Excerpt from “The Unconscious and the Body Event” in The Lacanian Review, Issue 01, by Eric Laurent

“In Montpellier, the fruitfulness of making all the consistences equal, of the non-domination by the symbolic, was a surprise. The first clinical developments bore upon the psychoses, in particular the psychoses that Joyce helps to clarify. Joyce-the-sinthome revealed the huge diversity of ‘untriggered’ psychoses, and introduced a new mode of foreclosure, ‘de facto’ foreclosure [forclusion ‘de fait’]. Here we can distinguish between the form of paternal failure at stake for Joyce and the foreclosure at work in the case of Lucia, Joyce’s daughter. Her split with Beckett provoked an actual triggering. Moreover, Lacan found a particular phenomenon, which could be grasped on the basis of his knot, the famous ‘body ready to slip away’ which is held in place by a supplementary consistency, the Ego, as the means with which the whole holds together. The term ‘Ego’ is being used here in a new sense, a sort of body separated from its form, a mixture of consistencies. Thus, on the basis of this Seminar, in the field of psychoses, this clinical approach makes it possible to get away from the overly mechanical opposition between foreclosure and non-foreclosure. Here a continent opens up to be explored that goes beyond ‘ordinary psychosis.’ In each case, it is a question of finding a way of assembling knots that account for a subject, without putting him in a little box or clinical class” (180).

Excerpt from “The Love of the Sinthome versus the Hatred of Difference” in Lacanian Ink, Issue 50, by Marie-Hélène Brousse
By Azeen Khan

“One question then remains:  in testimonies of the passe, memories of a scene often constitute key elements. This refractory presence of the image, direct or indirect images, indelible in any case, does not arise from the specular relation and the dual structure of the semblable.  Ranging it, moreover, under the clinical category of the screen-memory, and thus among the formations of the unconscious, only seems tenable because these scenes had been submitted to the treatment of the logic of the signifier that governs the cure under the transference in a global fashion.  They nonetheless retain a particular character linked to their fixity, without however arising from the formulation of the fantasy. This trait of fixity is relatable to the trait by which Lacan, in the final part of his teaching, characterizes the imaginary, that of consistency. These scenes, in one way or another, involve the body.

Séminaire XXIII allows us to produce a hypothesis: these elements, crystals of the imaginary indelible to the analytic process, conserving a reference to the body and its image ––are they not to be considered the kernel of the ego? It is not here a question of the “corrective ego” that Lacan speaks of in reference to the role writing plays for Joyce but of the body as it is situated in any Borromean knotting. These scenes, in fact, present the image, therefore the body, outside of any totalizing perspective, but, on the other hand, not without relation to the circuit of jouissance. This also puts us on the path to answering the question of the fate of narcissism in a cure brought to its term. 

Hence, “with the final Lacan, we find ourselves instead with three unconsciouses, three different modalities of the unconscious,” and the sinthome is to be thought of as the knotting of these three unconsciouses. The sinthome is the ego or the avatar of narcissism after the deflation of the specular ideal ego (consistency), the chain of master-signifiers (a naming that makes a hole), and the stigmatic object, real of an experience of jouissance (ex-sistence).  This is why, instead of the love of the symptom, as our title might suggest and which could be understood as an externalization of the transference or, again, the love of the unconscious, we prefer the love of the sinthome which, by making a knot, also makes a stop.

Except from “The Writing of the Ego,” Seminar XXIIIThe Sinthome by Jacques Lacan
By Azeen Khan

“Why is Joyce so unreadable? We must indeed endeavour to imagine why this is so. It might be because he doesn’t stir any sympathy in us. But mightn’t something be suggested in this affair of ours by the fact, the patent fact, that he has an Ego of a quite different nature?

At the time of his revolt—because it’s a fact that he does manage to break away—precisely, this Ego is not functioning, not immediately, just after the said revolt. But after this, I would say that he no longer displays to anyone whatsoever any acknowledgement of having received his hiding.

Look at the link. Nothing could be more commonly imagined than this mistake, this fault, this lapsus. Why shouldn’t it happen that a knot should fail to be Borromean, that it should be botched. I’ve made umpteen thousand mistakes drawing it up here on the board. Well, what I am now going to suppose is the rectification of this mistake.

You can see exactly what happens here, where I’m incarnating the Ego as rectifying the wanting relationship, namely what, in the case of Joyce, does not tie the imaginary in a Borromean fashion to the link between the real and the unconscious. Through this artifice of writing, I would say that the Borromean knot is restored” (131).



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 V and Vl especially useful.
Chapter V, “Homeostasis and insistence”, unpacks our assumptions about the perceived unity of the subject.  Lacan gives us a riveting description: “The subject is no one. It is decomposed, in pieces. And it is jammed, sucked in by the image, the deceiving and realized image, of the other, or equally by its own specular image” (Lacan, 1991, p. 54).  Lacan has established that the subject is more than the ego. To that end, the rest of the chapter addresses: how to further situate the ego, locating the subject of the unconscious, and finally, a reframing of the apprehension of consciousness expressed by the Cogito. You, the reader, will find pp. 56-59 crucial to your understanding of the Freudian ego.  Lacan closes the commentary found on these pages with the point, that for Freud, “not only is there absolute dissymmetry between the subject of the unconscious and the organization of the ego, but also a radical difference” (Lacan, 1991, p. 59).
Chapter VI, “Freud, Hegel, and the machine”, reinforces the argument that the ego is not identical to individual consciousness and then introduces HegeI to establish that we are the subject of, or, better stated, subject to, the Other. The chapter, opens with a worthy mocking of ego psychology:
People tell us about the autonomous ego, about the sane part of the ego, about the ego which must be strengthened, about the ego which isn’t sufficiently strong to support us in doing an analysis, about the ego which should be the ally of the analyst, the ally of the analyst’s ego, etc. You should see these two egos, arm in arm, the analyst’s ego and that of the subject (Lacan, 1991, p. 68).
The rest of the chapter is a discussion of the limits of the Hegelian view of human consciousness and the dramatic change from Freud to Hegel in how we conceive of our social experience.  The rise of the machine gives emphasis to homeostasis and the charge and discharge of energy in Freud’s description of the psyche’s function. Stripped to its barest the unconscious is a symbolizing machine. As such, the subject is an after effect of the symbolic order, thus a radical inter-subjectivity.  Further, we can no longer take the ego as the whole of our being. In this sense, we are not our body, rather as the well know Lacanian aphorism suggests: “man [sic] has a body” (Lacan, 1991, p. 72).
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.


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.


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.



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 Jacques 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)
X  The two Narcissisms. (pp. 118-128)
XII  Ego-Ideal and Ideal Ego. (pp. 129-142)
XIII  The 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)
IV  A 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)
XII The 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)



Miller, Jacques-Alain. “The Logic of the Perceived.” Psychoanalytical Notebooks 6/

Miller, Jacques-Alain. “Countertransference and Intersubjectivity.” Lacanian Ink, 22. New York: New York.

Miller, Jacques-Alain. “The Experience of the Real in Psychoanalysis.” Trans.  Jorge Jauregui. Lacanian Ink 16. New York: NY, 2000

Miller, Jacques-Alain. “Lacanian Biology and the Event of the Body.” Trans. Barbara P. Fulks. Lacanian Ink, 18. New York: NY, 2001.



Joseph Attie, “The Analytic Symptom or the Question of Identity,” Psychoanalytical Notebooks 30.

Marie-Hélène Brousse, “The Love of the Sinthome versus the Hatred of Difference,” Lacanian Ink 50, Fall 2017.

Eric Laurent, “The Unconscious and the Body Event: An Interview with Eric Laurent,” The Lacanian Review. Hurly-Burly: Journal of the New Lacanian School and the World Association of Psychoanalysis. Issue 01.