Jacques Lacan

Freud’s French interpreter

Authored by: Sean Homer

The Routledge Handbook of Psychoanalysis in the Social Sciences and Humanities

Print publication date:  April  2016
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415626927
eBook ISBN: 9781315650821
Adobe ISBN: 9781317308201


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Jacques Lacan was arguably the most original and influential psychoanalyst since Freud. His philosophical and linguistic interpretation of Freud has transformed the practice of psychoanalysis across the globe. He was also, as his biographer Elisabeth Roudinesco (1997[1993]) has pointed out, an arrogant, narcissistic and a deeply divisive figure. Born in 1901, Lacan grew up in a comfortable, middle-class Catholic family and attended the prestigious Catholic school, the Collège Stanislas. He studied medicine at the Paris Medical Faculty, specializing in psychiatry with a particular interest in psychosis. It was through his critique of psychiatry that Lacan was drawn to psychoanalysis. He was also influenced by Surrealism and Salvador Dalí’s “paranoid-critical methodology,” and published part of his thesis, Paranoid Psychosis and Its Relations to the Personality (1931), in Dalí’s journal Minotaure.

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