Jacques Lacan

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Lacan, Jacques

(zhäk läkäN`), 1901–81, French psychoanalyst. After receiving a medical degree, he became a psychoanalyst in Paris. Lacan was infamous for his unorthodox methods of treatment, such as the truncated therapy session, which often lasted only several minutes. A staunch critic of modern (particularly American) revisions of psychoanalytic theory, Lacan supported the traditional model of psychoanalysispsychoanalysis,
name given by Sigmund Freud to a system of interpretation and therapeutic treatment of psychological disorders. Psychoanalysis began after Freud studied (1885–86) with the French neurologist J. M.
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 espoused by Sigmund FreudFreud, Sigmund
, 1856–1939, Austrian psychiatrist, founder of psychoanalysis. Born in Moravia, he lived most of his life in Vienna, receiving his medical degree from the Univ. of Vienna in 1881.

His medical career began with an apprenticeship (1885–86) under J.
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. He argued that contemporary psychoanalytic theories had strayed too far from their roots in Freudian psychoanalysis, which held that there was constant conflict between the ego and the unconsciousunconscious,
in psychology, that aspect of mental life that is separate from immediate consciousness and is not subject to recall at will. Sigmund Freud regarded the unconscious as a submerged but vast portion of the mind.
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 mind. Lacan argued that this conflict could not be resolved—the ego could not be "healed"—and pointed out that the true intention of psychoanalysis was analysis and not cure. His collection of papers, Ecrits (1966, tr. 1977), though notoriously difficult reading, has been influential in linguistics, film theory, and literary criticism.

Bibliography

See C. Clement, The Lives and Legends of Jacques Lacan (tr. 1983); D. Macey, Lacan in Contexts (1988); biography by E. Roudinesco (1993, tr. 1997).