Formalization of Psychoanalysis
Three main reasons lie behind this attempt at formalization.
- Just as Claude Lévi-Strauss uses quasi-mathematical formulae in an attempt to set anthropology on a more scientific footing, Lacan attempts to do the same for psychoanalysis
- Lacan used quasi-mathematical formulae in an attempt to set psychoanalysis on a more scientific footing.
- 2. Formalization can provide a core of psychoanalytic theory which can be transmitted integrally even to those who have never experienced psychoanalytic treatment.
- The formulae thus become an essential aspect of the training of psychoanalysis which take their place alongside training analysis as a medium for the transmission of psychoanalytic knowledge.
- 3. Formalization of psychoanalytic theory in terms of algebraic symbols is a means of preventing intuitive understanding, which Lacan regards as an imaginary lure which hinders access to the symbolic.
- Rather than being understood in an intuitive way, the algebraic symbols are to be used, manipulated and read in various different ways.
The most important example of such a shift in meaning is the use of the symbol a which is used in radically different ways in the 1950s and in the 1960s.
Therefore some caution should be exercised when referring to the following list of equivalences.