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Lacan’s philosophical life can be divided into four stages:
“The infant must see the image of itself as both being itself and not itself, in that it is the reflection of its own face and only a reflected image at the same time. To become a subject, or social being, the infant must come to terms with the reflection not being identical to itself as a subject. This marks the child’s entry into language, and the formation of ego.”
2. “From 1953-63 Lacan concentrated on structural linguistics and the role of the symbolic in the work of Freud.” Here Lacan studies how the human psyche is based in linguistics. “In Les Psychoses: Seminar III, Lacan claims that the unconscious is ‘structured like a language,’ and governed by the order of the signifier. This is contrary to the idea that the unconscious is governed by autonomous repressed or instinctual desires.” This is where Lacan deviates some from Freud’s writings. Lacan, in essence, took Freud’s interest in the unconscious but defined it through Saussure’s developments in linguistics.
3. “In the years 1964-73 Lacan departed further still from Freud and traditional psychoanalysis. His discourse became uniquely “Lacanian”, and he became known for his neologisms and complex diagrams. His view of the ego as the seat of neurosis rather than the place of psychic integration, and the Symbolic order as the primary place for subject formation, made his work groundbreaking. He still claimed to be continuing Freud’s work, which had only been obscured by Freud’s followers, and this accusation caused tension within the SFP.”
At this point, Lacan was attracting the interest of other philosophers, not necessarily associated with psychoanalysis, specifically the Structuralists.
4. In the last stage of his career, Lacan worked diligently to integrate mathematics into his Lacanian, psychoanalytic theories. Here he began to combine his trilogy: the Real, Symbolic, and Imaginary.
“From 1974 he studied the intersection of the three registers through complicated topological figures. He began to confound even his most faithful followers, and students became suspicious of how applicable this type of education might be to their clinical practice.”
Lacan still remains one of the most controversial subjects in the psychology and philosophy communities. But “his work has had a significant effect on literature, film studies, and philosophy, as well as on the theory and practice of psychoanalysis.”
If you wish to delve into the intense study of Lacanian psychoanalytics, you can pick up a copy of Lacan For Beginners, which will prepare you to tackle some of the more scholarly works out there.
Source: For Beginners Books
See also: Introducing Lacan: A Graphic Guide