This book provides a detailed examination of the historical roots of psychoanalysis from ancient Greece to the late nineteenth century, focusing on social practices that were related to the founders of psychoanalytic theory and maintained within contemporary treatment. Alongside the reconstruction of an evolutionary accumulation of healing practices, the book includes linked discussions of current issues pertaining to psychoanalytic treatment and its working structure as elaborated by Freud and Lacan. There are vital political consequences for psychoanalytic practice - here articulated with an acknowledgement of these practical derivations of early pre-psychoanalytic treatments of the soul. The book demonstrates that these are neither mere techniques nor concepts of the world and the human subject, but they concern the way the problem of power is articulated. The historical establishment of psychoanalytical practice becomes legible through analysis of the traces of the elements of a political ontology, an account of the roots of those traces and the elaboration of the conceptual structure of psychoanalysis as theory and treatment, a praxis which maintains its own distinctive identity.
Psychoanalytic clinical and theoretical work circulates through multiple intersecting antagonistic symbolic universes. This series opens connections between different cultural sites in which Lacanian work has developed in distinctive ways, in forms of work that question the idea that there could be single correct reading and application. The Lines of the Symbolic series provides a reflexive reworking of psychoanalysis that translates Lacanian writing from around the world, steering a course between the temptations of a metalanguage and imaginary reduction, between the claim to provide a god's eye view of psychoanalysis and the idea that psychoanalysis must everywhere be the same. And the elaboration of psychoanalysis in the symbolic here grounds its theory and practice in the history and politics of the work in a variety of interventions that touch the real.