Conference Report, SIR : Inaugural meeting of SFP, Paris : 8th July 1953 : Jacques Lacan

by Julia Evans on July 8, 1953

Conference Report – the Symbolic, the Imaginary, the Real : Inaugural meeting of the Sociétè Française de la Psychanalyse in Paris on 8th July 1953

P1-52 of On the Names-of-the-Father : Jacques Lacan : translated by Bruce Fink : Published Polity Press 2013

[Availability given below or see /lacan]


Jacques Lacan spoke on “The Symbolic, the Imaginary, and the Real” immediately before writing the so-called Rome Report on “The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis” (published in the Écrits) during the summer of 1953, a paper that marked the public debut of “Lacan’s teaching,” as it was later called. The earlier talk included the first thematic presentation of the famous triad that undergirded all of Lacan’s work for the next three decades and that went on to become its essential object – not merely a conceptual object, but a mathematical and material one as well in the form of the Borromean knot and its derivatives.

“The Symbolic, the Imaginary, and the Real” is the original title. The lecture was taken down by a stenographer and then typed up. This text was established by Jacques-Alain Miller. There is one place in the text where a few words are missing – not many, it seems.

This was the first so-called scientific presentation of the new Societé Française de Psychanalyse (French Psychoanalytic Society), which had just resulted from the split that occurred in the French psychoanalytic movement. The conflict would arise anew ten years later and lead then to Lacan’s “excommunication” and the foundation by him of his own school, which he called the École Freudienne de Paris (the Freudian School of Paris).

Lacan drew inspiration for his triad from Claude Lévi-Strauss’s article “The Effectiveness of Symbols” (published in 1949 and reprinted in 1963 in ‘Structural Antropology’, New York: Basic Books), which proposes the succinct but wholly original definition of an unconscious that is empty, devoid of contents, a pure organ of the symbolic function, and that imposes structural laws on material composed of unarticulated elements coming from reality as from the reservoir of images accumulated by each person (see p223-225). The concept of “individual myth” found in the same pages was taken up by Lacan in his 1952 lecture entitled “The Individual Myth of the Neurotic.”

Following this lecture in July 1953, Lacan set about writing the report that he was to present in Rome two months later at the first congress of the new society and which was epoch-making (Rome Report (Autres Écrits) : Also known as ‘The function and field of speech in psychoanalysis’ :  September 1953 (Écrits) : see [i]).

Lacan refers in the present lecture to the seminar he had just finished giving on the Rat Man as well as to the one he had given the year before on the Wolf Man.  These seminars took place in his home in the Rue de Lille and were not recorded by a stenographer. To the best of my knowledge, all that remains of them are some notes taken by those present. These two seminars thus could not figure on the list of seminars whose publication was foreseen and announced.


Published in French at École Lacanienne de Psychanalyse – Pas tout Lacan – 1950/1959 : here, Available here


Cette conférence « Le symbolique, l’imaginaire et le réel » fut prononcée le 8 juillet 1953 pour ouvrir les activités de la Société Française de Psychanalyse. Cette version est annoncée dans le catalogue de la Bibliothèque de l’e.l.p. comme version J.L. Il existe plusieurs autres versions sensiblement différentes à certains endroits, dont une parue dans le Bulletin de l’Association freudienne, 1982, n° 1.

Published in English

In English, available at /lacan

Bruce Fink’s notes, available at /lacan

References to Sigmund Freud

Wolf Man : The History of an Infantile Neurosis : 1918 (SE XVII) p5,  See From the History of an Infantile Neurosis (The ‘Wolf Man’): 1914 [published 1918b] : Sigmund Freud,  SE XVII, p3 or Penguin Freud Library (PFL) : Vol 9: p225, Published at and available here

Rat Man : Notes upon a case of Obsessional neurosis : 1909  (SE X) p5, p22,

Chapter 6: Interpretation of Dreams : 1899 : Availability The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here

Beyond the pleasure principle : 1920 (SE XVIII)


[i] The Function of Language in Psychoanalysis (1953) : translated by Anthony Wilden : published in ‘The Language of the Self – The function of language in Psychoanalysis by Jacques Lacan’ : 1968 : Baltimore MD & London, The John Hopkins University Press : p1-156 : See The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis (Rome) : 26th September 1953 : Jacques Lacan  or here 

This is a translation of Jacques Lacan’s ‘Rome Discourse’ without the preface.

The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis : translated by Alan Sheridan : in Écrits, A Selection : London, Tavistock, 1977 : p114-145 includes the Preface. : See here 

The ‘Rome Discourses’ as included in the Écrits (1966) is different to the one in Autres Écrits (2001) is a mystery.

Update: Further to this mystery, École Lacanienne de Psychanalyse – pas tout Lacan, here, includes them as two separate items :

1953-09-26 : Discours de Rome (24 p.)

1953-09-26 : Fonction et champ de la parole (62 p.)

Please see Rome Discourses – to introduce his report (Rome) : 26th September 1953 : Jacques Lacan  or here  


Note : If links to any text do not work, check If a particular text or book remains absent, contact Julia Evans.


Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst in Earl’s Court, London


Further texts

Minutes of the meeting of the International Psychoanalytical Association : 30th July 1953 : Dr Heinz Hartmann (IPA President & Chairman of the Meeting) or here

Television: A Challenge to the Psychoanalytic Establishment : 1990 : Joan Copjec (Editor) or here 

Some Lacanian history here

Lacanian Transmission here

Of the clinic here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

Translation Working Group here

Use of power here