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Wilson, M. (1994). Arguing with Lacan. Ego Psychology and Language: By Joseph H. Smith, M.D. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1991. 153 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 63:150-154.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:150-154

Arguing with Lacan. Ego Psychology and Language: By Joseph H. Smith, M.D. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1991. 153 pp.

Review by:
Mitchell Wilson

Joseph Smith is one of few psychoanalysts in the United States to have grappled with the theoretical implications of recent Continental philosophy, including the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan. Through the Psychiatry and the Humanities series, which he edits, Smith has provided the American psychoanalytic community with thoughtful and illuminating writing on topics ranging from language and the unconscious, Lacanian theory (Volume 6 of the series), Richard Rorty's pragmatism, and the deconstruction of Jacques Derrida, to name but the most memorable. There is not another psychoanalyst writing in this country who has so thoroughly considered ideas that are most properly called philosophical and attempted to incorporate them into mainstream psychoanalytic thinking.

It was therefore with great interest that I picked up the book under review. Any attempt to articulate Lacanian theory with American ego psychology must be lauded. Lacan spent the better part of thirty years in a theoretical and polemical tirade against ego psychology. Though he polarized certain theoretical questions for purely polemical ends, the fact remains that Lacan's basic assumptions about the mind lead inexorably to specific conclusions, both theoretical and clinical. As Lacan said to his students in discussing Erikson's interpretation of the specimen dream of psychoanalysis (Irma's injection): "If [Erikson's] point of view is true, we will have to abandon the notion I tell you to be the essence of the Freudian discovery, the decentering of the subject in relation to the ego, and to return to the notion that everything centres on the standard development of the ego.

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