The Preliminary image, « impressive » expression and self portrait

Dr Bernard Auriol


“Spring days” of the French Society of  Psychopathology of the expression

(Albi, 31 May and 1st June 1986) [published  in " Psychologie Médicale", 1987, 19, 9 ; 1543-1547]


(translated by Béatrice Bonzom-Gourc)




In this work, I wonder about the self portrait, in the strict sense of the term (painted, drawn or carved self portrait) or in the broad sense of the term (sonorous, characterological self portrait).

Particularly, I wonder about its links with :

-          the preliminary image which creates the portrait before the existence of its model

-          the leading image of the German philosopher L. Klages

-          the leading image of the French researcher W. Hégar for whom an imaginary self portrait fills, constantly and without author’s knowing, all forms of expression


I would carry on this thought by using some examples taken from my patients.


The preliminary image


At birth, as in every circumstances, the one who is appearing, even if it is by surprise, is responding to an another, “is modeling to short of the other expectations”.

The preliminary image is the one of his mother (and the others) expecting/in a expecting position, and is represented by different signs : name, clothes, taste and repulsions coming up from the child , suggested calling/vocation, etc. Even if baby is not following the indicated way to act/go (he is not having /coming into one’s parents’ property; he can answer by opposition), he is always making reference /he is always using it as a point of reference. (S. Lébovici, 1983, p.308 et sq.). His own fantasy meet the parental’ “imagos” requirements of which he should give a representation, unless he creates it by surprise.

The preliminary image is also the one of the direct interlocutor, based on the “history” of the inter-relationships and particularly on the over past times;  the ritual schema of the conversation are one example ( what are we going to talk about in the train?). In this way, clothes, look, style which are the reflection of the person (Buffon, 1754), etc “predestine such or such type of contact.”


Any myth is a mirror which reflects to the person his (her) own image at the exemplary state ; figurative and persuasive as well, preceding a moral code which leads towards a beyond of the emptiness, a divine “complétude”, heroic and androgynous. In our western civilization, the figure of Christ is often used by “wild” persons and writers ; even if these last ones used it for their own “hobby-horse”, so that we can recognize them among it ; Jesus is “ melancholic virtuoso” for Schleirmacher, “socialist” for Proudhon, “poor devil” for Simone Weil….

Alfred Adler (1926), under the term of “ligne directive”, related, with a significant richness, the educational part , positive and negative, of this phenomenon which he is to criticize by the way of restricting this part on inferiority/ superiority relationships.

S. Freud (1914) by showing that it is from the operation of the identification that the human subject is built up, allows us to understand the significance of the distance “from oneself and from ego’love”.
In order to remain merely as ego (pulsion 3 autoconservation), it is absolutely logical that the subject safeguards a certain steadfastness of its identifications ; which is only possible if he takes pleasure in them and keeps a watch on himself.

The mechanism of identification (and of the “negative identification” emphasized by .Hégar, 1938) supposes beside the subject a pattern which will be integrated as “ego” or “part of ego”. The judging authority, the “comparative” (in the cybernetics way) is not considerated as (it is in any case more extensive in its attributions) the “superego” of Sigmund Freud (1914), no more than the directive scheme here mentioned can be restricted to “the ideal of ego”! This “comparative” estimates roughly the conformity of the result of the impressive action in front of the “ego” image and to the aim to reach it must be understood that it is a question of a complex objective which implies all kind of conscious and unconscious expectations.

I called up here above the function of this constant presentation of “ego”: necessity to set an “identity”, to escape to an incertainty regarding our own nature, need of security, to stand on a basis (chain of the past “ego”states, the string which links them) from which it may be possible to develop an attempt in order to come near to the “ideal of ego”(future states to reach, to hope, in the process of being) : firstly to be something for fear of being nothing, showed capacity, visible object.

The impressive expression

As it is shown by J.Corraze (1980), from the psychological litterature, it cannot be allocated to a strict narcissism, whatever the form it is , a chronological precedence. The human ethology has shown the impression’s significance and effects, made and recognized, on the expression of the very young nursling : he turns away from a recording on film of his mother whose movements are, due to the temporal gap, aleatoric with regard to his own creations. On the contrary, he maintains for a long time his pleasure and smiles or babbling , if his mother replies in “real time” to his manifestations, even if it is by means of video. This inter-action implies an expectation (from the two concerned persons) for each one of their “performance”. We will see afterwards that this kind of experience, constantly renewed, models in the end the expression-itself, so that each participant co-pilot the interactive process which can be explained only if the “dyade”so established has been taken into account (or “multiplet” when “agents” are varied).
When the subject expresses himself, he can- and must, in order to do it at best – to become his own witness ; the inputs (information) react upon the outputs (actions) of which they are the result (retroaction).

So, it doesn’t only operate the control of content which allows us to go on speaking , realizing what we have been just talking about , but also the set up of the reflect of his own image appears through this expression!
The one whose voice is quavering hears his emotion just after he has felt it or even , whereas he had no consciousness of it.
Participants to group therapy like Gerda Boyesen’s students know that “something happens” when rumbles in one’s stomach are heard!
The heart beating, the vascular state of the face, the degree of sudation, the lachrymal, “sudoral”, genital, urinary,intestinal, gastric secretion, the heartbeat or breathing rhythm, gesture and all, functional or muscular expressions, are made up of an infinite number of appropriate characteristics for revealing hidden elements or not to the subject who expresses himself.
The one who is talking generally transmits an information and intents to realize an agreement on the subject discussed with his addressee; this is “the plan du communiqué”.

This “doing” is implicated a “pact” (Jacques Lacan, 1954) which makes up “the plan of acknowledgement as long as the speech is linking the subjects” in interaction so that in a uncertain way : as every pact, this one is signed : it implies such facing to the other one and not anybody facing to anybody….each one of the protogonist appears, as per a determined drawing and with a determined intention, to the other who is representing him in a such way.
The use of the second degree indeed, leads him to play in order to allow him to get through this first appearance -of oneself (or direct expression, “naïve”), to a representation driven by an image that he tries to give (which I call with Hegar & Klages : “impressive expression”. This game can be conscious, for the dissembler, the actor or the patient of bio-feedback, etc, but also can be originated by the unconscious which displays such identification, such reactional formation, such hysterical symptom and presents them together. The impact of this phenomenon on every expression is certainly very important. “ who know what it would remain to express if we could get the man out of the fiction, of the mask, of the role in its every forms ?” (K. Bühler, quoted by W. Hégar p.24). R. Saudek (1929) provided an experimental basis to these assertions by showing the outstanding stability of the handwriting produced by blind subjects as opposed to handwriting changes occured due the different stages of the life on persons able to see.
L.Klages philosopher uses the notion of individual directive image (an ideal of shape which is used as a guide to the action “Leitbild”) from which he points out that it is universally present and mainly unconscious when the human being acts, whatever the action is. All representative activity is directed and driven by the expectation of impressing ( in the way of “producing a determined impression”) the spectator failing that being another can be the actor himself. This leads W.Hégar to consider distinctly the expression ( in the way of the emergence of various outside elements linked to the actual state of the bio-psychological organism) of the representation.
The first one is beyond from any glance, including the one of the person who is expressing… indeed, most of impressive movements can be also interpreted, becoming in this way “impressive”, directed to a realistic or imaginary witness, modified by the expectation of the effect that they will produce on the other ; they have a meaning – explicit or not- and play the role of signifiants without having necessarily the status (when they are supposed to be only signs or symptoms). What is the impression to produce on the other? Of course, of oneself, “Me, I..”

This bring us face to face with ubiquitous signs originated by the imaginary constantly mixed on the one hand with signs issued from the reality which would be the pure expression and on the other hand with those issued from symbolism which can only escape from it at the expense of an « algébrose » more and more emaciated.

We know that the « algébrose » (M.Jousse, 1969), is this kind of disease that reduces the speech, in the past saturated by « mimismes », to a devitalized system made up of arbitrary terms, close to the little letters of algebra (a, b, c).
In the frame of the sonic therapy or « electronic ear », a curious phenomenon can be noticed from the first observations, and since always, by the practitioner : the depressed and lonely patient is drawing in black and white at the beginning of his treatment ; then the smiling image of a multicolored world appears, which inevitably indicates a grow in his mood and in his social attitude. If we state that the background has no change at this stage, an alteration of the subject is in question : it introduces the reflect of his mood in his creation.

As it is asserted by M.Pulver (1931), « the conscious writing is a unconscious drawing, sign and portrait of oneself ». W.Hégar (1938) pointed out rightly the signs provided by the stroke of the images in the form of the letters, the organization, etc… . Everyone reminds to have worked their signature in their teenage years, to have plagiarized such characteristic from the venerated master, to have reversed such depreciated side,… .

Thus, the graphologist cannot get away from this rule, he is directly concerned ; his writing shows enviable characteristics as per the exact criterion of his art.

In this way, he is improving, not always in a conscious way, his « auto-profil » (C.J. Belin, 1982) which will abound (excess in fact suspicious) in recorded signs of spontaneity and sincerity, of clear thinking, of altruism and other nobility of spirit.
In fact, the expressive expression (and everything relating to tests of « projection ») includes on the one hand an « affectivo pulsional » tendency and its intimate psychological structuring and on the other hand, the intervention of the consciousness taking up of this unconscious pulsional arrangement and allows it to express (R.Heiss, 1956).

It is a phenomenon rather similar to what it can be brought to our attention by the reported dreams (S.Freud, 1900).
We find here « le ventre mou » of the psychopathology of the expression that furthers the use in the selection of the « personal » with good results but weakens notoriously the significance from the medico-psychological point of view.

The lapsus (slips of the tongue/of the pen) of the analyst

A similar phenomenon concerns ( it is what I thought that I have observed but a statistical survey should confirm it) the psychoanalyst to whom the practice and theory have taught him that slips and various failed acts have meanings. Contrary to what it could be expected in a naive way, this experience and knowledge don’t protect him. It looks like rather being directly concerned by them and I’m surprised that the frequency by which these « freudian slips » follow one another in our speech, without gathering from them a particular degree of neurosis neither great revelations : it is probably question to bring to the attention, by an unconscious handling somewhat perverted, some messages, for which an another person, will content maybe of a variation of tone, an alteration of voice, a fleeting funny faces….
Once again, intervention of the impressive expression which acts by a wink on the anticipated image of this cultural field. A such perversion of the symptom is not certainly the privilege ( ?) of the specialist and, we will find it undoubtedly to a lesser degree, for several interlocutors ; the main thing being here to notice the inter-subjective side, micro-sociological of a phenomenon which is not narrowed to betray- within a kind of compromise- the unconscious and come towards a witness, had been the « Me » of the subject.
Beside the symptom that betrays, we should consider then the image of oneself published, the mask shown, in fact, intended for sensorial captors of one another.
To my point of view, this guileful and sincere representation, can not be limited by the frontier of the hysterical system of which it goes beyond as well through the obsession and delirium, but also through the side of the perverted impressive manipulation.
The perversion is here, on one hand a display of the symptom on the other hand sadomasochism ; sensual pleasure of the mistake, revolt against the tongue that we will see in the spreading out of the « glossolalical verbigeration » of the schizophrenic patient

The face

(and all parts of the body) within its morphology and its expression is drawing the nature, the attitudes, the mood of the person : the mask, the make-up, the study of oneself exteriorization, are going to be so many factors aimed to emphasize the tricks used. One expresses  by the contraction of its jaw, the head and chest bearing, the frown, that he is energetic and dominating. It might occur that this portrait was temporary set up for some interior or exterior looks. It can also happen that it is only question of a mere expression of a strong personality.

Walter Hégar (1938) laid so rightly stress on the fact that all expressions of oneself, even if extremely artificial, conceals at least the elements which allow to lead to a deep knowledge of the person. The effort itself produced in order to create effects is signing its way by signs of conflict between the image pursued and the pressing need for the emotions to be brought to light.This is by this way, using an additionnal sophistication that the psychopathology of the expression regains strength. But a game at the third degree can be seen, and also at the fourth and nth degree , to which a more important vigilance and a more important shrewdness of the seeker could be met as per the well known dialectic of the “sabre and shield”.

The “psychological strength” and the role of this automatic and standing self-portrait will be varying according to the times, places, circumstances and the type of personality : the voice, the writing, the drawing, the corporal smells, the choices of foodstuffs, the clothes, the living conditions, the means of transport used,..etc.. have  to be set on a main line which goes from the mere pragmatism to the more distinct narcissism.

In the character very creative, the richness of his personality can possibly show itself only within and by his creation, depriving of  torn wrinkles the face which is usually given to the status of genius and  removing the handwriting of the acknowledged hallmarks of a “strong” personality (Ania. Teillard, 1948- p.155)  : cf. the handwriting of a disarming simplicity, almost childish, of Einstein….



It corresponds to a “consciousnization” of the unintentional process described in the previous paragraph. Unless it was prescribed, the self-portrait implies some degree of attraction for its own image and therefore it should be sided with one of the three possibilities listed by .Freud (1914) : seduction of what we are oneself,  of what we have been, of what we would like to be.

Not only it shows itself as a pictorial or carved work, but also in the representation made by oneself (or given to the chairman) during a meeting or a public speech, in the handwriting signature, in the assertion of its own points of view accompagnied by « me, I… » already mentioned.

The self-portrait, whatever its form is, in most cases is not very homogeneous : it is built up necessarily from a self-knowledge which varies, not only through the sensorial way viewed, but also according to the considered part of oneself. The face and the handwriting are better known than the voice attribute. Regarding the drawing of the body, these are the head and shoulders which are the more accurate (Jacques Corraze, 1980).
Now, I’m going to take into account some clinical cases of which the only criterion of gathering them is the existence of, among the drawing they used to give to my assistant after the « electronical ear » session, an indisputable self-portrait (realistic details which allow to identify it, assertion that is in fact a self-portrait, without any conscious intention of distortion). We are going to see that , unlike the profesional painters of whose it is said that they have all drawn one, our patients are not usually interested by launching themselves in a such enterprise, maybe due to the « heavy threats thrown on those who try to confront with their dual personality » ( mutual hostility and persecution which would lead to the death) (Sigmund Freud, 1919). It exists various prohibitions, taboos, which purpose is to lead the human beings away from their reflected image (Jacques Corraze, 1980) ; these warnings are coupled with the modern idea (P.Elkisch, 1957), whereby going against this defence would lead to some psychotic occurrence (autism, hallucinations, etc..). We are going to see how unjustified, if we put aside the « heautoscopie » and the sign of the mirror in order to remain in the following problematics , this last « expectation » is ….
· The fascination for the mirror as the distorting self-portrait (will be named of « second type ») could correspond to the symptoms of a loss or a research of identity, a difficulty to perceive oneself such as we appear « photographically ».
· Whereas the realistic self-portrait shows the exaltation of this ability. So, it would be closer to the « operating » attitude described in psychosomatics than to the psychotic overcoming !


The image of one another as reflection of oneself (a)

The self-portrait can be drawn « in vivo » in some love choice, when the effect is reversed in order to produce the another as a reflect of the ego. Mr. M. Lemaime, 39 years old, has drawn several self-portraits (drawings produced on a basis of 100 hours during one year) that we consider as self- very likeness of him – while these self-portraits are representing his friend. He doesn’t content himself with a drawn or carved self-portrait, he needs to represent it on four dimensional, moving with the space and the time. He wants to live with it, to put it on his table, in his bed….
M.Lemaime comes and sees me just after an hostpitalization (colectomy -Recto Colique Ulcero). The disease was triggered off during an usual psychoanalytical approach. He gets married and his son is six years old. He reports the existence of conflicts in his conjugal life : his wife is « as intrusive » as his mother « a creeper with orchids », blaming him for his lack of ambition : « I can’t identify myself with the figure of chief », he says. Regarding his father, he says that he was nonentity. He shows desire when his brother was struck : « Me, he has never hit me, nothing happened between us » . His mother had often, when he was a child, sexual and public relationships with the Nazi occupant He attributes this to the execution of his uncle (« that I had chosen as father »). He is embarrassed about women. During the psychotherapy, he will get divorced and will move in with the friend to whom I’ve have already refered.
He is unable to have an sustained erection with men and women. A sexotherapy’s attempt with a colleague specialist, with his boyfriend should be broken off due to suicidal tendencies and anal pains.

Energy rising

A.Vatar (42 years old) has undertaken a sound therapy under his wife’s action who hopes that he will become more flexible by this way. He applies himself to it with very restricted means ! I want to point out that during the twelve months of treatments, at any time, he won’t unclench his tooth on some confidences, except for indicating that he is colour-blind ; he is very polite and even pleasant, he puts on the earphones, takes the micro, he carries out regularly the « instructions » and even… shows himself very motivated...but I have in front of me only an attitude and not a word. Sorry ! Among the « how to use it » it is recommended to draw or to carve during the musical ear sessions : he will do it, of course using a very abstract style which reminds his concern for rationality and his polytechnicien formation ; except for two figurative works which are precisely two self-portraits ! In confidence, of this production, here are the « claims » that we have received : « Now, I have digestive problems, some sore throat and anal pruritus ; on the other hand, I don’t suck anymore my pencils »…(Replacing the activities of oral derivation, anus drive excess appears when his strong narcissistic part has been revealed - we go from the oral drive area to the anal drive area – III – IV/VI).

Created in the fire

T.Zigan, man in his 27, is suffering also from pruritus and anal fissures which have produced lichen by dint of scratching. During his therapy, he will specify his link between his homosexuality partly repressed, partly suppressed and his anal problems which took place during adolescence. He recalls (during a « Mezieriste » work on the diaphragm) the sexual relationships he had with his brother. He meets strong difficulties to get closer to women : « when it could work, I meet a gap-obstacle » which forbids me the simplicity of the meeting ! » . He is attracted to « mild » toxins. He seeks contact of social « characters » that he rejects elsewhere, showing himself opposed to many forms of the « establishment » and allowing himself some infringement of the law. When he travels, sublimating a wandering fantasy, his dermatological difficulties, his jealousy, his sexual difficulties disappear.
The relationships with his wife is made up of upsets of a jealousy that he condemns but which transcends him. He is obsessed by the death and the disease since his father dead while he was twelve years old only ; « I accompanied him in a positive way during his struggle against the death, but also I wished him dead ». His father had mentioned the idea of suicide ; himself, he is thinking about it. A lot of elements show that he identifies himself partly with his dead father and that he is searching the image in himself.
When he draws himself, from head to foot, in a realistic way (70° hour Tomatis ear), he mentions his difficulty to communicate with his mother « very Catholic » and who « sometimes, took the position of father’s authority ». He feels some complex in front of his own image : one detail of his face carried on the mockery of others . He thought that this detail found its roots during his conception.


Flute player

F. Uttal, 29 years old, after getting himself kicks out of doing several activities (particularly militant extremist), explains how his current job has let him down and keeps on disappointing him. He « settles down » with wife and child . When she has announced him her second pregnancy, he fell in a deep depression with ideas of suicide, and a widespread selflessness in sexual and social matters. After one or two meetings which were made up of a chemotherapic planning and a relaxation session, he becomes able to tell some dreams. They put him on stage with some colleagues who seems doing some theater or cinema. Indeed, this cinema theater is inside a jail…. He is flying in the two meanings of the word.
By contrast, he combines the real-life during his militant years to his current life (« family jail »). Later, during a conducted daydreaming, which involves the ascent of a mountain, he imagines that his wife has an accident….In a subsequent dream night, his children will die in turn. He thought that the block for risky initiatives is due to his responsability for being father. He confesses that he feels a secret but strong jealousy with regard to his wife.
His state is getting better but one of his colleagues has been approached about taking an another job and he accepts it. Then, F. Uttal collapses into violent crisis of tears : « it was the only guy with whom I had friendly relationships »…. F. Uttal speaks about him very highly, stating that they were complementary: more conciliating, flexible, he knew how to stand back,..etc.. « I don’t know if I could run the company without him !». More later, in his therapy, he will dream that his wife is dead and that he is kissing is sister in law, artificial beauty, houseproud, spouse of « dynamic manager » (ironical)… This dream emphasizes on the repressed homosexuality and shows a very complicated and ambivalent « oedipian » structure : « I met my father’eyes and this let me think to his face when my mother is dead. I wish he died countless number of times ! ». Under these circumstances, he dreams : one of his girlfriends wanted to go and see the Ora’ lake. «I sink into a hole : at the bottom we could meet rats which came back up my legs ; I planned how to get out by drawing my inspiration from the use of parallel bars ». The daydreaming that he has built up from this theme shows the hole with rats, which brown sides, was covered with a crust of soil and that a tree whose roots « were gobbled up by the rats » steps across the hole. Rats « are gobbling up each others.I want to disembowel them, to trample them down…they represent the constraint, the authority relationships ».At the close of the session, F.Uttal specifies that he has a stomach ache for about ten days. Several months later, a new daydreaming related to an enormous rat which leads him to discover that his house is built, set up, on swarming rats which are devouring at each others. When his wife asks him what the matter is, he replies queerly « I’ve got rats which eat me the stomach ». (Chakra IV, cf.B. Auriol, 1984).
Needless to lay stress upon the surprising analogy of these images with what is reported by S.Freud (1909) : same sado-anal symbolism with passive homosexuality tendency. The symbolism of anal penetration, rejected, of the rat seems to be universal (cf.J.Chevalier, 1969). The hagiography advises us about rats carried on towards « the back of the garden », by the Saint, under the promise of their daily sustenance (D.Frémin, 1962), whereas for G.Bataille, the metaphor gets a philosophical way nearly universal : the existence is a « story of rats » taken in a « dead end » , the human condition finds out from the torment of « pal ».
During a further daydreaming, under the theme of the witch, he confines her at the back of a cirque, naked ( from the top side, the description could be compared to the buttocks and anus) which conceals a spring that comes from crevices one more time very « anal » (IV), with an « inside lake » and some marshes (III)…very often within his therapy, the idea of « walking round and round » emerges (IV) that calls to mind these lines of wandering which are shown by Deligny under the steps of autism. Dominique Autie made a comparison of their inadmissible complexities by the social matter, to these swarming meanders of the inhabitants of the sewers of which we could be delivered by the music of the flute at the expense of an « inhumance » (V-VI)…. The refusal to make a contract, of anal equity, implies this alive burial of the speech….
In one another R.E.D.D., the sorcerer, possible figure of the analyst, has a « reed-pipe », which allows us, precisely, to mention the « flute player of Hamelin » ables to carry all the rats of the town along the drowning and …, not being paid, all his children towards the cave without access ! (cf.Samivel, 1942 et Greenaway, 1979).
Throughout the whole year of his treatment under Tomatis Ear and R.E.D.D., F. Uttal provided 4 self-portraits ; the 20 others being abstract drawings .


Dad or Mum ?

N. Audadi (29 years old) introduces himself as a shy person, having complexes and being distressed since the birth of his son. After an upbringing by a « motherly mum », his beginnings in the daily life were difficult and stood out by a strong profesionnal instability ; every time he gives up his job for relational reasons : hard feeling of being a laughing stock for his colleagues (« they call me a bird »), till he gets a clear idea of persecution. He fantasizes about being penetrated by anus and masturbates himself using various objects ; he emphasizes on the matter that he has always rejected a homosexual relationship. N. Audadi is aware of his important passiveness, his lack of aggressiveness, his « masochism », of being inclined to get identified himself towards his mother instead of his father ( « when I come near dad, mum gets the feeling that I harm her »). Frequently, he uses obsessional behaviours : counting, checking, rituals which help him to sleep. He complains about phenomenons of depersonalization which go hand in hand with less sensorial results and physical troubles such as gastritis.
He has outstanding artistic skills and, when he is unemployed, succeeds in selling several of his paintings to his acquaintances. He will perform 116 hours of Tomatis Ear within one year and will produce 98 drawings among which a magnificent realistic self-portrait at the end of the therapy.


Half treated

P. Rométhé (21 years old) complains about difficulties of concentration, handwriting awkwardness and tries to find various kinds of « alternative medecine », a « treatment/traitor-lies ». He idealizes a lot the therapy by hypnosis (indeed, he had to content himself with a « sophrology » method). Somatisation at the left knee, eyes, stomach, side and right iliac fossae level, sleeping « too much » tendency, to feel in a state of « lethargy », « half asleep », to clench his jaws, to toss and turn in his sleep.
During the sonic therapy (88 hours of Tomatis Ear and some meetings) it will appear his opposition to everything that could recall an authoritarian process according to conscious (« anarchistic ») as well as unconscious data. His childhood dreams were related to snakes (« the more I trampled them down, the more they came back) and the fact of being in his socks (without shoes) in front of a man who drove a car and came charging straight at him. Then, P.Romethe speaks for the first time about an « old fistula » which has come to change (a « bump » appears) and about trouble with his couple (agressive attitude towards his girlfriend). She reproaches him for using his friends in order to discuss with her, instead of exchanging directly… ». Therapists are easily suspected and perceived as hypocritical and incompetent persecutors. In this observation again, we can notice the accumulation of a repressed homosexuality signs with predominant masochist passive constituent. During the therapy, he will draw 99 drawings, among them a great number of faces with a very clumsy construction but that he maintains as realistic self-portraits. Other will appear as very scrawled, self-colored, non figurative or confused drawings.

His own image and the death

L. Angiras (51 years old) is a teacher who was dedicated to holy orders by his parents, from his earliest days. His old father didn’t get on with his wife using the « vous » form with her. It was a quick-tempered, violent, persecuted, megalomaniac bigot : « He saw me as Pope ». He died when L. was 13 years old. Life for this last one goes on without noteworthy hitch till the death of his mother. It is three years later that he comes and sees me for insomnia, stomach pains, depressive tendencies, bulimia and obesity and some consequences : hypercholesterol, diabetes, angina pectoris,...etc.. .
Then, he feels an « affective awakening » with regard to a young girl, his neighbour, that torments him tremendously but it will always remain a platonic relationship. He feels his links to strain with the religious community he belongs to. Political militant, he rebels against all forms of authority ; he can’t himself, impose any forms of discipline to his pupils.The practice of sexuality is limited to the use of masturbation : touching of his own breast then discovery of onanism ( in his 30 years). The MMPI shows a strong tendency to somatisation regarding unpleasant affects, a pronounced « feminine » attittude. He confesses « I should be madly fond of my mother ! »… During a R.E.D.D, a bird of prey attacks his sex which is slightly hurt « that quiet him down, the fighting breaks off/stops, I have a burning feeling, like a shrinking, as if this hurt sex is coming into me ; this bird of prey becomes then my guide, my companion… ». He makes reference to Sodome and Gomorrhe, the women of Lot,..etc.. We can find among the drawings produced under the Tomatis Ear a realistic self-portrait (134° session) beside him a skeleton with a scythe is drawn. He made 90 drawings during 160 hours spread over a period of 4 years.

Narcissism threat

V. Eriph (46 years old) is suffering from a disabling obsessional neurosis and from « oeso-stomachale » somatisation (operated mega-œsophagus, hernia,...etc..). The « Szondi » brings to the fore a latent homosexuality, a sado-anal fixation, that he is driven by the ideal of his ego. When he begins an « autogene » training, in his 48 years old, he has already a strong medico-psychiatric past with the use of various chimiotherapies (« anxiolytics », antidepressants, sleeping drug, « dogmatil », etc..) and sick leaves. The neurosis is overall related to his professional activity (handling of data that he checks constantly). Moreover, he is extremely dependent upon the point of view of his managers and colleagues, an dissatisfaction suspicion coming from them, throw him in a deep depression. He oscillates between a very high and very low esteem of himself. When he is « down » , he feels depressed, his mind is a blank, he complains about stomach pains, feels a painful disabling for working, ..etc.. . When he is « up » , on the contrary, he feels that he can be « perfect » in his activity.
When he draws his self-portrait (46° session), he claims to be very tired, feels the imminence of a disaster « as if a mountain is going to collapse on his head », at times, he is pallid and sweats a lot. The test of endurance with the heart specialist proves to be positive . All this blossoming of symptoms can be resumed for him as follows « I give all my best and even I get bawled out » ; « only one pleasant word coming from my managers and my attitude can be changed completely » (indeed, he does overtime, in order to fill, despite wasting time in checks, objectives planned by himself). He realized elsewhere 62 drawings during 274 hours spread over a period of 8 years.

Man-Woman and dead-alive

E. Terpe (27 years old) has shown few months before our meeting a delirium with hearing hallucinations, feelings of persecution,..etc..that brought him a private hospital stay. He has given up his job of hairdresser of which he felt ashamed and devoted himself to music (percussion) in a professional way. Nevertheless, when he plays in dance hall he protects his ears with earplugs….
He complains about insomnia, headaches, constipation, ejaculation pains, sporadic impotence. He has « switchback » relationships with his girlfriend. She has given him a child that he didn’t wish and that he rejects ; he explains « my mother has left me several times between 0 and 4 years old… and when she kept me, it turned out badly because she was agressive ». « I’m dead alive ». « I would be inclined to reverse the role, to identify myself to the woman when I watch a movie ». He builds up love and sexual relationships only with lesbians.
He realized 40 drawings or paintings (among which 2 self-portraits of first type drawn towards the end, whereas we can notice a distinct improvement) during his electronical ear therapy (61 hours) spread over a period of 6 months.

To free oneself

T. Decarcere (28 years old) wants to avoid firstly living a banal, humdrum existence…because of the period of time (post May 68), but also due to his family history (mother highly-patronizing proud of his intellectual status of teacher, retiring father that she scorns to be a worker). Opposed to all forms of authority and of conformist adaptation, he had a wild time and he has commited some offences which brought him to spend one year in jail ; he has difficulty in compelling himself to the work. Despite the efforts he does to go « towards good things » within a spiritual group, he hits sometimes his girlfriend, a very firm girl, somewhere virile. In his dreams, he aims at the conquest of the Graal or a perfection of this kind. Sometimes his fantasy present an homosexual relationship. He mentions the significance of « anality » during his chilhood and when he smokes herb : « I need to have a motion before ». His sister starts a schizophrenia and himself seems to have had a severe crisis of adolescence, looking at himself long hours and masturbating in front of the mirror….From the « somatic » point of view, he was obese till his 16 when he met his girlfriend. He realized at the end of the therapy only one self-portrait (distorted so that the right side of his face appears wasted and without ear, while the left side is puffed up and is endowed with an enormous pavilion !). He had made 55 drawings during 80 hours spread over a period of one year.


Nirvikar is a young manager in his 27 years, somewhat anxious and tired. He somatizes at the throat and doesn’t open up easily to some confidences during his Tomatis Ear therapy. He has done 48 hours and realized 33 colored drawings among which a black and white realistic self-portrait, at the end of « defiltering ».

Down with the pigs

Mangecuisse, homosexual in his 25 years, complains about asthma and constipation. His father, policeman, is dead (Algeria war) when he was only 8 years old. He remembers to have been very jealous of him and cannot forget the cry of the captives who were tortured in a next room, neither this young friend kidnapped, raped and killed by the F.L.N. It happens that he gives his father’s date of death instead of his own date of birth ! He doesn’t like any more his father-in-law and shows an ambivalent attitude with regard to his mother to whom he feels to be too much attached in the life . During the 94 hours of his therapy, spread over a period of time of 3 years, we find 32 drawings among which one self-portrait framed in a kind of hexagon (« France’s map ? »). This portrait, in profile, is realistic and undeniably true to him.

The other image (in dream) as portrait of oneself (b)

Sittar (23 years old) complains about his bad memory, difficulties of concentration, of awkwardness and of trembling ; he is suffering also from an anal pruritus, that would be increased by addiction to smoking and feels necessary to massage himself the stomach ; moreover, he has sometimes headaches, « acouphenes », vertigo, diarrhoea or lumbago… He finds himself too much possessive, stubborn with regard to his fiancée. His sensual fantasy is related to different persons from both sex. In one of his dreams, « a very handsome guy, very young, gave me some drugs ; he was very like me »… He sets himself a vegetarian diet and joins a spiritual group that his wife rejects « sect ». He ecomplains about his couple and reports frequent quarrels. He has done 109 hours of Tomatis Ear set up on 2 years and realized 75 drawings (I put this observation with those of the first type due to the image that appears in the dream, even if he hasn’t made any drawn self portrait of the first type).

The previous cases illustrate a kind of self-portrait in which the subject  is fascinated by his own image. The self-portrait is purely in this way : it is realistic, giving concrete details of the face or body of the creator, it is realized for himself and not as one element of such situation made up of other acting subjects. Moreover, it is not prescribed : the order is just to draw, to make jigsaw or to relax by listening to the filtered music or the filtered maternal voice

on the contrary, in the frame of the daydreaming technique, I suggest giving a report of every session on a kind of strip cartoon to the patient. This process carries on often (it should always) the drawer to represent himself as he is part of the scenario. Therefore, I didn’t bother to gather the files in which such phenomenon is produced ; it will be very interesting also to observe the cases where self-portrait, then « prescribed », is avoided and to compare with the attitude when it is accepted (in the frame of the family’s drawing).

The self-portrait of the first type seems overwhelming to be more frequent among the man than woman, without being today able to set a reliable « sex-ratio » statistically. They show often (7 times out of 9) an homosexual component (repressed or not), claims related to the solar plexus (5 times out of 9) and anus (5 times out of 9), an intrusive or present  mother (5 times out of 9) and an absent, retiring or dead father (4 times out of 9). We find  (4 times out of 9) jealousy or paranoiac tendencies (4 times out of 9). The anal or digestive somatisation can express itself or appear when the self-portrait appears which is sometimes the only figurative drawing from the spontaneous work of the subject.


Self-portraits of the second type


Now, I’m going to give some examples of self-portrait of the second type  (much more frequent) that is the opposite point by point to the other. It is symbolic to some extent : « hieroglyphisation », without concrete details that could depict the creator , it is carried out within the scope of an action, presenting other beings lively or not, but breaking with the hereabove mentioned « dyadique » relationship, basically « narcissistic » as per S.Leclaire (1981). We observe it as well- and perhaps more- in the feminine than masculine sex . I haven’t noticed the stomachal or anal somatisations hereabove mentioned, narcissism is not characterized by the roughness that we can notice in the first type’s cases, it is more « humane »,  more or less stamped with sublimation. Most of time, it is a matter of an idealisation ( mentioning the ideal of ego) seperate from the image of ego.

In the first type, we would rather think to what several authors ( for example H.Nunberg, 1932 ; D.Lagache, 1958 ; J.Lacan, 1958) have described as an « self-ideal », powerful, purely imaginary, very archaic (cf. for ex. A.Menaufys’ case).

A earthly realization of the idealized self-portrait by the children can be read, heir of the genetic characteristics, of the name and of a genealogy, but overall of the more or less intermingled and coherent ideal of his parents. It is not only question of the preliminary image, mentioned at the beginning but of a dialectical building up of a relationship on various steps which is one- or the – root of the education and of the modelling that it implies.




C.Sigüh knows that all commitment on her part tends to go to extremes and that she can’t stand  half tone : then, she appears extremely reserved in her confidences when she is depressed, without having a taste for action, contenting herself with « sleeping and eating ». She feels like very dependent with regard to her mother (who doesn’t accept to be seperated from her) and with whom relationships are very superficial. She has opened conflicts with her father, « impulsive and violent » man. She makes the emotional field feel guilty in favour of rationality and would like to find herself in all her dimensions . The matter being made up overall of her refusal to get dependent combined with an high feeling of insecurity when she tries to get self-sufficient !

When she realized her first very realistic self-portraits, she verbalizes a fusional request that she weighs up (wrongly) with the possibility « to be capable of living alone ». She starts a relationship with a man who has already some love relationships, that she accepts « intellectually » but she can’t bear that… It seems necessary for her to begin a psychoanalysis.


These are (idealized or distorted)  self-portraits of the second type that she drew three months later, while she feels a certain « disillusionment » regarding her love or friendly relationships AND towards her own image (« I don’t like me, and this over and above of my image for others ; I don’t reach nothing really good, because I’m not myself really good »). She feels like dead or rather she thinks to be already dead. Nevertheless, she notices that she feels better even if she can’t stand the pupils by their attitude « talebearer or trying to show themselves in a good way ». She goes out in the evening and increases relationships…then, she stops the sonic therapy, stating « I’m well as we can expect, that is to say not very well … ».


Hidden behind his own image


Uposkias, 28 years old, has carried on 121 working hours under the electronical ear during three years. He realized 64 drawings. His MMPI is floating, where all the scales are high (for example depression at 72), excepted for their subtle versions (subtle depression at 30) and for the strength of the self’s scale (ES at 32). Particularly, we note Sc at 90, « nevrotism » at 83 and introversion at 79.


During the first meeting, he confined me « I have always been behind someone being more at ease  than me ; otherwise, I get panicky and I have insomnia. Just before bringing his therapy to completion, he realizes a self-portrait, in which, precisely, he shows himself (195°), as if he turns away of his image in order to face with the spectator of the painting….Needless to say that he doesn’t need anymore to hide himself behind anyone else than his own image, which is the purpose of everyone…That is why I classify him with the self-portrait of the second type.


As a shadow


L.Akini complains of not desiring her husband, with whom she has been living for more than fifteen years. She feels like being in competition with him in a inferiority way. Moreover, he recalls her an uncle to whom she became attached in the past. Her relationships with men have been often complicated, firstly with her father that she admires a lot but to whom she « could never tell him ». She likes the ones who carry on a lastname close to his one. With her mother, the clashes during adolescence were rough and numerous : « she used to liken me to my brother who had all the qualities..Me, I was the wrong side, the shadow and I APPLIED MYSELF to give the appearance that she want me to be ! ». Rivalry’s issues mainly, are very important and can throw her into a clinical depression if failures recur. After a wait that becomes more longer than usually, she is deeply distressed and beside herself : a such wait is felt as a « breaking off », a negative attitude of her image. The solar plexus is a very sensitive area where anguish takes place easily. She is very reactive with regard to value judgment, being conscious to focus a large part of her life on « appearances ». She recognizes herself in the story of « the Ugly duckling »…. 

She shows herself often in her drawings ; nevertheless these self-portraits are considered as an intermediary type between the two constructions already mentioned : on the one hand realistic representation, but some details alter realism : framing, hesitation on the identity (me or my mother), various distortions (clown representation, with an enormous right ear that comes down to her height, a body with two heads ;  sad on one side and happy on the other side)…


Big and small at the same time


A.Menaufys, 26 years old, wants to make a Tomatis Ear therapy on the advice of a friend. He complains of relational difficulties mainly in his professional activity. At the somatic level, he suffers from constipation/diarrhoea alternately, headaches, frequent throat pains with loss of voice and feeling of crying. The MMPI test shows an excitation, a paranoia and psychopathy shot up. Characteristics which are in accordance with his feelings of superiority and inferiority, his fears to be the subject of a plot (symptom that will increase at different key steps but will be reduced by “betabloquant”), etc…  He shows interest in his latent homosexuality “I was listening to the music in a very good friend of mine with a lot of pleasure when suddenly a feeling of  anguish gripped me while I was thinking that he could be homosexual”…


He realized eight self-portraits ( on 89 drawings) during the 270 hours of Tomatis Ear that he practiced during four years. Many of his works show him with an another character, it can be his manager (“who looks like his father”), a young girl that he hopes to charm or myself (compared to God or surnamed “Big Man”). He draws himself several times under the features of an historical key figure : pharaoh, emperor.


A voice


B.Elkanssou, 36 years old, comes and sees me on the advice of his O.R.L. He is very aggressive and complains about an another specialist who operated him ten years ago on a nodule at vocal cords. He sees this as a totally negative, persecuting and castrating act. « I have lost my self confidence, I’m depressed since this time… ». His current difficulties would be the result of that, enabling him to work (he is a professional singer). His wife finds him extremely jealous. He is distrustful and secret ; his confidences don’t go beyond the direct « technical » issue of his voice and the O.R.L’s area. During the Tomatis Ear’ therapy that he won’t carry on very far (30 hours within 10 months), we can note a change of mood, a concomitant improvement of the voice, of the musical memory, about self-confidence  …He has won several competitive examinations and his only difficulty is that of choosing in order to work. Nevertheless, he becomes more independent with regard to his wife who is waiting for a baby and she discovers that he has an extra conjugal relationship. We note his strong jealousy, some paranoiac features and the depression which succeeds to a symbolically castrating intervention. His self-portrait (idealized as conductor) is realized in the real life. Moreover, we have 8 drawings made by him.


Between two men


As the lover of Marpéssa shows himself on an aggressive way, assigning her maternal attitudes, she agrees that they spend some time each one on their side in order to build up new relationships before coming back together. Consequently, she starts a « temporary » relationship with an another boy. The first one seems to be enable to take advantage of this freedom…one day she draws, « by mistake » a woman between two men. It is question there of her and her issue becoming more critical :  the two men are quarrelling her ! She doesn’t want to give up these two relationships, both precious and different. Here the characters are used as symbols, small algebraic and non figurative letters. We can recognize her in the drawing under her story and by any obvious realistic characteristics. This case can be seen more as a self expression in the message than a message identified to the image of the self….


In the bed of mum


C. Loupet (44 years old) has committed a suicide attempt, with the gun of his father, when he was 27 years old. Since his hospitalization (with electric shock treament), he complains of important difficulties of memorization : « since ten years, I haven’t taken any drugs, but I forget all ! ». He complains about the fact that his father « cut the ground from under his’ feet », rejected him, didn’t allow him to go out. He thinks that his parents had no pleasure when he was conceived and notes that his mother behaves towards him as if he was his husband : « she has the sulks when I go out ».. « I have slept four or five days in the same bed than my mother (as my brother had done it before hanging himself). After he has come back from an hospital stay, a gap takes place with regard to his mother. But he describes himself « alone, lost », giving up the fears of persecution in favour of homosexual behaviours that he scorns…. « I have been with prostitutes, drags ». He made 50 hours of Tomatis’ Ear within two months and 143 drawings among which 13 self-portraits : always in a standing up attitude with balloon or legend which details the situation (his fears, hopes, daily acts). It is question of daily statements and the self representation shows not enough efforts in order to obtain a realistic likeness ; this is why it will be filed among the self-portraits of the second type….


The doctor has stomach ache


Stormach is a young doctor, recently married, in his 26 years. He suffers  from solar crisis when he has to face with certain social situations, particularly, meetings with colleagues, to carry on replacements work….The MMPI brings to the fore a depressive and hysterical rise. The Tomatis’ Ear therapy is made up of 140 hours spread over a period of two years. He produces only a drawing which is a face extremely distorted at the mouth and eyes, that shows a monstrous anguish. Some features are realistic (hair, face’ structure), but it may be filed among the self-portraits of the second type.



Psychosonique Yogathérapie Psychanalyse & Psychothérapie Dynamique des groupes Eléments Personnels

© Copyright Bernard AURIOL (email = auriol @ free . fr)

dernière mise à jour le

April 29, 2004