Difference between revisions of "Name-of-the-Father"

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Jacques Lacan introduced the notion of the "Name-of-the-Father." By it he meant that every signifier, by its connection, not to an object, but rather to another signifier (Ferdinand de Saussure), symbolizes the lack that it introduces into being. As the particular symbolizer produces this effect while at the same time transforming it, the Name-of-the-Father enables human beings to tolerate and maintain desire. Without it, lack is experienced as a devouring force (cf. the case of Little Hans, Freud, 1909b) or a sucking force, the representation of a wound in the maternal body that is the source of a debt that can never be repaid.
The child discovers this name as a metaphor for the enigmatic object desired by the mother in the body of the child's father. Thus, the child can find his way to one of two ways of assuming for this phallus; he can either have it like the father, or be it, in order to be desired.
==Jacques Lacan==
===Symbolic Father===
When the expression "[[Name-of-the-Father|the name of the father]]" first appeared in [[Lacan]]’s [[work]], in the early 1950s, it is without [[capital]] letters and refers generally to the '''legislative''' and '''prohibitive''' function of the "'''[[symbolic]] [[father]]'''" as the one who lays down the [[taboo]] on [[incest]] in the '''[[Oedipus complex]]'''.  
The Oedipus complex makes the father the agent of the prohibition that makes it the impossible to access the object-cause-of-desire. Lacan's structural analysis shows that the father is not himself the guarantor of the symbolic law, but is the one who authorizes desire. "[T]he true function of the Father . . . is fundamentally to unite (and not to oppose) a desire to the Law," he wrote in "Subversion of the Subject and Dialectic of Desire" (Lacan, p. 309).
<blockquote>"It is in the '[[Name-of-the-Father|name of the father]]' that we must recognize the support of the '''symbolic function''' which, from the dawn of [[history]], has [[identified]] his person with '''the [[figure]] of the law'''."<ref>{{E}} p. 67</ref></blockquote>
In the Other, the phallus thus no longer symbolizes a devouring agency, but instead one that rejoices if the subject experiences sexual enjoyment (jouissance) and procreates. Only one father can take on such a function, to the point of identifying with the phallus as symbolized by the dead Father.
===Legislative and Prohibitive Function===
The rexpression is at once a semi-humorous [[religion|religious]] allusion and a play on the near-homonyms '''''non''''' and '''''nom''''': the '''[[name-of-the-father]]''' ('''''le nom du père''''') is also the [[father]]'s "'''no'''" ('''''le "non" du père''''') to the [[child]]'s [[incest]]uous '''[[desire]]''' for its '''[[mother]]'''. (the '''[[law|legislative and prohibitive function]]''' of the '''[[symbolic]] [[father]]''')
It is understandable that some religions hold non-procreative sexual enjoyment (jouissance) to be sacrilegious, thus defrauding the phallic symbol by defying or abusing the dead Father. Religion's traditional function is to affirm the primacy of sexual enjoyment against the destructive, abnormal forms of enjoyment that are in fashion.
===Fundamental Signifier===
In [[Lacan]]'s 1955-6 [[seminar]], [[The Psychoses]], the expression becomes capitalized and hyphenated and takes on a more precise [[meaning]];  the [[Name-of-the-Father]] is described as the '''[[fundamental signifier]]''' which permits '''[[signification]]''' to proceed normally.
The [[Name-of-the-Father]] both confers [[identity]] on [[human]] [[subject]]s (by situating [[them]] in a lineage and the [[symbolic]] [[order]]), and [[signification|signifies]] the '''[[Oedipus complex|Oedipal]] [[law|prohibition]]''', the ''''no'''' of the [[incest]] [[taboo]].
See also: Fatherhood; Foreclosure; Imaginary identification/symbolic identification; Infantile psychosis; Metaphor; Metonymy; Myth of origins; Parade of signifiers; Phobias in children; Psychoses, chronic and delusional; Real, the (Lacan); Real, Symbolic, and Imaginary father; Repudiation; Schizophrenia; Seminar, Lacan's; Signifier; Signifier/signified; Signifying chain; Superego; Symptom/sinthome.
The [[foreclosure]] of this [[fundamental signifier]], or its [[expulsion]] from the [[subject]]'s [[symbolic|symbolic universe]], is said by [[Lacan]] to be the [[mechanism]] that triggers '''[[psychosis]]'''.
    * Lacan, Jacques. (2002). The subversion of the subject and the dialectic of desire in the Freudian subconscious. In Écrits: A selection (Bruce Fink, Trans.). New York: Norton.
===Paternal Metaphor===
[[Image:NOTF.gif|thumb|404px|right|The paternal metaphor]]
In [[another]] work on [[psychosis]], [[Lacan]] represents the '''[[Oedipus complex]]''' as a '''[[metaphor]]''' ('''[[paternal metaphor]]'''), in which one [[signifier]] (the [[Name-of-the-Father]]) [[metaphor|substitutes]] another (the [[desire]] of the [[mother]]).
== def==
The '''Name of the Father''' refers to the [[Law|laws]] and restrictions that control both [[desire]] and the rules of [[communication]], according to [[Lacan]].
The Name-of-the-Father is closely bound up with the [[superego]], the [[phallus]], the [[symbolic]] [[order]], and the [[oedipus complex]].
The [[Name-of-the-Father]] has a [[shadow double]] in the [[Father-of-Enjoyment]].
The [[Name of the Father]]' (Fr. ‘’Nom du père’’) , is the [[signifier]] associated with the [[signified]] [[concept]] of the [[father]].
The name of the Father is a [[symbolic]] formation.
== Prohibitive Function of the Symbolic Father ==
The expression “the name of the father,” when it first appeared in Lacan’s work, in the early 1950s, referred generally to the “[[prohibition|prohibitive role]]” of the “[[symbolic]] [[father]]” as the one who lays down the [[incest]] [[taboo]] in the [[oedipus complex]].
<blockquote>“It is in the ‘name of the father’ that we must recognize the support of the symbolic function which, from the dawn of history, has identified his person with the figure of the law.”<ref>Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. p.67</ref></blockquote>
===The “No” of the Father===
In the French language, the expression “the name of the father” (“’’le nom du père’’”) is phonetically similar to the expression “the ‘no’ of the father” (“’’le ‘non’ du père’’”).
Lacan plays on this similarity to emphasize the prohibitive function of the symbolic father (the ‘no’ of the [[incest]] [[taboo]]).
==The Psychoses==
In ‘’[[The_psychoses|The Seminar, Book III: The Psychoses]]’’ the expression becomes capitalized and hyphenated. 
The [[Name-of-the-Father]] is now the [[fundamental signifier]] which permtis [[signification]] to proceed normally.
This fundamental signifier both confers [[identity]] on the [[subject]] (insofar as it names him, positions him within the symbolic order, etc.) and signifies the [[oedipus complex|oedipal]] [[prohibition]], the ‘no’ of the [[incest]] [[taboo]]. 
If this signifier is foreclosed (not included in the symbolic order), the result is [[psychosis]].
Nevertheless, [[Jacques Lacan]] developed this concept with the ultimately unsuccessful aim of curing psychosis.
== Linguistics ==
French [[psychoanalyst]] [[Jacques Lacan]] revised the [[oedipus complex]] in line with his [[structuralism|structuralist]] attempt to combine [[psychoanalysis]] and [[linguistics]].
Lacan claimed that, although the [[infant]] must come to [[identification|identify]] with the [[father]] (in order to participate in [[sexual relations]]), the infant could never ‘become’ the father (as this would imply sexual relations with the [[mother]]).
The position of the [[father]] could never be held by the [[infant]]. 
Thus, through the dictates on the one hand to be the father and on the other not to, the father is elevated to an [[ideal]].
The [[father]] is no longer a [[biology|biological]] father, but a function of a father: the [[Name-of-the-Father]].
The same goes for the mother &mdash; Lacan no longer talks of a real mother, but simply of [[desire (Lacanian)|desire]], which is a desire to return to the undifferentiated state of ''being'' together with the mother, before the interference through the Name-of-the-Father. This desire necessarily lacks something, i.e. it is a desire of lack.
The father and accordingly the phallus (not a ''real'' penis, but a representation of [[master]]y) can never be reached, thus he is above or outside the language system and cannot be spoken about.
All language relies on this absence of the phallus from the system of [[signification]].
According to this theory, without a phallus ''outside'' of language, nothing ''in'' language would make sense or could be differentiated.
Thus Lacan remodels the linguistic theory of Swiss linguist [[Ferdinand de Saussure]].
It is this idea that forms the basis of much contemporary thought, especially [[poststructuralism]].
Nothing can be thought that is ''outside'' of language, but the phallus ''is'' there and therefore structures the whole system of thought accordingly.
Oedipus could also be thought of the theme of the story.
==Freud vs Lacan==
In ''[[Totem and Taboo]]'', [[Sigmund Freud]] uses a theory of the history, based on Darwin's [[theory of evolution]], in which there was first a terrible father that the brothers had to kill.
Feeling guilty about it, the brothers began to pay homage to the father and founded [[monotheism]].
In Lacan's theory, the learning of [[language]] leads the child to kill his father as a [[symbol]].
Lacan does not use any historical theory. 
This concept allows a new understanding of [[neurosis]].
==See Also==
* [[Castration]]
* [[Father]]
* [[Foreclosure]]
* [[Law]]
* [[Metaphor]]
* [[Oedipus complex]]
* [[Paternal metaphor]]
* [[Psychosis]]
* [[Seminar]]
* [[Signification]]
* [[Signifier]]
* [[Symbolic]]
<div style="font-size:11px" class="references-small">
[[category:Freudian psychology]]
[[category:Freudian psychology]]
[[Category:Psychoanalytic theory]]

Latest revision as of 15:47, 20 May 2019

French: Nom-du-Père

Jacques Lacan

Symbolic Father

When the expression "the name of the father" first appeared in Lacan’s work, in the early 1950s, it is without capital letters and refers generally to the legislative and prohibitive function of the "symbolic father" as the one who lays down the taboo on incest in the Oedipus complex.

"It is in the 'name of the father' that we must recognize the support of the symbolic function which, from the dawn of history, has identified his person with the figure of the law."[1]

Legislative and Prohibitive Function

The rexpression is at once a semi-humorous religious allusion and a play on the near-homonyms non and nom: the name-of-the-father (le nom du père) is also the father's "no" (le "non" du père) to the child's incestuous desire for its mother. (the legislative and prohibitive function of the symbolic father)

Fundamental Signifier

In Lacan's 1955-6 seminar, The Psychoses, the expression becomes capitalized and hyphenated and takes on a more precise meaning; the Name-of-the-Father is described as the fundamental signifier which permits signification to proceed normally.

The Name-of-the-Father both confers identity on human subjects (by situating them in a lineage and the symbolic order), and signifies the Oedipal prohibition, the 'no' of the incest taboo.


The foreclosure of this fundamental signifier, or its expulsion from the subject's symbolic universe, is said by Lacan to be the mechanism that triggers psychosis.

Paternal Metaphor

The paternal metaphor

In another work on psychosis, Lacan represents the Oedipus complex as a metaphor (paternal metaphor), in which one signifier (the Name-of-the-Father) substitutes another (the desire of the mother).

See Also


  1. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p. 67