French psychoanalyst who revolutionized the theories of Freud. Born into a Parisian middle-class Catholic family in 1901, Jacques Lacan received a doctorate in psychiatry under Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault in 1932. Greatly influenced by surrealism, Saussurian linguistics, and Alexandre Kojève's lectures on Hegel, Lacan's radical reinterpretation of Freud finally led to his expulsion from the French Psychoanalytic Society in 1953 and prompted him to form the Groupe d'Études et de Recherches Freudiennes. Often identified with the intellectual trend of structuralism and endorsed by Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, Lacanian psychoanalysis was propelled into the mainstream of French radicalism during the 1960s.
Lacanian psychoanalysis does not aim at the integration of the individual psyche. An antihumanist in philosophical terms, Lacan posits instead a fundamentally divided or split subject striving vainly toward fullness through identifications with objects of desire. Between six and eighteen months, during what Lacan calls “the mirror stage, ” the infant obtains a sense of selfhood by identifying with his or her mirror image, thus conferring an imaginary sense of corporeal wholeness onto a still immature and uncoordinated body. While this realm of the Imaginary is common to all and mediates the Real, Lacan argues that one must nevertheless make a partial move toward the symbolic order, which coincides with the child's acquisition of language. For Lacan the psychically healthy subject is a split ego that, rather than aggressively projecting its imaginary ideal of wholeness onto others, instead introjects the symbolic/linguistic injunctions of the outside world.
Christopher E. Forth
SEE ALSO Althusser, Louis
German Social Democratic politician. Oskar Lafontaine was born in Saarlautern (today Saarlouis) on September 16, 1943. Named after his maternal uncle, killed in action as soldier of the Wehrmacht during World War II, Lafontaine grew up very much under the impact of the war. His father was also killed in the conflict, and Lafontaine and his twin brother were brought up by their mother's eldest sister. From 1953 to 1961 Lafontaine and his brother, studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood, attending a Catholic boarding school in Prüm, near Bitburg.
In school, Oskar Lafontaine came to be feared as a bully, who, although not very tall was known to terrorize those who were physically inferior to him. Early in 1961 he was dismissed from the boarding school but allowed to continue his studies on the outside. The school in Prüm, its teaching styles, and, particularly, some of its teachers, had a decisive influence on young Lafontaine.