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How Can Lacanian Theory Be Represented In The Media?

The Letter, Issue 7, Summer 1996, Pages 12 - 20


Aisling Campbell

It is a common practice among psychoanalysts in Ireland - and no doubt in other countries also - to bemoan the lack of awareness of psychoanalysis among the general population. To this is added - sotto voce, for fear of appearing too mercenary - the complaint that it is impossible to make a living from analytic practice; a half-serious fourth to be added to the three impossibilities that make up the topic of the conference. Mindful of these complaints, some time ago I agreed to participate in a radio discussion on psychoanalysis. The show consisted of an half-hour discussion between myself and an interviewer who might be described as naive to psychoanalysis. It was typical of the difficulty in locating analysis in the field of generally accepted knowledge about humanity, that the programme was the final one in a series investigating the various forms of counselling and psychotherapy. The interview was not entirely traumatic in that the interviewer allowed the discussion to develop without the outraged objections that generally result at some stage from any attempt to transmit psychoanalytic theory. There is always some point beyond which it is impossible to teach psychoanalysis - like analysis itself, there is a rock on which it always founders. Thirty minutes was perhaps insufficient to reach this point. Such a discussion in the public realm, however, is not only a form of teaching but also of representation - in the sense that he who teaches in the public domain is assumed to be some kind of representative of the totality. There is an inherent impossibility in the representation of psychoanalysis, as borne out by my experiences following the broadcast.

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