What would an anthropology that took seriously the theoretical perspectives of a Lacanian psychoanalysis be like? Let me begin with the reductions in anthropological thought which Pradelles de Latour sees as a result of the tendency to adopt binary oppositions (individual/society, cause/effect, etc.). Pradelles reminds us that in the Lacanian perspective there is a ternary structure to the subject as opposed to a ‘duality of the self’. This is important even though the abstractness of the formulation makes it difficult to explain. Pradelles takes firstly the mirror stage which produces an imago and a fiction and which Lacan has described as being at the very threshold of the imaginary. For the child, the speculative game is the point of entry into an active understanding of the world. And it is by the effect of a movement which, Pradelles emphasises, does not result from an interior psychological projection towards the exterior environment but rather from an inverse movement which takes the external to be prior and to be the foundation of the internal. Infantile ‘narcissism’, including all primary processes within it, cannot therefore be considered a consequence of the self-centredness which a small subject, clinging steadfastly to his own autonomy, can oppose to the force of society. On the contrary, it is first produced by a massive intrusion of the other-self into the very interior of his own being.
The ascending line of human subjectivity is not only what Lacan referred to ironically at some point as ‘the sociological poem of self autonomy’, woven around the pioneer-like metaphor of the conquest and expansion of frontiers. Rather, it is through a complex movement, whose outcome is not obvious at the start, that the subject ‘becomes’, as it rids itself of the archaic forms that held it, through a continuous process of metamorphosis and recurrence which starts as the child enters the mirror stage. In this complex process, the failure of the dualist illusion plays an essential part. It is on renouncing the notion of sharing one body with the archaic mother and on realising that the mutual possession on which the