Jacques Lacan


Jacques Lacan : biography

13 April 1901 – 9 September 1981

A notable exception is the works of Dr. Annie G. Rogers (A Shining Affliction; The Unsayable: The Hidden Language of Trauma), which credit Lacanian theory for many therapeutic insights in successfully treating sexually abused young women.e.g.: A Shining Affliction, ISBN 978-0-14-024012-2


Early life

Lacan was born in Paris, the eldest of Emilie and Alfred Lacan’s three children. His father was a successful soap and oils salesman. His mother was ardently Catholic—his younger brother went to a monastery in 1929 and Lacan attended the Jesuit Collège Stanislas. During the early 1920s, Lacan attended right-wing Action Française political meetings, of which he would later be highly critical, and met the founder, Charles Maurras. By the mid-1920s, Lacan had become dissatisfied with religion and quarrelled with his family over it.Roudinesco, Elisabeth, Jacques Lacan & Co.: a history of psychoanalysis in France, 1925–1985, 1990, Chicago University Press

In 1920, on being rejected as too thin for military service, he entered medical school and, in 1926, specialised in psychiatry at the Sainte-Anne Hospital in Paris. He was especially interested in the philosophies of Karl Jaspers and Martin Heidegger and attended the seminars about Hegel given by Alexandre Kojève.


In 1931 Lacan became a licensed forensic psychiatrist. In 1932 he was awarded the Doctorat d’état for his thesis On Paranoiac Psychosis in its Relations to the Personality (De la Psychose paranoïaque dans ses rapports avec la personnalité suivi de Premiers écrits sur la paranoïa. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1975.) It had a limited reception in the 1930s because it was not published until four decades later, but it did find acclaim, especially by surrealist artists. Also in 1932, Lacan translated Freud’s 1922 text, "Über einige neurotische Mechanismen bei Eifersucht, Paranoia und Homosexualität" as "De quelques mécanismes névrotiques dans la jalousie, la paranoïa et l’homosexualité". It was published in the Revue française de psychanalyse. In Autumn of that same year, Lacan began his training analysis with Rudolph Lowenstein, which was to last until 1938.Laurent, É., "Lacan, Analysand" in Hurly-Burly, Issue 3.

Two years later, Lacan was elected to the Société psychanalytique de Paris. In January 1934, he married Marie-Louise Blondin and they had their first child, a daughter called Caroline. Their second child, a son named Thibaut, was born in August 1939.

In 1936, Lacan presented his first analytic report at the Congress of the International Psychoanalytical Association in Marienbad on the "Mirror Phase". The congress chairman, Ernest Jones, terminated the lecture before its conclusion, since he was unwilling to extend Lacan’s stated presentation time. Insulted, Lacan left the congress to witness the Berlin Olympic Games. Unfortunately, no copy of the original lecture remains.Roudinesco, Elisabeth. "The mirror stage: an obliterated archive" The Cambridge Companion to Lacan. Ed. Jean-Michel Rabaté. Cambridge: CUP, 2003

Lacan was an active intellectual of the inter-war period—he associated with André Breton, Georges Bataille, Salvador Dalí, and Pablo Picasso. He attended the mouvement Psyché that Maryse Choisy founded. He published in the Surrealist journal Minotaure and attended the first public reading of James Joyce’s Ulysses. "[Lacan’s] interest in surrealism predated his interest in psychoanalysis," Dylan Evans explains, speculating that "perhaps Lacan never really abandoned his early surrealist sympathies, its neo-Romantic view of madness as ‘convulsive beauty’, its celebration of irrationality, and its hostility to the scientist who murders nature by dissecting it".Evans, Dylan, "", in The Literary Animal; Evolution and the Nature of Narrative, eds. Jonathan Gottschall and David Sloan Wilson, Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2005 Others would agree that "the importance of surrealism can hardly be over-stated… to the young Lacan… [who] also shared the surrealists’ taste for scandal and provocation, and viewed provocation as an important element in psycho-analysis itself".David Macey, "Introduction", Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis (London 1994) p. xv-xvi