Introduction – I to ‘Jacques Lacan & the École Freudienne: Feminine Sexuality’: 1982 : Juliet Mitchell

by Julia Evans on January 31, 1982

‘Introduction I’ by Juliet Mitchell situates Lacan’s work in relation to his overall project within psychoanalytic theory, and then gives an account of the earlier psychoanalytic debate on femininity in the 1920s and 1930s of which these texts are in many ways the direct sequel.

Juliet Mitchell, the author of ‘Psychoanalysis and Feminism’, is (in 1982) a practising psychoanalyst in London. She has lectured widely and written articles and books on literature, women and psychoanalysis

Published in ‘Jacques Lacan & the École Freudienne: Feminine Sexuality’

Edited by Juliet Mitchell and Jacqueline Rose

Macmillan, 1982 :

Availability :

Introduction – I : Juliet Mitchell : Available [here]

7th December 2018 : To request a copy of any text whose weblink does not work, contact Julia Evans: je.lacanian@icloud.com : For fuller details, see Notice : Availability of texts from LacanianWorks by Julia Evans or here

Chapter heading, Editor’s Preface and availability given : Commentaries & Information from ‘Jacques Lacan & the École Freudienne: Feminine Sexuality’ : 1982 : Juliet Mitchell and Jacqueline Rose or here

Quote from the ‘Editors’ Preface’ p vii : See here

The articles translated here are a selection put together by us in 1975 from the works of the French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, and the école freudienne, the school of psychoanalysis which he directed in Paris between 1964 and 1980.  They have never appeared together before, and only one has been translated previously into English. In making this selection our objective has been to show the relevance of Lacan’s ideas for the continuing debate on femininity within both psychoanalysis and feminism.

Lacan’s relationship to the psychoanalytic institution has always been controversial; his work became controversial for feminism when, in the 1970s, he focused more intensively on the question of feminine sexuality. In the years prior to his death in September 1981 both these controversies intensified.

The basic premise of Lacan’s work is a questioning of any certainty or authority in notions of psychic and sexual life. There is a connection between this premise and his repeated breaks with psychoanalytic institutions. In January 1980 Lacan unilaterally dissolved the école freudienne in order to stop what he saw as the degradation of his ideas under the weight of his own institution. But this act, like Lacan’s presentation of his work, was a challenge to authority yet at the same time authoritarian and patriarchal. It will be clear to the reader in the texts which follow that Lacan was trapped in the circles of this paradox.

The texts are preceded by an Introduction. In the first part, Juliet Mitchell situates Lacan’s work in relation to his overall project within psychoanalytic theory, and then gives an account of the earlier psychoanalytic debate on femininity in the 1920s and 1930s of which these texts are in many ways the direct sequel. In the second part, Jacqueline Rose describes the conceptual movement of the texts themselves, and the implications of the debate on femininity in and around the work of Lacan. Although each part can be read separately, the Introduction as a whole represents a double engagement expressing our shared sense of the importance of Lacan for psychoanalysis, and of psychoanalysis for feminism.  January 1982

Reference

This is probably referred to on p14 & p20:

On the Genesis of the Castration Complex in Women : September 1922 (Berlin) : Karen Horney  or  here

P14 : That the castration complex operates as an external event, a law, can be seen too from a related preoccupation of Freud’s. Some time around 1916, Freud became interested in the ideas of Lamarck. This interest is most often regarded, with condescension, as an instance of Freud’s nineteenth-century scientific anachronism. But in fact by 1916 Lamarck was already outmoded and it is clear that Freud’s interest arose not from ignorance but from the need to account for something that he observed but could not theorise. The question at stake was : how does the individual acquire the whole essential history of being human within the first few short years of its life? Lamarkian notions of cultural inheritance offered Freud a possible solution to the problem. In rejecting the idea of cultural inheritance, Freud’s opponents may have been refusing a false solution but in doing so they missed the urgency of the question and thereby failed to confront the problem of how the child acquires so early and so rapidly its knowledge of human law. Karen Horney’s ‘culturalist’ stress – her emphasis on the influence of society – was an attempt to put things right, but it failed because it necessitated an implicit assumption that the human subject could be set apart from society and was not constructed solely within it : the child and society were separate entities mutually affecting each other, there; in this she takes for granted exactly that which she intends to explain. For Horney there are men and women (boys and girls) already there; in this she takes for granted exactly that which she intended to explain.

Freud’s concept of the castration complex completely shifted the implications of the Oedipus complex and altered the meaning of bisexuality.

P20 : In the mid-twenties the focus of the concept of the castration complex may well have contributed to a change of emphasis away from itself and towards a preoccupation with female sexuality. When the well-known names associated with the discussion – Horney, Deutsch, Lamp-d Groot, Klein, Jones – join in, their concern is less with the construction of sexual difference than it is with the nature of female sexuality. It is from this time that we can date what has become known as the ‘great debate’.

 

Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, Earl’s Court, London

 

Other texts

Of the clinic here

Use of power here

Some Lacanian History : here

Topology : here

Lacanian Transmission : here

By Juliet Mitchell here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud : here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

Further information

Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan or here

Autres Écrits: 2001 : Jacques Lacan or here