Jacques Lacan

Negotiating the psychosocial in and beyond language

Authored by: Yannis Stavrakakis

The Routledge Handbook of Language and Politics

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138779167
eBook ISBN: 9781315183718
Adobe ISBN:


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It is generally accepted that Lacanian theory has advanced a distinct and challenging take on ‘pure’ as well as ‘applied’ psychoanalysis by focusing on the nodal status of language in human experience. Lacan himself quite often presented his teaching as consisting of ‘simply language, and absolutely nothing else’ (Lacan 2008, p. 26). Indeed, from a Lacanian point of view, psychoanalysis as a process remains overdetermined by the social institution of language. It can function as the ‘talking cure’ and constitute itself as a science of the unconscious only to the extent that the latter is understood as structured like a language. And yet, this focus on language does not involve a reduction of psychoanalysis to linguistics: ‘The fact that I say that the unconscious is structured like a language is not part and parcel of the field of linguistics’ (Lacan 1998, p. 15). In its unfolding, Lacan's take on psychoanalytic theory will itself push ‘language’ and ‘discourse’ to their extremes.

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