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Tracking the Lacanian unconscious in language

Hook, Derek (2013) Tracking the Lacanian unconscious in language. Psychodynamic Practice, 19 (1). pp. 38-54. ISSN 1475-3634

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Identification Number: 10.1080/14753634.2013.750094


This paper makes two contributions to the emerging field of Lacanian discourse analysis (LDA); one, by way of theoretical exposition and a second, oriented toward the challenges of empirical analysis. In the first section of the paper, I illustrate and develop upon the elusive Lacanian notion of the unconscious structured as a language. This discussion yields a series of important ideas: the assertion that a matrix of latent significations shadows any utterance; the distinction between statement/enunciation; and the concept of repression-in-language. These concepts provide a platform for the second section of the paper which draws on textual material collected by the Apartheid Archive Project in order to demonstrate a particular procedure of LDA. This procedure entails an attention to discontinuous narrative components and the role of symbolic juxtapositions. It points, furthermore, to the value of making novel combinations of given textual elements as a way of querying what may be repressed in the text. Two important conclusions are drawn from this discussion, each of which indicates a priority for Lacanian practice. Firstly, the idea that the ongoing work of symbolic juxtaposition may be more profitable than ‘depth’ interpretations in conducting analysis. Secondly, that facilitation of lateral significations and associated significations should take priority over the aim of extracting a single over-arching message.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2014 12:09
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:06

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