Jacques Lacan was the greatest French psychoanalyst of the 20th century. He was also something that’s come to feel rather odd – an intellectual celebrity. As much of a focus of gossip and curiosity as a pop star. He hung out with famous artists and writers, he had a fabulous head of hair, he attracted beautiful women. Jacques Marie Émile Lacan was born in Paris in 1901. His father was a successful businessman, a major figure in the emerging soap industry. His mother was a pious Catholic. His older brother became a Benedictine monk. But Lacan stopped believing in God at a young age. He became obsessed, instead, with philosophy and mathematics. At the age of 15 he wallpapered his bedroom with pages torn from Spinoza’s Ethics. At university he studied medicine and specialized in psychiatry. Lacan wrote many essays and published transcripts of the seminars he gave. He liked to present his ideas in highly complex ways and often deployed mathematical equations and diagrams. He didn’t write very clearly, but beneath the complex surface Lacan made some extremely useful additions to our understanding of ourselves. Lacan was deeply interested in an event that occurs in the life of every child: the first time that they recognize themselves in a mirror. They have the hugely distinctive and strange experience which no dog or chicken has ever had of looking at their own reflection and thinking: “THAT is ME.” Crucially, the moment which Lacan called “the mirror phase” can feel very unsettling, because the face in the mirror doesn’t necessarily look as we feel. Inside we are a formless, continuous stream of consciousness made up of speeding thoughts, desires and images. We are polysexual, chaotic, ever-changing and ambivalent to the core. But on the outside we seem like a more or less stable entity with composed and symmetrical features that betray almost nothing of what’s going on within. We have only words to try and transcend the gap, and most of the time they fail to do justice to our real intentions. Not knowing how to say what we feel isn’t a personal failing – it is an existential truth. The image in the mirror is, by necessity, far more one-dimensional than the entity that beholds it. This leads to a problem that follows us throughout life. As adults, we long for others to understand us in the deepest ways. But Lacan is preparing us to face the darker possibility that in fact, other people will be resolutely stuck on the outside of us, assuming us to be pretty much as we seem, but heavily caricaturing us without meaning to. We’re understandably reluctant to accept this loneliness, and are consequently very concerned to control the external appearances that we present. That’s what the fashion industry trades on. We hope that if we could tinker sufficiently with what other people see externally of us, perhaps our hair or the design of our collar, we may eventually be properly understood. But Lacan suggests a more difficult, mature move – that we accept that other people simply won’t ever experience us the way we experience ourselves. That we will be almost entirely misunderstood, and will, in turn, almost entirely misunderstand. Lacan was famous for his extremely negative statements about romantic love. “There is no such thing as a sexual relationship.” “Men and women don’t exist.” And most dramatically, “Man knows nothing of woman, and woman knows nothing of man.” Lacan was trying to get at an unpopular yet critical fact about romantic relationships, the extent to which we don’t truly comprehend our lovers and simply peg a range of fantasies drawn from childhood experiences to their physical forms. It’s a dark but, in a way, liberating idea. It invites us not to be upset when we don’t feel a perfect rapport with someone who initially seemed like a soulmate. And it recommends that we certainly don’t rush off in search of some more “ideal” partner if we’re feeling less than perfectly understood. The connection we worry that we’ve lost is something we never actually had. Our relationship hasn’t gone wrong through folly, error or bad luck. It’s following the ordinary path of love, which is to come to an awareness of it’s own fundamentally illusory nature. With Lacan’s help we can hold on to a more accurate picture of what is normal. To be more or less always alone. This is a foundation upon which we can build more mature and less frustrated relationships. Lacan was very active in intellectual life in the late 1960s. It was, of course, a time of great excitement around social change. There was the sexual revolution, great interest in Communism, and lots of protests. Lacan’s friends were extremely excited. Lacan sympathized. And yet, when he saw the increasing numbers of student protesters, he told them: “What you aspire to as revolutionaries is a new master. And you will get one.” Lacan suggested that though we believe ourselves to be democrats, most of us are remarkably interested in finding and then worshipping authority figures who will promise us the earth. We desire to have someone else in charge, who can make everything OK. Someone who is, in a sense, an ideal parent. And we bring this peculiar-sounding bit of our psychological fantasies into the way we navigate politics. For Lacan the truly talented politician isn’t the one who knows how to whip up the crowd and ignites their semi-conscious, childlike dreams of perfection – it’s the one who dares to be an adult. Someone who has the skill to persuade people of the disappointing nature of reality. and who has the tact to do so without provoking unbearable rage and tantrums. Lacan never stopped trying to communicate a very difficult fact – what odd, immature and lonely creatures we are. It’s because we refuse to recognize this and don’t budget enough time to absorb the grief, that we’re more miserable than we need to be. Lacan constantly tested new and often unconventional methods to try to make psychoanalysis a greater part of our lives. He saw it as the natural place to wrestle with the conundrums of being human. He didn’t like to call his clients “patients” because he didn’t want them to think of themselves as sick or unusual. The only qualification for coming to analysis was to be human. Lacan thought a session could be quite short, sometimes just 5 minutes, if that’s how one happened to be feeling. He even allowed his barber and pedicurist to visit while he was conducting analytic sessions. He wasn’t doing this to be provocative but rather because he was interested in exploring how insights might be delivered in a more relaxed way, so that they could reach many more people. Lacan was unafraid of mixing intellectual truth with worldly succes, and thought it was just as important to influence politicians, artists and everyday people as it was to teach philosophers or psychoanalysts. He continued to lecture around the world right up until his death at the age of 80. Though an atheist, Lacan had occassionally spoken of a wish to have a grand Catholic funeral, ideally either in Venice or Rome. But it was not to be. He was buried quietly near his country house in the modest village of Guitrancourt not far from the northeastern suburbs of Paris. Lacan had big ambitions for psychoanalysis. He hoped that it might transform the most powerful collective bodies of the era, like the Catholic Church and the Communist Party, and liberate them from some of their errors. He believed that in the future psychoanalysis would become widespread and normal, ingrained in the way people think, a part of the business of ordinary life. It’s an important project, and we’re still at it today.

100 thoughts on “PSYCHOTHERAPY – Jacques Lacan

  1. Isn't Lacan just a repackaged version of Piaget, with some Buddhism and Freud in the mix? I'm not trying to be mean. I love Lacan. But he doesn't feel very original when you look at how he began (I say this as a researcher too btw, so I am very sympathetic).

  2. I checked the date the video was published to make sure this was before Trump became the president. Looking at his picture and say "we choose political leaders as for who we think is a good, mature parent" would be…… interesting.

  3. I personally think that he got the love part wrong. He didn't have any prove for his word, and nor do I. I just think that there is such a thing as true love. Most marriages last throughout the lifetime. Mothers love their children even if they were murderers.

  4. 5:40 The one that dares to be an adult. Boy, is this statement this way off.
    Trump won the election and lives in his own reality.

  5. What happen before the mirror? And no I am not simple I completely understand seeing oneself in a reflection maybe water, shinny objects etc ,as intriguing and fascinating i find this man its just his opinion and what of tribes still to this day that live actual tribe jungle/as we would call uncivilized i doubt their babies sit around looking in mirrors ?

  6. Lacan did amazing studies. But we should point out that Lacanian pyschoanalisis, or "therapy", has little to no success teaching people to live with depression. That modern therapies are way more effective. Just like Freud this is obsolete aplied to a practical level of trying to heal someone. Not to mention the Lacanian psychologists believed themselves to be above science. Wich doesn't make any sense in my opinion. Psichology is a science.

  7. The observations about animals not recognising their mirror image and us recognising it is flawed and a gross simplification of the fact. Its not as simple as "that's me" or "who's that". There are degrees of recognition (wow, who'd have thought! A spectrum!) We know very little as to what the minds of birds or the decentralised nervous apparatus of octupi do and don't know about themselves and how that would impact their behaviour. On these topics of animal consciousness I'd trust an ethologist or bevahioral biologist over a psychoanalyst.

    Lacans ideas appeal to privelidged intellectuals who have the luxury of not needing more grounded and pragmatic advice. I don't see much benefit to those who seriously suffer from mental health problems. As such, what is the point? Oh wait, I forgot, it's to be able to say something smart and fancy sounding at the dinner table. Quack quack.

  8. It sounds like his insights could be written on an index card if all the psychobabble was trimmed off.

  9. We are lonely creatures and when we believe in this gloomy idea we can live more satisfied than we are now..
    Thanks Lacan

  10. Can you guys do Henri Ey? He was a French psychiatrist who was Lacans' theoretical rival. He created his own theories behind the human psyche (mixing psychoanalysis and neurobiology) and helped modernize psychiatry by defining and classifing different mental illnesses in his manuals, some of which are still used to this day.

  11. I'm both agreeing and disagreeing with his take on love. But I kinda think he confuses it with "being in love". I think it's too postmodernistic to state that love is an illusion. It's an interactive agreement between a couple that can last very long if it's also based on respect and the couple can agree to disagree sometimes and is as DATA says in star trek " accustomed to eachother's mental pathways" and it doesn't really cause much conflict.

    What I think he reffers to is that you don't always feel "in love". The newness of the person has vanished and has been exchanged for the fammiliar. THere are people who always need to feel that rush or else they'll think there's nothing and the relationship is over. That's what I find so pessimistic about his "love is an illusion" philosophy. There are these people that seek relationships because they are in love with being in love, but not really with the person, they use these people to feel that way and when it's over they hike off. That's the part where being in love ends, but it doesnt necessarily mean this would ever be a stable relationship. Because real love, report and respect has never been established, serial date hunters can never find this relationship. They always think a relationship is a readymade present for them to open up and everything must fall into place.

    I think these kind of relationships are doomed to fail. because no effort is done to really start getting close to that person, that should replace the "being in love" rush feeling. And then comes the part where I agree with. To constantly depend on the other for your own wellbeing, takes alot of energy from that person. There are people who have impulses , so they need constant high emotional maintenance but never really bring something to the table themself. That's exhausting for the other. So if you see yourself as your own self sustaining entity and you can ADD to that, by loving and being loved, you'll not nag the other person to construct your own well being all the time.

  12. many thing are wrong in this video… The thought of Lacan isn't well gave, even if the video is very cool with all the animations. Lacan didn't say "men and women don't exist", he said " LA femme n'existe pas" which means "THE woman does not exist", which is quite a feminist sentence.

  13. I like your videos on Psychotherapy, but I can't stop feeling you're being a bit biased, as you are only presting views from psychoanalitic perspective and are not even mentioning any other modalities of psychotherapy. I'd love to see you do a video about Gestalt therapy or exsistential therapy or other humanistic approaches.

  14. Why put a picture of Rasputin when you mentioned a Benedictine monk at 0:40? Rasputin was neither a monk, nor was he insane for that matter.

  15. Lacan is a great example of someone who, although an idiot, with $$$ and influence a person can persuade others to buy into utter bullshit. Case in point "there are no women and no men…", followed up with "no man can ever know any woman, and visa versa". Smh…

  16. It is truly inspiring to learn about Jacques Lacan here in your video. Things were delivered very cleanly, and Jacques' humanity and vision really came through! Thanks!

  17. Thank you very much for your informative work! Also, super duper kudos on the sound quality and for not using distracting background music! <3

  18. Let me emphasize a few things out of the translations you made from Lacan statements.
    — "there is no such thing as a sexual relationship" the original sentence was "Il n'y a pas de rapport sexuel" A better translation could have been "There is no sexual yield" although it is not perfect as the term "rapport" has 4 or 5 senses in French. Here it is more to insist on the fact that there is no equality between male and female when there is a sexual encounter.
    — "men and women don't exist" original sentence was "La femme n'existe pas" "THE woman does not exist". He meant that of course women exist but one cannot talk of THE woman as there are two kind of women, one who is forbidden, the mother, and all the others who are not.
    You can find more on my channel "Jacques Siboni" although most of these workshops are in French, but a few have been made in English.
    All the best, Jacques

  19. Your videos carry too much personal details rather than journeys of these people. It looks like I am listening wikipedia. Do more research.

  20. I came here to try to get to the bottom of those moments when Zizek doesn't wipe his nose and pull his t-tshirt…you know – the bits where he talks…

  21. Teorias
    de LACAN 1-o gozo é impossível. 2-o gozo é incesto,mas o incesto é impossível
    .3- o resíduo em forma de objeto me dá o resíduo em forma invertida. 4-o gozo é
    onde está o nosso excesso, a nossa angústia, o nosso fracasso. 5- a linguagem
    nos morde, gerando um resíduo que o analista vai tratar. Um psicoterapeuta que
    trabalhe com abordagem mais pragmática vai buscar o motivo ( resíduo de LACAN)
    da queixa do cliente e tratá-lo num tempo menor. Estamos em 2019 e a PSICOLOGIA
    , lenta e cara, ainda não acordou. Buscar ideias, estudos, sugestões,
    criatividade, imaginação, brain storm , pesquisar com psicólogos , estudar
    quais seriam as abordagens mais práticas e menos caras seriam atitudes bastante
    saudáveis. Por enquanto , o pobre não tem acesso à psicoterapia . E não há como

  22. You need to do a video on Carl Rogers (voted the most influential psychotherapist – by other therapists – in 2009).

  23. This is wonderful. But if you printed all the images out and cut them out manually then scanned them back in, it would be like 50% more authentic

  24. The Mirror effect is very real. This is why they place high-definitions mirrors that tell the truth in rest-rooms . People are offended by the true image they see of themselves and won't loiter about. Don't think so ? Watch someone in a restroom. When they wash theirs hands and look into the mirror they quickly dry off their hands and exit the facility.

  25. "the we will be almost entirely misuderstood"… Jordan Peterson definitely did… but then again it's probably a voluntary, or even pragmatic misunderstanding

  26. Interesante saber más sobre Lacan, ya que escribió textos muy complejos. La traducción al español de este vídeo es muy mala; ojalá pueda hacerla una persona y no un traductor automático.

  27. "Adult politicians" – shows three Democrat presidents (two of which were very bad). Clearly NOT biased.

  28. Having been force fed "Lacan" at Rennes University… I believe you have read what you want in Lacan. It is incredibly obscure and created to impress fools. Your interpretation of this fraud's work is trite and convenient. Thank god French psychology is finally distancing itself from Lacan.

  29. Было бы замечательно, если бы Вы также добавляли и русские субтитры.

  30. No time for Lacan and the cult around him. Void, arid compassionless..unhelpful, and vacuous. Move on. I spent far too much time on him for nothing.

  31. It's like a high school student writing a paper on the history of a decent pyschoanalyst and philosopher. Not bad though. Pretty smart highschool student.

  32. Lacan was a charlatan. And no, i'm not going to provide evidence…

    oh, go on then!:

    to me, Lacan is more of a metaphysician's approach to self-help; a quasi-cult-leader with a library

  33. "..hold on to a more accurate picture of what is normal, to be more or less always alone." Who can't find happiness when alone, will never find it in company with others.

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