Back to contents
Number 9: Winter 2013

Trauma in and out of mathematics with intestinal ontology: on what is in ate and: is allergy a phobia?

Philip Hill

Trauma exists everywhere there are symbols. So it is in mathematics too: π,  for example cannot be comprehensively and simply symbolised with a single value.  π  can only be expressed as a ratio or as a number that continues to be written indefinitely.  It resists symbolisation. There are a great deal of traumatic numbers of this type, known as ‘real numbers’ and ‘imaginary numbers’ in mathematics, more than there are regular numbers of the sort used to count apples.

Language cannot all be misunderstanding or ‘lack of rapport’ there must also be some common ground of meaning, some rapport.  Trauma is on the side of misunderstanding, of the lack of rapport, of that which resists symbolisation.

In the same way that the research program pursued by Burgoyne, to find common structures in mathematics and psychoanalysis, sets out to solve mathematical problems with psychoanalysis, and psychoanalytic problems with mathematics, so identifying common structures in psychoanalysis and immunology will also solve problems in both fields, as well as opening up the identification of further parallels between mathematics and immunology.

This would have theoretical consequences for all three fields and consequences for clinical technique in immunology and psychoanalysis.  The being of humans does not divide up neatly according to the divisions found in universities: ‘medicine’, ‘mathematics’, ‘psychoanalysis’…