Jacques Lacan


(1) Registers (Orders)


  • Imagination/Image
  • Identity is literally outside of oneself, which reformulates the concept of ego and narcissism.
  • Ego : Mirror Images, Fragmented body, Alienation
  • Mirror Phase: Ego is constituted by an alienating identification based on the fragmentation of the body. Ego conceals the lack of unity and maintains a false appearance of completeness (falsifying character of the ego).
  • Ideal Ego:  Narcissism (Ego is identified with Ideal Ego)


  • Signifiers
  • Oedipus complex: name of the father (symbolic superego) – Phallus is the symbol of what mother desires. A child tries to be a phallus for a mother but soon realized it is impossible.
  • Ego Ideal: Subject is viewed from the point of view of Ego Ideal – Degradation/Contempt
  • Subject is symbolic I. It is fundamentally split and divided. When I say “I”, it is trapped in language.


  • Imaginary (Signified/Signification) + Symbolic (Signifiers) = Reality (Analytic Experiences)
  • Something that are not symbolized (Lack)


  • RSI(Real, Symbolic, Imaginary) are the structure of the subject just like a Borromean Knot. (Shift from Linguistics to Topology)
  • The sinthome (as the fourth ring to the triad) is tying together a knot which constantly threatens to come undone.

(2) Otherness

a (small Other)

  • Imaginary
  • Ego itself is an alienated other

A (big Other)

  • Symbolic/Real
  • Maternal Other -> Name of the Father -> History, Society, State, Religion …


(3) Libidinal Economics


  • Instinctual necessity


  • Symbolic request
  • Incomplete: cannot formulate the needs completely, therefore cannot be fulfilled entirely
  • always comes with Extra or surplus (such as affection of the Other)


  • causes the surplus of demand
  • not symbolized and cannot not be fulfilled
  • desire recreates itself repeatedly

object a (object Petit a)

  • Desire can be linked to real
  • object a is not the target of desire, rather it causes desire


  • obsessive pursuit of the arbitrary symbol
  • in a phantasy space


  • Desire is an repetitive (or more dialectic) process that cannot be fulfilled. Therefore pursuing desire causes suffering. But this repetitive suffering itself can be perversely enjoyable.
  • The Jouissance (over-enjoyment) is actually felt as unbearable suffering.


(4) Woman

‘Woman does not exist’ means that through Oedipus complex (castration), a woman cannot create the symbol of her own, unlike a man becomes a full symbol. The symbol of a woman is created through that of a man. In this process, a man becomes all, universal, and finite in symbolic but a woman is not all and infinite. Also, a woman becomes an object petite a in man (fantasy object that cannot be fulfilled) so woman is the symptom of man.

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