The Family Complexes

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The Family Complexes, transl. by Carolyn Asp in Critical Texts, vol.5, issue 3, 1988. Also transl. by Andrea Kahn in Semiotext 10, vol. 4, 1, 1981. In Autres Écrits, Paris: Seuil, 2001.


1938 (112 pp.)-LA FAMILLE: LE COMPLEXE, FACTEUR CONCRET DE LA PSYCHOLOGIE FAMILIALE. LES COMPLEXES FAMILIAUX EN PATHOLOGIE (THE FAMILY: THE COMPLEX, A CONCRETE FACTOR IN FAMILIAL PSYCHOLOGY. FAMILIAL COMPLEXES IN PATHOLOGY) This article is easy to read. It was commissioned for the Encyclopedic Fran�raise by Wallon who, at the time, was a professor at the Sorbonne. It posits two esscntial notions of Lacan's theory: the mirror stage (8, 18); and the double paternal function of "repression" and "sublimation," which are the single source of cultural values. Shedding light on other more difficult works, it helps measure the subsequent continuities and disruptions. To the same questions were there other solutions? Or were the same fundamental options theorized differently? The introduction defines "the familial institution." The fisrt part argues for the notion of "complex" instead of "instinct," so as to construct the individ�ual's psychic development around three successive structures: "the complex of wcaning." "the complex of intrusion" where the mirror stage appears, and the Oedipus complex. The second part describes psychoses and neuroses by opposing them according to the different functions played by the familial complex. Analytic technique is clearly reserved for neuroses. At the intersec�tion of "experimental psychology" and "psychoanalytic investigations,'~ but also of ethno-sociology and history, Lacan wishes to "revise" the Oedipus complcx, but he also modifies the pre-Oedipus stages. The seeds of the future doctrinal conflicts are already present in this text. Nevertheless, his uncondi�tional praise of the "paternalist" family, his vibrant regrets over "the social decline of the paternal image" (indeed its "decadence") and over the in�creased role of thc mother or of woman, could only have pleased many-and in all camps.