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Lacan's Invention

The Letter, Issue 36, Spring 2006, Pages 20 - 27


Barry O' Donnell

Lacan was always concerned with what was distinctive about psychoanalysis, with what is new with psychoanalysis, and why it is justifiable to speak of the Freudian discovery. This concern occupied him no less in Les non-dupes errent. During his seminar of 11th December 1973 he speaks of the effect of Freud's discovery. He says that the possibility of analytic discourse tells us that 'what you do, far from being a matter of ignorance, is always determined. Determined already by something which is knowledge, and that we call the unconscious.'[1] This is what is new with Freud. This founds a new discourse.

In the first seminar of that year Lacan had directed attention to the final paragraph of The Interpretation of Dreams. He reads Freud as finishing this inaugural text with a question not about the 'divinatory value of dreams'[2] but about the effect of this new way of responding to dreams. In short Freud is asking what will happen to the new discourse inaugurated by The Interpretation of Dreams. We know that one consequence of that text is our meeting and speaking here today.

Whether in the Rome discourse where he identifies the function and field of speech and language as the domain of this practice originated by Freud or in his Seminars where time and again he distinguishes psychoanalysis from other forms of psychological intervention, Lacan remained acutely aware of the particularity of the Freudian legacy.[3]

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