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Schizoid and Schizoanalysis

Yi-Jinkyung, Professor

Seoul National University of Technology


 [Download]16 Schizoid and Schizoanalysis.pdf


Schizoanalysis is the analysis method of unconsciousness invented by Deleuze/Guattari as they criticized Freud’s psychoanalysis. The subject of schizoanalysis is also unconsciousness. However, they call unconsciousness ‘schizoid’ or ‘schizophrenic’ in that it is the multiplicity of desire split in a variety of directions.

Schizoid is a word chosen to express that unconsciousness is split, that is, it has no unity. Freud also says about the split of subject, the split of unconsciousness, but it means the opposition between id, which has the sexual nature, and superego, which oppresses it. On the other hand, schizoid is the word to express that desire is open not in two contrary directions but in a variety of different directions. It is to conceptualize the split of unconsciousness not through opposition but through difference.

Though the word ‘schizophrenic’ is used here, schizoid is not schizophrenia, which is a kind of mental illness as a clinical entity. ‘Schizophrenic’ is the word to express the nature of desire split in a variety of directions. However, due to the fact that schizophrenic is the adjective form of schizophrenia, the two are often misunderstood as identical despite Deleuze/Guattari’s efforts to distinguish them. When misunderstood, the common accusation that “schizoanalysis is a romantic hymn to schizophrenia or psychopathy” pops up. However, we should not forget that schizophrenic is the word that expresses the virtuality of desire which is open in a variety of directions at the same time, whereas schizophrenia is the name of an actual disease accompanying symptoms such as delusion, hallucination, or alogia.

To understand this concept of schizoid, we need to pass through the concept of desire, which has its origins in Nietzsche and Spinoza. Unconsciousness is the flow of desire that drives everyday words and behaviors as well as symptomatic behavior and determines the operation of consciousness, but can not be grasped by consciousness. It is often called impulse. Spinoza calls this impulse or desire to continue one’s existence Conatus, which makes us invest and use our forces. Nietzsche calls the ingredient that determines where and how to invest force ‘will to power.’ It means the will that tries to command the force and determine the operating modality of the force.

Deleuze/Guattari’s desire means Spinoza’s Conatus or Nietzsche’s will to power. It is the driving force that produces all the activities associated with one’s life, not just eating and reproducing but also playing, resting, enjoying, training, and fighting, etc. This desire is open in a variety of directions at the same time and easily changes the investment point of the force from here to there. No matter how much one is obsessed with sex, he does not desire only sex. His desire may unknowingly shift to the money invested in securities, to shopping, and then to golf, etc. The same goes for scientists who think only of ‘truth’ and social activists who live only thinking of ‘revolution.’ This is why desire is itself a schizoid.

But we need to go a little deeper. Not only do we move from one desire to another, but even within one action, we move between different desires hesitating and vacillating. Many desires are mixed even within what seems to be one. We worry about gaining weight while eating, and often we have our heads in the clouds while our eyes are reading a book. The desire for revolution also is often indistinguishably intermixed with the desire for power. In this respect, even the desire that appears to be ‘one’ is not one. That’s why Deleuze/Guattari say that desire is schizophrenic flow and ‘multiplicity.’

Another important point is that this desire does not belong to an organism or ‘subject’ often referred to as ‘I’. According to biology, a cell is a micro-holobiont of microbes and others, and a multicellular organism also is another holobiont of such micro-holobionts. Human body is a holobiont of as many as 60 trillion cells, and in the body, there are more micbobes than the number of cells. Not only the cells of my body but also the microbes in it all have their own desires. Photoreceptor cells in the retina, for example, have the desire for light because they are generated from the repetitions of the stimulus of light and the contraction and contemplation of sensory response. “We are made of contracted water, earth, light and air”(DR 73). The same is true of the heart and the muscles. “A soul must be attributed to the heart, to the muscles, nerves and cells”(ibid. 178; DR 74). Deleuze named these as humorous concept of ‘larval subjects’(ibid. 187; DR 78). ‘I,’ ego is a compound of these ‘larval subjects.’

Every desire is a schizoid, and each of the split desires is again a schizoid. A desire is actualized on each occasion as if it were ‘one’ desire depending on where the flow is concentrated, but even then, there are other virtual desires toward different directions. Desire at the level of sub-organism such as microbe, cell, or organ, is referred to as microscopic desire. The desire of the subject ‘I,’ the desire of an organism called ‘human’ can be referred to as a ‘macroscopic’ desire in that innumerable microscopic desires are integrated into a single desire. Of course, when desires of individuals having their own ways are integrated into the desire of an organization or a group, the former should be referred to as microscopic desire and the latter macroscopic one. The microscopic desires that make up the flow of desire are called ‘molecular’ desires, and the macroscopic desire that is formed by integrating them into one is called ‘molar’ desire.

‘Mole’ is the descriptive unit used in gas dynamics to deal with the state and change of the gas, and 6.02x1023 molecules are contained in 1 mole. It is a macroscopic group, in which each molecule moves with its own force, but the whole is assumed to have a statistical unity. In this case, each molecular movement is not grasped, because it is reduced to the movement of a large aggregate just like the desire of a cell is not seen when talking about the desire of an organism. But being invisible doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Rather, we know that organisms choose what to eat according to the desires of the gut microbiota, and the desires of the cells lead us back to the alcohol against our decision to quit drinking. As we commonly put it when talking about unconsciousness, “he doesn’t know what he’s trying to do.” Of course, this is not because it is repressed as Freud says but because it is too ‘small’ and too schizophrenic for the consciousness to know.

The desiring-machine operates where the flow of schizophrenic desire is invested and concentrated. The desiring machines coupled with it being connected, the object of the desire is produced. The combination of machines operating together is referred to as ‘an assemblage.’ Machines making up an assemblage, such as vocal cords, tongue, and lips, or piano, clarinet, and performer, etc. are combined to operate ‘like one.’ Because the operating unit of the machine is an assemblage, assemblage is the minimum unit of desiring-production. There are as many different desires as or more than the number of machines in one arrangement. A multiplicity of desire that is both one and plural exists there.


Schizoanalysis is the analysis of this multiplicity of desire. It is the analysis of modality in which the flow of schizophrenic desire inclines and concentrates to produce, and one machine is converted to a different machine as the flow or the condition changes. In other words, it is precisely schizoanalysis that analyzes which desire operates the machines in this assemblage, where it inclines and where the exit through which it deviates and flows is, and the words and signs it accompanies, etc.

Desire produces object and activity. The activity so produced is referred to as ‘desiring production’(see ‘desire and production’). This concept connects what we think belong to different fields, traversing our linguistic conventions that correspond the concept of desire to organism and the concept of production to society. To firmly push this further, Deleuze/Guattari say desiring-production and social production are one. “The schizoanalytic argument is simple: desire is a machine, a synthesis of machines, a machinic arrangement[assemblage]--desiring machines. The order of desire is the order of production; all production is at once desiring-production and social production."(AO 296) Therefore, the investment of desire is always social even when it is familial investment. Rather, they say that ”the thesis of schizoanalysis posits the primacy of the libidinal investments of the social field over the familial investment, both in point of fact and by statute.”(AO 356).

Desire determines where the force is to be invested, but only within the limit of the force. Whether it is an organism, a cell, or a society, there is a limit to the available force or energy. There are ‘economies’ of each that deals with how best to use these limited resources. It is the economy of the social production that handles the problem of how to attract the flows of members’ desires and get them invested into productive activities. The same goes for organisms. When the investment and production of desire take place within the self, the libidinal economy, which deals with where and how to use the limited force or energy, operates. The economy of desiring-production is not different from that of social production, and the control of desire required for social production is not different from that required for physical activity.

However, economics deals with production separated from desire, abstract labor, and psychoanalysis deals with desire separated from production, abstract desire. Desire and production, here, are divided(AO, 302-303). Schizoanalysis combines these two divided concepts. A new analytical method that deals with production and desire at the same time emerges here. Furthermore, schizoanalysis reconnects sociology or politics with the theory of unconsciousness into one. This is because the control of the flow of desire is related to the problems of power and politics, and the analysis of the collective formed through the infection of desire is the task of sociology. This is why schizoanalysis is called ‘micropolitics’ or ‘microsociology’. Schizoanalysis is also called 'microphysics' in that all these problems are always the problems of the investment of force and energy, conflict and conversion , according to the desire.

In short, Deleuze/Guattari say that “the first positive task consists of discovering in a subject the nature, the formation, or the functioning of his desiring-machines”(AO, 322-323). The second positive task of schizoanalysis consists of analyzing the modality of the investment of desire. This also is analysing the machinic assemblege which determines the operations of the desiring-machines.

In order to analyze this, it is necessary to distinguish whether the flow of desire takes place in the mode of forming one huge molar formation or whether it takes place in the mode of molecular and microscopic infection. For example, the class constituted by whether or not people own the means of production or affiliation is a molar group, whereas the mass, which constitutes a group by the gathering of heterogeneous people through molecular infection, is molecular(A Thousand Plateaus, 213). Fascism and totalitarianism can also be distinguished in this way. Totalitarianism emerges when the members are subjugated to a single center, forming one whole, one molar group. Fascism emerges when the flow of desire or emotion spreading horizontally among masses is directed toward a certain ‘enemy,’ producing destruction and death. For example, Stalinism belongs to molar totalitarianism, whereas Nazism belongs to molecular fascism(ibid. 214). The two should not be said to be the same for the reason that individuals are subjugated to the collective unity.

Another important thing is to distinguish whether the flow of schizophrenic desire is concentrated to one privileged point or is dispersed and flows in a variety of directions. The former is called a paranoiac investment of desire, whereas the latter a schizophrenic investment. Capitalism, for example, attracts all desires to money. In capitalism, money is the black hole of desire. This is why capitalism is said to be the paranoiac system of desire. On the other hand, contrary to this, the flow of desire that flows toward various values irreducible to money and tries to create new value is a schizophrenic investment. The former is close to the sedentary investment, whereas the latter is close to the nomadic one. The paranoiac investment is close to fascist investment in that one privileged point that sucks in desire, conversely, is the position of power that controls all desires. On the contrary, schizophrenic investment is close to revolutionary investment in that it seeks to create new value, contending with all the dominant values(AO 340-341).

As such, schizoanalysis expands the analysis of desire and unconsciousness beyond family and sexual desire to all places where desire and production exist, such as economy, politics, and society. Language, face and landscape, sound and music also become the subjects of analysis. There are innumerable plateaus of various lives produced by schizophrenic desire(A Thousand Plateaus). The modalities of power and desire that convert, conflicting and colliding, they all are the subjects of schizoanalysis.



translated by Jung Ki Lee

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