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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gem of an introduction that is hard to put down...
Having previously read both the Writers and Readers Lacan for Beginners and Introducing Lacan books and now this introduction, I have to say that this is easily the best out of the three. The other two readings came across at times as cribbed notes or condensed primers that would supplement previous learning rather than a straight forward guide for the novice. There is no...
Published on 9 Oct 2009 by Joseph Augustine

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oversimplification leads away from Lacan
Trying to simplify Lacan, whose ideas are indeed hard to understand, the content becomes an interpretation that is not Lacanian. We like it simple, but as long as it stays to the point. This book only reflects the writer's ideas. For a beginner, it will lead to misunderstanding of Lacanian psychoanalysis. Instead of this book, I would recommend "A Compendium of...
Published 6 months ago by angelos


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gem of an introduction that is hard to put down..., 9 Oct 2009
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This review is from: Lacan: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides) (Paperback)
Having previously read both the Writers and Readers Lacan for Beginners and Introducing Lacan books and now this introduction, I have to say that this is easily the best out of the three. The other two readings came across at times as cribbed notes or condensed primers that would supplement previous learning rather than a straight forward guide for the novice. There is no getting away from the fact that Lacan offers a system of thought that has to be learnt, and once the building blocks are in place a rich journey awaits. Maybe to over-simplify at the beginning could actually confuse matters. However it is with irony that re-reading the cartoon guides again, brought a whole layer of rich meaning that was locked out first time round. They have an almost poetic resonance that Bailly's book more than amply fleshes out.

Particular highlights for me are the very strong explanations of the 'four discourses' of the Hysteric, Institution, Master and Analyst which based on 'mathemes' I found inpenetratable elsewhere. Also the description of 'sexuation' in establishing gender is lucidly described after the groundwork for understanding this concept in preceding chapters is logically and plainly layed down.

Lacan is famed for his emphasis on the capturing of the image at the 'mirror stage' in the development of the ego and the representation of the Other in language, i.e. the imaginary and symbolic registers as alienating features of the Subject or Self. A considerable amount of explication is provided to the rest of the interconnecting web of Lacan's theory, in his notions of the Real, the Sinthome, the Object Petit a, The Name of the Father, Desire, Jouissance and The Phallus. It is the nature of Lacan's theory that each concept does not remain in isolation and benefits from over-layered multi-threaded analysis that can only be obtained with training and over time, before professional intuition applied.

A welcoming aspect is how much I was made aware of the zeitgeist of early 20th century thought. By being introduced to the major influences in Lacan's work, such as Henri Wallon, Saussure and Levi-Strauss there is a sense that Lacan was prepared to beg, borrow and steal in formulating his theory, and an indication that there could be more developments to come from post-Lacanians or research clinicians keen to adapt Lacan to contemporary thought. By emphasising the shifting nature of the signifier as part of a code or continuous chain of meaning, Lacan's cultural antennae is tuned into post-structuralism, which explains why his concepts have been readily adopted by students of post modern cultural critical analysis.

The latter part of the book explains what to expect from a trained Lacanian for someone thinking about becoming attached to the therapeutic couch. The practise borders on eastern zen mysticism with a constant peeling back of the ego (moi) through oblique hints, pregnant pauses, and even variable session times which are meant to lead the analysand into moments of realisation as the the signifier chain of the Subject is exposed. It was fascinating to learn how Lacanians are wary of transference (and counter-transference) if not handled properly, and that the ultimate aim of analysis is to amplify the desire of wanting to know what the client believes can only be found in the analyst (the subject-supposed-to-know), who in fact is equally lacking!! Divesting the easiness in which our power is offered to Others, i.e. by external and internal representation (from what positions are we identified?) due to how we are born into primary helplessness, is the path towards individuation the analyst helps the analysand to walk - until discarded.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on Lacan, 19 Jan 2012
By 
P. Fonagy "Presenter" (London, GB) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lacan: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides) (Paperback)
This is the best book on Lacan you are likely to read anywhere! It is (a) understandable, (b) clinically relevant and (c) entertaining and witty. It is obviously the work of someone with an exceptional intellect who is also a highly talented communicator. I thoroughly enjoyed it and warmly recommend it to anyone, by no means just the beginner. I would not consider myself one, yet I profited more from this book than 50 others I could list.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible and illuminating, 20 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Lacan: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides) (Paperback)
I am two chapters into the book and I have learned so much, not only about Lacan, but about Psychoanalysis. I have read many books around psychoanalysis and this one is proving to be one of the best. I am learning so much of value. I have stopped underlining helpful text because there is more underlined in these first two chapters than not underlined! Thanks Mr Bailly. Enormous value.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book on Lacan, 15 July 2009
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Lacan: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides) (Paperback)
This book is undoubtedly one of the best books to on the work of the French Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Lionel Bailly skillfully introduces major Lacanian concepts in an accessible way. This book is for readers who may not know about the work of Jacques Lacan or who have been discouraged to engage with his complex, and some say, obscure writings. The author seems to have had the reader in mind and it feels that he has spent much time thinking about the best way to explain Lacanian concepts. The book is nicely structured and very well-written. Chapters are illustrated with case studies and clinical examples that support a better understanding of the concepts that are presented in each section. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to discover the work or Lacan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on Lacanian Psychoanalysis, 16 July 2009
This review is from: Lacan: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides) (Paperback)
This book is undoubtedly one of the best books written to on the work of the French Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Lionel Bailly skilfully introduces major Lacanian concepts in an accessible way. This book is for readers who may not know about the work of Jacques Lacan or who have been discouraged to engage with his complex, and some say, obscure writings. The author seems to have had the reader in mind and it feels that he has spent much time thinking about the best way to explain Lacanian concepts. The book is nicely structured and very well-written. Chapters are illustrated with case studies and clinical examples that support a better understanding of the concepts that are presented in each section. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to discover the work of Lacan.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars some great insights, 30 Jun 2013
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This was a very interesting and thought provoking book. It was difficult to follow in some places, but you should stick with it, as it provides some real insights.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Makes Lacan available without loss of complexity., 1 Sep 2014
This review is from: Lacan: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides) (Paperback)
I've read a number of books on Lacan. The majority of them are difficult to read. This isn't because Lacan's ideas are that difficult or at least difficult to explain in a clear and accessible manner. It's because, in my opinion, the authors of these books are attempting to copy Lacan's high culture style. And if that sounds like I'm saying pretentiousness then you'd be right. Bailly on the other hand makes Lacan accessible to the masses, as do Bruce Fink and Darian Leader.
Lacan spoke and wrote about returning to Freud. But one main point about Freud is that he made the territory of the unconscious available to everyone. On his voyage to New York in 1908 he noted that a ship's steward was reading a copy of one of his books , The Psychopathology of Everyday Life'. The reason why this is so notable is that prior to Freud people like this were given the implicit message that the mysteries of being were not for crude creatures like them because they lacked the subtlety of their more complex betters . The poets were of a higher breed and only people like this could gain access to the mysteries of intuition. Freud overturned that apple cart when he demonstrated that dreams, symptoms, art and poetry, the deeply non discursive and inaccessible was something that could be made communicable in straight forward writing. Freud's writing is notable for it's clarity. He made the deepest mysteries available for anyone who could read and had an interest.
Lacan however made his version of psychoanalysis more inaccessible by the way he presented his ideas. In part this was because Lacan had a difficult relationship with language with an obsessional need to be precise. Paradoxically this resulted in his writing and speech becoming at times incomprehensible. Initially this made his ideas even more attractive to the French avant-garde,Lacan's ideas have becoming increasingly more the property of the literary set than that of practicing psychotherapists and analysts. However as time has gone on an increasing number of intellectuals like Noam Chomsky have claimed that Lacan is posturing (and some would be less charitable and say faking) and not offering a proper theoretical approach to understanding human subjectivity. This is why writers like Bailly are important for assessing Lacan. This book does indeed make Lacan's ideas accessible to the more ordinary people without any dumming down. Lacan's conceptual corpus from the mirror stage, the complex relationship between need, demand, drive and desire, language ,metaphor, metonymy and their relationship to traversing the Oedipus complex and l'object petit 'a' etc. are made clear and accessible.
No doubt there are people around who won't like this book claiming it lacks the subtlety that only those with finesse (like them) can appreciate-well there are lots of other books on Lacan around that will suit their taste perfectly. In fact I would say most of them unfortunately fall into this category. Which is why this book is such a gem.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes!, 11 Sep 2013
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A superbly written book, covering a huge amount of theoretical material in an astonishingly small amount of space. This is no mean feat considering the complexity of some of Lacan's formulations and shows real mastery of the subject on the part of the author.

I've spent about the last year trying to get to grips with Lacan and am pleased to say that I feel I'm beginning to get somewhere, thanks also to Bruce Fink's superb 'A clinical introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis' which makes a brilliant companion piece. It's a good job that there are some first rate writers committed to introducing Lacan to a non-French audience because the ideas are too beautiful to go to waste. Oh, and the book is under a fiver, too. Fantastic.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and Simple Introduction, 28 April 2010
By 
Sam Doherty (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lacan: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides) (Paperback)
Being a fan of Slavoj Zizek's ideas I frequently found myself lost whenever Lacanian theory was discussed. This book is simple, but not patronising, and clear; Bailly writes with wonderful style. An excellent introduction to Lacan and a great springboard for deeper and more challenging texts/theory.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 9 April 2014
By 
E. J King (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lacan: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides) (Paperback)
This book is very simple and perfect for those starting out with Lacan. Especially students!

I was first introduced to Lacan with Darien Leader's "Introduction to Lacan, a Graphic Guide", and then spent a long time reading "Introduction to the Reading of Lacan" by Joel Dor. I then purchased Lionel Bailly's book "Lacan: A Beginner's Guide" and found it a very smooth read. My experience of having read two books prior to Bailly's book enabled me to read Bailly's book with ease, but it also enabled me to say that whilst the book is a great start, it lacks the depth one may be looking for with particular topics in Lacan. Therefore I'd say that although there is no such thing as the perfect balance for what a reader looks for when learning about Lacan, the three books I have mentioned are a perfect combination for getting to grips with him.

Above all, with Lacan, patience is key.
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Lacan: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides)
Lacan: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides) by Lionel Bailly (Paperback - 1 April 2009)
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