Cormac Gallagher, Mary Darby – The Historical Development and Clinical Implications of Jacques Lacan’s Optical Schema

THE LETTER 02 (Autumn 1994) pages 87-111

Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem….

Cardinal Newman

Introduction

The debate carried on through his Ecrits is, Lacan wrote in 1966, “le debat des lumires” – the age-old intellectual struggle pursued by men and women to break out of the shadows and the images in which reality, and in particular the reality of those whom they love best, is shrouded, in order to come to live in the truth: the search for more light, “Mehr licht”, in Goethe’s dying words.

For Lacan, Freud’s discovery of the unconscious subject of speech brought a major new contribution to this debate and from his early writings in the 1930’s – especially in Beyond the reality principle – he castigated the second generation of psychoanalysts for having overlooked the epistemological implications of unconscious “thinking” and with having regressed to pre-Freudian simplifications in trying to understand the genesis of neurosis and its cure.

To summarise his critique we could say briefly that the pivotal role accorded to the functions of the ego from the 1920’s on resulted from uncritical assumptions about the unity of the human percipiens as necessary to deal appropriately with the information received from the inside and outside world. To the extent that this unity is disturbed, it is said, the individual’s relationship with reality is disturbed and neurosis or psychosis result. …

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