Organisms are supposed to be driven to adapt themselves to fit the environment.
Adaptation implies a harmonious relation between the Innenwelt (inner world) and Umwelt (surrounding world).
Ego-psychology applies the biological concept of adaptation to psychoanalysis., explaining neurotic symptoms in terms of maladaptive behavior (such as applying archaic defense mechanisms in contexts where they are no longer appropriate) and arguing that the aim of psychoanalytic treatment is to help the patient adapt to reality.
He takes this view for several reasons:
Reality is not a simple, objective thing to which the ego must adapt, but is itself a product of the ego's fictional misrepresentations and projections.
Therefore "it is not a question of adapting to it [reality], but of showing it [the ego] that it is only too well adapted, since it assists in the construction of that very reality."
The idea of harmony between the organism and its environment, implicit in the concept of adaptation, is inapplicable to human beings because man's inscription in the symbolic order de-naturalises him and means that 'in man the imaginary relation [to nature] has deviated'.
Human beings are essentially maladaptive.
These analysts felt not only that they had to adapt to life in the USA, but also that they ahd to adapt psychoanalysis to American tastes.
- Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p.158; Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p.171-2
- Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book II. The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-55. Trans. Sylvana Tomaselli. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge Unviersity Press, 1988. p.86
- Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.236
- Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.230
- Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.115