An excitation registers in an organism once the latter has encountered it. Freud did not believe it was possible for something to nter consciousness while also leaving a memory trace because if traces of excitation remain within one’s consciousness, then the system could not register new excitations. It has to be stored away somewhere, where it nonetheless continues to exert its effects.
So Somers-Hall again:
“We…need to see the process of memory and consciousness as operating within two parallel systems, much as habit and memory were different in kind in the first account of the three syntheses. We can begin with the most primitive form of life, an ‘undifferentiated vesicle of irritable matter’ [Freud]. Since a part of this organism is turned towards the world, it naturally becomes affected by various external stimuli. As it is affected by these various shocks, its nature changes so that it is able to transmit them without its elements changing. This, for Freud, is the origin of consciousness. As the system evolves, it develops protection against excessive stimulation from the outside by partially reverting to the inorganic (the skull), and, in higher creatures, by separating off the perceptual aspects further (the development of particular senses). Such a model allows Freud to explain a number of key results of psychoanalysis. It is not simply the case that all stimulation comes fro outside the organism. the organism will also suffer disturbances from processes within it. Now, since these processes operate within the organism, the trauma produced by them cannot be reduced by the presence of a barrier, as was the case with shocks from the outside. Traumas which affect the organism from the inside therefore have a far greater role within the economy of the organism than those which affect it from the outside. We can further note that the organism will tend to interpret internal trauma as originating from the outside in order to allow its defences to be brought into play, which leads to the notion of projection.”
This still leaves us wondering: what is trauma? Trauma involves energy entering the psyche which has not been incorporated or annexed into the psychic system. It is unbound energy which, as in the form of trauma or pain, destabilizes the organism. The organism wants ot maintain the lowest possible level of psychic energy, however, and may attempt to stabilize the psychic system precisely by “suspending the pleasure principle, and instead annex the free flowing energy into the system of the psyche,” to quote Somers-Hall once again. Thus, the pleasure principle does not always govern the mental apparatus’ operations, although it is perhaps the case that even this very annexing of energy has the pleasure principle as its ultimate end, insofar as it is attempting to deal with unpleasurable stimulation. “War trauma, for instance, would be a retrospective attempt to master the phenomena in question, that is, to assert control over t hem. Now, in the case of war trauma, this attempt to master and bind energy within the system leads to the repetition of past experiences which lead to unpleasure on the part of the subject. Freud therefore claims that such compulsions to repeat siply cannot be understood according to the pleasure principle”(Somers-Hall).
Before the pleasure principle can begin, such excitation must be bound or annexed by the psyche in some way. Thus, the repetition-compulsion, although it appears at odds with the pleasure-principle, is actually an attempt to act with the pleasure principle as its ultimate end. These traumatic excitations must have “‘systematic ‘resolution,’ rather than arbitrarily traversing the lie of the organism. So some kind of integration or organisation is necessary for us to be able to relate pleasure to a principle.” The purpose of the pleasure principle, Somers-Hall continues, “rests on the integration of excitations that are originally unbound.” Somers-Hall continues:
“…the binding of free flowing energy leads to the constitution of a system capable of supporting the pleasure principle.” The binding of energy presupposes a primitive subject, while also making a more sophisticated subject possible. “The binding of energy is…a process actually constitutive of a subject with the pleasure principle operating as an active synthesis on top of this process: ‘an animal forms an eye for itself by causing scattered and diffuse luminous excitations to be reproduced on a privileged surface of its body. The eye binds light, it is itself a bond light.” Deleuze’s point is also that as the self is constituted by the integration or contraction of excitations, it simply is these excitations.”
For Deleuze, it is not the case that pleasure produces habit. We do not, most primordially, have a pleasurable experience which we then consciously decide to repeat because of its pleasing quality. Instead, the very existence of habits give rise to the possibility of pleasure; the existence of habit is the condition of the possibility of pleasure rather than the other way around, which is how we are more accustomed to thinking of it.