Lacan is one of the most challenging for reading and interpretation psychoanalysts of the twentieth century but his influence is unprecedented and his contribution compared with Freud’s discovery of the unconscious. Finding references to Freud and Jung, whose theories are of an extremely important value for my research, I was compelled by Lacan’s radical and complex ideas which expand fundamental concepts unifying physical, biological, and psychological premises as evidence to explain his theories.
Reading Écrits was a struggle. Yet, I dared get myself involved in this uneasy task and although I could not claim or confidently say I had comprehensively spanned the complexity of his thought, I will try to outline some of his most distinct ideas I find relevant to my investigations.
Not only was I attached to the fragments of the body theories found in his analysis, but also to the accounts he is granted about Surrealism, to which, unlike to Structuralism, as usually asserted, key points of his thought are related.
Together with implementations of the Body-image, death instinct, narcissism, aggressivity, desire, and return to Freudian doctrines, Lacan links the visual affection – in terms of self-recognition, the relationship with the Other, the assumption of desire, the division in the understanding of instinct and drive - as matters of biological urge or need as opposed to the psychic demands of the Self, and the concept for the formation of the ego as a mental process.
Lacan, ‘drawing work in psychology and animal psychology proposes that human infants pass through a stage in which an external image of the body produces a psychic response that gives rise to the mental representation of an I.’
This concept evolves in Lacan’s Mirror stage, responsible for the formation of the ego and the overall mental condition. I understand this phase in the life of the individual as a critical point of assimilation that he/she is a separate being, which, operating with the mechanism of the Imaginary order*, governs the discrepancies in the process of self-identification. It is the genesis of acceptance of the Self, and I am likely to consider it determinative because the infant’s perceptions are yet intuitive, ununiformed, independent from social formalities, what the Self accumulates thrives into the subconscious, connecting to its most natural, inherent, vulnerable aspects.
I find fruitful the idea that this early-stage anchors psychic processes to the bodily expression since this is the phase when a human being, even though unconsciously, starts ascertaining the interrelation between pleasure or pain and physical contact, control, manipulation, anger, or joy, expressed through bodily reactions. From that first imagery response on, throughout life, an individual’s perceptions might be deceived, confronted, disrupted when the ‘true being’, and the ‘imaginary’ one conflict.
* The three orders of Lacan:
The imaginary order - of the images and imagination that refers to duality and resemblance and implies that the Narcissistic relationship between the ego and the image in the mirror results in the assumption of alienating identity.
The symbolic - the linguistic dimension of the signifier.
The real - which having traumatic quality refers to the ‘true being’.