In several theoretical papers and through some experimental studies (some published, some ongoing), I propose that the Lacanian concept of the signifier (or the Freudian concept of the word presentation) finds a neurophysiologic instantiation in the sensorimotor concept of the phonemic phantom, which is a species of motor imagery which arises through the high intentional investment of a group of articulatory motor patterns (phonemes) of which the actual motor execution is at the same time systematically prevented. This happens e.g. when we often think about something which we never talk about. This is also thought to happen when we often think about something unconsciously and never talk about it. A phantom is a species of motor imagery in the same way a representation is a kind of motor imagery. According to the neuroscientist Jeannerod (1994) when an action intention is not (exhaustively) reached, the insisting firing of the neurones encoding for this intention, will give rise to the experience of an image. A phantom differs from a mere representation in the following way: a representation arises when a motor intention is not exhaustively or not perfectly executed and it arises precisely in this gap between intended and actual movement; a phantom, to the contrary, arises when a motor intention is systematically or drastically not met by execution – for example when a limb is missing in the case of a phantom limb, or when there is a systematic prevention or blockade of the execution, such as is thought to be the case for unbearable topics, i.e. in the case of repression.



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