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The 85 best sentences of Jacques Lacan

The 85 best sentences of Jacques Lacan

March 30, 2024

Since the birth of psychoanalysis at the hands of Sigmund Freud the psychodynamic current has been evolving and changing, arising different schools and traditions that either completely separated or followed the wake of classical psychoanalysis but introducing novelties.

However, there was an author who believed that this evolution had led to a move away from the basic pillars of psychoanalysis and propose to return to the origins, making a re-reading of the Freudian work. Is about Jacques Lacan, one of the great exponents of psychoanalysis in France , a country that still has a great tradition in this current of the history of psychology.

In this article you can find a series of 85 phrases by Jacques Lacan in order to better understand your thinking.

  • Related article: "Guide to understand Jacques Lacan"

85 phrases of Lacan to understand his legacy

Here we present a series of eighty-five iconic and representative phrases of Lacan's thought, which can help us to better understand his thinking.

1. Only idiots believe in the reality of the world, the real is unclean and you have to endure it

Lacan considered that the human being is not able to identify and express the reality of his psyche and the world, this being in fact what we do not know. We simply act through symbolism to try to reproduce part of the real and unconscious through the conscious. The truth is unbearable and incompatible with the self.

2. Truth is the error that escapes delusion and is reached from a misunderstanding

This phrase lets us see the author's perspective that reaching the truth is complex, being unconscious.

3. If Freud focused things on sexuality it is because in sexuality, the speaking being babbles

Lacan advocated a return to the Freudian. Considers that in the sexual elements can be found that move away from the rational and thought to focus on the unconscious, can reach to reveal the truth. For him, and n sexuality can be found pieces of the unconscious .

4. Desire is always desire

Our drives and fantasies do not cease to be, but remain as such. If one seems to fulfill its objective, another one appears to replace it.

5. Nothing satisfies the desire of the whole

Like the previous sentence, in this Lacan tells us to do what we do to try to satisfy ourselves, our desires and drives are not going to stop existing.

6. The truth can only be explained in terms of fiction

For Lacan, reality is all that we do not know and that it would be impossible for us to recognize or express with language, being our perception and expression a fiction elaborated through symbolism.

7. The structure of the unconscious is similar to a language

The language supposed for Lacan an element of great importance at the time of understanding the psyche, being a symbolic element that allows to try to link the conscious and the unconscious.

  • You may be interested: "The Theory of the Unconscious of Sigmund Freud (and the new theories)"

8. You may know what he said, but never what the other heard

We can not know how the information we transmit to them or how they are interpreted will reach others.

9. The desire takes place in that repercussion that arises from articulating the language at the level of the other

The fact of connecting the language to the level of our interlocutor provokes in this certain attraction.

10. Can there be anything that justifies fidelity, other than the word pledged? However, the word pledged many times is pawned lightly. If he did not insist on it that way, it is likely that he was engaged much more rarely.

The given word and the maintenance of this are difficult things to maintain on many occasions, often offering guarantees without these really being given.

11. Loving is giving what you do not have to someone who is not

A phrase in which the author focuses on love as something in which we offer what we lack, knowing that one can not complete the other completely, and that if we try to fill our gaps with someone that someone ceases to be a person to be an object. In spite of this, mutual understanding will be attempted.

12. Love is always reciprocal

This phrase does not refer to the fact that whenever someone loves someone they are going to love them too. With it the author tries to indicate that the person who loves another finds something in her that is what makes her love her, so that the fact of loving her is partly because it has something that the lover can perceive.

13. The sexual relationship ends with the real

In this sentence Lacan talks about our drive and unconscious part, which is revealed in sexuality and relationships with others.

14. The lack generates the desire

The absence or lack of something in ourselves is for Lacan what generates that we want something or someone .

15. Only feels guilty who gave in his desire

For Lacan the guilt comes from not fulfilling or looking for a way to fulfill his desires and instincts, which causes regret.

16. When the loved one goes too far in betraying himself and perseveres in the deception of himself, in love he does not follow him anymore

In this sentence Lacan talks about the communication between unconscious and the importance of remaining true to themselves.

17. It is not you, you are what in you invents my desire

Explanation of Lacan for love and emotional relationships. What attracts is not the person in itself but what it provokes in oneself.

18. It is better for the person who can not join the horizon of the subjectivity of his time to resign.

This phrase tells us the importance of taking into account the context and how the moment and beliefs of the time in which we live are affected by the psyche.

19. We think we think with our brains, but personally I think with my feet. That is the only way I can come into contact with something solid. Sometimes I think with my head like when with something. But I have seen enough encephalograms to know that there are no signs of thought in the brain

In this sentence Lacan encourages us to see the need to confront the world and live it instead of reasoning about it.

20. Of a wound, what matters is the scar

The past has already happened, but the effects they have left on us are going to cause us to behave and think in a certain way.

21. When we are faced with something impossible, there is only one way: to do it. The impossible is to be done, it is not to be promised, of course it has a requirement: Do not retreat before the impossible desire that inhabits us

Lacan tries to show how important it is not to repress his own desires and impulses in order to achieve what he wants.

22. Taking advantage of the use of the symbolic is the only way that the analytical process has to penetrate the plane of identification

The symbolic is expressed by the word, being language the means by which the person registers from the conscious what lives and what he feels. It is the only means by which it is possible to try to penetrate the psyche of the patient.

23. The analyst is not the one who knows, who knows is the analysand

In the therapeutic relationship who has the true knowledge of the situation and in whom the conflicts to be treated occur is the patient, while the therapist only has a fragmented knowledge according to what he relates.

24. The pleasure principle is to do nothing, to do as little as possible

For Lacan, pleasure is understood as the avoidance of suffering by reducing the level of tension and frustration, while reducing the level of energy.

25. It is common that the obvious goes unnoticed, precisely because of obvious

The meaning of this phrase makes reference to that we often ignore the real reasons of something for the simple fact that they are obvious and obvious.

26. It is only love that can make condescend jouissance to desire

The enjoyment is understood by Lacan as a result of the principle of death, which seeks an increase in the activation that gives us pleasure even though under normal conditions this increase would be aversive.

27. The structure of the unconscious is similar to a language

For Lacan, language, despite being a symbolic element, allows an approach to the unconscious precisely because it has a structure similar to it.

28. The only thing we all talk about is our own symptom

People speak from our inner world and express through language our perception of the world, our shortcomings and our difficulties.

29. Castration could be defined as the denial of that enjoyment in order to achieve progress on the inverse scale of the law of desire

The fear of castration is a psychoanalytic concept widely known. In this sentence Lacan identifies it as the mechanism with which we avoid expressing our drives (especially those linked to activation and the death drive).

  • Perhaps you are interested: "The Oedipus Complex: one of the most controversial concepts of Freud's theory"

30. The narrative, in effect, duplicates its drama from the comments, without which no staging would be possible

The narrative, the history and the discourse of each person is seasoned by the contributions of others, which in turn give it content.

31. The symptom is a metaphor

For Lacan the metaphor is a form of defense mechanism that it would be identified with condensation, in which a signifier is replaced by another with which it has a similarity relation. The symptoms of a disorder do the same to be a reaction that replaces some element of the psyche to which it resembles in some way.

  • Related article: "Defense mechanisms: 10 ways of not facing reality"

32. All art is characterized by a certain mode of organization around a void

Art and words are symbolic elements that try to organize chaos and truth even when it is unknown.

33. An analyst does not know what he says but he must know what he is doing

The role of the analyst for Lacan is to access the unconscious of the patient to bring it to light, through the word.

3. 4.The first virtue of knowledge is the ability to face what is not evident

While we should not ignore the obvious, knowing means confronting the unknown in order to experiment and obtain information about it.

35. There is no subject if there is no significant that fuses it

In this phrase Lacan makes reference to the Other, which configures the self.

36. If you have understood, surely you are wrong

This phrase can refer to the impossibility of perceiving reality completely because the use of language involves the use of signs, which in turn exclude the opposite meanings.

37. The analyst does nothing but return to the analysand his inverted message, as if it were a mirror

The analyst works to extract and bring to consciousness the unconscious meaning of what the patient posed in his message.

38. Reality is the support for the ghost of the neurotic

The neuroses are generated mainly by the inadequate functioning of the defense mechanisms and the repression of instincts, being the unconscious reality what ends up producing the symptom

39. The woman does not exist

This strange phrase makes reference to that for Lacan both men and women have a mental representation that is characterized as masculine, being the female identified with the Other . It is not that there are no women, but that for him there is no symbolic generality.

40. Art and speech commonly exist to hide the lack

The symbolic is not able to fully express the real, although it represents it in part

41. Every relationship is based on a certain relationship between two unconscious knowledge

The connections we make are based on the relationships we establish at an unconscious level.

42. It is so irresistible attraction for the utility that we can observe people willing to anything for the pleasure of giving their comfort to those who have the idea that they can not live without your help

Lacan links generosity and altruism with the need to be useful.

43. As intimacy makes it unbearable, there is then extimacy

The intimacy, the real, is unbearable for the self according to Lacan. We only recognize the outside.

44. You can consider yourself Lacanians if you want to. For my part, I declare myself a Freudian

Lacan stands out for declaring himself a Freudian, even though some of the aspects he worked on were interpreted in a somewhat different way.

45. The real is what resists being symbolized in an absolute way

This phrase summarizes Lacan's concept of real.

46. ​​It is true only to the extent that we follow it

What we consider true is what will make you act. When we stop following it, it ceases to be true.

47. Since Freud the center of man is no longer what we thought he was. Now we have to get out of there

The vision of psychoanalysis was a new way of seeing the human being, arising notions such as the fundamental unconscious for Lacan. This vision allows change the focus of attention towards the drive aspects and leave other conceptions behind.

48. Below the significant there is nothing

The relationship between meaning and signifier is an important element for the Lacanian vision.

49. If there is an object of your desire that is not other than yourself.

For Lacan, the desire is the search for something that we lack and that we want to fill, with what the really desired is to supply that lack.

50. Love is basically wanting to be loved

This phrase reflects that in love there is always the desire to be reciprocated, this being for Lacan the core of love.

51. The dialogue itself is a rejection of aggression

The word is seen as a mechanism to sublimate aggressive impulses.

52. The subject is subject to desire

For Lacan the human being is always in conflict with his wishes.

53. The word is the death of the thing

As a representation of the symbolic, the word supposes a partial reality, while at the same time it does not allow the entire expression of the instinctive.

54. The non-dupes err

The unwary usually acts on the basis of reason and logic, elements that are circumscribed to the symbolic and ignore the unconscious.

55. Dreams are painted like puzzles

The dream is for Lacan the imaginary , which allows the expression of part of the real in the symbolic.

56. A subject is a significant for another significant

People are for other people not only elements with meaning but are part of the structuring of reality when it comes to giving meaning to things through the word.

57. You can love someone not only for what you have, but literally for what you lack

This phrase refers to the fact that love does not have to be given only in the presence of something that attracts us, but it can also be loved by the absence of something that damages us.

58. We are beings with the capacity to desire but always incomplete, hence our walk

The fact of being incomplete and wanting to complete is what moves us.

59. Psychoanalysis is a highly efficient instrument, and because it gains more prestige every day, it is in danger of being used for a different purpose for which it was created, and in this way we can degrade it

In this sentence, Lacan reflects his belief that distorting the basic pillars of psychoanalysis can lead to the degradation of the psychoanalytic paradigm.

60. To be a psychoanalyst is, simply, to open our eyes to the evidence that nothing is more absurd than human reality.

In this sentence Lacan reflects his opinion that the human psyche is something complex and difficult to understand.

61. Leaving aside the possible reservations, a fictional account has the advantage of revealing a symbolic necessity in a purer way as soon as we can pass it off as arbitrary.

Fiction incorporates a certain element of imagination, which in turn it is a reflection of the unconscious . In this way a fictitious narrative can come to reflect a real need or drive in the patient.

62. What does it matter how many lovers you can have if none of them can give you the universe?

No matter who we are with, we are all incomplete beings that can not be completed by anyone else.

63. The reason we go after poetry is not that search for philosophy, but rather the dismantling of philosophy.

Poetry is a symbolic element that can pretend to represent the interior of the person, their impulses and passions. In this way, Lacan considers that he dismantles philosophy as it tries to offer an explanation to the world, in a way closer to the conscious.

64. The sexual relationship does not exist

With this phrase Lacan indicates that he considers that there is no true understanding of the sexual act.

65. The subject does not speak but is spoken

The self is a part of the psyche that is spoken by the unconscious, and not the other way around.

66. The symptoms, what you think you know about other people, may seem irrational, but it is because you take them in isolation, and want to interpret them directly.

The symptoms that are analyzed may seem strange from the outside, but they are understandable if you understand the person in a holistic way . We can not understand the suffering of others if we try to separate the symptoms from the rest of the surrounding context.

67. Life goes by the river occasionally touching the coast, stopping here and there for a while without understanding anything. The principle of the analysis is that nobody understands anything of what happens. The idea of ​​the unity of human life has always produced the effect of a scandalous lie

A reflection on life, indicating the lack of understanding of most of what we are going to live.

68. I think where I am not, then I am where I do not think

Again, the confrontation between conscious and unconscious, being for Lacan the second what makes us be.

69. Psychoanalysis is not, on the one hand, a faith, but on the other I do not like to call it a science either. Let's say it is a practice and that it works on what is not right.

Lacan expresses his conception of what psychoanalysis supposes.

70. If at some point psychoanalysis clarifies some facts of sexuality, it does not do so in terms of the actual reality of these acts, nor in their character of biological experience.

Sexuality is a frequently worked topic and a core part of psychoanalysis, especially Freudian. However, the point of view offered by this paradigm does not refer to the act itself, but to its symbolic elements and its development.

71. I love you, but, inexplicably and because I love something more of you than you, then I mutilate you

This phrase refers to the relationship between people and the relationship between what the person is and what we want them to be, between what they are and what they would like us to complete.

72. The truth has a fictional structure

Being the imagination fiction and linking itself partially to the real, the structure of both has similarities.

73. The desire of man is the desire of the Other

In this sentence Lacan speaks to us of one of his own concepts, that of the Other as the conception of the external and backbone of the structure of the self .

74. The secret by which the truth has always initiated its lovers, and by which they have acceded to their paths, is that it is in the hiding place that she gives the greatest amount of truth.

For Lacan the truth is in the hidden, in the imperceptible, in the unconscious.

75. When in love I ask you for a look, that act you have for condemnation will be unsatisfactory in any way. Because you will never see me from where I see you

Each person has his way of understanding the world, so it is difficult for even in love to find an identical conception between both people.

76. When you really love yourself, this has nothing to do with sex

Love and sex do not have to be linked to Lacan.

77. Anxiety as we know it always has a connection to a loss. With a relationship that has two faces and can vanish simply by being replaced by something else. Something that no patient can face without feeling a sense of vertigo

In these phrases Lacan relates anxiety to fear of loss.

78. Life has only one sense, to be able to gamble on it, and to gamble on one's life has something of a bet

This phrase tells us about dare to live despite the risks .

79. "Saying" has something to do with time.The absence of time, is something that is dreamed is what is called eternity, and that dream is to imagine that one wakes up

A reflection on what it means to dream. We are speaking on the one hand of the conscious and symbolic (the saying) and the unconscious (dreaming).

80. The unconscious is very precisely the hypothesis that one does not dream only when one falls asleep

In this sentence Lacan indicates that dreaming, desiring, is something that we do continuously and what governs us from the unconscious.

81. However, analytical truth is not so mysterious, or that it is like a secret, so that it prevents us from recognizing people who can direct their consciences to see the truth emerge spontaneously

Although the analysis of the psyche is complex and complicated, it is something that is possible to achieve.

82. The unconscious, it is said, does not know the contradiction; is surely why it is necessary for the analyst to operate for something that does not make its foundation on the contradiction

The analyst must work on the patient in a way that does not contradict the unconscious impulses of the subject, since the unconscious is not contradictory.

83. It is not necessary to have to wait for Freud to access the knowledge that there is a part of our psychic functions that are beyond our conscious reach

Lacan indicates that the fact that there is something unconscious in us can or should be easily perceived because of different aspects such as instincts or intuition .

84. It is the duty of the analyst to take the place of the dead

This phrase indicates that the one who analyzes the patient must situate the reason or origin of the suffering. Likewise, the role of the analyst is to help the patient to express himself, without guiding him.

85. What could be more convincing, however, than the gesture of putting one's cards face up on the table?

This phrase tells us about the capacity for persuasion in the search for truth.

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