1st Edition

Lacan on Psychosis From Theory to Praxis

Edited By Jon Mills, David L. Downing Copyright 2019
    206 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    206 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    This is the first book of its kind that attempts to distill Lacan’s views on psychosis for both a specialized and non-specialized audience. An attempt is made to present Lacan’s unorganized theories to apply to conceptual paradigms in psychoanalysis and the humanities as well as applied clinical practice. This effort is in the spirit of fostering dialogue and educating different theoretical orientations within psychoanalysis on what Lacan and his followers have contributed to emerging contemporary perspectives on psychotic phenomena in both normative and pathological populations.

    Within Lacanian circles there is debate over what constitutes psychosis, including defining the ordinary from pathological variants that have historically defined the phenomena as a mental illness. Here psychosis is not defined by hegemonic authoritarian psychiatry, but rather as a conceptual framework or philosophical perspective supported by descriptive narrative and symptomatic phenomenology that challenges preconceived notions of what we typically consider psychosis to entail.

    In this book a variety of perspectives are presented by internationally respected scholars and clinicians who examine what Lacan had to say about psychosis, from his nuanced theories represented in select texts, including omissions, extrapolations, and new applications, as well as how clinical methodology and technique have been adapted and advanced by practitioners treating psychotic individuals.

    Lacan on Psychosis will be of interest to academics, scholars, researchers, and practitioners in the fields of psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, philosophy, cultural theory, the humanities, and the behavioral sciences.

    Introduction: Beyond Nous

    1 Lacan on Paranoiac Knowledge Jon Mills

    2 The Psychosis of Freedom: Law in Modernity Todd McGowan

    3 On Ordinary Psychosis Stijn Vanheule

    4 Through Symptom into Meaning: The Ethic of Speech in Working with the Psychotic Subject David L. Downing

    5 Villemoes’ Ego-Structuring Therapy: A Lacanian Treatment Method for Schizophrenia Wilfried Ver Eecke

    6 Problems of Femininity in the Psychoanalytical Treatment of Psychotic Women Willy Apollon, Danielle Bergeron, & Lucie Cantin

    7 A Lacanian View of the Resolution of an Impasse Charles Turk


    Jon Mills, PsyD, PhD, ABPP, is a philosopher, psychoanalyst, and clinical psychologist. He is Professor of Psychology and Psychoanalysis at Adler Graduate Professional School, Toronto, and is the author of numerous works. He runs a mental health corporation in Ontario, Canada.

    David L. Downing, PsyD, ABPP, is a psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist. He is Professor of Psychology at the University of Indianapolis, School of Psychological Sciences. Author of many works, he also maintains a private practice in Illinois and Indiana, USA.

    '"Psychosis" is one of those terms which are in need of a precise definition, otherwise it just serves to provide a scientific veneer for some common-sense perception like "losing one’s mind." Jacques Lacan was the one who provided such a precise definition—the Verwerfung (rejection, exclusion, suspension) of the name-of-the-father, but the problem is that he went on to propose a series of different definitions, up to the inclusion of the object-cause of desire into reality. This volume edited by Mills and Downing not only sets the record straight by clearly presenting the inner logic of the transformations of Lacan’s teaching; it also shows how the notion of psychosis is urgently needed in the psychoanalytic clinic as well as in socio-ideological analysis. Against those who claim that psychosis eludes psychoanalytic treatment, which works only with hysteria and, maybe, perversion, and should thus be left to direct medical interventions like pharmacotherapy, it demonstrates one can also do (and change) psychotic things with words. A classic reference book!'—Slavoj Žižek

    'This collection presents a variety of thoughtful interpretations of Lacan’s myriad formulations regarding psychosis. The contributing authors propose several different creative approaches to treatment here, all of which contrast sharply with current psychiatric and psychotherapeutic approaches based for the most part on biological models of the brain.'—Bruce Fink

    'Clinicians working with Lacanian concepts of psychosis will find the chapters in this collection offering many detailed and varied examples of theory and practice to illustrate this neglected area of treatment. The authors present the challenges and possibilities of applying a speech-based approach to psychotic subjects who struggle with the difficulties of providing meaning and order in their experience of the world.'—Lewis Kirshner, Harvard Medical School; Training and Supervising Analyst, Boston Psychoanalytic Institute, USA 

    'Lacan on Psychosis . . . presents an excellent series of essays by experienced Lacanian analysts on psychotic phenomena. . . .This book will serve as a primer for some aspects of Lacanian theory, and parts of the book will be challenging even to the moderately advanced Lacanian clinician.'— Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association