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Bass, A. (1984). Jacques Lacan: The Death of an Intellectual Hero. Stuart Schneiderman. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983. vii + 182 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 71(2):329-331.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Review, 71(2):329-331


Jacques Lacan: The Death of an Intellectual Hero. Stuart Schneiderman. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983. vii + 182 pp.

Review by:
Alan Bass

In this book Schneiderman not only gives us a reminiscence of his analysis with Lacan, but also provides historical information about Lacan's exclusion from the International Psychoanalytic Association, charts the rise and fall of Lacan's Ecole freudienne, and offers a reasoned discussion of many of Lacan's concepts and techniques — the unconscious as the discourse of the Other, the role of the signifier, the critique of ego psychology, the “pass” (a training procedure at the Ecole freudienne), principles of analytic termination, the short session. Also noteworthy is an extended examination of psychoanalytic ethics as they differ from medical ethics. All of this, combined with some very amusing anecdotal material and a fine prose style, makes the book excellent reading.

But Schneiderman is also making his own contribution to analytic theory here. His thesis is that psychoanalysis has been overconcerned with questions of life (including sexuality) and has failed to develop an adequate theory of death. In spelling out his ideas about death in psychoanalysis Schneiderman is also, as he says, attempting to assure that Lacan's rest will be peaceful. Like Antigone, whose name appears often, Schneiderman's discourse concerns the correct burial of the dead. The particular case of Lacan's death and the chaos that followed it become illustrative of a generalized social and psychoanalytic failure to elaborate a functional symbolism of death:

The concept of cure in psychoanalysis may go back to a belief that psyche must follow soma.

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