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The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis

(Le Séminaire #11)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,320 ratings  ·  52 reviews
This volume is based on a year's seminar in which Dr. Lacan addressed a larger, less specialized audience than ever before, among whom he could not assume familiarity with his work. For his listeners then, and for his readers now, he wanted to "introduce a certain coherence into the major concepts on which psycho-analysis is based," namely, the unconscious, repetition, the ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 17th 1998 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 1973)
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Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
First review - Rating:1 star
To say this is addressed to nonspeicalists, and relies on references to extremely obscure authors like Cornelius Agrippa and references work by Merleau-Ponty (which I doubt many nonspeicalists have read) is ridiculous! How is anybody going to understand this? Even the vague references to dreams sampled from Freud's magnum opus The Interpretation of Dreams are mentioned in passing with very little semblance to their actual elucidation. Whilst authors like Zizek, Copjec
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: durcharbeiten
I am going to talk to you about the Lacan. Lucky for you, in this review I will demonstrate such an unquestionable comprehension of everything fundamentally psychoanalytical that not only will you finally be persuaded to read this book but also all debilitating misperceptions and insuperable aporias and smug dismissals and congenital ineptness will be rectified by the irresistible prowess of my lucidly sagacious yet easily digested and wholesomely uplifting discourse and you will then have been ...more
Sep 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
kind of interesting ideas, terribly conceited delivery from a pompous windbag
Mar 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Basically - yes, Lacan lays down the gauntlet. Objet petit a represents a lack inherent to all human beings, whose incompleteness and early helplessness produce a quest for fulfillment beyond the satisfaction of biological needs - a fantasy that functions as the cause of desire; it determines whether desire will be expressed within the pleasure principle or 'beyond' in pursuitof unlimited jouissance, an impossible, and even deadly enjoyment.

Desire is mediated through language. The Real is beyon
Oct 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Never having read a full text by Lacan, I was surprised at how accessible I found this particular collection. I later found out that his seminars are much more accessible than his actual books or formal writings. For this reason: 5 stars. One will get quite a bit from this text - enough to then make one's way through his theoretical writings and many texts that are written according to Lacanian theory (the gaze, transference, etc). Again, I was (and remain) very pleased at how much I personally ...more
Sep 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis
By Jacques Lacan

Reviewed by Mitchell Rhodes

If you haven’t yet read the "The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis" by Jacques Lacan, don’t bother. You’ll be better off. Let me explain:

In Kevin Smith’s film, "Dogma", when God (Alanis Morrissette) speaks, all those in the know, angles and such, cover their ears. They do this for good reason. In full harmonics, God’s voice is just a horrendous blast of noise that can’t be understood. It hurts
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This seminar has the misleading title "the four fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis," which, coupled with Lacan's name, seems to mislead many into thinking this is a friendly introduction to post-Freudian psychoanalysis. It is not, and it never markets itself as such. In fact, this is not even a book: these are transcripts of Lacan's seminars delivered to a group of psychoanalysts who have been closely following his research, and in this seminar in particular, Lacan lays out his highly techni ...more
Ben Kearvell
There's a lot I don't understand here. But what exactly? How have I not understood this text? How is this misunderstanding structured? If the unconscious is structured like a language, one might ask, what is it Lacan hasn't said--and what might this mean?

I can't say that I came to The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis from a particularly analytical perspective. Lacan's ideas, for me, are a kind of poetry--a series of approximations. I've heard Lacan's style of expression is an attempt
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lacan, psychoanalysis
Lacan really lays out his theory in this book. There is also this angry feeling behind it as he has just split from the IPA. I couldn't put it down and it has many parts that I will want to go back to as I continue my own pathway with analysis.
May 05, 2015 rated it liked it
I think I'm too dumb for Lacan.
Aug 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychoanalysis
i find lacanianism interesting, but by now ive learned its graspable only through secondary literature......
Sergey Kochergan
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Alex Lee
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psyche, 2015, philosophy
This is my second time reading this book.

In his attempt to correct Freud, bring him up to date, Lacan approaches the same metaphysical abstraction as so many post-structuralists. A big part of psychoanalysis's problem stems from methodology. In order to help his patients, Freud had to determine what normalcy was. And he did this through the cultural signs that were available around him. Lacan's abstraction of these terms is an attempt to get away from the original limits of Freud and get at the
Mar 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Nothing about Lacan is very easy. In fact, his lectures (that deal with the four concepts) are some of the most practical you'll ever get from him. I can't say I REALLY liked it all too much because after around 20-30 mins. every day of reading the damn thing I'd get a headache. >.< (No, seriously, I literally mean it.) It got to the point where I just had to put it away. There's no way I could've finished it, but I'm sure others who aren't forced to read it for exam purposes will enjoy some of ...more
Jul 04, 2015 added it
Psychoanalysis re-reading Marathon #2: A collection of Lacan's lectures after his excommunication from the Freudian psychoanalytic school. This work requires previous knowledge of both Freud's and Lacan's earlier works and discussions, as the main idea is to elaborate on the issues Lacan raises in relation to and against Freudian psychoanalysis. Re-negotiating concepts like gaze, objet petit a, drive, language etc. structurally, Lacan's psychoanalysis is more on the ideational, philosophical sid ...more
Ivan Pretorius
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lacan wanted to introduce a certain coherence into the major concepts on which psycho-analysis is based, the unconscious, repetition, the transference and the drive. In re-defining these four concepts he explores the question that, as he puts it, moves from "Is psycho-analysis a science?" to "What is a science that includes psycho-analysis?" He argues in particular that there is a structural affinity between psycho-analysis, construed as the science of the unconscious, and language. the science ...more
Feb 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
I found these transcripts of Lacan's lectures absolutely impenetrable. I'm not sure if it's because of the form that translation took or because of Lacan's syntax. Every sentence was actively resisting my comprehension or interpretation. As an introduction to psychoanalysis, it's a humbling and frustrating experience, but it does make you want to read a good secondary text. I'm thinking something by Fink.
May 31, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychoanalysis
Probably the most straightforward Lacan I've read, although much of it sailed over my head . . . it's interesting to see him respond to typical criticisms, that he ignores sexuality or the drives . . . although he complicates things by spending a lot of time on the "scopic" and "invocatory" drives . . .
Nov 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
In some ways this is slightly more intelligible on a first read-through than the Ethics, but it's also amazingly abstruse. What little I've been able to understand about the gaze, etc. is really, really interesting. I'll definitely have to return to this when I have more time.
Jan 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Fortunately there are a lot of people out there who want you to understand Lacan, most notably Zizek. helps. The chapter on The Subject Supposed to know is the clearest and quite interesting.
Egor Sofronov
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is dangerous: it can flip your mind around, which, obviously, has happened to me. He is one of the best writers I have read--an immaculate stylist, an addictive thinker--but above all, he fondles the key to the Truth.
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Will probably re-read soon, but it was very helpful in understanding Lacan.
Jul 10, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extraordinarily difficult pretty much always, but also intriguing. I approach the book with an interest in ideology and religion.

The intimations of a basic human plight, namely, having to “subjectify” ourselves always starting out of a pre-subjective, primary process—the deposition of unconscious, memorial traces of experience—were quite
moving (if indeed I was reading right!). I think this has something to do with why we are always a “lacking” subject, seeking completion in terms of an object t
Tom Calvard
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok so I'm slowly exposing myself to Lacan, but far from am expert. I think to enjoy Lacan (dammit) you need to accept how obscure it all is. It's likely to split opinions (dammit) and lack (dammit) clarity, but it has a deep, penetrating quality just the same, in my view. I'm still wondering how/if I could ever apply his ideas to something more tangible, and intend to dip into some more primary and secondary texts now and again. It's one hell of a worldview, let's put it that way...
lmao what [rating unfixed, will have to read again when I maybe can understand it] [6.0]
I can not accurately communicate the pain this book caused me while reading it through a star rating
Feb 22, 2016 rated it did not like it
Having only been exposed to Lacan via Žižek and (the near-useless) Introducing Lacan, I figured I'd go to the source to gain a deeper knowledge of his concepts. To my disappointment, I found this book to be almost but not quite entirely incomprehensible. No sooner would a concept begin to gain clarity and momentum like a bubble rising to the surface, than it would burst in an effervescent cloud of gas - leaving me no more enlightened than when I began.
micha cardenas
Sep 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Read most of this, good intro to start reading lacan, but not as accessible as people like zizek and gallop's interpretations of him. But if you like to go right to the source, this is good...
Jul 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: psych-reference
The translation leaves a lot to be desired, but the meaning glimpsed through the dense thicket of poor sentence structure makes this *almost* worth the effort. Almost.
Mark M. Whelan
Oct 11, 2011 rated it did not like it
Obscure and pretentious, plays a convoluted game that's not worth playing. Utter fail.
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Jacques-Marie-Émile Lacan was a French psychoanalyst, psychiatrist, and doctor, who made prominent contributions to the psychoanalytic movement. His yearly seminars, conducted in Paris from 1953 until his death in 1981, were a major influence in the French intellectual milieu of the 1960s and 1970s, particularly among post-structuralist thinkers.

Lacan's ideas centered on Freudian concepts such as

Other books in the series

Le Séminaire (1 - 10 of 19 books)
  • The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Freud's Papers on Technique
  • The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book II: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-1955
  • The Psychoses 1955-1956 (Seminar of Jacques Lacan)
  • El seminario 5: La formación del inconsciente = Substance Abuse
  • Le Séminaire, Livre VI: Le désir et son interprétation
  • The Ethics of Psychoanalysis 1959-1960 (Seminar of Jacques Lacan)
  • Transference: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VIII
  • Seminario 9: "La identificación" 1961-1962, Versión íntegra
  • Anxiety - The Seminar of Jacques Lacan | Book X
  • Seminario 14: Lógica del fantasma 1966-1967

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“But what Freud showed us… was that nothing can be grasped, destroyed, or burnt, except in a symbolic way, as one says, in effigie, in absentia.” 61 likes
“I identify myself in language, but only by losing myself in it like an object. What is realised in my history is not the past definite of what was, since it is no more, or even the present perfect of what has been in what I am, but the future anterior of what I shall have been for what I am in the process of becoming.” 47 likes
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