Lost in Cognition: Psychoanalysis and the Cognitive Sciences : September 2014 : Éric Laurent

by Julia Evans on September 1, 2014



Related texts



Chapter headings with date when first published


Others by Éric Laurent available on LacanianWorks


Translated by Adrian Price

Published by Karnac Books : 2014

Originally published in French : as Lost in cognition- Psychanalyse et sciences cognitives : by Éditions Cécile Defaut : 2008

Related texts

Link to the video of the September 2014 presentation given by Éric Laurent in Dublin at ICLO-NLS (See end note i) on the occasion of the launch of the translation of his book “Lost in Cognition: Psychoanalysis and Neurosciences.” : available here

Also see Extracts from Éric Laurent ‘Lost in cognition’ or here from Chapter 1

On its publication in Hebrew translation, Éric Laurent gave this interview : Interview with Eric Laurent : 20th July 2012 (Israel) : by Or Ezrati , published in Haaretz : Information here


Éric Laurent is a former president of the World Association of Psychoanalysis and author of La bataille de l’autisme: de la clinique à la politique. In 2004 he delivered the ‘Eight Guiding Principles for Any Psychoanalytic Act’ to the General Assembly of the WAP, and in 2011 was invited to deliver the Abram Kardiner Lecture at the New York Academy of Medicine. Éric Laurent has lectured widely in Europe, Israel and Latin America and his articles are regularly translated into English in the Psychoanalytical Notebooks of the London Society, Lacanian Ink and Hurly-Burly. 


Quoted from a report of the book launch, by Florencia Shanahan, circulated as : nls-messager 1157.en/ ICLO-NLS: REPORT – Eric Laurent in Dublin : published by the New Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis / http://amp-nls.org : on 21st September 2014 20:22 : available here

Rik Loose, Chair of ICLO-NLS[i], gave an overview as an introduction to the event. This book gathers a number of papers produced in the last decade as a result of Laurent’s relentless engagement with Lacanian psychoanalysis and its place and function in the ‘great conversation of civilisation’. From neural plasticity and the inscription of the subject, expert-assessment and the ‘psychopathy of evaluation’, to cognitive psychoanalysis and the impasses of the DSM-V, the book is an invitation to discover how the teachings of Freud and Lacan are alive in the everyday practice and research of the Lacanian Orientation. 

Chapter headings with date when first published

Preface to the English-Language Edition, Loss and cognition : probably 2014

Part I: How is the subject inscribed?

Chapter 1 : Chomsky with Joyce : This is a lecture delivered at the École de la Cause Freudienne on 11th April 2005.Under Serge Cottet’s chairmanship, Jacques Aubert and Éric Laurent were invited to present the recently published Book of Lacan’s Seminar, Le Sinthome. [Availability given Seminar XXIII: The Sinthome or Joyce and the Sinthome: 1975-1976: beginning on November 18th 1975 : Jacques Lacan or here]

Also see Extracts from Éric Laurent ‘Lost in cognition’ or here

Full text available here

Chapter 2 : Neural plasticity and the impossible inscription of the subject : probably 2008

Part II : Impossible Evaluation

Chapter 3 : Collective expert-assessment and compared clinical trials : a machine run amok : probably 2008

Chapter 4 : The psychopathy of evaluation : Originally published as “Blog-notes” psychopathie de l’évaluation” in La Cause Freudienne, issue 62, March 2006, p51-70. [This text was previously translated into English by Michele Julien as “Blog-Notes: The Psychopathology of Evaluation” in the Psychoanalytical Notebooks of the London Society, issue 16, May 2007, p45-75]

Part III: Psychoanalysis and cognition

Chapter 5 : On the origin of the Other and the post-traumatic object : This lecture was delivered at the Institut des Sciences Cognitives in Lyon on 6th November 2004 and was later published as “L’origine de l’Autre et l’objet post-traumatique” in the Bulletin de l’ACF Rhône-Alpes, issue 88/89, November 2006. : Available On the origin of the Other and the post-traumatic object : 6th November 2004 (Lyon) : Éric Laurent or here

Chapter 6 : The cul-de-sac of cognitive psychoanalysis : This paper was published in La Cause Freudienne, issue 60, June 2005, p17-22 (An earlier version of this article was translated into English by Lieve Billiet available The Blind Alleys of Cognitive Psychoanalysis : 24th April 2005 : Éric Laurent : See here)

Chapter 7 : Cognition and transference in psychoanalysis today : This paper was presented at the Thirty-Third Study Days of the École de la Cause Freudienne, Désangoisser avec la psychanalysie, held in Paris on 2-3 October 2004

Epilogue : The new pathways of loss in the DSM-5 impasse : This lecture was delivered at the colloquium ‘Qui a peur du DSM-5?’ held at the Maison des Mines, Paris, on 12th October 2013


Synopsis (from the publicity materials):

This book examines the pretensions of the new paradigm in psychology that has put itself forward as the model for the future of the clinical disciplines, thereby seeking to put paid to psychoanalysis. What is this paradigm shift? It goes by the name of cognitive-behaviourism. Where does it come from? From the United States. Until the nineteen-sixties, behavioural psychology had enjoyed a certain prestige in the US. It was later disqualified by the objections from the linguist Noam Chomsky who held that no learning procedure could ever account for linguistic ability. This ability was surely innate, Chomsky argued, and so he set about hunting out the organ of language. Behaviour had to be complemented by a machine for taking cognisance, a machine that was innate and which conformed to the post-Chomskyan model. It took the discipline some thirty years to deck itself out in new clothes. The advances in biology, in neurology, and in the nebula that resulted from them under the ‘neuroscience’ label, oversaw this change. Under the name of behavioural-cognitivism, a new reduction of human experience to learning has emerged. 

Based on the psychoanalysis of Lacanian orientation, this book upholds an opposing thesis. The unconscious does not fall into the “learning” category. It is what is missing from or surplus to any possible learning process. It a mode of thought that is free from both learning and consciousness, and this is what is at once odd and scandalous about it.

From the book launch Florencia Shanahan reports (see above for references)

The conference delivered by Laurent on “Psychoanalysis and the Cognitive Paradigm” bore witness to a perspective which does not recoil before the challenges of an ever changing world and its uncertainty, while at the same time responds to the lures and perils of the more or less authoritarian forms of approaching, managing and theorising what is human.

The presentation was simultaneously a historical framing of the points of rupture and continuity in the development of psychoanalytic and cognitive hypotheses, a strong critique of the so-called neuro-cognitive and neuro-psychoanalytical theories, and a creation of bridges for a debate that would include a questioning of the epistemological and clinical foundations of the multiple discourses at play.

Laurent concluded: “We are emerging from a period in which a predominant paradigm was established that only allowed for opposition on the fringes. Now the entire field is shot through with fresh contradictions between scientific hardliners, public and private healthcare bureaucracies, upholders of various clinical traditions, and those appealing for a clinic of the subject. The cards are going to be reshuffled and the divergent interests of the different players are not about to converge in an overhauled unifying paradigm anytime soon. Something new will remain ‘lost in cognition’. We shall continue to assume responsibility for the ongoing commentary of this loss…”

Quote from pxi : Preface to the English-Language Edition

… By virtue of the commentary it gives on these pages the new psychology claims to hold a legitimate place among the neurosciences.

Some psychoanalysts have been encouraging colleagues to follow the same path that psychology has taken, arguing that there will be a place for the Freudian unconscious processes amongst the diversity of models of cognition. Some think that the time has come for subjective processes to be translated in terms of neuronal networks. This is the error of the theoreticians of cognitivism and the supporters of cognitive psychoanalysis, both of whom think that neuroscience in fact merely confirms the discoveries of Freud and Lacan.

Based on the psychoanalysis of Lacanian orientation this book upholds the opposing thesis: what has been lost in this would-be translation is the unconscious itself. We lose sight of the subject of the analytic experience and the object of psychoanalysis.

The unconscious does not fall into the catgory of “learning”. It is what is missing from or surplus to any possible learning process. …

What has been lost in the cognitive stance – lost in cognition – is the originality of the Freudian unconscious. Precipitated from speech, this unconscious finds its locus in a written form and not in traces. Its locus lies outside the body. It is articulated to the body of living beings, however, by experiences of jouissance that remain unforgettable. The three sections that make up this book seek to demonstrate this articulation.

[i] Irish Circle of the Lacanian Orientation – New Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis :  www.iclo-nls.org

Others by Éric Laurent available on LacanianWorks

An up-to-date list of posts for the “Laurent Éric” category : available here

Lost in Cognition: Psychoanalysis and the Cognitive Sciences : 2014 : Éric Laurent

Racism 2.0 : 26th January 2014 : Éric Laurent

On the real in a psychoanalysis : 17th October 2013 : Éric Laurent

Psychosis, or Radical Belief in the Symptom : 17th June 2012 : Éric Laurent : given in Tel Aviv, Israel

Psychoanalysis & Our Time (video): 30th September 2011: New York : Éric Laurent

Against Neuro-metaphors (video): 30th September 2011 : New York : Éric Laurent

Lacan as Analysand (video): 30th September 2011 : New York : Éric Laurent

The Symbolic Order in the XXI Century: Consequences for the Treatment: July 2010: Éric Laurent

Guiding Principles for Any Psychoanalytic Act: 16th July 2006 : Rome : Éric Laurent

How to recompose the Name-of-the Father : 2004 : Éric Laurent

The Real and the Group : 2000 : Éric Laurent