhere that is not: the não-Haver, which makes Men absolutely akin to everything, independently of lower symptomatic bonds/links.


Although Primary and Secondary determinations constitute man, we cannot recognise his essence in any of these determinations. Neither would we understand it as an absence of determination, as a sort of liberty in relation to natural and cultural constraints (12). Primary and Secondary determinations, along with the vincula they impose, can be overcome because there is a higher and insuperable kind of determination: the same determination that commands the Haver in its totality; i.e., the desire of não-Haver. That means that man is not free but, on the contrary, always constrained by some sort of determination. As a symptomatic formation he is determined by the demands of the Primary and Secondary levels of repression, as an Idio-formation, a formation that carries the desire of não-Haver, above all other demands, he’s determined to pursue that impossible goal. Man, as an Idio-formation, is Hyper-determined.

Psychoanalysis is then far removed from any anthropology or sociology, inasmuch as these sciences would basically deal with Primary and Secondary determinations. Because he is essentially moved by the Hyper-determination, all other determinations in man are relative. Man is an Idio-formation, which, like the Haver, is Hyper-determined. Being above all an Idio-formation, his symptomatic constitution is simply contingent. This means that we could very well conceive other Idio-formations whose Primary and Secondary constitution were totally different from man. Only in consideration of the Hyper-determination can we conceive man, from his most generic dimension-including the characters belonging to his animal species-up to the most particular cultural determinations of an individual.

Transference: the Absolute Vinculum

The privileged relationship between the psychoanalyst and his patient that Freud called transference is now based on the vinculum established through the experience of the hyper-determination, the Absolute Vinculum, which underlies other vincula on lower levels (Primary and Secondary). And it is the Absolute Vinculum on which the psychoanalyst relies in the process of cure (13). The experience that reveals this vinculum, the experience of the hyper-determination, is well known to us through the several testimonies in western and eastern thought: religious, artistic, philosophical, mystic, etc. Psychoanalysis simply made it operational, in a therapeutic practice, making it possible to intervene in any recalcitrant symptomatic coagula, both in individual treatment and in culture in general.

When understood as Absolute Vinculum, through the experience of hyper-determination, transference is indissoluble, while all other vincula are relative. Though no one is required to overcome any other sort of vincula, one is always capable of it, just as no one is required to undergo psychoanalysis.

To interpret transference as a loving relationship, and define love within symbolic references, would lead us into a Christian way of thinking, as we shall see below. The Absolute Vinculum is the answer to the problem of the otherness considered outside religious and philosophical references, from a strictly psychoanalytical point of view. The question psychoanalysis must tackle, with its own resources, is that of a reference that would make it possible to definitely resist oppressive mechanisms, to avoid the deterioration of human vincula and the return of obscurantism at the end of the millennium.

In an apparently paradoxical manner, the reference of an Absolute Vinculum allows the affirmation that the paradigm of psychoanalysis is sexual, while its statute is mystical. But here, mystical refers to the effort to definitively get away from worldly affairs, from given realities, as a process of becoming indifferent, in an experience of approaching the absolute and impossible fruition of the passing on to the não-Haver. At the same time, that experience reveals the radical difference between Haver and não-Haver, as the ultimate sexuality, and establishes the mystical statute of psychoanalysis, which associates the horror of an experience of total helplessness and the serenity to face a world in which nothing any longer appears outlandish.

The Four Sexes

Sexuality then is not fundamentally an affair of Primary and Secondary formations. It concerns the desire of não-Haver, which, as we have seen, is the very movement of the death drive towards its absolute fruition: an impossible extinction, for there is no não-Haver. Hence, there is no death for the death drive, and there is no death for any formation that carries the death drive.

Elaborating Lacan’s formulas of sexuality, Magno devises the four conceivable sexes as follows. The first sexual formula, concerning man and Haver alike, is the ‘Desistant’ Sex (Sex of Death), which considers the impossibility of avoiding desisting or renouncing that fruition.

But the human sex, like the Haver, is Resistant, since it resists the fact that there is no não-Haver, it resists as an actual desire notwithstanding the non-existence of its object. This is the Resistant Sex: the sex that resists and insists, indifferently to the fixations imposed by corporeality and culture. That’s the Third Sex, in the sense that it is beyond any opposition, beyond any binary regimen, in a ternary position. A Ternary Sex, or sex of pure phallic positivity, in Lacanian terms. Because in this case there is no Other Sex, it is always a singular sex and is any sex.

The Resistant Sex, however, has two different forms of manifestation: Consistent Sex and Inconsistent Sex (which Lacan had called Man’s Sex and Woman’s Sex, with the same graphic formulation). The former refers to the decision of assuming the desire, as any desire, while maintaining the impossibility of an absolute fruition; the latter retains the fruition as infinite, boundless, unattainable in any circumscribed form, affirming it as the denial of any consistency.
These are modalities of the Third Sex, which, being positive in different ways, oppose the Sex of Death as the sex that indicates the ineffectiveness of the phallic function.

Clinical pathologies

Although central to the psychoanalytical treatment, the experience of hyper-determination is often buried under the pressure of Primary and Secondary forces. But that experience is precisely the experience of the death drive, which exerts itself as one other force in man, the force psychoanalysis favours above the others as the condition for the exercise of man’s humanity over its animality. In Magno we find that clinical pathologies (14) are understood as the organisation of these contending forces, under the categories: neurosis, psychosis, morphosis and thanatosis. They are pictures that depict the cross product of the struggle of repressing forces. But they are useful only if applied as general diagnostic pictures, as general configurations, preserving their dynamics and process-like character.


Secondary repressive mechanisms are so constituted that they imitate the Primary, hiding its inventive dimension, pretending they are naturally given. It is as though the story of the individual depended on his forgetting that it was in fact put together piecemeal; his family, his culture, his education… The theatrical construction of an individual, with all his lines and roles, becomes just as inescapable as the reality of man’s genetic constitution, once its creative dimension is laid aside and forgotten. In fact, the neurotic forgets that any Secondary constitution is always invention, resulting from the pressure of theOriginary Repression on the Primary, on the naturally given world. Most often cultural institutions become “natural determinations” and acquire a “neo-ethological” character. But a neurotic cannot successfully consolidate his fictional story and successfully reify it as a Primary formation. And that which makes him suffer, making his story so relative and fragile, causing all his frustrations, is ultimately the condition of his cure: the Originary Repression.


The concept of Hyper-repression, proposed by Magno, accounts for the strong repression exercised by some Secondary reality-riveted on the Primary level of repression. In psychosis, the solidification of story (a Secondary reality) reaches such a point that it acquires the characteristics of a Primary formation, a complete reification is accomplished, and no relativization or flexibilization is possible. In that case, the fictional becomes real: a Hyper-repression takes place. This reification is accomplished in the form or a structured delusion, a crystallised world. If cracked, through some sign of the desire of não-Haver, this psychotic world is destroyed, for in it there is no possibility of relativization.


Perversion has always been an equivocal term in the history of psychoanalysis. Any fixation of the libido is perverse, says Magno, following the lesson of Freud. Morphosis is however something quite different. It designates the law-giving character of a Secondary formation in an individual, which impassively exerts itself over the individual himself and others the commandments of a particular symptomatic constitution, as if it were TheLaw. In a broader sense, a morphotic attitude is present in any effort to establish a universal law, however just it may seem. Such an effort conceals the violence necessary to repress The Law, and impose a local, historical, circumstantial symptomatic demand, in spite of its more or less general and reasonable character.


With the notion of Thanatosis, Magno explains and makes particular the madness of geniuses such as Nietzsche, Hoelderlin and Nerval, normally considered a psychosis of sorts. In this context, after a long and exhaustive incursion in human production, the Haver as a whole presents itself as hyper-repressing, in the extreme and all-consuming pursuit of the não-Haver. Here there is a clear distinction from the psychotic, who is bound to a very local formation, unable to consider other human productions.

The Five Empires

Finally, even in a brief and limited introduction to Magno’s theory-as one of the most original contributions to psychoanalytical thought today-his analysis of culture deserves mention (15).

According to him, the progressive performances of mankind (as well as of each individual) follows a logic, a necessary trajectory, imposed by the peculiar constitution of the Idio-formation. A logic resulting from the strong pressure exercised by the Originary Repression, which requires more flexible repressive mechanisms on the lower levels-Primary and Secondary-and demands man’s abstraction of his symptomatic determinations.

There are five different stages in this trajectory, or Five Empires (16), which are defined by the level of repression taken as reference.

Time Arrow



1stEmpire 2ndEmpire 3rdEmpire 4thEmpire 5thEmpire

Along the vector that goes from the Primary, passes through the Secondary and run into the Originary level, we find the five empires: MOTHER, FATHER, SON, SPIRIT, AMEN, each referring to a level of repression or to the passage from one level to another. In the Empire of the MOTHER the individual’s insertion in, and the vincula between the members of, a given culture are necessarily based on blood, on direct carnal linking. Community is the assemblage of those who came out of the same womb, as a direct metaphor of the Primary.

The Empire of the FATHER-a passage stage-results from the effort to overcome the Primary and find reference on the Secondary level of repression. It is here that the idea of Paternity is conceived. The members of the group are organised referring to this abstraction and no longer to their uterine origin. Paternity, however symbolic, can only occur in this Empire through strict surveillance of the maternal uterus, that is, through Primary support.

The Empire of the SON is under hegemonic reference of the Secondary. The Father becomes the Father of everyone, purely symbolic, ideal, independently of blood relations. Now, through an effectively symbolic legislation free from Primary constraints, anyone identified as man is a child of the same Father (as in Christendom, for instance): it suffices simply to follow His word. With the Empire of the SON universal fraternity and love are established, along with the incestuous character of every carnal contact; and, in fact, every exercise of desire becomes incestuous if not properly ruled by sacraments, that is, by the symbolic.

Continuing the process , there is another stage of passage, the Empire of the SPIRIT, as an attempt to institute its reference on the Originary level of repression. The Secondary reference, which was normally incarnated by a figure of the political power, is now emptied of any content. In this Fourth Empire any particular Secondary content, as well as any meaning of the word, can be considered from a detached standpoint: the Secondary is taken in its essential engagement with the Originary level of repression. Because no more definitive transcendent foundation is acceptable in this Empire, we have the possibility of coexistence of a plurality of types of knowledge, of cultural and religious beliefs. But because no real reference to the Originary has been established, there is always the risk of recrudescence of different types of fundamentalism, of movements with more backward references-even Secondary, with firmly fixed symbolic content. Being an Empire of transition, it is subject to oscillation, as was the Second Empire, which was linked to the Primary while pushed to searching a Secondary reference.

With an hegemonic reference to the Originary level of repression, the Fifth Empire is the possibility of a detached consideration of any production, past and future, on the new perspective of culture gained in the light of the Originary Repression. This is the Empire in which everything may become indifferently available and enjoyable.

Finally, it would be useful to point out how the process of becoming a psychoanalyst is conceived. It obviously relies on the radical experience of the Originary Repression, of the impossibility intrinsic to the desire of não-Haver, which sends the so-called psychoanalyst straight back to his mundane existence, to daily care and toil, but as frequently as possible aiming the production of a social and individual life referred to the superior order of the AMEN.



(1) In Portuguese the word novamente means ‘again’, while nova mente means ‘new mind’. The word NOVAmente thus written combines both meanings.

(2) In the State University of Rio de Janeiro; Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; and, Université de Paris VIII, under the direction of Jacques Lacan, Vincennes, France, 1977/1978.

(3 ) Available at the Internet address:

(4 ) We cannot expect that an analysis could take place without a synthetic principle as its essential condition. In vain would we attempt to eliminate such a non-analysable principle on the basis of the analytical procedure. Instead, we must make it explicit: its nature and that to which it refers.

(5) Todestrieb. We take the English ‘drive’ as a rough equivalent for the German Trieb.

(6) Haver in Portuguese comes from the Latin habere (and não-Haver is simply the negation of Haver). Magno normally employs it as the English ‘there is’ or ‘there are’, but maintaining the nominal characteristics of a verb in the infinitive form. He deliberately avoids the Portuguese equivalents for ‘Being’, ‘Nothingness’, ‘Nothing’, or ‘to be’, ‘to exist’…, on the axiomatic level of his theory because they carry various philosophical meanings. When he does use these terms, within his specific frame of concepts, they acquire specific meanings.

(7) Based on Freud’s conference on the Weltanschauung, one could object to the formulation of a principle in psychoanalysis that encompasses both the knowledge of psychic life and the knowledge of the universe, understood as the “totality of phenomena”. We must consider, however, that Freud approaches the proposition of a Weltanschauung not as a theoretical aspiration but as an expedient that aims at a supposed peace and security, in the form of a definitive solution to any problem. Why, the axiom at stake, “Haver wants não-Haver”, brings out precisely the impossibility of finding the desired peace, through a tranquillising answer.

(8) Verdrängung is the Freudian term.

(9) The term Urverdrängung has a completely different meaning for Freud, indicating a first fixation of the libido resulting from a repressing process that hinders the drive’s representative from entering consciousness (see the article Repression, in Freud’s Metapsychology).

(10) Magno forges the neologisms “auto-soma” and “etho-soma” to indicate the ‘natural’ determinations of one’s own body and the ‘natural’ determinations of the individual’s behavioural relations with others respectively.

(11) We must observe that TheLaw is a deficient equivalent of the Portuguese term ALEI, combining ‘A’ and ‘LEI’ (=’LAW’). In Portuguese, ‘A’ is both the definite article ‘The’ and the prefix that indicates negation, ‘a’ as in ‘achromatic’, ‘ahistorical’, ‘asexual’. Thence ALEI: only and absolute Law, The Law, and no law, no legitimate concrete law.

(12) As we see in the moral philosophy of Kant, according to which liberty is placed on man’s rational/moral dimension as the condition for his emancipation of natural and social determinations.

(13) Lower levels of vincula are always present and become obstacles to the cure if they are not referred to the Absolute Vinculum, the real motor of the psychoanalytical process.

(14 ) Overtly critic of any criteria for normality, Magno maintains that ‘the normal’ results from a symptomatic pattern that became hegemonic, denoting the success of a repressing formation in a certain social and historical context, to the detriment of all other symptomatic possibilities that did not actualize or that did actualize as lesser or marginal symptoms, and which in turn may become hegemonic in another context.

(15) ‘Culture’ is used by Magno with the same meaning attributed by Freud in Civilization and its Discontents [1929], where he does not distinguish it from civilization.

(16). The term “Five Empires” is an allusion to the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa and his five Empires.

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European Journal of Psychoanalysis