“Jaques Lacan was a French psychoanalyst who reconceptualized Freud using post-structuralism.
Lacan rejected attempts to link psychoanalysis with social theory, saying ‘the unconscious is the discourse of the Other’ — that human passion is structured by the desire of others and that we express deep feelings through the ‘relay’ of others. He thus saw desire as a social phenomenon and psychoanalysis as a theory of how the human subject is created through social interaction. Desire appears through a combination of language, culture and the spaces between people.
Lacan focused largely on Freud’s work on deep structures and infant sexuality, and how the human subject becomes an ‘other’ through unconscious repression and stemming from the Mirror phase. The conscious ego and unconscious desire are thus radically divided. Lacan considered this perpetual and unconscious fragmentation of the self as Freud’s core discovery.
Lacan thus sought to return psychoanalysis on the unconscious, using Ferdinand de Saussure’s linguistics, structural anthropology and post-structural theories.
Lacanian psychoanalysis is rather ruthless in its aggressive challenging that seeks to dismantle the imaginary sense of completeness (as in the Mirror phase) and to remove illusions of self-mastery through a mirror image. A strong ego is seen as defensive deceit and expressing it during analysis is seen as resistance to change. Fear of disintegration and lack drives the person to realize themselves in another imaginary individual.
Lacan would cope with transference by suddenly terminating the session.
The Oedipus crisis precipitates the child into the symbolic stage, from which they can become a speaking subject.
It is not just the father, but language that creates the division. Language is used to represent desire and is an ‘intersubjective order of symbolization’ and force that perpetuates the ‘Law of the father’. The father prohibits the desire of the mother, subverting this desire into language.
As desire and connection is created through language, Lacan explains this through Saussure’s signifier and signified, which are seen not as referring to objects but to psychic representations created by their interplay and by culture and history.
Within language, the subject vainly tries to represent itself. The subject is an effect of the signifier, put into language. Language becomes a mask to disguise the impossibility of desire. The unconscious is less something inside the person as an ‘intersubjective’ space between people. According to Lacan, ‘the unconscious is structured like language.'”