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==The 'Return to Freud'==
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{{Top}}retour à Freud{{Bottom}}
Following Freud's death, psychoanalytic practice split into many differing schools of thought. Against the backdrop of these divergent currents of psychoanalytic theory, Lacan called for a 'return to Freud'. Lacan accused later psychoanalysts of a superficial understanding of Freud, claiming they had so cautiously adhered to his ideas that they had served to block rather than to induce scientific investigation of the mental process. Lacan wanted to return to Freud's thought, and expand it in light of its own tensions and currents. In fact, near the end of his life he remarked to a conference, "It is up to you to be Lacanians if you wish; I am Freudian."
 
  
It should also be emphasised that Lacan insisted that his work was not, in his eyes, an interpretation but a ''translation'' of Freud into structural-linguistic terms. Freud's ideas of 'slips of the tongue', jokes and suchlike – Lacan insisted – all emphasised the agency of language in subjective constitution, such that had Freud lived contemporaneously with [[Claude Lévi-Strauss|Lévi-Strauss]], [[Roland Barthes|Barthes]] and, principally, had Freud been aware of the work of [[Ferdinand de Saussure|Saussure]], he would have done the same as him. In his famous essay, "Freud and Lacan", fellow structuralist [[Louis Althusser]] makes this point particularly well:
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=====Overview=====
  
<blockquote>"In his first great work ''The Interpretation of Dreams'' [], Freud studied the ‘mechanisms’ and ‘laws’ of dreams, reducing their variants to two: ''displacement'' and ''condensation''. Lacan recognized these as two essential figures of speech, called in linguistics [respectively] metonymy and metaphor. Hence slips, failures, jokes and symptoms, like the elements of dreams themselves, become ''signifiers'', inscribed in the chain of an unconscious discourse, doubling silently, i.e. deafeningly, in the misrecognition of ‘repression’, the chain of the human subject’s verbal discourse. […] Hence the most important acquisitions of de Saussure and of the linguistics that descends from him began to play a justified part in the understanding of the process of the unconscious as well as that of the verbal discourse of the subject and of their inter-relationship, i.e. of their identical relation and non-relation in other words, of their reduplication and dislocation (''décalage'')." (Althusser, ‘Freud and Lacan’ in ''Lenin and Philosophy and other essays'', trans. Ben Brewster (London: New Left Books, 1971), pp. 191 – 192. </blockquote>
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[[Psychoanalysis]] was founded by [[Sigmund Freud]]
  
The 'return to Freud', therefore, is primarily the realisation that the pervading agency of the unconscious is to be understood as intimately tied to the functions and dynamics of language, where, for example, the signifier is irremediably divorced from the signified, ultimately resulting in Lack. It is here that Lacan began his work on "correcting" Freud from within. As Malcolm Bowie puts it:
 
  
<blockquote>"For Lacan, Freud's central insight was not [...] that the unconscious exists, but that it has structure, that this structure affects in innumerable ways what we say and do, and that in thus betraying itself it becomes accessible to analysis". (Malcolm Bowie, 'Jacques Lacan' in John Sturrock (ed.), ''Structuralism and Since: From Lévi-Strauss to Derrida'' (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), p. 118).</blockquote>
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Psychoanalysis originates with the work of Freud and remains rooted in his theories to this day, but every generation of [[analysts]] that came after Freud has sought to update and correct those theories, and to resolve the contradictions that he [[left]] behind. Lacan argued that through this [[process]] of continual revision psychoanalysis had lost [[sight]] of its original aims; that it had become [[conservative]] and reactionary. By playing down the more uncomfortable and disturbing aspects of the [[theory]], especially the underlying [[presence]] of [[repressed]], [[unconscious]], [[desire]] in our [[mental]] lives, psychoanalysis had made itself respectable but it had lost its radical edge. In the early 1950s, therefore, Lacan famously declared the [[necessity]] of a 'return to Freud', that is to say, a return to the [[texts]] of Freud himself and to a close [[reading]] and [[understanding]] of those texts. For the next 26 years he would engage in this [[project]] of close reading, and in the process would reconstitute the theory of psychoanalysis.
  
(The 'return to Freud' in the full sense of the term, as briefly explained above, begins with his paper ‘The agency of the letter in the unconscious or reason since Freud’ (''Écrits'', pp. 161 - 197).) Lacan's principal challenge to Freudian theory is the privilege that it accords to the ego in self-determination. The central pillar of Jacques Lacan's psychoanalytic theory is that "[[the unconscious is structured like a language]]". The unconscious, he argued, was not a more primitive or archetypal part of the mind separate from the conscious, linguistic ego, but rather, a formation every bit as complex and linguistically sophisticated as consciousness itself. If the unconscious is structured like a language, Lacan argues, then the self is denied any point of reference to which to be 'restored' following trauma or 'identity crisis'. In this way, Lacan's thesis of the structurally dynamic unconscious is also a challenge to the ego psychology that Freud himself opposed.
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[[Lacan]] presented a distinctive [[interpretation|reading]] of [[psychoanalysis]].
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In 1951, [[Lacan]] made his call for a "[[return to Freud]].
 +
 
 +
=====Freudian Legacy=====
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The [[whole]] of [[Lacan]]'s work can only be [[understood]] within the context of the [[intellectual]] and [[theoretical]] legacy of [[Sigmund Freud]] (1856-1939), the founder [[father]] of [[psychoanalysis]].
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[[Lacan]] first trained as a [[psychoanalyst]] within the [[International Psychoanalytical Association]] ([[IPA]]), the organization founded by [[Freud]] which presented itself as the sole legitimate heir to the ''[[Freudian]] legacy''.
 +
 
 +
=====Betrayal of Freud=====
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However, [[Lacan]] gradually began to develop a radical critique of the way that most [[analyst]]s in the [[IPA]] had [[interpretation|interpreted]] [[Freud]].
 +
 
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After [[being]] expelled from the [[IPA]] in 1953, [[Lacan]] developed his polemic further, arguing that [[Freud]]'s radical insights had been universally betrayed by the [[school|three major schools]] of [[psychoanalysis]] within the [[IPA]]: [[ego-psychology]], [[Kleinian psychoanalysis]], and [[object-relations theory]].
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=====Return to Freud=====
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To remedy this [[situation]], [[Lacan]] proposed to lead a "[[return to Freud]]", both in the [[sense]] of a renewed attention to the ''actual texts'' of [[Freud]] himself, and a '''return''' to the ''[[essence]]'' of [[Freud]]'s [[Sigmund Freud:Bibliography|work]] which had been betrayed by the [[IPA]].
 +
 
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Reading [[Freud]] in the original [[German]] allowed [[Lacan]] to discover elements which had been obscured by poor [[translation]] and ignored by [[other]] commentators.
 +
 
 +
=====Post-Freudians=====
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Thus much of [[Lacan]]'s work is taken up with detailed textual commentaries on specific works by [[Freud]], and by numerous references to the work of other analysts whose [[ideas]] [[Lacan]] refutes.
 +
 
 +
To [[understand]] [[Lacan]]'s work, therefore, it is necessary both to have a detailed understanding of [[Freud]]'s ideas and also a grasp of the way these ideas were developed and modified by the other analysts (the 'post-Freudians') whom Lacan criticizes.
 +
 
 +
These ideas are the background against which [[Lacan]] develops his own "[[return to Freud]]."
 +
 
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<Blockquote>What such a return [to Freud] involves for me is not a [[return of the repressed]], but rather taking the antithesis constituted by the [[phase]] in the [[history]] of the [[psychoanalytic]] movement since the [[death]] of Freud, showing what psychoanalysis is not, and seeking with you the means of revitalizing that which has continued to sustain it, even in deviation...<ref>{{E}} p. 116</ref></Blockquote>
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=====Orthodoxy=====
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However, [[Lacan]]'s work itself puts in question the [[narrative]] of a '''return''' to ''orthodoxy'' implicit in the expression "[[return to Freud]]," for [[Lacan]]'s way of reading [[Freud]] and his style of presentation are so original that they seem to belie his modest claims to be a mere commentator.
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Furthermore, while it is [[true]] that [[Lacan]] returns to specific aspects of the [[Freud]]ian [[conceptual]] legacy, privileging [[Lacan]] is no more "faithful" to [[Freud]]'s [[Sigmund Freud:Bibliography|work]] than the post-Freudians whom he criticizes for having betrayed [[Freud]]'s [[message]]; like [[them]], [[Lacan]] selects and develops certain themes in [[Freud]]'s [[Sigmund Freud:Bibliography|work]] and neglects or [[interpretation|reinterprets]] [[others]].
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'''[[Lacan]]ian [[psychoanalysis]]''' might therefore be described as a "[[Freud|post-Freudian]]" [[form]] of [[psychoanalysis]], along with '''[[ego-psychology]]''', '''[[Kleinian psychoanalysis]]''' and ''[[object-relations theory]]'''.
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=====Reading of Freud=====
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However, this is not the way [[Lacan]] sees his [[work]].
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[[Lacan]] argues that there is a deeper [[logic]] at work in [[Freud]]'s [[Sigmund Freud:Bibliography|texts]], a logic which endows those [[Sigmund Freud:Bibliography|texts]] with a consistency despite the [[apparent]] contradictions.
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[[Lacan]] claims that his [[interpretation|reading]] of [[Freud]], and his alone, brings out this logic, and shows us that "the different [[stages]] and changes in direction" in [[Freud]]'s [[Sigmund Freud:Bibliography|work]] "are governed by Freud's inflexibly effective concern to maintain it in its primary rigour."<ref>{{E}} p. 116</ref>
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In other [[words]], while [[Lacan]]'s reading of [[Freud]] may be as [[partial]] as any other in the sense that it privileges [[particular]] aspects of [[Freud]]'s work, that is not, in [[Lacan]]'s view, justification for regarding all [[interpretations]] of [[Freud]] as equally valid.
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Thus [[Lacan]]'s declarations of loyalty and accusations of '''[[betrayal]]''' cannot be seen as a mere rhetorical strategy.
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Certainly, they do have a rhetorico-[[political]] function, in that presenting himself as "more [[Freud]]ian" than anyone else allowed [[Lacan]] to challenge the effective monopoly on the ''[[Freud]]ian legacy'' that the [[IPA]] still enjoyed in the 1950s.
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However, [[Lacan]]'s statements are also an [[explicit]] [[claim]] to have teased out a coherent logic if [[Freud]]'s writings that no one else had perceived before.
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==See Also==
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{{See}}
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* [[Ego-psychology]]
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* [[International Psycho-Analytical Association]]
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||
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* [[Kleinian psychoanalysis]]
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* [[Object-relations theory]]
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||
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* [[Psychoanalysis]]
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* [[School]]
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{{Also}}
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==References==
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<references/>
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[[Category:Psychoanalysis]]
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[[Category:Jacques Lacan]]
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[[Category:Dictionary|Freud, Return to]]
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[[Category:Concepts]]
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[[Category:Terms]]
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[[Category:School]]
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[[Category:Freudian psychology]]
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__NOTOC__

Latest revision as of 18:15, 20 May 2019

French: retour à Freud
Overview

Psychoanalysis was founded by Sigmund Freud


Psychoanalysis originates with the work of Freud and remains rooted in his theories to this day, but every generation of analysts that came after Freud has sought to update and correct those theories, and to resolve the contradictions that he left behind. Lacan argued that through this process of continual revision psychoanalysis had lost sight of its original aims; that it had become conservative and reactionary. By playing down the more uncomfortable and disturbing aspects of the theory, especially the underlying presence of repressed, unconscious, desire in our mental lives, psychoanalysis had made itself respectable but it had lost its radical edge. In the early 1950s, therefore, Lacan famously declared the necessity of a 'return to Freud', that is to say, a return to the texts of Freud himself and to a close reading and understanding of those texts. For the next 26 years he would engage in this project of close reading, and in the process would reconstitute the theory of psychoanalysis.


Lacan presented a distinctive reading of psychoanalysis.

In 1951, Lacan made his call for a "return to Freud.

Freudian Legacy

The whole of Lacan's work can only be understood within the context of the intellectual and theoretical legacy of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the founder father of psychoanalysis.

Lacan first trained as a psychoanalyst within the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA), the organization founded by Freud which presented itself as the sole legitimate heir to the Freudian legacy.

Betrayal of Freud

However, Lacan gradually began to develop a radical critique of the way that most analysts in the IPA had interpreted Freud.

After being expelled from the IPA in 1953, Lacan developed his polemic further, arguing that Freud's radical insights had been universally betrayed by the three major schools of psychoanalysis within the IPA: ego-psychology, Kleinian psychoanalysis, and object-relations theory.

Return to Freud

To remedy this situation, Lacan proposed to lead a "return to Freud", both in the sense of a renewed attention to the actual texts of Freud himself, and a return to the essence of Freud's work which had been betrayed by the IPA.

Reading Freud in the original German allowed Lacan to discover elements which had been obscured by poor translation and ignored by other commentators.

Post-Freudians

Thus much of Lacan's work is taken up with detailed textual commentaries on specific works by Freud, and by numerous references to the work of other analysts whose ideas Lacan refutes.

To understand Lacan's work, therefore, it is necessary both to have a detailed understanding of Freud's ideas and also a grasp of the way these ideas were developed and modified by the other analysts (the 'post-Freudians') whom Lacan criticizes.

These ideas are the background against which Lacan develops his own "return to Freud."

What such a return [to Freud] involves for me is not a return of the repressed, but rather taking the antithesis constituted by the phase in the history of the psychoanalytic movement since the death of Freud, showing what psychoanalysis is not, and seeking with you the means of revitalizing that which has continued to sustain it, even in deviation...[1]

Orthodoxy

However, Lacan's work itself puts in question the narrative of a return to orthodoxy implicit in the expression "return to Freud," for Lacan's way of reading Freud and his style of presentation are so original that they seem to belie his modest claims to be a mere commentator.

Furthermore, while it is true that Lacan returns to specific aspects of the Freudian conceptual legacy, privileging Lacan is no more "faithful" to Freud's work than the post-Freudians whom he criticizes for having betrayed Freud's message; like them, Lacan selects and develops certain themes in Freud's work and neglects or reinterprets others.

'Lacanian psychoanalysis might therefore be described as a "post-Freudian" form of psychoanalysis, along with ego-psychology, Kleinian psychoanalysis and object-relations theory.

Reading of Freud

However, this is not the way Lacan sees his work.

Lacan argues that there is a deeper logic at work in Freud's texts, a logic which endows those texts with a consistency despite the apparent contradictions.

Lacan claims that his reading of Freud, and his alone, brings out this logic, and shows us that "the different stages and changes in direction" in Freud's work "are governed by Freud's inflexibly effective concern to maintain it in its primary rigour."[2]

In other words, while Lacan's reading of Freud may be as partial as any other in the sense that it privileges particular aspects of Freud's work, that is not, in Lacan's view, justification for regarding all interpretations of Freud as equally valid.

Thus Lacan's declarations of loyalty and accusations of betrayal cannot be seen as a mere rhetorical strategy.

Certainly, they do have a rhetorico-political function, in that presenting himself as "more Freudian" than anyone else allowed Lacan to challenge the effective monopoly on the Freudian legacy that the IPA still enjoyed in the 1950s.

However, Lacan's statements are also an explicit claim to have teased out a coherent logic if Freud's writings that no one else had perceived before.

See Also


References

  1. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p. 116
  2. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p. 116