Lacan and psychoanalysisJune 27, 2021
One of the most controversial theoretical fields of the 20th century is psychoanalysis.
The theoretical status of psychoanalysis has been constantly problematized since the early works of Freud; It has always been controversial whether psychoanalysis is a science, how it can be grounded as a scientific science, that is, how it can be put forward on an epistemological level. However, the explanations of psychoanalysis on the conscious and unconscious have changed the direction of the entire philosophical discussion, and especially the discussions on knowledge. But this status issue remained controversial, and Freud’s successors tended to develop psychoanalysis more in the direction of “Self Psychology” rather than these problems.
Lacan’s starting point is primarily an assessment of this theoretical status and a reassessment of epistemological fundamentals. Freud tries to meet these theoretical problems throughout his work, we see this methodological search especially in his early works. However, as the understanding of science and philosophy of the period, it cannot completely get out of the plane of positivism – empiricism, although it creates important distinctions. Nevertheless, it should be said that Freud tried to ground psychoanalysis as a science theoretically, especially in epistemological terms, and took important steps for this. Lacan is primarily a follower and advocate of these steps. It can be said that Lacan expressed himself as a defender of Freud, and put this forward especially against the tendency of psychiatry to abandon or deny post-Freudian theoretical steps. “Self Psychology” is an unacceptable direction for Lacan.
We can say that Lacan is far from the Id – Ego – Superego theory. He is more connected with Freud, who can be called the early period, that is, with Freud, who deals with the structure, formation, place and functioning of the unconscious. For Lacan, psychoanalysis is the science of the unconscious as a science.
If psychoanalysis is to be a science, it must first be able to ground its own distinction epistemologically, that is, to distinguish its object. At this point, Lacan theoretically bases the understanding of science that developed after positivism-empiricism and rereads Freud accordingly. Accordingly, the object of psychoanalysis (as Freud also pointed out in many places but could not make it completely clear) is the unconscious. It should be noted that this is a theoretical object, and here it should also be noted that the unconscious is a unique theoretical object in order to distinguish psychoanalysis from other sciences, according to Lacan. As Althusser points out in one of his early writings on Lacan, this is Lacan’s “return to Freud” movement to bring it to a new level. (See: Freud and Lacan.) Thus, with this attempt at return, Freud, and therefore psychoanalysis, will be able to be removed from the limits and problems of his birth time and reevaluated correctly.
This means whether the object in question (the Unconscious) can be studied with Biology or Sociology based methods or concepts. At this point, psychoanalysis emerges as a theoretical necessity and therefore must be theoretically grounded from this point on. Lacan’s categorical insistence on Freud’s theoretical work and his rejection of the classical psychiatry tradition are primarily relevant to this point. Lacan tends to evaluate psychoanalysis through structuralism, especially and specifically Structuralist Linguistics, and the first place where this orientation emerges is how psychoanalysis should be understood as a science. Afterwards, this linguistic model was followed in the same way when dealing with its object (the unconscious). As a result, Lacan’s rereading of Freud often appears as an anti-psychiatry to traditional psychiatry.