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    Lacanian psychoanalysis: revolutions in subjectivity

    Frosh, Stephen (2012) Lacanian psychoanalysis: revolutions in subjectivity. Subjectivity 5 (2), pp. 228-234. ISSN 1755-6341.

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    The rise of Lacanian psychoanalysis in the English-speaking world has been not only inexorable but also contested. Smuggled across from Europe in the 1970s as a mode of cultural criticism, it rapidly established itself in academic circles as a universalising discourse on culture, politics and art. This made it easy to pigeon hole as a form of post-structuralism (a label that Lacan himself was not willing to adopt) and for it to be subjected to derision by, for example, British psychoanalysts who saw it simply as ‘continental’, meaning abstract and obscure. This may in fact have been one source of its appeal, as its apparent ‘toughness’ as a theory, and its associations with the radical philosophical positions of various post-structuralist and post-modern theorists, made it an approach of choice for many critical thinkers trying to escape the clutches of normative, ‘conformist’ theories, psychoanalytic and otherwise. I felt this pull strongly myself (for example, Frosh, 1987): partly excited by the sheer difficulty of Lacanianism (it must be trying to do something new if it had to be so obscure); partly emboldened by the opposition to it, which made it seem a secret, seductive treasure; and partly lured in by the very fact of its apparently non-therapeutic focus, the way as a theory it could be kept ‘pure’ from the seemingly necessary compromises dictated by clinical practice. It was quite easy then to see Lacanian psychoanalysis as an austere philosophy rather than a practice, and to celebrate its density and difficulty as a means to rethinking things that ‘commonsensical’ ideas would otherwise prevail upon. Gender, sexual difference, identities, images, language, symbolism – these were the terrain over which the Lacanian net would fall: ‘there is no sexual relation’, ‘Woman does not exist’, ‘imaginary, symbolic, real’, and most of all, ‘the unconscious is structured as/like a language’ – wonderful schemata for illumination and obfuscation, and hence perfect weapons for intellectual display.


    Item Type: Article
    School: School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Psychosocial Studies
    Research Centres and Institutes: Mapping Maternal Subjectivities, Identities and Ethics (MAMSIE)
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2015 15:07
    Last Modified: 12 Dec 2016 14:28


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