Lacan, Language, and Philosophy by Russell Grigg

By Russell Grigg

Medical and philosophical views on key matters and debates in Lacanian psychoanalysis.

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Or, again, ego psychology looked increasingly outside of the Oedipus complex for explanations 25 26 Lacan, Language, and Philosophy of such phenomena as aggression. So if Lacan returns to the question of the father in psychoanalysis as part of his “return to Freud,” then it is because in his opinion the final word has not been said on this issue and also because the import of Freud’s views themselves was either lost, or maybe never fully realized, in the post-Freudian era of the 1950s and 1960s.

It is an intriguing fact that some psychotics have been capable of making important scientific or artistic contributions. Cantor, the mathematician, is a famous example, but there are numerous such cases. We know about them because of the documented psychotic episodes these people underwent. But it is also interesting to speculate that there may be cases where the psychosis never declares itself and the clinical phenomena never eventuate. Perhaps in these cases the (pre)psychotic subject may find a form of substitute for the foreclosed signifier that enables the subject to maintain the fewest symbolic links necessary for normal, even for highly original and creative, functioning.

REAL, SYMBOLIC, AND IMAGINARY It is Lacan who by continuing Freud’s question of the father has brought the aforementioned observations to our attention. 9 But he does much more than this. By introducing the symbolic-imaginary-real distinction, he accomplishes a thoroughgoing clarification of the question of the father. The symbolic father, according to Lacan, is the dead father—the dead father of the primal horde, who is also embodied in the fantasies of the obsessional neurotic. Through the symbolic debt, the subject comes to be bound to the law as a result of the murder of the father, of which Totem and Taboo is the mythical expression.

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