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‘Becoming’ in Hegel’s Phenomenology and in Psychoanalysis

The Letter, Issue 65, Summer 2017, Pages 43 - 62


Wilfried Ver Eecke

In this article I accept the idea of Hyppolite that there is a great similarity between the dialectical changes analysed in Hegel’s Phenomenology and the changes aimed at through Freud’s psychoanalytic method. In both, the central idea pursued is that of ‘becoming.’ My contribution in this article is to show how Hegel develops a teleological becoming in which the future is the main dimension of time, whereas Freud, and also Lacan, aim in psychoanalysis at discovering a trauma in the past which the patient is invited to deal with and to accept. Psychoanalysis thus invites a searching of the patient’s past and is therefore archeological in nature. However similar Hegel’s dialectical method may be compared with the method used in psychoanalysis, I conclude that they have a totally different emphasis on the dimension of time they are preoccupied with.


More than thirty-five years ago William Richardson told me that he wanted to organise a discussion group on Lacan. He invited me because we had both been introduced to the ideas of Lacan by Professor A. De Waelhens at the University of Louvain, whose course focused especially on Lacan’s 1953 discourse in Rome.[1] The more than thirty years of discussion that followed have deepened my knowledge of Lacan and served me well when I tried (and succeeded) in the ‘Passe’—becoming a Lacanian psychoanalyst.

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