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Morris, H. (1984). Dire Mastery. Discipleship from Freud to Lacan. Psychoanal Q., 53:594-601.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:594-601

Dire Mastery. Discipleship from Freud to Lacan

Review by:
Humphrey Morris

By François Roustang. Translated by Ned Lukacher. Baltimore/London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982. 162 pp.

PSYCHOANALYSIS NEVER LETS GO. By François Roustang. Translated by Ned Lukacher. Baltimore/London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983. 162 pp.

The French came late to psychoanalysis, and in a way that made what pertinent news did reach America difficult to process. Jacques Lacan's expulsion from the International Psycho-Analytical Association in the early 1950's—he called it an excommunication—served to dramatize his polemical compulsion and his arrogance, and gave the average American colleague ample reason to consider with skepticism that large sector of French psychoanalytic culture for which Lacan was the undisputed and increasingly ascendant master. The skepticism of the American colleague might well have been joined by a degree of outrage if he were sufficiently acquainted with the particulars of the dispute with the International to know that Lacan had structured his offensive around an attack on the ego psychology of Hartmann, Kris, and Loewenstein, rendered for the occasion in aggressive caricature. At any event Lacan was relatively unknown in France as well, except in psychoanalytic circles, until 1968. It was only when the May "revolution" promoted him to the status of culture hero, replacing the likes of Sartre and Lévi-Strauss, that his name acquired sufficient momentum to cross the Atlantic. Then, as his writings began to become available in translation, their abstruseness and apparent contempt not only for the views of the established psychoanalytic eminences, but also for the reader, did little to persuade Americans that Lacan was anything more than the latest Parisian sacred monster. It was perhaps only with the arrival of translations of his former students, such as Laplanche, that the seriousness and distinct character of the psychoanalytic work Lacan had set in motion in France could emerge.

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