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Zeitlin, M. (1997). The Ego Psychologists in Lacan's Theory. Am. Imago, 54(2):209-232.

(1997). American Imago, 54(2):209-232

The Ego Psychologists in Lacan's Theory

Michael Zeitlin

If from a North American perspective Lacan has long seemed ambiguous in his basic ontological terms—a figure dispersed into his own discourse and so fundamentally inaccessible but as a series of traces—the recent work of Elisabeth Roudinesco (1990) has enabled us to approach the meaning of Lacan as an historical as opposed to a purely textual or theoretical subject.1 Indeed, for the tradition of what one might call French-American Freud—whose roots are traceable to the landmark special issues of Yale French Studies edited by Jeffrey Mehlman in 1972 and Shoshana Felman in 1977—Lacan presented himself, and so was received, not so much as a human subject in history but as a radically decentered text. And throughout the 1980s this was the Lacan who continued to fascinate, the Lacan whose text, in never being susceptible to “full” understanding or mastery, generated a tremendously suggestive if ambiguously open-ended kind of hermeneutic power (Gallop 1985, 20; Felman 1987, 5; Felman 1985, 165; Ragland-Sullivan, 1986 xxi).

In his turbulent textuality Lacan, in fact, was often a virtual reification of “the discourse of the Other” itself:

[We] all have difficulty with the unconscious. This is what Lacan's language makes us hear, even as we are unable to control, or grasp exactly, what the difficulty is about. Lacan speaks enigmatically. But the enigma is about us: about our own relation to the difficulty of our own unconscious; about the nontransparency between speech and the speaking subject.

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