Introduction – II to ‘Jacques Lacan & the École Freudienne: Feminine Sexuality’: 1982: Jacqueline Rose

by Julia Evans on January 31, 1982

‘Introduction II’ by Jacqueline Rose who describes the conceptual movement of the texts themselves, and the implications of the debate on femininity in and around the work of Lacan.

Jacqueline Rose (in 1982) has contributed to the journals ‘m/f’ and ‘screen’ and to ‘The Talking Cure’, edited by Colin MacCabe, and has lectured in London and Paris on psychoanalysis and feminism. She is currently a Lecturer in English at the University of Sussex. 

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

Edited by Juliet Mitchell and Jacqueline Rose

Macmillan, 1982


Introduction – II : Jacqueline Rose: Available [here]

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

Chapter headings, Editor’s Preface : 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, he 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


This text is probably referred to on p28-29:

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

P28-29 : …. Normal sexuality is, therefore, strictly an ordering, one which the hysteric refuses (falls ill). The rest of Freud’s work can then be read as a description of how that ordering takes place, one which the hysteric refuses (falls ill). The rest of Freud’s work can then be read as a description of how the question of femininity, because its persistence as a difficulty revealed the cost of that order.

Moreover, Freud returned to this question at the moment when he was reformulating his theory of human subjectivity. Lacan took Freud’s concept of the unconscious, as extended and developed by the later texts (specifically Beyond the Pleasure Principle : 1920  : SE XVIII and the unfinished paper ‘Splitting of the Ego in the Process of Defence : 1940 : SE XXIII) as the basis of his own account of femininity (the frequent criticism of Lacan that he disregarded the later works is totally unfounded here). He argued that failure to recognise the interdependency of these two concerns in Freud’s work – the theory of subjectivity and femininity together – has led psychoanalysts into an ideologically loaded mistake, that is, an attempt to resolve the difficulties of Freud’s account of femininity itself. For by restoring the woman to her place and identity (which, they argue, Freud out of ‘prejudice’ failed to see), they have missed Freud’s corresponding stress on the division and precariousness of human subjectivity itself, which was, for Lacan, central to psychoanalysis’ most radical insights. Attempts by and for women to answer Freud have tended to relinquish those insights, discarding either the concept of the unconscious (the sign of that division) or that of bisexuality (the sign of that precariousness). And this has been true of positions as diverse as that of Jones (and Horney) in the 1920s and 1920s and that of Nancy Chodorow (1979) speaking from psychoanalysis for feminism today.


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 Jacqueline Rose 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