Jacques Lacan on the Child’s Entry into the Symbolic Order
Lacan, a controversial French psychoanalyst, focused on symbolic-linguistic competence and its psychological repercussions. This symbolic competence, he claimed, marked the child’s entry into the symbolic order and placed the child in a new psychological context, the place of the Other. To clarify Lacan’s theory I interpret his insights, as found primarily in the 1964 seminar published as Lacan (1978), “The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis,” within a social-developmental framework. I conclude that this new context of the Other is indeed the societal order. I cite observations that illustrate a child’s entry into the societal-symbolic order. Lacan describes this entry as connected to human sexuality, desire, and the unconscious; it is accompanied by feelings of alienation and separation. Insofar as the desire of the unconscious is inherently toward the desire of the Other, Lacan can be seen as supporting my claim of an endogenous developmental origin of the societal order.
KeywordsMental Object Symbolic Order Symbolic Signifier Moral Autonomy Personal Object
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