Psychoanalytic theory

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Psychoanalytic theory refers to the definition and dynamics of personality development which underlie and guide psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapy. First laid out by Sigmund Frued, psychoanalytic theory has undergone many refinements since his work (see psychoanalysis). Psychoanalytic theory came to full prominence as a critical force in the last third of the twentieth century as part of 'the flow of critical discourse after the 1960s'[1], and in association above all with the name of Jacques Lacan.


The Influence of Lacan

Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, and Jacques Lacan are often treated as canonical thinkers by Lacanian psychoanalysts, although there are considerable objections to their authority, particularly from other psychoanalytical schools and feminism in particular.

The Multi-Voiced Legacy

Perhaps as a result of its 'unending dependence on an idol, a logic, or a language'[2], it has been suggested that 'the Lacanian movement...was doomed to dissidence, and its whole history has been punctuated by recurrent schisms'[3]. The result has been however a fertile and disparate flowering of psychoanalytic thought within the French context.

Major thinkers within psychoanalytic theory in France include Andre Green, Maud Mannoni, Nicholas Abraham and Maria Torok[4], Claude Nachin[citation needed], Serge Leclaire, Julia Kristeva[5], Slavoj Žižek[6], Jacques Derrida[7], 'Jean Laplanche and J.-B. Pontalis [who] write...their own characteristically lucid account'[8], René Major[citation needed], Luce Irigaray[9], and Jacques-Alain Miller[10]. Their work however is anything but unitary. Derrida, for example, has remarked that virtually the entirety of Freud's metapsychology, while possessing some strategic value previously necessary to the elaboration of psychoanalysis, ought to be discarded at this point. Miller by contrast is sometimes taken as heir apparent to Lacan because of his editorship of Lacan's seminars, although his interest in analysis is more philosophical than clinical; whereas Major has questioned the complicity of clinical psychoanalysis with various forms of totalitarian government.

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