Jacques Lacan And The Structure Of The Subconscious

Lacan was a loyal supporter of Freudian structuralism. Throughout his career, he focused on developing the theory of hidden consciousness. Read more in this article!
Jacques Lacan and the structure of the subconscious

Jacques Marie Emile Lacan was an important figure in the intellectual circles of Paris for much of the 20th century. His name is often associated with psychoanalysis.

He wrote and taught about the importance of inventing Freud’s hidden consciousness, examining it in the context of theory and practice itself as well as its connection to a wide range of different disciplines.

For those interested in the philosophical dimensions of the Freudian school, Lacan’s work is invaluable. In the last century, Lacanian thinking became a central theme in various psychoanalytic debates in philosophical circles.

Jacques Lacan was a psychoanalyst

Early years

Jacques Lacan was born on April 13, 1901. He was the firstborn of a wealthy and bourgeois family. His parents Alfred Lacan and Emilie Baudry belonged deeply to the Catholic clans.

In 1907, Lacan began at the prestigious Collège Stanislas, which was visited by the bourgeoisie of Paris. From there, he received a solid primary and secondary school education with a strong focus on religion and traditional values. He graduated from school in 1919, and philosophical beliefs began to develop for him.

Lacan’s professional achievements

Although Lacan’s first publications appeared as early as the late 1920s, his literary career did not begin properly until the next decade. The 1930s saw Lacan’s first relevant publications:

  • In 1932, he published his dissertation on psychiatry. Its title was De la psychose paranoïaque dans ses rapports avec la personnalité (“Paranoid psychosis in relation to personality”).
  • He became an important figure in art circles due to his collaboration with Surrealists and Dadaists.
  • Lacan first presented his now famous theory of the “mirror phase” at the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) in Marienbad in 1936.
  • In 1938, one of Lacan’s essays called The Lycan was published in a French encyclopedia

The 1930s were a crucial time for Lacan’s development. His youth was marked by a clash of influences from, among other things, psychoanalysis, psychiatry, philosophy, art, and literature, for he was interested in all of them.

This period also meant that the influence of different disciplines began to show strongly in his work. Not only did he study Freud’s analysis, but he also considered Hegel’s dialectics and Kojev’s pedagogy. Lacan brought his own contribution to these three perspectives. He added different experiences of “madness” from numerous perspectives.

Post-war time

The 1940s were a crucial time for Lacan’s career. During this decade, he became a brilliant analytical thinker. During that period, he produced a wealth of written work, including seven annual seminars and many of his best-known essays.

After the war, Lacan learned about Ferdinand de Saussure’s structuralism and his successors, such as Claude Levi-Strauss and Roman Jakobson.

Scholars agree that Levi-Strauss’s work Les structures élémentaires de la parenté (“Relationship Infrastructures”) helped launch the structuralist movement in France. This movement flourished in the 1950s and 1960s and challenged the theoretical supremacy of existentialism.

This change in French social theory led to a fundamental change of direction in Lacan’s views of the world. Although his focus was now elsewhere, he still remained faithful to Freudian structuralist psychoanalysis.

Lacan made himself the only proponent of orthodox Freudianism. He firmly believed that restoring the meaning of the language of analysis was the key to reaching Freud’s revolutionary approach to psychic subjectivity.

Lacan brought out all these thoughts and created “Lacanism” in his extensive manifesto called “The Role and Sphere of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis”.

Death and inheritance

In 1980, at the end of his life, Lacan decided it was time to close his school at the École Freudienne. This was a controversial decision that led to conflicts between his followers.

However, Lacan did not have much opportunity to participate in these discussions, as he died in 1981. Jacques-Alain Miller, editor of his son-in-law and Le Séminaire, reopened the school.

The theory of the three registers forms the frame of reference for the different concepts of Lacan’s career. These three registers are imaginary, symbolic, and real.

However, these concepts did not remain the same throughout his life. The characterization of each registry and the relationships between them underwent many revisions and corrections during his long career.

Language and cultural codes according to Jacques Lacan

Jacques Lacan brought up the idea that “the hidden consciousness is the discourse of the other,” in which the “other” is understood as everything that is far from and outside the self. The “other” is the environment in which we are born, the thing we must “interpret” in order to survive and thrive.

Over the course of life, we gradually become aware of and begin to understand different signifiers. Markers are signs or codes that represent concepts and ideas.

These signifiers can only come to us from the outside world. For this reason, they must be part of the language of the “other” or, as Lacan puts it, “discourse”.

According to Lacan, one’s own thoughts and feelings can only be expressed through language. So the only language we use to express them is the language of another.

The subconscious creates emotions and images that are constructed based on another language. For this reason, Lacan says “hidden consciousness is the discourse of‘ another ’”.

Lacan’s theories have had a significant impact on the practice of psychoanalysis. They have also allowed for a more objective and transparent interpretation of the subconscious.

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