Jacques-Marie-Emile Lacan was born on April 13, 1901, and was raised in a Catholic family.  After his studies, in 1927, he began his clinical training in the women’s section of the Clinic for Mental and Encephalic Diseases at Sainte-Anne’s hospital.  He becomes fully integrated in the fields of neurology and psychiatry.  In 1932, he publishes his translation of Freud’s On Some Neurotic Mechanisms in Jealousy, Paranoia and Homosexuality.  The same year he was awarded a doctorate for his thesis: On Paranoiac Psychosis in its Relations to the Personality, and becomes a specialist in paranoia.  In 1934, Lacan becomes a member of La Société Psychoanalytique de Paris (SPP), an organization where he lectured and, for a brief period, becomes president in 1953.  That same year, he leaves SPP to join Société Française de Pschanalyse (SFP) and also begins seminars at Sainte-Anne’s Hospital where he remains until 1963.

Lacan’s seminars were re-interpretations of Freud, and were short compared to the usual one-hour sessions.  His audience grew as the seminars allowed flexibility for the analysts-in-training.  Many of his seminars are published.

In 1960, his Ethics becomes the background of his work; it attributes desire as the root of ethics.  In 1962 he is banned from the International Psychoanalytic Association for his unconventional views of psychoanalysis. He then founded L’Ecole Freudienne de Paris (EFP) in 1963, which practiced psychoanalysis by the Lacanian method.  EFP was dissolved in 1980 by Lacan, and “La Cause Freudienne” was founded.  “It is up to you to be Lacanians if you wish; I am Freudian.”   Lacan died on September 9, 1981, in Paris.


Lacan’s work has its largest influence in post-structuralism.  From 1953, much of his work was driven by a “return to the meaning of Freud.”  He integrated Freud’s theoretical writings with his own knowledge of structuralist linguistics, structural anthropology, topology, and game theory.  His work extended the field of psychoanalysis into the fields of philosophy, human sciences, and linguistics.

During his clinical practice, Lacan published works on his “Mirror Stage,” a developed reconstitution of Freud’s Ego and Id.  The “Mirror Stage” is his theory that as an infant, when it sees itself in the mirror, the infant’s understanding of “I” is not the same as what it sees.  An infant comes to understand that what it sees is itself, and the child understand language with regards to the reflection of itself.  The ego is formed from understanding that the reflection, what the infant sees, is the “I.”

Lacan uses structural linguistics to critique Freud’s role of the symbolic by claiming that the unconscious is not ruled by instinctual desires, rather it is “structured like a language.”  Language is symbolic in that it is an expression of something that is not in front of you.  Language is used in a way that separates subject from signifier.

Lacan has been criticized by his structuralist approach, and by many feminists on the grounds that his work is a continuation of the sexism that was prevalent in the psychoanalysis of Freud. Although many of the feminists that take issue with Lacan’s Psychoanalysis denounce his sexist stance, many still contend that he is none the less valuable in the psychoanalytic field. In The Lacanian Delusion, author Francois Roustang described Lacan’s writing as “an incoherent system of pseudo-scientific gibberish”. Others authors have also claimed that he misuses scientific concepts. His concepts are too difficult to understand and they are therefore useless since the oppressed cannot decipher them. Defenders of Lacan use this same reasoning to defend him. They believe that he has faced such harsh criticism because his concepts have not been understood therefore they cannot be invalidated.

Work Cited

“Criticisms of Jaques Lacan.” Web.26 Nov.2012. < http://www.spiritus-temporis.com/criticisms-of-jacques-lacan/&gt;.

“Chronology”. JL. Web. 21 Nov. 2012. <http://www.lacan.com/rolleyes.htm&gt;.

“Jacques Marie Emile Lacan – Biography”. The European Graduate School. Web. 21 Nov. 2012. < http://www.egs.edu/library/jacques-lacan/biography/&gt;.

Sharpe, Matthew.  “Jacques Lacan (1901-1981)”. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 27 June 2005.  Web. 21 Nov. 2012. < http://www.iep.utm.edu/lacweb/&gt;.