Jacques Lacan (zhäk läkäN´), 1901–81, French psychoanalyst. After receiving a medical degree, he became a psychoanalyst in Paris. Lacan was infamous for his unorthodox methods of treatment, such as the truncated therapy session, which often lasted only several minutes. A staunch critic of modern (particularly American) revisions of psychoanalytic theory, Lacan supported the traditional model of psychoanalysis espoused by Sigmund Freud. He argued that contemporary psychoanalytic theories had strayed too far from their roots in Freudian psychoanalysis, which held that there was constant conflict between the ego and the unconscious mind. Lacan argued that this conflict could not be resolved—the ego could not be
—and pointed out that the true intention of psychoanalysis was analysis and not cure. His collection of papers, Ecrits (1966, tr. 1977), though notoriously difficult reading, has been influential in linguistics, film theory, and literary criticism.
See C. Clement, The Lives and Legends of Jacques Lacan (tr. 1983); D. Macey, Lacan in Contexts (1988); biography by E. Roudinesco (1993, tr. 1997).