on 21 August 2013
As a student half way though a post-grad level psychotherapy / counselling training, the work of Lacan forms part of my sylabus. If you're unfamiliar with Lacan's work then you may wish to consider that it's mystifying stuff at first - this is not 'explain it like I'm five years old' territory and if you want to get a even a rudimentary feel for much of his work and thought, you need to be prepared for some heavy lifting. Opinion is quite divided on his work and usefulness, and he seems rather take-it-or-leave-it in my experience of psychotherapy professionals. Lacan's a funny one, utterly fascinating, seductive and a bit of a showman, whilst often being obscure to the point of absurdity, in my opinion. My theory is that he hated the vulgarisation of Freud's work, which he loved above all else ('It is up to you to be Lacanians if you wish. I am a Freudian'). His work seems to resist this degradation and misunderstanding by virtue, if that's the word, of its inaccessibility. It's is taken very seriously on the continent and in South America in many areas areas of discourse beyond psychoanalysis so you really ought to make some inroads, tough as this may seem at first.
And yes, it may be tough, but fear not intrepid student. For, as much as is possible, our author Fink has spent what must've been the best part of a lifetime decoding the pronouncements and pontifications of this infuriatingly obscurantist, obstinately obdurate and most perfect of charlatans. Lacan might be taking us for a ride but with Fink as a tour guide at least you end up with some sense of the scenery as it flies past your bemused gaze. Resultantly it's hard not to end up with some extremely useful critical thinking tools, without the need to spend your whole life in a Parisian coffee shop. There is useful discussion on demand, desire, the registers of the symbolic, imaginary and real, the subject and its relation to the Other, the fundamental fantasy, as well as practical advice on identifying and treating patients with various types of neurosis. Fink captures and distils a strong sense of the attitude a Lacanian practitioner should seek to engender, all with his feet on the ground which is no mean feat considering the disco-metapysics involved here. All things considered, he ought to get a purple heart for this colossal effort. Seeing as you can't get those from amazon, however, do him the courtesy of reading his book.
on 16 March 1999
It is the first time ,in my opinion,that an ambitious attempt to approach a "difficult"discourse achieves its aim :to develop in a brief and explicit way without any extravagant simplifications a theoritical laying concerning the function of human psychic apparatus.The detailed footnotes and the lucid bibliography form one more advantage of the book. In short,although this could be characterised as an unusual attempt for the American psychoanalytic scheming ,the overall outcome is enviable. Alkis Melidoniotis,MD Department of Psychiatry Naval Hospital of Crete Greece