chapter  4
25 Pages

Lacan’s epistemology

If you were to randomly open any text of Lacan’s and begin to read, you might immediately think that the man is mad. In a word, his writing is psychotic: it is fragmentary, chaotic, and at times incoherent. First of all, his style of spoken discourse, given in lecture format before appearing in print, is infamously trouble-some. Second, his fragmented texts obstinately oppose conforming to formal articulate systematization. As a result, Lacan is not very accessible, either as a stylist or a theoretician. For these reasons he invites controversy and is often misinterpreted. 1

Because Lacan was a fearsome polemicist, radical eccentric, and unorthodox practitioner bordering on the scandalous, within mainstream psychoanalysis his name has become a dirty word. Although he was hailed as the ‘master’ by his adherents, vociferous criticism of the ‘French Freud’ mounted vast condemnation for his exploitation of psychoanalytic technique labelled as manipulative, abusive, unethical and perverted. It comes as no surprise that he would be inevitably blamed (perhaps unfairly) for the suicide of some of his analysands, thus leading to his eventual expulsion from the psychoanalytic community (Haddad, 1981; Lacan, 1964a). Although the recognized genius that often accompanies his legend has by no means vanished from academic circles, due to the arcane and inconsistent nature of his writings, Lacan’s theoretical oeuvre has been dismissed by some as a ‘delusion’ (Roustang, 1990).