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Prager, J. (1996). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought. XVI, 1993. Pp. 497-518. Towards A New Alliance Between Psychoanalysis and Social Theory. J. F. Gurewich.. Psychoanal Q., 65:669.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 65:669

Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought. XVI, 1993. Pp. 497-518. Towards A New Alliance Between Psychoanalysis and Social Theory. J. F. Gurewich.

Review by:
Jeffrey Prager

This paper explores Lacan's view on the processes that enable the human being to become an active member of the social world. The paper describes how Lacan's reading of Freud has led to a theory of the human subject that challenges the traditional psychoanalytic ideas on the relation between the individual and society. Lacan's conception of desire and human alienation departs from Freud's instinct theory and deepens the sociological idea that human consciousness is constituted by forces that are external to the individual. Such a rapprochement between psychoanalysis and sociology is discussed in light of two specific Lacanian contributions to the reading of Freud which are particularly congenial to sociological concerns: the theory of sexual difference, with particular emphasis on Lacan's definition of the feminine, and the concept of méconnaissance (misrecognition) which describes the processes through which individuals fend off their alienated condition. The paper concludes with an attempt to demonstrate that Lacan's theory of the human subject is not antinomous to social change and therefore goes beyond Freud's view of an irreducible disharmony between individual aspirations and social aims.

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