Jaana Pirskanen: The Other and the Real

07 October 2019


The term unconscious refers to the subject’s origin in the Other, to the fact that the subject is born in relation to language and cultural norms. Psychoanalysis is founded on the idea of the unconscious. According to Lacan’s groundbreaking idea, Freud’s term unconscious was something entirely else than the notion used by thinkers that preceded Freud. Instead of understanding Freud’s unconscious as a psychological category, Lacan de-psychologises the unconscious. It does not merely relate to childhood memories and individual histories, but works between people. The unconscious refers to the discourse of the Other in oneself, to desires and fantasies that the ego is not conscious of and that are inherited from the parents, the social environment and cultural values. In Lacan’s thought the unconscious is understood as linguistic and historical. The unconscious is an organised system of letters, a formal system that enables certain relations and obstructs others. The subject is split into conscious ego and unconscious order that breaks the coherent meanings of the ego.

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