1st Edition

Jacques Lacan The Basics

By Calum Neill Copyright 2023
    128 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    128 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Jacques Lacan: The Basics provides a clear and succinct introduction to the work of Jacques Lacan, one of the key thinkers of the twentieth century.

    Lacan’s ideas are applied in the study of the humanities, politics, and psychology as well as contemporary media and the arts, but their complexity makes them impenetrable to many. This book is unique in explaining the key concepts and context, from Lacan’s understanding of psychoanalysis to drive and desire, in an accessible way without diluting them beyond meaning. Examples from popular culture are used throughout to emphasise the ideas being discussed and a full glossary and list of resources for further reading encourages additional exploration.

    This engaging and accessible text is essential reading for all those interested in Lacan and his work, as well as students of psychology, psychoanalysis, literature, politics, cultural studies, film studies, and more.


    Acknowledgements  1. Reading this book  2. Who was Jacques Lacan?  3. Some Philosophical Context  4. The Mirror Stage  5. Imaginary / Symbolic / Real  6. Objet petit a  7. The Unconscious  8. Sexuation  9. So what?  10. So what next?  Glossary  Bibliography


    Calum Neill is Associate Professor of Psychoanalysis and Cultural Theory at Edinburgh Napier University and the Director of Lacan in Scotland.

    "For decades, Lacan’s thought is proclaimed dead, outmoded by cognitive brain sciences or by "non-binary" (trans, LGBT+) theories of sexuality – however, Lacan’s theory simply refuses to die, haunting the entire humanities as an "undead" creature. Is it possible to resume his writings which are proverbially ambiguous and unreadable? No, it’s not possible – but in his Jacques Lacan: the Basics, Calum Neill does the impossible. Everyone can read and understand his book: it is like a top-quality trampoline, providing a firm basis on which each of us can do all the jumps and spins we want. So from now on there are no excuses permitted to those who continue to reject Lacan’s theory as an unreadable mess - we should just simply respond them: 'But did you read Calum’s book?' I have no doubts that thousands will." Slavoj Žižek

    "This foundational text teaches us about Lacan in such a way as to also make clear that 'basic' need not simplify; this is an absorbing introduction that gives us something new while outlining what we need to know if we are take next steps into Lacanian psychoanalysis". Ian Parker, Secretary, Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix.

    "Countless students and colleagues have asked for a guide to all things Lacan and beyond over the years. This is the book to recommend. While Lacan was wilfully difficult, he was not immune to moments of extraordinarily concision and clarity. Neill’s introduction is a wonderfully effortless read. Lacan, in my mind, would have approved of this line thrown to open hands." Jamieson Webster, PhD Psychoanalyst and Clinical Psychologist.

    "Calum Neill’s introduction to the thought of Jacques Lacan is the only introduction that will ever be necessary. Written in the most welcoming and accessible manner, this book takes us on a journey into Lacan’s theory with clear explanations and vibrant examples. Neill covers all the key points while providing enough depth that one can almost feel like an expert just after reading his work. This is the book to get before tackling Lacan or even instead of tackling Lacan." Todd McGowan, Professor of Film Studies, University of Vermont.

    "An indispensable and much awaited guide for those wishing to find a way into the notoriously difficult oeuvre of Jacques Lacan. Dispelling the myths whilst staying true to the radical and challenging nature of his teaching, this book provides the tools needed to discover the relentlessly captivating and ever evolving world of Lacanian thought." Isabel Millar, Associate Researcher, Newcastle University.