The Historical Context of Lacan’s Freudian School

Freud and Lacan’s intention was to take psychoanalysis out of the medical and therapeutic paradigm and into a new form of psychic transformation and social relation. Lacan’s school – if not Freud’s original coterie – existed for the production of analysis not for the production of analysts. In Lacan’s formation of the psychoanalytic school , the question of whether one wants to further one’s professional practice – for example as a doctor, teacher, artist, scientist, or otherwise – with their analytic work is unique to each person. The school does not require or provide degrees, licenses, or exams, which are relevant to the university or state of each member. It is concerned with the production of analysis in extension as a form of transmission and transformation of social relations by means of the analytic discourse, and thus it functions as a school, clinic. laboratory, and studio for the production of its members.


Lacan’s intention was to rescue Freud’s project – in intension and extension – and to extend it further into the future. If we are to follow Lacan we must do for him what he did for Freud. We must make a serious study of his work in order to understand its subjective truth – its concrete and pragmatic delirium – to interrogate it as he himself asked in order to evolve psychoanalysis and re-invent it again as proscribed. Intensively this means returning to the drive theory and the narcissistic object choice of desire over and against the domination of ego identity that the classical post-Freudians have chosen. Extensively this means returning to Freud’s suspicion of an international association and his original desire for a community of sovereign beings following their own unique path in training, practicing, researching, and teaching psychoanalysis. Paradoxically in Freud’s day this was closer to the way all medical and therapeutic professions had always been practiced – including medicine. Training was more by intensive apprenticeship then academic institute and authority was only bestowed on an opt-in basis by choosing to join an association or community to show one’s allegiance and experience – rather than the state defining and controlling practices and titles through uniformity.


This aim to extend psychoanalysis by which we follow Lacan’s following of Freud comprises several projects including reconnecting psychoanalysis to its roots in “Analysis” as invented by the Greeks at the turn of Western thought – in the passage from the presocratic philosopher-poets through the work of Heraclitus, Socrates, and Plato – steering between the hysterical equivocation of the sophists and the academic rigidity of the academy. This “symptom” or dilemma went underground during the resurgence of the discourse of the master in the Roman Catholic church before being re-opened in the enlightenment through the spread of reason and the augmentation of the discourse of the university into the population producing the divided subject of alienation on a large scale – finally to be diagnosed or named by Freud in the Twentieth Century as neurosis or the discourse of hysteria. Lacan perceived Freud’s discovery and invention to be closing up under the general formation of a rigid body of theory and practice in psychoanalytic institutions rendering it no better than the inertial discourse of medicine or psychology. In the 1960s after being excommunicated from the analytic orthodoxy for a second time, Lacan created a new form of institute, association, or school for the production of analysis. Throughout the seventies Lacan shifted his focus further to experimental mathematics and poetics – the domain of a-signifying semiotics – where meaning is literally formed, created, or constructed – as a model for analytic practice and institutional transmission – even to bring together the school and clinic into one continuum from analysis in intension to analysis in extension.


Lacan invented or re-affirmed several important ideas of analytic operation. He removed entrance requirements, graduation exams, degrees, titles, and other bureaucratic and hierarchical procedures. He declared that the analyst authorizes himself by himself in relation to some others, thus restoring the stress on “auto-analysis:” a one split by two, or a two that splits the individual revealing the unconscious, an “une” revealed to be “un.” He placed himself in the continued position of the analysand by free-associating his seminar as a form of writing in situ or per-formance — even encouraging his listeners in the position of analysts to question him. He created the cartel as a form of collective work group to replace classes. He experimented with a form of research and transmission of analytic experience called the pass to replace case presentations and other graduation methods.  In his latest seminars he suggested increasingly that analysis was best performed as a form of writing – using topological diagrams and poetic invention almost exclusively. Despite all of this, before his death he dissolved his school declaring it unfit to carry on without him. We each must reinvent analysis for our selves – not just as a practice as Lacan stated but as an institution as he implied.