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After Lacan - Clinical Practice and the Subject of the Unconscious

After Lacan - Clinical Practice and the Subject of the Unconscious

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Published by Dan Mihalache
Jacques Lacan (1901-1981)

It would be fair to say that there are few twentieth century thinkers who have had such a far-reaching influence on subsequent intellectual life in the humanities as Jacques Lacan. Lacan’s “return to the meaning of Freud” profoundly changed the institutional face of the psychoanalytic movement internationally. His seminars in the 1950s were one of the formative environments of the currency of philosophical ideas that dominated French letters in the 1960s and’70s, and which has come to be known in the Anglophone world as “post-structuralism.”

Both inside and outside of France, Lacan’s work has also been profoundly important in the fields of aesthetics, literary criticism and film theory. Through the work of Louis Pierre Althusser (and more lately Ernesto Laclau, Jannis Stavrokakis and Slavoj Zizek), Lacanian theory has also left its mark on political theory, and particularly the analysis of ideology and institutional reproduction.

This article seeks to outline something of the philosophical heritage and importance of Lacan’s theoretical work. After introducing Lacan, it focuses primarily on Lacan’s philosophical anthropology, philosophy of language, psychoanalysis and philosophy of ethics.
Table of Contents

1. Biographical and General Introduction
1. Biography
2. Intellectual Biography
3. Theoretical Project
2. Lacan’s Philosophical Anthropology
1. The Mirror Stage
2. Desire is the Desire of the Other
3. Oedipal Complex, Castration, Name of the Father, and the Big Other
4. The Law and Symbolic Identification
5. Summary
6. Lacan’s Diagnostic Categories
3. Lacan’s Philosophy of Language
1. Language and Law
2. Psychoanalysis as Interpretation
3. The Curative Efficacy of the “Talking Cure”
4. Lacanian Psychoanalysis and Philosophy of Ethics
1. Master Signifiers, and the Decentred Nature of Belief
2. Lacan’s Conception of Fantasy
3. The Lacanian Subjects, and Ethics
5. References and Further Reading

1. Biographical and General Introduction
a. Biography

Jacques-Marie-Émile Lacan was born in Paris on April 13 1901 to a family of solid Catholic tradition, and was educated at a Jesuit school. After completing his baccalauréat he commenced studying medicine and later psychiatry. In 1927, Lacan commenced clinical training and began to work at psychiatric institutions, meeting and working with (amongst others) the famous psychiatrist Gaetan Gatian de Clerambault. His doctoral thesis, on paranoid psychosis, was passed in 1932. In 1934, he became a member of La Societe Psychoanalytique de Paris (SPP), and commenced an analysis lasting until the outbreak of the war. During the Nazi occupation of France, Lacan ceased all official professional activity in protest against those he called “the enemies of human kind.” Following the war, he rejoined the SPP, and it was in the post-war period that he rose to become a renowned and controversial figure in the international psychoanalytic community, eventually banned in 1962 from the International Psychoanalytic Association for his unorthodox views on the calling and practice of psychoanalysis. Lacan’s career as both a theoretician and practicioner did not end with this excommunication, however. In 1963, he founded L’Ecole Freudienne de Paris (EFP), a school devoted to the training of analysts and the practicing of psychoanalysis according to Lacanian stipulations. In 1980, having single-handedly dissolved the EFP, he then constituted the Ecole for “La Cause Freudienne,” saying: “It is up to you to be Lacanians if you wish; I am Freudian.” Lacan died in Paris on September 9, 1981.
b. Intellectual Biography

Lacan’s first major theoretical publication was his piece “On the Mirror Stage as Formative of the I.” This piece originally appeared in 1936. Its publication was followed by an extended period wherein he published littl
Jacques Lacan (1901-1981)

It would be fair to say that there are few twentieth century thinkers who have had such a far-reaching influence on subsequent intellectual life in the humanities as Jacques Lacan. Lacan’s “return to the meaning of Freud” profoundly changed the institutional face of the psychoanalytic movement internationally. His seminars in the 1950s were one of the formative environments of the currency of philosophical ideas that dominated French letters in the 1960s and’70s, and which has come to be known in the Anglophone world as “post-structuralism.”

Both inside and outside of France, Lacan’s work has also been profoundly important in the fields of aesthetics, literary criticism and film theory. Through the work of Louis Pierre Althusser (and more lately Ernesto Laclau, Jannis Stavrokakis and Slavoj Zizek), Lacanian theory has also left its mark on political theory, and particularly the analysis of ideology and institutional reproduction.

This article seeks to outline something of the philosophical heritage and importance of Lacan’s theoretical work. After introducing Lacan, it focuses primarily on Lacan’s philosophical anthropology, philosophy of language, psychoanalysis and philosophy of ethics.
Table of Contents

1. Biographical and General Introduction
1. Biography
2. Intellectual Biography
3. Theoretical Project
2. Lacan’s Philosophical Anthropology
1. The Mirror Stage
2. Desire is the Desire of the Other
3. Oedipal Complex, Castration, Name of the Father, and the Big Other
4. The Law and Symbolic Identification
5. Summary
6. Lacan’s Diagnostic Categories
3. Lacan’s Philosophy of Language
1. Language and Law
2. Psychoanalysis as Interpretation
3. The Curative Efficacy of the “Talking Cure”
4. Lacanian Psychoanalysis and Philosophy of Ethics
1. Master Signifiers, and the Decentred Nature of Belief
2. Lacan’s Conception of Fantasy
3. The Lacanian Subjects, and Ethics
5. References and Further Reading

1. Biographical and General Introduction
a. Biography

Jacques-Marie-Émile Lacan was born in Paris on April 13 1901 to a family of solid Catholic tradition, and was educated at a Jesuit school. After completing his baccalauréat he commenced studying medicine and later psychiatry. In 1927, Lacan commenced clinical training and began to work at psychiatric institutions, meeting and working with (amongst others) the famous psychiatrist Gaetan Gatian de Clerambault. His doctoral thesis, on paranoid psychosis, was passed in 1932. In 1934, he became a member of La Societe Psychoanalytique de Paris (SPP), and commenced an analysis lasting until the outbreak of the war. During the Nazi occupation of France, Lacan ceased all official professional activity in protest against those he called “the enemies of human kind.” Following the war, he rejoined the SPP, and it was in the post-war period that he rose to become a renowned and controversial figure in the international psychoanalytic community, eventually banned in 1962 from the International Psychoanalytic Association for his unorthodox views on the calling and practice of psychoanalysis. Lacan’s career as both a theoretician and practicioner did not end with this excommunication, however. In 1963, he founded L’Ecole Freudienne de Paris (EFP), a school devoted to the training of analysts and the practicing of psychoanalysis according to Lacanian stipulations. In 1980, having single-handedly dissolved the EFP, he then constituted the Ecole for “La Cause Freudienne,” saying: “It is up to you to be Lacanians if you wish; I am Freudian.” Lacan died in Paris on September 9, 1981.
b. Intellectual Biography

Lacan’s first major theoretical publication was his piece “On the Mirror Stage as Formative of the I.” This piece originally appeared in 1936. Its publication was followed by an extended period wherein he published littl

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Published by: Dan Mihalache on May 29, 2010
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