Deleuze and Guattari were critical of Freud’s concept of sublimation because they saw it as a way of reinforcing existing power structures in society. According to Freud, sublimation refers to the process by which individuals redirect their sexual or aggressive impulses into socially acceptable activities such as art, science, or intellectual pursuits.

However, Deleuze and Guattari argued that this concept of sublimation was flawed because it assumed that sexuality and aggression were inherently negative or destructive impulses that needed to be controlled or redirected. Instead, they believed that these impulses were inherently creative and productive, and that by sublimating them, individuals were limiting their creative potential.

Moreover, Deleuze and Guattari argued that Freud’s concept of sublimation was ultimately a form of social control. By encouraging individuals to redirect their impulses into socially acceptable activities, Freud’s theory served to reinforce existing social hierarchies and power structures. Instead, Deleuze and Guattari proposed the concept of “desiring-production,” which saw desire and creativity as inherently productive forces that could be harnessed to create new forms of social organization and transformation.

According to Sigmund Freud’s, the id is the personality component made up of unconscious psychic energy that works to satisfy basic urges, needs, and desires operating on the pleasure principle, which demands immediate gratification.

“Psychoanalysis was from the start, still is, and perhaps always will be a well-constituted church and a form of treatment based on a set of beliefs that only the very faithful could adhere to, i.e., those who believe in a security that amounts to being lost in the herd and defined in terms of common and external goals”

In summary, Deleuze and Guattari opposed Freud’s concept of sublimation because they saw it as a way of limiting individual creativity and reinforcing existing power structures in society. Instead, they proposed the concept of “desiring-production” as a way of harnessing desire and creativity to create new forms of social organization and transformation.

Reframing the Oedipal complex

The “anti-” part of their critique of the Freudian Oedipal complex begins with that original model’s articulation of society based on the family triangle of father, mother and child. Criticizing psychoanalysis “familialism”, they want to show that the oedipal model of the family is a kind of organization that must colonize its members, repress their desires, and give them complexes if it is to function as an organizing principle of society.

Instead of conceiving the “family” as a sphere contained by a larger “social” sphere, Deleuze and Guattari argue that the family should be opened onto the social, as in Bergson’s conception of the Open, and that underneath the pseudo-opposition between family and social, lies the relationship between pre-individual desire and social production.

Furthermore, they argue that schizophrenia is an extreme mental state co-existent with the capitalist system itself and capitalism keeps enforcing neurosis as a way of maintaining normality.

So, this is the reason the first volume of Capitalism and Schizophrenia is titled Anti-Oedipus. To Deleuze, just as there’s no transcendent governing body that dictates the rules of ontology there’s no transcendent governing body external to you like Freud’s Oedipus that dictates what desires you feel or what connections you’re going to seek as a desiring machine.

Like their contemporary, R. D. Laing, and like Reich before them, Deleuze and Guattari make a connection between psychological repression and social oppression. This Oedipal way of looking at desire has very real consequences on the societies that believe in it. Because in these societies desire becomes something that gets turned inward, towards your immediate family, what you think of as your desires is really just you misinterpreting some a psycho-sexual framework that you don’t quite understand.

The result of this on a social level being that the vast majority of the desire of the individual gets interpreted inwardly with any excess desire that someone might have, spills over into the social and political realms always subject to their limitations which are themselves controlled by the forces of Capitalism.

Richard Lindner’s painting “Boy with Machine” (1954) demonstrates the schizoanalytic thesis of the primacy of desire’s social investments over its familial ones: “the turgid little boy has already plugged a desiring-machine into a social machine, short-circuiting the parents”

Desiring-production is explosive:

“there is no desiring-machine capable of being assembled without demolishing entire sectors of society”.

The concept of desiring-production is part of Deleuze and Guattari’s more general appropriation of Friedrich Nietzsche’s formulation of the will to power. In both concepts, a pleasurable force of appropriation of what is outside oneself, incorporating into oneself what is other than oneself, characterizes the essential process of all life.

“D.H. Lawrence had the impression – that psychoanalysis was shutting sexuality up in a bizarre sort of box painted with bourgeois motifs, in a kind of rather repugnant artificial triangle, thereby stifling the whole of sexuality as a production of desire so as to recast it along entirely different lines, making of it a dirty little family secret, a private theater rather than the fantastic factory of nature and production”

As to those who refuse to be oedipalized in one form or another, at one end or the other in the treatment, the psychoanalyst is there to call the asylum or the police for help. The police on our side! — never did psychoanalysis better display its taste for supporting the movement social representations, and for participating inenthusiasm.


“Why do men fight for their servitude as stubbornly as though it were their salvation?”

One of the central theses of Anti-Oedipus is that libidinous and political economy are structurally one and the same thing, which means that the desire always remains a constituent part of the political-economic infrastructure of capitalism.

Deleuze/Guattari develop a sophisticated theory of the three syntheses of the libidinous and the socio-economic unconscious: while the desiring machines produce an immanent synthesis (local connections), the socio-economic machines represent transcendental syntheses (global and specific connections.

Deleuze and Guattari’s “schizoanalysis” is a militant social and political analysis that responds to what they see as the reactionary tendencies of psychoanalysis. It proposes a functional evaluation of the direct investments of desire — whether revolutionary or reactionary — in a field that is social, biological, historical, and geographical.

In contrast to the psychoanalytic conception, schizoanalysis assumes that the libido does not need to be de-sexualised, sublimated, or to go by way of metamorphoses in order to invest economic or political factors. “The truth is,” Deleuze and Guattari explain,

“sexuality is everywhere: the way a bureaucrat fondles his records, a judge administers justice, a businessman causes money to circulate; the way the bourgeoisie fucks the proletariat; and so on. […] Flags, nations, armies, banks get a lot of people aroused.”

In the terms of classical Marxism, desire is part of the economic, infrastructural “base” of society, they argue, not an ideological, subjective “superstructure.”

Unconscious libidinal investments of desire coexist without necessarily coinciding with preconscious investments made according to the needs or ideological interests of the subject (individual or collective) who desires.

Schizoanalysis seeks to show how “in the subject who desires, desire can be made to desire its own repression — whence the role of the death instinct in the circuit connecting desire to the social sphere.” Desire produces “even the most repressive and the most deadly forms of social reproduction.”

They credit capitalism with drastically improving the lives of almost everyone on the planet by abolishing the hierarchical rules and power structures of the middle ages.

“The death of a social machine has never been heralded by a disharmony or a dysfunction; on the contrary, social machines make a habit of feeding on the contradictions they give rise to, on the crises they provoke, on the anxieties they engender, and on the infernal operations they regenerate. Capitalism has learned this, and has ceased doubting itself, while even socialists have abandoned belief in the possibility of capitalism’s natural death by attrition. No one has ever died from contradictions. And the more it breaks down, the more it schizophrenizes, the better it works, the American way.”

But just because somebody has the freedom to change jobs and not be subjected to the rules of a landowner does not mean that they’re free or that Capitalism as an economic system is impervious to criticism. Yes, Capitalism has deterritorialized feudalism, but then after deterritorializing these rules Capitalism then reterritorialized it with an axiomatic world of banking and finance, dictating every narrow parameter how you live your life.

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