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The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis

The Letter, Issue 5, Autumn 1995, Pages 18 - 32


Charles Melman


Cormac Gallagher: I am delighted once again to welcome Dr Charles Melman into our midst. I don't think it is any exaggeration to say that he has been one of the main forces in psychoanalysis, not just in France but also here in Ireland. He has been coming here since 1987 and has made a major contribution to the work we are doing, - mainly by polarising it and by forcing us to both lift our sights and to keep in touch with what is happening in France and, indeed, throughout the world. On this occasion, what we asked him to do was to talk about Lacan's seminar on The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. I don't know whether Charles Melman was at that particular seminar, - but in any case, he is very close to Lacan's thought and so we could have no better introduction than his.

Charles Melman: I am very glad to meet you again but sorry, once more, because I don't speak your language.

We are going to talk about the seminar that you are studying this year, a seminar which I did in fact attend, and one which took place in a rather dramatic atmosphere. Up until 1964 Lacan had reserved his teaching for psychoanalysts and if you wanted to go to his lectures you had to get his permission. But since at the time of this seminar he had just been excluded from the psychoanalytic community and since he also had problems with his own students, - (and it very often happens in psychoanalysis that analysts have problems with their students - that would be an interesting problem to study. Maybe at another time we will do that), - Lacan decided that this seminar would be an open one and he would no longer simply talk to psychoanalysts.

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