BIBLIOGRAPHY
 

BIBLIO NOTES #3

In Seminar II, Jacques Lacan is keen to explore the function of the ego and of misrecognition. The reader will find chapters III and IV especially useful.
By Gary Marshall

Chapter III, “The symbolic universe”, establishes that all social experience is ordered by the symbols we use to describe it. It “intervenes at every moment and at every stage of existence” (Lacan, 1991, p. 29). Hyppolite comments that “we can neither remain in it [the symbolic], nor can we get out of it” (Lacan, 1991, p. 38).  How is the function of the ego impacted by such an axiom? Lacan ends the chapter with the proposition that “the ego is an imaginary function” and “intervenes in psychic life only as a symbol” (Lacan, 1991, p. 38).

Chapter IV helps us understand the ego in relation to the imaginary and symbolic registers and its implications for psychoanalytic practice. The insights in this chapter make it worth reading it in its entirety. Lacan’s first point is that human subjectivity is much more than the sum of individual experiences in that it is tied to the symbolic order and all that this order entails in our relationship to the Other.  Thus, the analyst must operate from a decentered level, obviating the ego solely as the seat of resistances which must be harmonized.  Even if an analytic response at the level of the ego is appropriate to the situation, it is never enough to remain at the level of the imaginary, e.g. weaning, abandonment, etc. Lacan implores us: “It concerns his [the analysand] history in as much as he fails to recognize [méconnaît] it...namely, what does his [sic] history signify?” (Lacan, 1991, p. 43).

A second point is that the unconscious or unconscious knowledge is misrecognized by the ego.  Thus, the subject of the unconscious, the I, is not the ego.  However, the reverse, that the ego is not the I, is partially true.  Lacan notes that the ego is “a particular object within the experience of the subject. Literally, the ego is an object—an object which fills a certain function which we here call the imaginary function” (Lacan, 1991, p. 44).  In the remaining portion of the chapter, Lacan offers a materialist definition of consciousness in order to further establish the ego as a function of the mirror stage.  He then problematizes this analysis by noting that in the final analysis “the ego isn’t just a function. From the moment when the symbolic system is instituted, it can itself be used as a symbol” (Lacan, 1991, p. 52). 
 
Lacan, Jacques (1991). The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book II. The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-1955. London: Norton.


BIBLIO NOTES #2

Commentary on Seminar II in preparation for the 11th Clinical Study Days
Prepared by Gary S. Marshall

In Seminar II, Jacques Lacan is keen to explore the function of the ego and of misrecognition. The reader will find chapters I through VI especially useful. Chapter I, offers a rich historical analysis wherein the “pre-analytic notion of ego” in Freudian theory is informed both by the Socratic knotting of knowledge and truth and the Cartesian logic that consciousness is transparent to itself.  Lacan notes that “the reflection of philosophers have led us to a more and more purely formal notion of the ego, and to be truthful, to a critique of this function” (Lacan, 1991, p. 6).

Toward the end of chapter I, Lacan reminds us that Freud developed the tripartite schema of ego, super-ego and id, beginning in 1920 because of the crisis in analytic technique. Yet, we should not be seduced--as were Hartmann and the followers of ego psychology—by the notion of an autonomous ego.  Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, and the Ego and the Id were published and should be read in that specific order.

Chapter II, entitled “Knowledge, truth, opinion”, begins with Lacan’s continued critique of ego psychology arguing that its followers reify analytical concepts, resulting in an alignment of psychoanalysis with general psychology. Lacan situates psychoanalysis away from epistêmê—bounded knowledge—and orients it to the symbolic plane.  He highlights Meno’s response to the Sophists and notes that there is always “a truth that cannot be grasped by bounded knowledge” (Lacan, 1991, p. 17). We are prone to overlook the symbolic effects of what we consider to be objective knowledge.

The second half of chapter II examines the effects of repetition as outlined in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Lefèbvre-Pontalis elaborates on Freud’s insight regarding what is beyond the tension between the pleasure and reality principles--the tendency to repeat--which belies the ego’s stabilizing function.
 
Lacan, Jacques (1991). The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book II. The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-1955. London: Norton.

 

BIBLIO NOTES #1

Freud, S. (1914). On narcissim: an introduction. In J. Strachey (Ed.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (pp. 73-102). London: Hogarth.

1.  In this text, Freud justifies the necessity of situating the concept of narcissism in psychoanalytic theory based on research and conclusions obtained from the studies of neuroses, schizophrenia, the animistic life of primitive humans and children, hypochondria, organic disease and finally, love life among people.

2.  Freud explains that a new psychical act is necessary to create narcissism and calls that new act "identification." Therefore, primary narcissism is second to identification and what we consider our 'self', as not only a product of identification but also comes from the other.

3.  Another significant point from this article is the distinction made between the ideal ego and the ego ideal, the latter being the resultant impression of what was heard from the parents while the first is an image which originates as a projection of the text of the first one. One is symbolic while the other is imaginary.


Clinical Study Days 11 Bibliography


Freud, S (1914). On Narcissism. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIV (1914-1916): On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, Papers on metapsychology and Other Works 67-102. In particular, see Section III.

Freud, S (1923). The Ego and the Id. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIX (1923-1925): The Ego and the Id and Other Works, 1-66.

Freud, S. (1926) Inhibitions, Symptoms, and Anxiety. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XX (1925-1926): An Autobiographical Study, Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety, The Question of Lay Analysis and Other Works, 75-179. See in particular: XI. Addenda (a) Resistance and Anticathexis.

Freud, S. (1938) Splitting of the Ego in the Process of Defense. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XXIII (1937-1939): Moses and Monotheism, An Outline of Psycho-Analysis and Other Words,271-278.

Lacan, Jacques.(1949) The Mirror Stage as Formative of the I Function as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience,” Ecrits, tranl. B. Fink. London: Norton, 2006., 75-81.

Lacan, Jacques. (1948) Aggressiveness in Psychoanalysis. Ecrits, tranl. B. Fink. London: Norton, 2006., 82-101. In particular see thesis IV and V 89-101 

Lacan Jacques. The Seminar of Jaques Lacan Book I Freud’s Papers on Technique. 1953-1954. Norton NY 1988
Overture to the Seminar (p.3)
I Introduction to the commentaries on Freud’s Papers and Technique. (pp.16- 18)
II Preliminary comments on the problem of resistance. (pp.23-26)
VII The Topic of Imaginary. (pp. 78-80) 
VII The Wolf ! The Wolf!. (pp. 101-106)
IX   On Narcissism. (pp. 113- 117)
XThe two Narcissisms. (pp. 118-128)
XIIEgo-Ideal and Ideal Ego. (pp. 129-142)
XIIIThe See Saw of desire. (pp. 163-175)

Lacan Jacques. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book II “The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis” 1954-1955. London: Norton, 1998
I Psychology and metapsychology. (pp. 3-7).
II Knowledge, truth, opinion. (pp. 23-24)
IVA materialist definition of the phenomenon of consciousness.  (pp. 41, 43-44, 52)
V Homeostasis and insistence. (pp. 53-54, 58-59)
VI Freud, Hegel, and the machine. (p. 68)
XIIThe difficulties of regression. (p. 134, paragraph 3)
XIII The dream of Irma’s injection. (pp. 154-155)
XV Odd or even? Beyond intersubjectivity (pp. 177-178)
XVII Some questions for the teacher (pp. 208-210)
XIX Introduction of the big Other. (pp. 235, 243-247) 
XXI Sosie. (pp. 259, 268)

Lacan Jacques. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book XXIII “The Sinthome” 1975-1976. UK: Polity Press 2016
X The writing of the ego. (p. 123)