“The only thing of which one can be guilty is of having given ground relative to one’s desire.”
― Jacques Lacan
Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) was a French psychoanalyst who argued for a wholesale return to Freud’s work and insights, particularly a singular focus on the unconscious, speech and language.
Lacan’s particular manner of returning to Freud wound its way through long and productive engagements with fields outside of psychoanalysis: from the linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure, through Claude Lévi-Strauss’s structural anthropology, up to mathematical set theory and the philosophies of Plato, Kant, Hegel and Heidegger among many others.
For Lacan, psychoanalysis at its most fundamental is not a theory and technique of treating psychic disturbances, but a theory and practice which confronts each individual with the most radical dimension of human existence. It does not show a person the best way to accommodate him- or herself to the demands of social or consensual reality; it explains how something like “reality” constitutes itself in the first place. It does not merely enable a human being to accept the repressed truth about him- or herself; it explains how the dimension of truth emerges in human reality.
In Lacan’s view, pathological formations like neuroses, psychoses and perversions, have the dignity of fundamental philosophical attitudes towards reality and life. When an individual suffers from a particular psychopathology, this ‘illness’ colors her or his entire relationship to reality and defines the global structure of their personality. For Lacan, the goal of psychoanalytic treatment is to bring the patient to confront the elementary coordinates and deadlocks of his or her desire (adapted from Slavoj Zizek’s, How to Read Lacan).
There is no standard session time as in other forms of psychoanalysis. As a Lacanian, I end sessions on a given word or idea of the patient that sheds light on a problem or that opens up a new avenue for exploration. Hence, sessions can be as short as 15 minutes or as long as an hour and a half. This way of working allows the patient to grasp experientially that something important has emerged and been spoken.
As a journey, Lacanian analysis requires curiosity, patience, a committment of time and an acceptance that there exists within us an unconscious knowledge about one’s suffering.
If interested, please call me at (510) 295-4711 for an initial consultation.