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Friedlander, S. (1995). Lacanian Perspectives on Political and Social Controversies: A Symposium. Psychoanal. Rev., 82(5):651-654.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Review, 82(5):651-654

Lacanian Perspectives on Political and Social Controversies: A Symposium

Stephen Friedlander, Ph.D.

Introduction to the Symposium

For most people, “psychoanalysis” refers to a process aimed at alleviating individual suffering through private exploration of the unconscious, the process which Kaplan (1988) called “psychoanalysis strictly speaking”(p. 259). Although a pursuit of personal knowledge such as this has been the principal focus of psychoanalysis, the application of psychoanalytic ideas to nonclinical matters, which Kaplan called “psychoanalysis merely in a manner of speaking,” is another part of the tradition. Extramural research, inaugurated by Freud's writings on culture, is quite important—necessary, even—for understanding relations between the world of the psyche and the social world.

This symposium is based on a conviction that psychoanalysis as refashioned by Lacan offers powerful new tools for the study of culture. Although Lacan's teaching was primarily oriented toward training psychoanalysts for clinical practice, his reformulation of Freudian theory—integrating concepts and models drawn from philosophy, linguistics, anthropology, and even mathematics—has inspired intellectuals in many other fields to study his work. The articles in this symposium represent the fruits of this interdisciplinary activity. The members of the panel (Marc Bracher, Kareen Malone, and David Candill) use psychoanalysis, particularly Lacanian theory, in teaching university students who are preparing for careers as teachers, researchers, and legal advocates respectively.

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