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This interview has been re-published, with permission, from the Verso Books blog. In this interview given in , Jacques Lacan prophetically warned of the dangers of the return of religion and of scientism.
For him, psychoanalysis is the only conceivable rampart against contemporary anxieties. These are arguments of surprising present-day relevance. What were his fears, at that time? Showing his talent for prophesy, Lacan feared already in both the return of religion and the triumph of science. Sex in evidence everywhere? Rather, a fake liberalisation, without importance. We hear more and more talk of a crisis of psychoanalysis. Sigmund Freud has been left behind, they say, as modern society has discovered that his work is insufficient for understanding man or for deeply investigating his relationship with the world.
In the first place, this so-called crisis. It does not exist, it could not. Psychoanalysis has not come close to finding its own limits, yet. There is still so much to discover in practice and in consciousness.
In psychoanalysis, there are no immediate answers, but only the long and patient search for reasons. How can it be said that he has been left behind, when we have still not yet entirely understood him? What we do know for sure is that he made us aware of things that are entirely novel, that would not even have been imagined before him, from the problems of the unconscious to the importance of sexuality, from access to the symbolic sphere to subjection to the laws of language.
His doctrine put truth itself in question, and this concerns everyone, each individual personally. It is hardly in crisis. His name has also been used to cover for a lot of things, there have been deviations and epigones who did not always loyally follow his model, creating confusion about what he meant.