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Lacan, Jacques (1901–81)

DOI: 10.4324/0123456789-DE013-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2018
Retrieved May 22, 2024, from

Article Summary

Jacques Lacan, who in the mid-20th century urged psychoanalysts to ‘return to Freud’, infused psychoanalysis with ideas from structuralist linguistics and Hegelian philosophy. Feeling that psychoanalysts had both in theory and in practice lost their way in the postwar period under the influence of ego psychology (which advocated strengthening the ego in an effort to overcome neurotic symptoms), Lacan argued that the centrality of splits and lacks in the human psyche required a different approach to the cure: psychoanalysis needed to focus not on strengthening the ego, which Lacan saw as the very source of such things as frustration and aggression, but rather on confronting some basic truths involving human desire, satisfaction, identity and sexuality. Lacan’s inquiries would lead to the development of new theoretical objects for psychoanalysis like object a and jouissance; to the use of a sort of algebra or mathematics for teaching psychoanalysis, and to some innovative (and controversial) clinical practices such as the variable-length session and, within his psychoanalytic school, the passe.

Citing this article:
Pluth, Ed. Lacan, Jacques (1901–81), 2018, doi:10.4324/0123456789-DE013-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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